The haunted island, Valara. A name that carries an aura of danger, enigma and a deep sense of unknown. In spite of the closeness to Indyvar – separated by an isthmus of a couple of kilometers of fairly easily sailable waters -, no human colony has laid set foot in Valara for many centuries. Avoided by many, and always observed with caution, the Tremanathi keep a very watchful eye of everything disturbing the ominous quietness. Like the neighboring lands of the south, Valara is a dense jungle land with a perpetual fog looming over it. Accounts of it mention the air to be thick, warm, humid, tiring and difficult to breathe. From afar (the only place even courageous people will look at it), the walls of sentinel trees of dense foliage keep its secrets hidden, probably for the best.
It is only natural that not much is known about the Island, with the Chronicles of the Kaichin settlers who attempted to tame It being the overwhelmingly most welcome known source of popular knowledge. Having been pursued in their lands of Ryokoto to Valara, to escape death, it was shocking when, some decades later, a massive exodus of Kaichin believers – who previously called themselves Valarans -, had abandoned the monicker and were forsaking the island in droves. With their faces livid and bodies quivering, the memories of the religious warring that happened years ago couldn’t deter them from staying on the cursed island, and they made their way, through the wet poisonous land of Indyvar, through the dry waste of the Hjalmar Plateau, until they found a new place to call home. Only a great fear could have held a grip on the hearts of people so used to death and pain that would force them to willingly roam dangerous wilds.
Few have tried to re-colonize even the smallest stretch of land, and all of those idealistic fools were gone before they could name or curse whatever dragged them off into the night, and their dooms. Boats sailing the Isthmus of Kudzu avoid the accursed waters, even to gaze at the jungle itself. In fact, anything that involves Valara is abandoned, not pursued, and discouraged. No one even knows how large Valara is – a small island or a huge continent -, and only a crazy fool would try to find out. The island is shrouded in mystery, unanswerable questions, and ignorance as much as it is by fog and dense jungle. That works all too well for the people closest to it. To the sane one, Valara is a land of demons and death, and as long as the Tremanathi stay on their side of the isthmus, the sanguinary killers will stay on theirs.
Art by Brent Hollowell
As for the survivors, the fate of a vast number of them is well known. Yet those who have remained in Tremanath were branded as outcasts, hunted down and beaten by those whose braveness outweighed their fears, or shunned and avoided at all cost by those whose survival instincts just rang truer. The ramblings of those who came back were branded as the yapping of crazed disturbed folk, tales too impossible to be true, but definitely dark enough to be told as cautionary tales to unruly children. And the ignorant populace was more often than not right: most who returned did not do so with their sanity intact, and fell into deeper, weirder recesses of their minds. Those strong enough to look into the abyss and remain whole tried their best to discretely restart their lives again, as farmers, craftsmen, or mercenaries. Albeit their efforts, it is certain that, as their eyes close and sleep takes hold of their bodies, their minds are dragged back to that infernal land by the horrors they witnessed and can never silence.
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