The Wildernessis a massive jungle that divides the continent of Eun, separating the Glorium from its southern provinces. The Wilderness is known for its ancient forests, vicious fauna and subtle magic. It is rich with lumber, medicinal flora and other natural resources. Its land has historically been proven impossible to deforest, despite countless attempts to settle the Wilderness since the founding of the Glorium. It is larger than any single province or the Glorium on the Eun continent, stretching ten days ride across its longest part (though it would take much longer to actually navigate through its hidden trails).
The Wild Hunt
The absence of Glorium rule from the Wilderness makes it a haven for criminals. Bandits, smugglers and other undesirables make their homes in its forests to escape their crimes, free from the fear of Cavalier law. But lawless does not mean ungoverned.
The natives of the Wilderness (called Wildermyn) rule themselves through a group called the Wild Hunt. Thirty years ago, under its guiding hand many of the ancient monasteries called Sancts –originally dedicated to the Neolithic Gods, since devolved into feudalistic fiefdoms – became nerve centres of a widespread semi-anarchic affiliation called the Wild Hunt. Each Sacrosanct is a cartel of Wilder crime barons, now working together to command a monopoly over trade and travel in the Wilderness through fear, violence and extortion.
Sancts and Sacrosancts
The Wilderness adheres loosely to a class system based largely on the Wild Hunt. There are three higher Sacrosancts which are collections of powerful Sancts. Individual Sancts are ancient churches leftover from the Neolithic Era that have been co-opted by the Wilders and turned into anything ranging from gang headquarters, homes, village centres or even prisons. They are usually manned by Abbots, pastors and monks. Chaplains roam the Wilderness on Sacrosanct business whether it is robbing an uncooperative caravan or quelling any dissension against the Wild Hunt. Lower Sancts dedicated to lesser Gods are usually unambitious local goons.
The three Sacrosancts that are currently in control of much of the Wilderness are:#
- The Order of the Black River that commands the eastern region of the Wilderness called the Fountainhead
- The Hollow Houses that control the northern border the Wilderness shares with the Glorium
- The Third Hand which rules Five Finger Mountain, the choke point of the continent between the southern Wilderness and northern Ressex.
In the Wilderness, the only way to move up in the world is to join a Sanct, a local gang that usually has ties to Wild Hunt. These Sancts used to be ancient monasteries and churches, each dedicated to one or more of the Neolithic Gods, ancient deities that are no longer worshipped widely.
Social status is measured by rank within the Wild Hunt, though ranks vary from region to region. From highest to lowest: The Abbots, Pastors, Chaplains, monks and serfs. Almost all adhere to a merit-based system, sometimes accented or replaced by heredity and seniority. Leaders of Sacrosancts or collections of Sancts are sometimes called Saints, but the word is not in common usage.
Abbots (or Abbesses) are the head of the Sanct body, and govern the operations of his Sanct. Abbots are usually the ones communicating with other Sancts, and are the ones that receive or give orders within a Sacrosanct.
In most Sancts, the strongest and most ruthless Wilder becomes Abbot, or alternatively the most cunning and sinister. Some Sancts will recognize good candidates and will either nominate or… persuade tha Wilder to take leadership. Others still elect from a pool of candidates.
Abbots have a history of abusing their power, or at the very least taking the lion’s share of profits. This is seen as theirs by right of strength, although wiser Abbots make sure to keep their Chaplains and monks happy and well-paid.
If the Abbot decides the actions of the Sanct, the Pastor is the person that makes sure those actions are carried out, and decides how. Pastors are the right hand and left hand of the Abbot, working hard to make sure the Abbots orders are carried out to the benefit of the Sanct and not only the Abbot himself. Pastors also have the responsibility of dealing with the populace surrounding the Sanct, or the governing bodies thereof.
Pastors are ambitious, powerful in their own right. Oftentimes, it is the betrayal of a Pastor that leads to the downfall of an Abbot… with the former Pastor installed in his place.
Chaplains are the fighting force of the Sanct. They have been recognized for their ability and slowly are given more responsibility and jobs. Chaplains have an informal hierarchy among themselves, and measure each man’s worth according to his reputation.
Chaplains are often agents of the Sanct sent out to perform jobs, whether it is delivering a package across borders or attacking a caravan, retrieving owed money or punishment for failure to return said money. Chaplains the sanctsters most often resented by the populace, for their violent and boisterous natures.
Wildermyn are highly loyal to their Sancts and regions, and generally wear clothes made from the natural flora of that area. The most common form of dress are leathers, easily accessible but uncomfortable in the hot tropical weather of the Wilderness. Abbots and Pastors can afford “pressed robes,” wherein leaves or petals are waxed and sewn into a shirt. Pastors generally prefer a cloak or mantle of brightly coloured waxed leaves. Abbots often don a circlet of metal to show off their wealth. But even the wealthiest of Wilders wear practical clothing, usually dusty leathers with some floral decorations, sometimes copper or iron is incorporated in small amounts.
Metal and particularly steel are considered rare and precious. Wilders have been known to melt down copper and silver coins for their worth in metal ingots rather than as currency.
Wilder traditions vary from region to region, but almost all have a rite of passage for young women and men, one determined by the domains of the Neolithic God favored in that region. The most widely worshiped and invoked of the Neolithic Gods are:
- Talamur Spear-Maker
- Soraurya River Wind
- Nalini the Nighttime
- Kyler Shade-Son
The Neolithic Gods are most widely worshiped in the High Hale and Lower Hales of Five Finger Mountain, though more Wilders in general are believers than citizens of the Glorium or Ressex. The Gods were in the height of popularity and power during the reign of the Ressex Tyranny thousands of years ago, before the event known as Diluvian collapsed civilization.