Frontiers – The Final Islands

   Posted by: Andrew Linstrom   in Frontiers

The benighted archipelago in the center of the Western Deep was once thought to be the end of the world. Thus, the quartet of jungle-swept volcanic rocks was  named the Final Islands. Their names are grimly poetic, suggesting ending and finality: Dirge, Threnody, Requiem, Lament, and Elegy. While melodramatic, the names are apt–stepping foot outside the colony’s walls or mooring outside its buoys spells almost certain death for those not prepared to face the islands’ dangers.

Historians disagree as to when the islands were first discovered or settled, whether the islands had a civilized presence before the Trebonian Empire established their port and prison colonies there. The common legend is that the emperor received sailing charts to the archipelago in trade for pardoning a Konetti merchant prince’s crimes. For centuries, the prison colonies of the Final Islands were considered an ultimate punishment for those breaking the Empire’s laws, and a shit detail for the soldiers of the Legions and the Navy sent to keep them. Later, after word returned across the sea of the New World, the Final Islands became something even more important. No longer the last stop before the end of the world, they were now an important port along the long and perilous passage across the Western Deep.

The islands each slope down away from one or more black and smoking peaks and are covered in thick jungle and teeming with venomous plants, ravenous beasts, and bloodthirsty cannibals. The waters around them are equally thick with jagged reefs and a hellish menagerie of man-eating sharks, whales, squid, octopodes, and serpents. Even the shore-dwelling gnomes go thickly armored with stone and bone and will only rarely suffer visitors long enough to treat or trade.

While not the largest of the islands, Requiem is the most strategically important. It its the southernmost of the five and, relatively speaking, the safest, which is to say that the island has been cleared of dragons and of cannibals, and twice a year the local monster populations are culled. Requiem is home to the port the Final Islands are known for, the stop-over halfway across the Western Deep visited by every vessel crossing from Atrebor to Nasertia or vice versa. The city of Requiem’s high walls enclose a bustling trade center. Almost any good or ware crossing the Western Deep can be had in its markets. During the day, its streets are well-patrolled by Stalwart legionnaires. At night, a curfew keeps all good citizens and travelers indoors, leaving the streets to prowling nocturnal monsters and ne’er-do-wells.

Like its sisters Cinder Keep and Fort Sajoo, Requiem is a Stalwart community, led by Loucan Georghan, the ancient Siean glen elf appointed by an emperor more than a century ago. Governor-General Georghan is reclusive, some say paranoid. Rather than residing in the governor’s mansion on Reqiuem, he resides in a remote hunting lodge on Lament, communicating with his underlings in Requiem via an underwater telegraph cable and via airborne messengers of both the living and clockwork variety.

Before the Collapse, the prison camps in the Final Islands provided labor for the rich ores and gemstones found in the volcanic peaks. Since the Empire fell, the prison camps have fallen apart, either evacuated or abandoned. Some of them have been converted by entrepreneurs into hunting lodges. One, on Threnody, remains open and maintained by Requiem’s garrison. Other Stalwart cities still send their most dangerous or seditious prisoners there, making “transportation to Threnody” one of the most feared sentences in the New World. Those shackled on Threnody work the mines until age, weariness, or the jungle’s perils claim their lives.

Aside from mining and levies on intercontinental trade, the Final Islands’ third primary industry is hunting. The jungles teem with dire beasts, eldritch monsters, and darker things, drawing big game hunters from Old World and New. Lodges scattered around the islands, some in old mines and prison camps, host hunters willing to pay big money. Such hunters operate at their own risk; the authorities wash their hands of anyone that leaves sight of the colony’s walls.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 27th, 2010 at 5:02 pm and is filed under Frontiers. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One comment


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December 17th, 2010 at 4:15 pm

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