Yh'mi is a mysterious and desolate land at the south end of Terrenus, still almost completely unexplored. A region so untouched may sound enticing to some, but one thing is utterly clear about this place: it is hateful.
From the twisted things that crawl within it, to the raging storms high above, to the strange whispering which seems to nag at you every waking moment: everything here is out for blood.
There is only one true sanctuary in Yh’mi- the town of Inns'th. There, the paladins of the Order of the White Hand struggle to defend their home, and to find a way to contain the evil of Yh'mi before it grows strong enough to threaten all of Terrenus.
(see Welcome to Yh’mi[link] for OOC details)
This small encampment/town is the first place most new arrivals will encounter. It is the only thing standing between the dark land of Yh'mi and Terrenus at large. Currently small, but the Order of the White Hand aims to expand it into a formidable bulwark against the coming storm.
The building known as Purgatory is Inns'th's only bar, which also doubles as a hospital, science lab, and funeral parlor at times. Run by te mysterious Doctor Xeyal, it awaits unsuspecting guests...
The Broken Plain:
The plain beyond Inns'th is an open, rocky space. It is difficult to tread quietly here, footsteps seem to echo in the air, announcing trespassers to anything that might be listening. The encampment was constructed at the north edge of this area, out of hope that large groups of approaching creatures could be easily spotted from a distance. It has since been discovered that the rocky plain is full of deep crevasses, which not only allow things to sneak up on the encampment, but also connect to a deep network of caverns beneath the plain. Nobody who ventured into those caves has ever returned.
A large hill at near the center of the Broken Plain. There are plans to construct an outpost here, as the earth is not cracked, and the hill is a relatively easy location to defend.
An evergreen forest, perpetually covered by thick white mist, beyond the Broken Plain to the east. It is unknown how far it extends. Compasses and other pathfinding devices will frequently malfunction here, leaving exploratory parties stranded and lost. It's a short walk to get in, the longest journey of your life to get out…
The Village of Lirrey:
A small village, beyond the Broken Plain to the south. It is well-constructed, with cobblestone roads and charming wooden cottages. The people there are quite happy and friendly, but nobody knows where its people came from, who built it, or why the monstrous creatures of Yh'mi have not destroyed it. In fact, virtually every aspect of it, including the weather, is completely incongruous with the surrounding landscape. The Order of the White Hand is convinced that this place is an illusion or a trap, and has ordered all residents of Inns'th to stay away.
A field of massive stone spikes, beyond the Broken Plain to the west. These structures are extremely thin, steep and sharp, with mostly straight edges tapering to perfect points several kilometers high. In the rare event of a sunny day, the shadows of the tallest ones extend all the way to Inns'th. The spires are far too precisely formed to be natural, though their incredible size begs the question: what is the alternative? There is thick vegetation near the bases of the spires, and in addition to the usual creatures, Lun'Silth is known to reside here.
Observations over time have revealed that new spires appear regularly, at a rate of about one per week. Their appearance has never been observed, and only ever noticed well after the fact. All new spires have appeared on the edge of the area that faces Inns'th.
Furthest to the south, beyond Lirrey, are lands completely unexplored, and never seen from the air. These are believed to represent more than half the landmass of Yh'mi. Any horrors imaginable might be lurking out there…
The Skies of Yh'mi:
The air above this dark land is riddled with storms and heavy winds. Airship travel is inadvisable, as vessels are likely to be blown off course and crash into the Spires.
Virtually all of what may be called 'culture' in Yh'mi is concentrated in Inns'th.
Unlike typical frontier towns, which are hopeful, busy, and growing, the atmosphere of Inns'th is gloomy and fearful. Its expansion is constantly held in check by the darkness that surrounds it. Other than the Order paladins, most people here are either former criminals, mercenaries, or refugees of some sort. Few come to live here by choice, they are either hiding, or have nowhere else to go.
The Order is well-supplied, and very generous. It has so far maintained order, preventing gangs from forming and helping where it can, even forming a small civilian police force with the aid of a mercenary company. However, with an expanding population comes a gradual loss of control, and more and more people begin to suffer and starve.
Fear and paranoia are rife here, especially with the arrival of the Twistling shapeshifters. The locals will be shifty, easily angered and slow to trust. If you can prove you are there to help them, however, you may earn the unbreakable loyalty that can only be forged in the hardest of times.
Flora and Fauna
Inns'th: 750 (estimated)
Lirrey: 500 (estimated)
Yh'mi: Unknown. Pockets of survivors have been found, but never in large numbers. Sentient creatures known as Cyclopes are also present, but very rarely encountered.
Around 150 Mercenaries (number varies)
7 Order paladins
5 upper-rank Order paladins (Diligence, Erudition, Videntia, Volentia, and Fidelitas)
1 Order leader (Chastity)
Inns'th is also protected by thick walls of wood and stone and heavy gates. Their armory is well-stocked, but contains no notably advanced weaponry.
When under severe threat, the Order will usually pull in additional mercenaries, and request aid from the Terrenus military.
This timeline has been put together based on various reports, documents, and personal accounts of recent events. Though some details remain uncertain, most are verifiable.
Five Years Ago: A small sect splits off from the Gaian clergy, claiming that its fellows are too focused on kindness and the spreading of religion. Naming itself the Order of Purity, the group dedicates itself entirely to eliminating Unnaturals and other evil beings.
Four Years Ago: An exploratory party is sent by the Terrenus military to Yh'mi. Of the twenty in the expedition, three survive. Their reports are described as "highly concerning," and additional scouting parties are sent, with far more cautious mission parameters. Scouting reveals that Yh'mi is infested with creatures of unknown origin, and their numbers are growing.
Three Years Ago: The Order of Purity is approached by an unknown benefactor, who tells them the tale of Galan the White and Inn-su. It is unknown whether other persuasive methods were used (the Order claims that none were), but after this meeting, the group's name was changed to the Order of the White Hand, and plans were made to construct a new line of defense between Terrenus and Yh'mi.
Two Years Ago: The Terrenus military, no longer blind to the threat of Yh'mi, grants funding to the Order to hire mercenaries and construct fortifications. The building of the first encampment, named Inns'th, begins. The Order is named the prime government authority in Yh'mi, until additional military presence proves necessary.
One Year Ago: Construction of Inns'th is completed. Word of the town reaches nearby cities, and people begin to immigrate, fleeing debts, prison, or grudges. The Order is mostly accepting of these, though careful to keep them regulated. A member of the Order gifted with foresight, known as Videntia, predicts a 'storm' coming from Yh'mi, spurring the paladins to redouble their efforts in response.
Current Year: The first Twistlings appear. The Order puts out several notices offering pay for dangerous tasks, and adventurers and explorers arrive to contribute. The Terrenus military also expresses and increased interest in exploration.
Nobody really knows the truth about Yh'mi.
Some believe that it does not matter. The place is sick, broken beyond recognition, and whatever it once might have been is lost beyond all hope of retrieval. It is best to focus on present and future threats, and how to deal with them.
But there are always stories. Tales, rumors, mentions of a past that was truly different.
Not all of these stories agree, and some are radically different. Still, perhaps they may contain a grain of truth, or at least a warning. It is difficult to know. Anywhere else, historians would have seized any scrap of knowledge they could find- after all, what harm could it do to know more? But here, there is no such certainty.
For the benefit of knowledge-seekers, four tales are recorded here. Three of these are mere legends, whose true meaning can only be guessed at. The fourth is more recent history, and its veracity more verifiable. It can only be hoped that these are enough.
Tale the First: The Mother's Wrath
Though there are hundreds of folktales that speak of ancient Terrenus, only one of them ever references Yh'mi. Until recently, this was all most people knew of it.
Long ago, before any king or queen dared dream of uniting Terrenus, there were many different kingdoms. Some were great, others tiny. Some were ruled by benevolent lords, others by iron-fisted tyrants. But among these, none was more prosperous than Yh'mi.
This land in particular was the home of a great and powerful spirit, a being some worshipped as a god. She loved her people for their reverence, and cherished them as her children. The trees of Yh'mi produced endless delicious fruits, the beasts of the field lined up to be slaughtered, and even the most vicious of predators would never harm any man or woman.
In Terrenus at large, work was necessary for survival. Great cities needed to be raised, crops planted, tools forged and surgeons trained. But in Yh'mi, there was only paradise, and its people lived in an eternal state of primitive bliss, in the warm and loving arms of their motherly spirit. But this would only make them more vulnerable when disaster struck.
When the first killing plague came to Terrenus, it spread everywhere. Flesh oozed and rotted, blood flowed from nostrils, and the air itself smelled of pus and excrement. It was a time of suffering, and many became desperate. Pilgrims, hearing of a magical paradise in Yh'mi, flocked to the land by the hundreds, bringing with them disease and death. The spirit could only watch in horror as they infected her people, turning her paradise into a nightmare.
The people of Terrenus survived the plague. They were hardy, and the medicine and tools they had created helped stave off the worst of the illness. But in Yh'mi, disease had been virtually unknown. It annihilated its people, ending every life in the land in the span of a single year. The motherly spirit tried her best to comfort her children, redoubling her efforts to keep them well-fed and happy. But in the end, she could not save a single one. For months afterwards, all that could be heard in Yh'mi were her agonized screams.
But as with all grief, the shock faded. Screams turned to weeping, and weeping turned to cold, hard silence. Sitting atop the corpses of her children, the spirit turned her gaze to the lands of Terrenus, and felt only hatred. It had been the people of Terrenus who had brought destruction down upon her cherished land. They were to blame for everything she had lost.
And so she cursed them. Where once her love had made Yh'mi a beautiful paradise, her hate now blackened the skies and twisted the earth. Her land became a desolate place, then began to crawl again, with skittering, gnashing creatures that craved only the taste of flesh. Yh'mi would now, forevermore, be a land of pain and death, wreaking terrible vengeance against any outsider who dared to enter its hungry maw.
Tale the Second: The Last Stand of Inn-su
This is the tale of Yh'mi's origin as recounted by the Order of the White Hand. They agree that some details of this version may be incorrect, but nevertheless take its words to heart.
Terrenus has always been beset by threats, from within and without. Unnaturals creep in the dead of night, defiling the earth with their very presence. Dread sorcerers and vicious warlords march across the land, greedy for power. Over the ocean, Genesaris stirs, awaiting a moment of weakness, a chance to take the one nation greater than itself.
Terrifying though these threats may be, they have always been held back by those who fight for Terrenus. Noble knights, honest kings, and the wise adherents of Gaia. All play their part in defending their home.
But long ago, there existed a threat even they could not face. For to the south, in a place called Yh'mi, there existed a door, one that reached far beyond Valucre itself. From planes of existence barely imaginable to most, things could reach into Terrenus and try to claim it as their own.
Against such a danger, only the greatest of defenders would suffice. When the land screamed for aid, Galan the White, most noble of all paladins, was the first to answer the call. Leading an army south, he built the great fortress-city of Inn-su. Its walls towered hundreds of meters above the earth, daring the forces of worlds beyond to try and pass.
And try they did. Warriors made of nothing but smoke, glass dragons with hundreds of heads, faceless giants who walked upon the air as if it were solid earth. They all threw themselves against Galan and his citadel, and were smashed between the stones of hammer and wall.
For many years the paladins of Inn-su protected the people of Terrenus, so well that the innocent were barely even aware of the threat. Galan remained ever-vigilant, ready to defend his home for eternity.
But the things beyond the dark door of Yh'mi were not blind. In the strange planes that lay there, word spread of a world that could not be conquered, that would never yield. Eventually, this tale reached the ear of the darkest being of all.
They called it Eater-of-Stars. It had no true name, for its ravenous jaws had consumed even that. Its armies marched through thousands of worlds, reducing them to dust and bones. Now, it turned its empty gaze towards Yh'mi, and all of Terrenus beyond.
Though driven only by mad hunger, the Eater was no fool. It knew that even itself, vast and invincible, might be endangered by the stalwart defenders who now opposed it. So, instead of charing madly at the walls, it sent its stealthiest lieutenants, who could become part of the night itself.
They crept into Terrenus, past the vast fortress and into the mainland. There, they whispered into the ears of any who would listen. Galan is weak, they said, Galan is dying. He claims to defend your lands, but this is all lies. His fortress hides great wealth, and he spreads lies to defend it! This weak old man holds what is rightfully yours!
Rumors reached the ears of powerful men and women, and soon armies were marching south to Yh'mi, greedily seeking to take Inn-su. Stones were flung against its steadfast walls, toppling towers and cracking the foundations.
Galan's fellows urged him to ride out, and smite these usurpers to dust. But the paladin refused. The lords and ladies who had chosen to attack him were guilty, but in their armies marched innocent men, forced or cheated into this foolish attack. He would not harm them, leaving him no choice but to weather the storm.
On the other side of Yh'mi, Eater-of-Stars was watching, and gave the order. Even as the walls of Inn-su crumbled, a vast horde of skittering horrors surged forth, destroying all that lay before them. Above them towered the Eater, a black, many-legged beast taller than the clouds, drooling rivers of acid venom onto its servants below.
The armies of Terrenus fled in a panicked rush, driven to madness by what they saw. But Galan and his fellows stood strong, and fought on, the last beacon of humanity in a sea of crawling monsters.
Never since have paladins fought so fiercely, so tenaciously as Galan's army did that day. But they had no hope of winning. For every beast they killed, hundreds more flooded forth, and the shadow of the Eater drew ever closer, forcing them to retreat. Their forces dwindled, until a mere fifty warriors remained.
Galan could see how little they had accomplished. Without their fortress, they had failed to even slow the oncoming tide. There was no hope left for them. But perhaps there might be one last chance to save their home.
Raising his hammer, Galan the White roared, and charged forth, straight into the maw of the Eater.
His army followed, and were torn apart by endless waves of claws and teeth. But they cleared the way for their leader, who reached the Eater itself. Putting all his might into one final blow, he slammed his hammer into its pitch-black form.
His weapon shattered, leaving barely a scratch in the towering beast's armor. It looked down upon him, and laughed, before reaching down to crush him beneath a city-sized claw.
But Galan had not given up hope. Even as the world-devourer moved to end him, he slammed his hand into the same spot he had struck before. His fist went through, his hand reaching inside the monster. There, he found its rotten heart, and in his last breath, crushed it between his fingers.
The Eater-of-Stars screamed, so loudly it could be heard on the far side of Terrenus. But the sound did not last for long. The world-devourer collapsed, crumbling into an ocean of dust that suffocated its armies around it, and buried the door to Yh'mi behind it. The cataclysm shook Yh'mi, reducing it to a broken wasteland, until nothing was left but the pale white bones of Galan's hand.
Terrenus was saved by Galan's sacrifice, yet most never learned of this. They forgot about Yh'mi, calling it a fell place, a barren and dangerous land. For even though the threat was gone, a black aura hung about the place, and the remnants of the Eater's army still slithered and crawled among its black rocks.
People stayed away from Yh'mi, believing it lost. But the danger was not gone. The Eater-of-Stars yet lived, a black spirit now bereft of all its power. It would wait, hungering, growing stronger, until it could finally surge forth and consume the world that had hurt it so.
So it would remain, until a new generation of defenders rose up to hold the line once again.
Tale the Third: The Sound of Wings
This final hint at Yh’mi’s true history has been repeatedly found carved into ruins and artifacts discovered in Yh'mi, and translated with some difficulty. Its origin is unknown.
Are these words truth? I cannot say. In Yh'mi, there is no boundary between truth and lies.
Should you heed these words? Yes. You must.
That feeling you are being watched? It is real. She is everywhere, and always has been. Taking in every little detail, so that she may know everything, and make our world anew.
Those tales you hear about this place? They are real. All of them. Reality matters not to her, she picks and chooses the fragments of pasts she wants. Yh'mi is no boundary to her, merely a testing ground.
Yh'mi has no past. It came into existence maybe yesterday, maybe a year ago, maybe five days from now. It was simply stitched into our world, a foreign object added to Valucre, just for the sake of seeing what effect it might have. Even now, it changes, as she meddles with its structure, perfecting her toybox.
This is the only truth of this fell place: there is no truth. The past? But a jumble of false memories, made real by her will. The future? A game she plays with us, learning all the winning moves before she knocks the pieces off the board with a single swing or her arm.
What can we do? Only play along. Play as well as we can, and hope that she is entertained a few moments longer.
Beware the sound of wings.