The Legacy of the Lost Continent
An Explorer’s Synopsis of the Abandoned Lands of Athera
23rd of Horen’s Welcome, 1769 | 27th of Julya & Piov, 322 ES
As a young child, I grew up hearing all of my friends speak of the planned Imperial and Haeseni expeditions to Athera. Often, it was all they ever talked about. After our studies, we would often observe the sailors preparing for the expedition from the street curbs. And as I watched them, I looked to the horizon, wondering what horrors those brave men and women would face in the land of our forefathers.
Unfortunately, I was too young to accompany those brave adventurers. I had yet to prove myself as a woman of science. I was a nobody, an older sister burdened with the task of caring for her younger brother at boarding school without a mina to my name. I have since been blessed with both wealth and renown, but I have always regretted being unable to follow the men of Haense and of the Empire into the maelstrom.
Thus, when the Silver Council of Haelun’or reached out to me to ask if I would accompany the mali’thill expedition to the Lost Continent as a Haeseni observer, I was overjoyed. It was a dream come true, and it is to my friends in the Silver City that I dedicate this study. I publish it with the intent of preserving my observations of the Atheran ruins for generations to come, so that adventurous souls from generations unborn might take heart from look to the horizon themselves and travel into the unknown.
II.) Historical Background
A 15th Century Map of the Atheran Continent (c. 1543)
Following a difficult period of history in the aftermath of the flooding of ancient Anthos, the four races would emerge from the despair of the Fringe into a brave new world known as “Athera”.
While not the largest of landmasses in comparison to old Aegis, Asulon, or even Anthos, Athera was a welcome sight to behold for the descendants of the Four Brothers. A fertile island surrounded by a vast wilderness to the north and expansive badlands to the east, much change came over Athera during its century of habitation.
Shortly after the landing, the last remnants of the Third Empire would give way to the Fourth Empire of Tuvya Carrion, descendants of whom continue to rule the Kingdom of Hanseti-Ruska to this very day. However, the restored Carrion dynasty would not last for long. King Maric I, simply known as the “Storm King”, would go on to collapse the newly reformed Kingdom of Renatus, setting in motion a series of events which would result in the rise of the House de Bar, the Kingdom of Akovia, and the eventually the House of Barbanov and the ancient Duchy of Haense. The restoration of the Johannian dynasty to the throne would not come to pass until the rise of the Fifth Empire some years after the departure from Athera.
In that age, there were significantly less nation states in the world than there are at present. Only four primary ones existed during that era, those being the Kingdom / Empire of Oren, the Silver City of Haelun’or and it’s Wood Elvish and Dark Elvish protectorates, the Grand Kingdom of Urguan, and the War Uzg. The many independent realms of today were simply not a reality during that time, and the four races all chose to flock beneath their own united banners.
In human lands, the world was a very different place. The law of the land placed at the discretion of individual feudal lords, meaning that justice was distributed at a man’s whim. Women were thought to be far inferior to their male counterparts. Save for the scientific knowledge trail blazed by the almost now mythological VonSchlichtenCo, our knowledge of the natural world was also at a bare minimum. My elven friends, Chirr Sintel and Tanith Toov, often speak of those days with dread. How far society has come since then!
Here too the Elvish states were formed, for it was not long before the voyage to Athera that the Dominions of Old and New Malinor were dissolved. The Silver State of Haelun’or, the homeland of my hosts, was one such state. So much was different about that day and age… So much of our world grew while we lived in these lands, and while perhaps not as grandiose as the comparative cradles of Aegis or Anthos, seeing these lands and understanding their relevance is of the utmost importance.
III.) The Landscape
The Moorish, Desolate Landscape and Ruins of Athera (c. 1767)
Once a lush and fertile land, the Athera that I found in wait was in a far different state from that the land that our ancestors left behind…
...It was desolate. The soil was barren, characterized only by the rocks and weeds which lined the island’s dying grass. As a naturalist, I can confidently attest to the fact that I have never before seen an ecosystem so shattered as that of the Lost Continent. Beneath the surface lie the wyrms which destroyed this land, undisturbed in their hibernation. Only careful cultivation and care from the foremost agricultural experts could make this wasteland even remotely inhabitable, and even then, it would not be a pleasant life for those involved.
Such is the life led by the inhabitants of Athera, whom I shall discuss in further detail in another chapter of this study.
The ruins, however, were remarkably well preserved. At times, it almost seemed as though a year was too little time for me to spend in this amazing land. In another life, I could have spent decades pouring through those ruins, the wealth of anthropological artifacts and knowledge in these lands being limitless. Of course, I could not do this, for my duties and responsibilities in Arcas would not allow such a thing.
Unfortunately, many of the manors, farmsteads, and keeps that I encountered during my time in Athera were inaccessible. Many were however, and I encountered the most fantastic of things during my travels. I found the names of familiar families, such as Vladov, Stafyr, and Amador scattered across the landscape. Familiar places from history such as Petrus, Werdenberg, Ayr, and Siegrad were still all perfectly accessible. So too was the Silver City of Haelun’or, which I too was able to visit during my time in Athera. I must admit that some of the finer points of the Silver City eluded me, although I could understand- No, feel what the significance of the place had to my High Elven hosts.
As I traveled through the wastelands, I did so alone, for I did not want to put any of my gracious hosts who had given me the chance to see these remarkable lands at risk. Besides, I have always done my best work as a solo practitioner, and I wanted my study of the Lost Continent to be one of my best works.
IV.) The People
A Sketch of Two Volik Clansmen from Athera (c. 1769)
Although desolate, the Lost Continent was far from uninhabited. While most of the Descendants had chosen to leave Athera after the devastation wrought by the wyrms, the Voliks of Athera have proven themselves curious phenomena.
While the survivors of the Volik tribe now live on the continent of Arcas within the Kingdom of Haense, they are perhaps the only known people group to willingly remain. While some of these Voliks left the Lost Continent, others chose to remain. My good friend Torvald, however, described that decision as one which would have far reaching consequences for generations to come.
Both the Volik Clan and the Scyfling tribes of Athera suffered immensely after the Descendants decided to abandon the continent. Both the Scyflings and the Voliks were native to those lands, but they were not the same lands that their ancestors once knew. The world that they knew was a harsh and cruel place, one where the grazing grounds for livestock were scarce and what few resources that were available were fought over by over a dozen different entities.
This is where the “Crowslayer’s Vow” originated, a prophecy that foretold the unification of the Scyfling tribes. For years, this vow placed the Scyfling tribes at odds with the Voliks, a balance of power coming to pass until the arrival of the Haeseni expedition on the Atheran continent.
A study of the Scyfling culture that I have conducted, both in Athera and in Arcas, has revealed to me that theirs is a very brutal culture. One built around the precept of “might makes right”, as well as utter superstition. During my time in Athera, I examined several Scyfling war totems that seem to suggest a reverence for the “old gods” of their ancestors, for deeds accomplished by the fallen, for actions of those past that had made them immortal. Something to aspire to, for this primitive and barbaric people.
The reverence that they have for prophesy is also remarkable. Once, a Volik elder performed a fortune telling ritual for me, which required me to submerge myself in the chilling waters of Lake Milena and apply both mud and the blood of a fish to my face! So too do the Scyflings revere the power of prophecy, so much so that they were willing to leave Athera in order to cross a vast ocean to fulfill it.
Many anthropologists believe that the environment in which a people develops can have an extraordinary impact, and I am of this same school of thought as my colleagues. The desolation of Athera has helped to forge both the Volik and the Scyfling cultures, both sharing similar precepts yet being entirely different in their cultural attitudes and in their religion.
V.) Personal Observations
A Sketch of Myself Relaxing In A Hammock on a Small Island (c. 1767)
While my time in Athera was relatively shortly, I was able to delve through many of the ancient ruins that littered the landscape. I would have much preferred to spend years here, so that I might document every hall and scattered implement that I found across the landscape. There are many places that I was unable to visit, unfortunately, such as the halls of the Grand Kingdom of Urguan or the realms of the mali’ker and the mali’ame.
Regardless, with what little time I had on the lost continent, I am proud of that which I was able to document and observe. But, as my good friend of mine once told me, “A good picture can speak a thousand words.”
Thus, I shall simply annotate my most favored sketches that I am including in my publication of this study in order to better describe the Lost Continent in further detail. Derived from the original sketchbook which I kept during my travels, a colleague of mine, the famed cartographer Juan de Lyons, has graciously assisted me in the finalization of my prints for public circulation.
They are divided into sketches and water colourings, the former of which were simply drawings that I sketched out in my notebook in passing. The latter I took careful notice of the vibrant colors surrounding me, recording them for later enhancement.
In summary, while the many expeditions to Athera may have come to their conclusion, the Legacy of the Lost Continent and of the brave men and women who sought to explore that which was left behind shall continue to endure.
I would like to once again thank the Silver City of Haelun’or for allowing me to tag along on their own expedition to Athera. Without their assistance and generosity to allow me to accompany the expedition as a Haeseni observer several years ago, I would have never been able to pen this study.
While we may never return to the Lost Continent of Athera, the feats accomplished by the many expeditions who visited have accomplished, including those that I neglected to mention in this study, shall serve as inspiration to many future generations of explorers to come. We must never forget that with enough determination and endurance, nothing is impossible for us to accomplish.
It is, therefore, on an optimistic note that I conclude my study of the Atheran continent. I hope for future generations to take inspiration from the exploration of these lost lands and urge those who might be reading this to never stop looking beyond the horizon.
-Authored by Celestine E. Herbert,
President of the Northern Geographical Society