Located about sixty miles southwest of Kyper, the nearest major island is Sella. The island is roughly saddle-shaped, with a mass of high cliffs dominating its northern third and another, slightly lower mass of hills to the southwest. The eastern part of the island is rugged but low country, while the comparatively smooth west is dominated by a savannah, with salt flats along the coast. The island has only one river of significant size, the Dekaniki, which flows down out of the mountains in the eastern half of the island before abruptly turning east and heading to the sea, passing through a series of limestone caverns en route. There is some evidence that the entire island is the remains of a large volcanic caldera, but the limit of geothermal activity within living or oral memory is nothing more threatening than a handful of natural hot springs.
Most human habitation of the island is limited to scattered strongholds and camps. The largest town on Sella is Okero, nestled in a valley around the Dekaniki just north the point where it meets a tributary stream, the Para, coming from the south and turns toward the sea. A couple hours’ walk over the hills to the east, there is a small but well-protected natural harbor with an equally small, but energetic, port. About four hours’ walk southwest of Okero is Para Potam, less a town than an unusually dense region of farming villages and hamlets. It is here that most of the island’s agriculture takes place.
In contrast, the western half of the island is more sparsely populated. The two major centers of human habitation there are Skygate, a small community in the southwestern highlands, and on the edge of the salt flats stands Castron Cremo, the name of both a still-functioning pirate stronghold and the community under its protection.
Except for isolated druid and hermit camps, the mountainous northern third of the island is almost entirely bare of human habitation. The slopes and valleys there have a dark reputation as the home of monsters and madmen.
Okero is home to about six thousand people and includes the island’s seat of government, with a Levy-Master and a druidic hierarchy. Administration of the island is nominally in the hands of a Navarch, although this ruler is clearly little more than a renamed pirate king whose authority only extends as far as his soldiers – it just so happens that he pays lip service and some taxes to the Archipelago’s central government, and his soldiers control or influence most of the land east of Castron Cremo. The rest of the island together holds about ten thousand, with no more than a few hundred in any given community.
The bulk of the island’s populace is Archipelago people of melting-pot ancestry, although there is a noticeable minority of Rune Sailors living in coastal communities in the east and south, and some of the islanders have some degree of Uluogu or “Bronze” heritage. Languages spoken on the island include Pata Ila, Vandik, and two local pirate-jargon version of Gyamt, known colloquially as Okero Cant and Cremo Cant.
Compared with the tangled and unruly – but ultimately law-abiding – enclaves of Kyper, Sella is more chaotic and more uniform. The Archipelago’s piratical history is closer to the surface here, and where law rules, it’s at the point of a spear. The character of Sella is feudal where Kyper is mercantile; mysterious where Kyper is complex.
There is no thriving guild presence here; each community produces what resources it can and sells off the rest. There is no authoritative Order of Magi presence here; there is one low-key master with two apprentices in Okero, and all the rest of the island’s practitioners are from unregulated traditions. Family gods are common, and the Interpreters of Dream are the most common breed of priest to be found, with one or two in nearly every community. Mercenaries are not uknown on Sella, but the masters of neither Okero nor Cremo smile on freelancers; a sell-sword is just too unreliable for the comfort of the powers that be.
Points of Interest
The Axis – A baobab tree of immense size, said to grow in the exact center of the island and root it into its position in the sea, without which it would drift into far more dangerous waters. The only monkey on the entire island lives in this tree; those who catch a nut it has thrown are said to be blessed.
The Citadel – In the middle of a small but dense patch of jungle in the southeastern corner of the island stands an ancient tower of simple sun-baked bricks. Despite its apparently crude construction, the Citadel never seems to age, and its origins are lost to antiquity. Now home to the island’s resident archmage, a paranoid type who refused to reveal his name or face, but nonetheless supported a thriving community of craftsmen in a walled and gated village around the base of the tower and could be counted on for aid in dire times. He single-handedly enforced a de facto truce between the Navarch and Castron Cremo. The Citadel has gone silent recently, to the concern of many.
The Dull Valley – A great, shallow depression in the western savannah. Said to be the site of a long-forgotten supernatural battle. Shunned.
The Gate of Dusk – At the southernmost extremity of the northern mountains, an ancient but broad and well-kept road leads to what must be a pass into some hidden valley. But the road is blocked by a wall and gate formed from a single, unbroken piece of obsidian. Each month on the dark of the moon, mute acolytes emerge and trade curiosities and charms with the locals. The gates are said to open during eclipses as well, but none have ever ventured beyond them and returned to tell the tale.
The Limestone Caverns – The cave complex that the Dekaniki passes through on its final push to the sea is roomy and labyrinthine. Fish caught in the still pools of its depths are renowned as the most excellent catch in all the waters on or around the island. Fishermen seem to be considered a delicacy by something that lives in the darkness, too. Recently rumored to be safe for fishing as long as one appeases the water-spirit who lives there.
The Moon-Stair – The road that passes through the Gate of Dusk continues straight south, across the grasslands and hills, out to the very end of a thin spit of land, where a gray-white pillar stands planted in the rock. The pillar seems to be made of a piece of whale-ivory, but is easily as high as five men are tall. Tiny hieroglyphs in some arcane language cover its surface. An minor site of reverence for the Rune Sailors.
The Stonefall – The Dekaniki comes down from the mountains above Okero in a massive waterfall, the mists of which mark the town’s northernmost marches. It is said that anyone who meditates under its waters for a full day and night will gain great strength, endurance, and wisdom. Many have died in the attempt.
The Upper Kin – The grasslands around Skygate are dotted here and there with basalt pillars, atop which live hermits who are said to possess madness and insight in equal measure. They are served by the Grey Pages, men and women at the end of hope who take vows of chastity, wear unisex garments, and perform menial labor in return for double meals.