A bit of history and geography (written from the perspective of Modryans)
Modry is quite a large island that lies in the middle of the Ocean. It is a small affluent country that articulates around the lake Farrayne. In the past it acquired its wealth and status thanks to its strategic location on the maritime trades route. Far from any land, sailing ships could halt at Kastelturf, the main port and market of Modry, and replenish their provisions and water reserves. Nowadays, its importance for the trading route has decreased, mainly because a large part of trade takes place by air, and the ships that still pass are much more massive than the ancient sailing ships, much faster and robust to storms meaning that it is not anymore their priority to replenish their provisions, nor to wait for a strong gale to quiet down in Kastelturf protected waters. A canal slicing Kastelturf in two halves connects the ocean to the lake Farrayne.
Old stories also tell that in the past many coves on Modry’s coast were used as pirates’ dens. It was in the order of things that trade routes and a-plenty of wealth attracted vultures. It was almost impossible to struggle against these pirates considering all the coast lines which would have been to be guarded with watch towers and so Modry mainly defended its southern and western coasts which were more active because of the flatness of the land and the proximity with the lake Farrayne. And so Kastelturf stood together with Môrambau and Kemlyg to man some watch towers and some galleys which patrolled the coast line and prevented pirate vessels to launch raids, or worse, to adventure into lake Farrayne. It is told that this occurrence happened a few times and pirates sliced through the little unprotected towns surrounding the lake as a knife in the belly of a dead animal. The rest of Modry trusted the mountains to defend hamlets and towns from pirate incursions.
Modry used to be populated by tribes who didn’t build any permanent settlements, until when the trade routes between the eastern and the western world were opened and became increasingly used. Then, colons and fugitives from other lands started to arrive, attracted by the tales of fertility and freedom they had heard. They soon founded the harbour of Kastelturf which served as a base to welcome all the migrants who arrived. They also built the city of Eincyg which later became the capital city, on the shores of two lakes, the lake Farrayne at its southwest and the Cyg lake at its east. The natural defense of Eincyg was completed by two rivers flowing between the two lakes, the Gorm river at the north and the Nath river at the south. This defense was further enhanced by the hilly position of Eincyg. This ideal position encourage the Modryans to promote it as their capital.
Many of the tribesmen who used to wander across the isle of Modry, grazing their herds on the mountains during summer and going down to the plains surrounding the lake Farrayne in winter died at the contact with the foreigners who invaded their lands bringing sickness unheard of, against which their body had no sort of defense. Others were slayed, but there were no broad scale slaughters like in other places. And the ones that remained retreated to the highest mountains. Some of them pursued their pastoral life, grazing their animals on the northern plains which were scarcely populated, while others settled into small hamlets. So now if you wander afoot across the mountains (for there are no roads nor railways there) you may still encounter them.
The main resources of the isle of Modry comes from fishing (the town of Môrambau is famous for its fish and the skill of its fishermen : they fish in the ocean when it is fair, and when it is too rough they cross the little canal that brings them to the lake Farrayne, able to pursue their fishing in safer waters), stock grazing (mainly sheep and goat on the hilly lands of the Enfawrds and the Creigards – these mountains also provide plenty of black and grey stone quarries as well as mines of iron), agriculture (all the vegetable and fruits that grow in mild climates, in the fertile plains of Zelena and the plateau of Ucheldiroed called Modry’s granary), timber from the lushful forests covering the north and the east, wind energy in the south (there are countless mills and wind turbines in Kastelturf, Môrambau, Groevsford and Garynn), as well as a bit of offshore oil – enough for inner needs but not enough to export it in the industrial Rostwyg which is mainly a modern city-harbor.
Another thing worth mentioning are the islands in the middle of the lake Farrayne with tiny settlements of fishermen who resemble to the tribesmen in their crude way of life, and the large beacon-towers on the tiny island of Ros, as well as in Kastelturf, which guides the little ships by night. The highest peaks of the Enfawrds stand at about 4’500 meters.
The main way of transportation are the trains that crisscross the islands. They travel at a good-speed despite the rough topography, the many hills and turns of the coastline, placing Eincyg at five hours from Rostyg and from Kastelturf. The northern coast which is still scarcely inhabited is quite enclaved and the only connections with the rest of the country happen by boat, between Gollwyd and Kastelturf.
The history of Modry is peculiar since it has not known any major war. Its inhabitants have been accustomed to live in peace (except for the occasional threat of pirates), and it reflects in their way of living and their way of thinking. The strength of the winterstorms and the general precariousness of living in an island in the middle of nowhere toughened their characters, as well as their sense of community. They needed to stand together to make it through. They couldn’t afford losing half their crops or their stocks. Because of the mountains, and because there was no strong central power, each town, each hamlet, learnt to govern itself, and that’s the system that perdures today.
Modry has not yet been devastated by the modernistic ways of life. Surely, it has not been immuned against the wave of consumerism and hedonism that has afflicted the rest of the world, but it has still managed to keep a bit of its ancestral customs and goodsense. It is a place where people seldom own a car and where most of people move by train or by boat to travel between cities, by foot or by bike inside their town. They still drink their water from their tap. They rarely use plastic which is not considered a noble material; instead they use the finely woven cotton and linen that are cultivated. People seldom own televisions or other electronic devices because of the high taxes that are set on foreign imported goods : when Modry started to be populated by migrants and cities and harbors were built, its market was completely open to foreign trade; it was its only way to survive. And for many centuries its economy relied on trade mostly. However, two centuries before the happenings that will be told in this story, a great war afflicted the world, and trade routes were suddenly cut, as the east and the west of the world were waging war against each other. Modry was too far from both to take part in it, and it strongly resisted the urges of both parties to implement military basis on the island. If any of the two warmongers had been strong enough, they would have surely invaded Modry to impose their will. But fortunately for Modry they were already in a bad posture enough not to trouble invading a new antagonist land. They instead settled their claims on smaller unpopulated islands of the ocean, where their warplanes and ships could halt. Nevertheless, this war had dramatic consequences on Modry, because of the sudden interruption of trade. The subsequent years, thousands and thousands of people died of famine, because Modry wasn’t self sufficient in terms of resources. Its farmers planted cotton and linen and hops and other inedible crops to exchange against wheat, making some additional profits. And so the mayors of each city and town of the island were called to meet in Eincyg to try to find solutions at the end of the war, and they decided that should they survive the hardship of the following winter, Modry should become self-sufficient for its own alimentation and welfare, and should not rely on foreign trade. Moreover, it shouldn’t rely on this or that nation to be able to keep its independence and neutrality in case of new wars. And so foreign goods were heavily taxed, and this policy strongly boosted internal trades, eventually making Modry even more prosperous than it used to be. Instead of tending bare lawns in the little gardens surrounding houses or in public squares, vegetables and fruit trees were grown, contributing in the increase of local food production. And Modryans never had to regret the wisdom of the mayors who had taken that decision, and despite the pressure of large exporting powers who hungrily search for open markets to flood with their industrial production, Modryans always managed to keep their freedom and the quality of their welfare.
That’s a rough image of how Modry looks today. A place where neighbors help each other, where the sense of belonging to a town in strong, where open gardens are cultivated everywhere, where people use and consume only what their lands and mountains produce making them more aware of the scarcity of resources, where the hegemony of large powers and open markets and free flow of products is refused.
Modry has a tiny airport in Kastelturf which is one of the ways to enter the country, but it has no national aircompany, and only one or two air-connection per week with the main world airports. It is also possible to arrive by boat, once per week. And so, despite this era of touristic frenzy, Modry has been quite sheltered from tourists.
There are many sites worth the visits. The city of Eincyg. The uncontaminated nature of many parts of the lake Farrayne, the mountains of Enfawrds and Creigards, the tiny hamlet of Tandroed. And the lake and isle of Cyg, close to Eincyg, which lays in shrouds of mystery that have never been pierced.
The isle of Cyg
The lake of Cyg is much smaller than lake Farrayne, it is very narrow and quite long. It is fed by the rainwater and the springs of the Creigards that lie at its east. In its turn, it aliments lake Farrayne through the Gorm and the Nath rivers, two narrow, fast-flowing, accidented rivers with many waterfalls, as the Cyg lake surface stands at an altitude of 400 meters above sea level, whereas lake Farrayne is just a few meters above sea level, just enough not to have become salted.
In the middle of the Cyg lake lies the isles of Cyg that resembles a huge misty wall. It seems to have slopes so steep they are impossible to climb, with little vegetation that has settled there. The isle is long and narrow and its color subtly changes with time and season, but most often it is so misty that it takes a greyish coloration, as if it were very far from Eincyg, when it is barely at a few kilometers. There are almost always clouds hanging at its top, hiding it from the view.
There is a very old bridge built of huge dark stones that connects the city of Eincyg to the isle of Cyg. But this bridge is closed to visitors, and there is a guardpost always manned with soldiers that keep its end from Eincyg’s side.
The isle of Cyg has never been explored.
Many of the people who have walked on the bridge toward the isle of Cyg have never returned. Some of them have returned, many years later sometimes, with no memory of what had happened in between since they had left Eincyg, with no tale to tell about the whereabouts of the isle of Cyg.
The boats that have come too close of the isle of Cyg have reportedly disappeared. But sailors have learnt long ago not to venture of the Cyg lake. Why to venture on a tiny lake where fish is scarce and where you may meet a premature end, not braving the wind and the waves, but an unknown, creepy, ill-fortunate thing, at the mercy of the slightest blow of wind.
With the advent of the technological era a helicopter has been sent to try to pierce the mystery, but as soon as it came close enough to the isle of Cyg, it was flooded in a mist so thick and the electronical equipment was not working properly anymore and so the pilot prefered to safely retire, before it’d be too late, and his life as well as his costly apparatus lost.
Satellites only perceive a small gray spot on the map, corresponding to the isle of Cyg.
Therefore, it was decreed that for the time present, there was no mean of discovering the truth of the isle of Cyg, and since it was a nuisance to no one, there was no reason to bother about it further. Modryans are practical people. Moreover, a tiny temple built of crudely shaped stones (enormous pebbles) had been erected in the past on the shores of the Cyg lake, close to the cursed bridge, as if to warn the unwise wanderer to stop and meditate and avoid defying powers greater than his. Many Eincygians openly admired the ancient wisdom of the tribes and even took pride in it.
Who would still adventure on such a bridge you may wonder? Fools, originals (spiritists, photographers looking for the perfect shot, too-curious journalists…), criminals (those who are condemned to long sentences or life-long prison are sometimes given the choice, to walk over the cursed bridge and disappear swallowed into the mist. Few take that chance.
The soldiers manning the guardpost in front of the bridge control each person that steps on the bridge (a few ones every year) warning them of the danger lying ahead and telling them they probably won’t make it back alive. They complement the work of the small temple of crude stones. They also welcome back the few ones who make it back from the isle of Cyg, a person every two years or something like that.
In the local culture, the isle of Cyg is also called the isle of Death and the isle of Gods. It is considered that it symbolizes our limitations as human beings, reminding us that we are mortal, that we are tiny creatures in front of the immensity, the complexity and the mystery of the universe. People consider themselves blessed to live so close from such a reminder. That may be another reason for which Modryans generally behave more wisely than other affluent countries.
How this mystery is perceived
Other countries have never been very interested in Modry, especially considering what they define as a backward-isolationist attitude because of the unusually high taxes on imported goods, the lack of exportations (all the production is directed mostly to inner needs), and the lack of proper infrastructures to welcome tourists (only a tiny airport).
Some foreign scientists have come to Modry to try to comprehend the mystery of the Cyg island, but it has been individual efforts mostly (doctorate students writing a thesis about it for instance).
But with the advent of the underground conflict between Hazen and the Rational World, foreign powers and scientists will suddenly take a huge, disproportionate interest in the isle of Cyg.
They will send airplane, robots, with little success (these will stop working suddenly, and the only pictures they can send back are gray) and with the sharp disapproval of Modryan authorities who prefer to keep this mystery unexplored. It starts to attract many tourists and curious as well.
Later they will pressure to build an underground tunnel under the Cyg lake proposing to finance it and trying to bait authorities with the possibility of rich underground resources that may be discovered, and which would be exploited for the benefit of the isle of Modry. The authorities refuse at first, but this creates a fracture among them, as some think it’d be better to cooperate with larger powers (what they won’t have with nice manners, they may take by force) and anyway why not to welcome science and modernity and explore this mystery. These same politicians want to cancel taxes on foreign goods as well.
The intromission of foreign powers fuels these inner conflicts. They give money to the opposition politicians, and soon the opposition grows stronger and stronger.
[Another version of the origins of the Modryans is that they have always dwelled on their island and they are not colons who came from abroad. It would explain better the cohesiveness and the quietness that is characteristic of the people and which would have been harder to develop between colons coming from different places and speaking different languages. Throughout centuries the tribes have unified, invented an alphabet, etc.]
Hazen perspective on the isle of Cyg
When human beings adventure themselves on what is known as the cursed bridge, their rational mind undergo a rapid, abrupt, dangerous shift.
With more or less strength, during all their life these people have held some things to be true and others to be false. And they have always been surrounded by people who held beliefs more or less similar to theirs, strengthening them in their beliefs.
They are like fishes who have always swam in the sea, surrounded by other fishes. A common belief among fishes is that spending too long out of water on the beach will bring them to death.
And suddenly these fishes crawl on the beach, and they are surrounded by many other creatures, in a way similar to them, but in other ways different. These creatures are able to swim, but they prefer to spend their life outside of water because they call out-of-water events more real and more interesting. The fishes are shocked to hear that, for they always thought the main part of life happened inside water. They are awed the see the big blue sky without the dimming light of water on top of them, they are startled to hear the singing of birds, the barking of dogs, the hooting of owls, when they were used to in-water communication. All their senses are assailed, and they have troubles to remain focused.
The people who step on the cursed bridge are suddenly ripped off the reassuring cocoons of similar beliefs in which they lounged all their life. They are thrown in a new, different, unknown world. A world that in appearance at least doesn’t abide by the same rules, that contradicts the science they always held for true and universal. Their rational mind that has been shaped when they were kids and strengthened and stiffened in that position like a vase of pottery can hardly take in this new reality without feeling entirely overwhelmed. Their only possible way of interacting successfully with this new world, with Deep Hazen, is by the way of their heart. Suddenly, all the people who had lived in the Rational World a life far from their heart will now consciously feel this internal split. Their rational mind is entirely stalled, and they turn to their heart, to their emotional side, which has always been undeveloped and underfed. And so they step into Deep Hazen without the proper tools to understand it, to survive it, with the maturity of a spoiled child. They can survive, they can even go back to the Rational World if they have a sufficient strength of will early on, but if they go back they will be ripped from all their memories in Hazen. They must give up Hazen to be able to go back. All the information they take in in Hazen are quite hazy; but to go back to their own world, they must deny even the reality of these information, they must deny the reality of magic and the existence of Hazen. Those who continue walking through Deep Hazen may become crazy and err all the remaining of their lives like ghosts. Others who had a less stiffened rational mind may make it through to Shallow Hazen and adapt to life there. Others still, who already lived by their heart on Earth will adapt more easily to life in Hazen, because their rational mind is already almost in harmony with their heart. There will undergo no split on the cursed bridge because they already know intuitively how to cope with the reality of Hazen. They will stand firm on the two feet of their heart, without relying on their rational mind which is more like a secretary taking notes who doesn’t overstep his prerogatives and doesn’t try to make decisions. They will trust that even though they rationally ignore almost everything of this new reality, even though they are drowned in a haze so thick they can’t see anything with their eyes, they will in due time be able to understand it and live through it.
For Deep Hazen, the isle of Cyg has an extreme importance because it is one of the gates between worlds, between the Earth and Hazen, and it can be used in both directions. The few people who are born on Earth and feel the call of Hazen may pass there. The most powerful magicians of Hazen can journey through Earth to understand better what is happening, and come back to Hazen with first-hand news and tales. Each year or two years a different wizard is chosen by chance to undergo this journey.
And a very strange phenomena
This unexplored impossible to accede island
And the damned bridge leading to it
People engaging there (fools, originals, criminals, disappearing as they set foot, a white mist making them lose consciousness of space)
Even machines disappear as they go too far into the lake of Cyg, airplanes, robots
People coming from all over the countries around to see this strange bewitched place
The scientific community is split about it: some want to study it, they compare it to quantum physics and black holes, whereas others think it is a loss of time
No one is known to have come back for at least 500 years. People who went there with camera, swearing to come back disappeared forever
People are curious and afraid, there are children who imagine all sorts of stuff
Old legends telling mythical stories of people who went there and came back, but all are contradictory
Huge rough ill-cut mountains ever changing in shape and color
Huge thunderstorms above them, volcanoes
The lake is very dangerous – only experience fishermen know where to stop. Every time there is a storm or some haze, there are boats disappearing to never return
Sometimes the isle of Cyr disappears in the haze, and for a couple of days it is not there anymore looming threateningly over the city of Powlen
People from very far come to visit this town that looks in a way like the end of the civilized world
From the other side of the old arched bridge lies mystery and wilderness
Huge mountains of around 8000 meters high, snow capped
Curious, tourists, esoterists and scientists come alike; the latter tried everything to pierce the mystery – watching it with a telescope (but everything disappeared into a misty whiteness before the lense), sending machines, sending rays in the night (to understand the kind of material it is made of), trying to dig a tunnel…
They often talk about it on the newspapers; referendum on the tunnel. People complain about the state squandering their money with such foolishness
Condemned to death people can choose to step on the bridge and head there
From a defense point of view, the state thought it was very dangerous to have this uncontrolled sea on its territory – in case some enemy managed to pierce its secret and attack by surprise
As you step on the bridge and disappear in the mist, you fear dizzy, and you lose all your possessions and later you don’t know how much time has passed and lose entirely notion of time – like when sleeping. You feel no hunger and no thirst. And the material reality is not ultimate (distances are much greater, and there are different kinds of magic and people)
A big title in the newspapers: The secret of Cyr possibly pierced! Finally a community of scientists has made interesting discoveries… blablabla… after calling it one of the most interesting enigmas of modern science…
There would lie inestimable quantities of highly energetic resources, a gold mine for Modry!
Elsewhere the boundaries of the civilized world
Maybe Modry and another country form a continent to themselves…
Other countries simply accuse Modry of lying, it’s not really a gate with Hazen