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Silence

With heavy steps that sank through the soft ash and crumbled pumice, the two wizards climbed the mound. Silence was a more than apt name; they were too far away from the shoreline and there were no birds, so the only sound was the crunching of their boots. Progress was slow; while the slope of the surface was quite gentle, the ash swallowed their steps, and it took over an hour to get to the top of the hill.   Alistair sat down heavily. The view from the top of Silence was quite nice; a vista of the Feryll Sea in all directions, an unbroken stripe of shimmering bluish-green against the bright blue sky. He reached into his satchel, pulling out a salt beef sandwich, and took a bite. "This is the worst picnic you have ever thought up. Why are we here?"   The other wizard rolled her eyes as she leaned back, arms behind her head. "You don't at all think this is somewhere cool to be? A volcanic eruption that lasted a full century? I just thought it would be fun to come up and see the view." Rigana glanced at the Academy research site, down the way they came. "The dreams of a town full of pirate plunder just up and do nothing for you?"   "Nope." Alistair chewed thoughtfully. "I'm paid enough through my Association retainer. A pile of plundered gold and gems wouldn't really change anything for me."   Rigana sighed, turning her gaze back to the ocean. "Here we are on a natural wonder of the world and you're just saying the same droll things as usual."   "Would you prefer that I'm down there with a shovel looking for Vasyrmian's dread sword?" Alistair snorted. "The treasure hunters tried, I doubt I'd be able to outdo them."

Demographics

The original town on the site of Silence was known to be a variegated trading hub, with sailors and natives from all across East Saibh paying visits and trading. The current settlement houses mostly researchers from The Academy of Etoile.

Government

Strictly speaking, Silence is outside the boundaries of the Principality of Etoile and is claimed and governed by no state. Practically speaking, the Academy manages the affairs of the research camp.   Historically, the town on the site of Silence was a 'free' city, apparently governed by a group of wealthy pirates and traders who wished to maintain a 'neutral space' to conduct business activity, and independent of any lord or petty kingdom.

Industry & Trade

Evidence of an extensive mercantile culture is prominent in both the excavations on Silence as well as recorded journals and histories. The journal of one Ibn Zurara describes a remarkable scene when entering the town marketplace, sometime in the fifth century:  
With trepidation I waited my turn at the queue to enter the trading floor. Guards had been posted at every entrance and exit to control access and watch for thieves; this must have been a bitter irony for whoever was victim of the latest plunder. As I was admitted through the post gate, my eyes beheld an incredible splendor at the center of the market, just under the canvas tentpole. Chests stacked six high, gold spilling as a waterfall from one to the other, cascading in a torrent of jewels, weapons, crafts, all carelessly spilling out in a fount of riches. This was the hoard of the Lord Pirate, Vasyrmian, and the display was meant to awe, as none would ever dare touch a single coin in the pile without risking their head.   His was merely the most notable sight. The stalls surrounding were each overflowing with stolen plunder. A stand of weapons, some still caked with the blood of their last wielder, next to a fifteen foot high stack of wine casks, vintner's mark indicating a source from the vineyards near Coridii. Jeweled crowns, heavy scepters, fine silks and ermines, any who chose to purchase their goods here would want for nothing.

Infrastructure

Excavations have noted the presence of a robust freshwater aqueduct and sewer system in the ruins, presumably to maintain value as a resupply port for frontier sailors and pirates. The current camp has no major infrastructure, with all necessities shipped in by regular Power-sail resupply by the Academy.

History

The original town on Silence (its own name lost to history; though many written accounts persist, all fail to state the town's name) was an active tradepost on a large island, in the archipelagos of East Saibh, not too distant from the splendor of the The Stagonids. A 'free' city that paid no tax to any known state, the town was a 'neutral' zone, with the most powerful pirate groups enforcing a kind of truce in and around the island - all ships transiting to and from the island were to be guaranteed safe passage, as it was assumed that any such ship would be involved in the piracy trade in some way. The pirate crews coexisted with islanders native to the area, who traded fish and supplies for fine plunder. The earliest mention of the town in any historical record dates to the year 288, though excavations have indicated the town is significantly older.   At some point in the year 620, an underwater volcanic eruption near the island destroyed the settlement. No record of any survivors exists. While the town itself was not directly impacted by wave action or upwelling, the steam and ash plume of the eruption was directly upwind, causing a rain of ash and pumice that pummeled the island relentlessly. This eruption went on for over a hundred years; the site of the eruption became a well known maritime hazard to avoid, and any ships that ventured too close risked being holed by stray volcanic tephra.    The eruption halted in the year 721, and curious adventurers lured by the historical tales of wealth and riches found an island buried under hundreds of feet of ash and pumice, with all life on the island destroyed. Halfhearted attempts at excavation found little of value, and the site was eventually turned over to an archaeological team from The Academy of Etoile, who established a permanent base camp on the island while digging down through the ash layers. A researcher with a sense of humor minted the camp's name as 'Silence', which stuck - without animal or plant life, the island is remarkably quiet, even by the standards of the deep frontier. The deepwater harbor of the island cleared itself naturally of floating pumice within a season of the end of the eruption.

Points of interest

Silence in its current state is simply a research camp on a colossal hill made of compacted gray pumice and ash. The camp itself is unremarkable, but the excavations have revealed what was likely the original dockside piers of the town as well as the remains of several buildings. The rest of the island remains covered by heavy layers of ash and is mostly an undifferentiated surface devoid of life.

Geography

The original town of Silence was established on an island that featured a deep natural harbor; this quality, as well as its 'central' position in the pirate havens of East Saibh made it a natural place to establish a neutral zone territory. Post-eruption, the island is covered in so much thick ash that it resembles little more than a giant mound, rising up out of the sea in a gentle slope.

Natural Resources

While the island must have supplied freshwater to the historical settlement, no natural resources exist at Silence, other than the ash. The ash does have commercial value, but Silence is not the most convenient source of ash, so the supply is not commercially exploited by any consortium.

RUINED SETTLEMENT
620

Founding Date
Unknown
Type
Outpost / Base
Population
At least 1000+ historically, ~20 currently
Location under

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