Aelusia

The Jewel of The Flickerwood


The surgeon called these changed men and women 'Buoyant Drifters.' I saw one floating upside down among the roots that hung low in the air above us. He gave me a genuine smile. I'm not sure if it was the alien visage or the ailments that obviously plagued his mind, but I saw enmity hidden behind the teeth.
— Serenity
 

The Flickerwood Orchard

Aelusia, the first colony of Estoya, is a prime example of the beautiful landscapes produced by Universal Mania. Above the bushes and small trees on the forest floor, hover the great Flickerwoods. When Expedition Venus came seeking refuge in the strange floating forest, they indulged in the Aelu fruit, having little in the way of supplies. This caused a massive change in the explorers that stands as a great shame for Estoya.

Expedition Venus left Estoya with high hopes. Many would argue that Venus suffered a fate worse than death. The actions of its leader, Brittanya Deverey gave Estoya a negative reputation among the Lartasians, who witnessed the events unfold and declared Estoya "a nation of savages."
This stereotype still persists in the nation despite efforts to correct it.
     

The Aelusia Colony

The colony is comprised of buildings nestled in the hollowed out trunks of Flickerwood trees, and hovels littering the surface below the orchard. The Buoyant Drifters live above while the buildings below are occupied by the descendants of Expedition Meili and travelers who settled in the colony. The colony's population numbers less than 1000 and grows steadily, attracting merchants and traders alike in recent years.

Aelusia owes allegiance to Estoya, which exercises what control it can over the colony. Aelusia doesn't have much of a government. The Buoyant Drifters are usually far too manic to handle government affairs and those on the surface are far too busy trying to assist those above to pick up the slack. Instead, there is a form of understood law that people obey more out of habit than anything else. Crimes do go unpunished from time to time, but in recent years, a judge of law has settled in The Flickerwood to enforce Estoyan rule.
     

Buoyant Drifters

Buoyant Drifters are those who are addicted and changed by Flicker. These individuals have developed a rather unique almost religious culture around the flickerwood trees. This culture has clashed with those on the surface below on more than one occasion. The Drifters are unpredictable, and it is never clear what will set them off or offend them. During the years of study, stages for the condition have been created. There are three stages of the Buoyant Drifter.
  • Enhanced: The individual begins to constantly feel weightless and their overall weight decreases in increments despite the fact that they appear normal. This effect usually begins about two months after constant exposure to Flicker.
  • Changed: Those afflicted begin to lose bone and muscle mass at an exponential rate and their bodies begin to stretch. Their fingers become pointed and elongated capable of being used as weapons. Their faces begin stretching as well. This process can take years to even begin and more still to reach stage three.
  • Drained: After numerous years of exposure, the drifter will begin stretching beyond their normal limits. A sudden gust of wind can carry them off and their skin tends to rip if put under too much stress. By this point, the mind is all but gone and one could be considered brain dead. They are not long for the world and only have a few months remaining.

History

Aiden Roux financed the expedition in hopes of connecting the far western nation of Lartasia with Estoya. The trade of goods and knowledge would be essential in fixing the world's problems. The Universal Maladies and their effects were becoming more and more severe. Lartasia is the only nation that coexists with them.

Expedition Venus left Estoya and reached the city of Arkysalem without incident, but soon after entering Dis the expedition lost their way.
They spent far more time than planned navigating the golden sea of dunes, had a nasty run in with Universal Melancholia, and came out with little in the way of supplies and no way to contact home.
The Telebox suffered irreparable damage as the expedition made their way through the western jungle, catching the eye of a particularly vicious predator: jhoterordene. They ventured into The Flickerwood Orchard, a region on the edge of Lartasia, and found that the creature refused to cross its boundary, but waited patiently for them to leave.

Deverey

Brittanya Deverey was a known explorer who traveled to Lartasia twice before joining up with Expedition Venus. Her experience made her valuable, but it became clear to those in the expedition, who chastised her for every decision that went bad, that she lacked leadership skills.
When they entered The Flickerwood Orchard, she began acting strangely. While before she always listened to criticism and tried to improve, she began to snap at others and on more than one occasion, attack any who opposed her judgement. Before the effects of the aelu trees took hold on the explorers, she routinely took anyone who opposed her and chained them outside the orchard, where the jhoterordene waited to give them a terrible death.

Her journal entries chronicle her descent into madness.
The effects of Mania, Melancholia, and the stress of the criticism of her peers seemed to take its toll on Brittanya who slowly began to unravel to the point to where the pages are covered in nonsensical scribbling and a constant repetition of the phrase, "His eyes... they glitter."

Brittanya used fear to control her fellow explorers. By the time she died, escaping the effects of The Flickerwood became impossible. Brittanya died at the hands of the explorers in Expedition Vulcan. Upon discovering her heinous actions, they sentenced her to death and a Judge of Law and Merit who left with the expedition carried out her sentence, sending her cackling with glee into the afterlife.

Vulcan

A second Expedition was funded to discover the fate of Expedition Venus. Expedition Vulcan was better equipped to handle Dis, as that is where they lost contact with Venus. They carried entire vats of water and supplies led by a Disian Warden to help navigate the dunes.

When Vulcan discovered Venus among The Flickerwoods, they were shocked at what their countrymen had become and lamented at Brittanya's betrayal. Vulcan returned to Estoya defeated. It was one of the only expeditions to do so.

Meili

Another expedition funded by Aiden Roux, Meili, was a colonization effort. They gathered medical professionals, scholars, and scientists to research the region and the Universal Mania that plagued it. They also tried to rehabilitate the forsaken members of Venus.

This is an ongoing effort. It is still in progress during the time of Expedition Demeter.
When the colony was established, it mainly consisted of medical tents, only developing an economy in the last century.

Aelu Trees


Aelu trees are commonly referred to as Flickerwoods due to the effects it has on its environment and those within. The flickering glow of the Flickerwood trees couple well with their silver bark and bio-luminescent leaves which glow purple. The trees hover anywhere from 10-20 feet from the ground. Their roots dangle like tendrils beneath them as they slowly drift from one place to another.

The leaves are perfectly circular and the fruit which grows on its roots are pyramid shaped. The fruit is the same purple hue with silver specks littered across the skin.
When eaten, the fruit is sweet, refreshing, and highly nutritious. One could live their entire life eating just this fruit without suffering any nutritional deficiencies. The juices, however, are highly addictive when consumed over long periods of time. The Aelu trees feed on living organisms. They can break down the whole body given time, but they prefer muscle tissue and bone.

Something that shocked Expedition Meili when they arrived at the colony was just how severe the loss of muscle and bone was among the members of Expedition Venus. Some possessed no bones at all, floating in long slender waves of flesh like flags among the roots as the trees begin to eat away at the heart, causing a quick death. The worst part is that the addiction can cause lethal withdrawals if any attempt to quit is made once addicted. The trees can feed on something in this way only if it has become addicted to its fruit. A chemical in its juice works its way through the organism's body, transferring nutrients in some arcane form to the tree that bore the fruit.



Flicker


Flicker is a weightlessness that comes from nearing an Aelu tree or eating its fruit. It causes strange fluctuations in gravity, allowing one to jump higher and further, carry more weight, and move quicker than normally possible.

This effect lasts as long as the exposure continues or for an hour after eating the fruit outside of a Flickerwood's influence. Over months of exposure, those affected will suffer rapid bone and muscle loss due to low gravity and the trees feeding on their victims.


Torn from the Flesh of A Flickerwood Tree

While expedition Venus was a failure, over the years the colony has grown to be of use. First and foremost, the settlement is placed strategically between three regions that are difficult to travel through. The Freeholds sit in the Northeast, The Black March in the East, and Dis to the Southeast rarely spare travelers who venture within their borders. Those seeking to make the journey find Aelusia to be a welcome sight. This is compounded with the various forms of equipment that come only from Aelusia.
Many scientific advancements emerged in the study of universal maladies, most notably Mania. These advances include the understanding of gravity which is expressed in weapons only available in Aelusia: Flickerwood Arms. The study of the mind has also seen some progress. Mania, for example, can be used for therapeutic purposes. Those who suffer ailments of the mind are allowed time within Mania.

By the time they leave they appear cured. Upon learning of these advances, Estoya doubled their efforts in reaching the land of Lartesia, the only place Mania is found.

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by THEDURRRRIAN
       

A Tragic Tale

Expedition Venus was a failure. Hundreds of people died due to the effects of the Flickerwood trees, a leader tormented her allies after being driven mad. The original goals of the expedition had to be taken up by later expeditions to come.
Some blame Aiden Roux for his foolish selection in leadership, yet others still believe that the expeditions are doomed to begin with. Since Meili established the colony, many of the Buoyant Drifters have expressed anger and resentment towards Estoya. They blame House Roux for their current state in what few lucid moments they have.

Those in Estoya pity the creatures, for they are no longer what they once were and will never return to a normal life. The people condone the actions of Expedition Meili, but nobles in Estoya consider the continued support of the colony a waste. Centuries have passed since the colony was established and it has only a handful of real accomplishments to show for it. In the present, the legacy of expedition Venus, Vulcan, and Meili lives on.

Expedition Demeter actively seeks to use Aelusia as a touchstone on their journey to Lartasia. Expedition Demeter is the first expedition to use The Estoyan Pathfinders. The Pathfinders build roads that no longer stretch due to Universal Vertigo and they would bridge the gap between Estoya and his colony making travel and communication significantly easier. It is Tammer Roux's wish to aid them further in the future, and this cannot be done unless Expedition Demeter succeeds.
 


Cover image: by ALEXKAISER

Comments

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24 Apr, 2019 22:00

A great article. Really really good! Overall I really like the theme you establish at the beginning, the mystery around the tragic fate of Venus and the danger the of the Aelu Trees. The concept of your colony, the conflict between normal and "changed" beings, the fate of Deverey, its a great narrative and is only enhanced by the css theme and way you structure your article.   Now there are a few things to mention. The colony grows steadily, and attracts merchants and traders alike. Its population numbers less than 1000, but grows every day. the "grows every say is kinda repetitive. Maybe merge the two sentences into one? It would also flow better.   Another thing i've noticed is that on occasion you start consecutive sentences with the same word. That just doesn't read that well.   But really those are just nitpicks. All in all a good looking article with interesting content and a fascinating premise and story. Very much worth the like.

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
24 Apr, 2019 22:04

Thank ya very much good sir. Good eye. I didn't notice my repetitive wording! Thanks so much for the feedback.

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Master Redclaw123
Elias Redclaw
25 Apr, 2019 15:28

Oh dear god.... This article appeals so much to my detail hungry eyes! I love the details you give here and the mysterious theme that you weave from the very beginning! Its amazing!   I really like the description you use here. Not only does this sound like an extremely fun place to visit, its very beautiful indeed. That combined with the artwork, prose, formatting and CSS makes this article a masterpiece of CSS , BBcode, formatting and original content all wrapped up in one giant premium package. Overall, i didn't detect any mistakes in the article itself so Congrats and keep up the damned fine work!

30 Apr, 2019 14:40

That's an interesting article. I really like your artworks (I don't know if they are yours, but they are on point!) as well as your CSS style, although this is a more general thing. I really appreciated as well the diversity of themes that you mentionned throughout the article, the description of the buoyant drifters was particularly intriguing.   Anyway, good work !

With love,   Pouaseuille.   Feel free to check my entry for the Alliance Challenge! Or don't, if you don't feel like it.
Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
30 Apr, 2019 14:48

Thank you very much! I appreciate it and in glad you ebjoy it. The artworks are not mine. The artist names are credited. Thanks for the kind words mab

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Shadow Malachi
Robert Kane
2 May, 2019 18:09

I liked the layout of your article although i wished you linked to other articles what was in bold. But overall it was a good read. Good job! Also map was great addition to it !

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
2 May, 2019 18:26

Oh thanks man! I appreciate it!

Check out my work | The Web | Expedition Demeter
8 May, 2019 00:46

Man, I have to say there are some messed up topics in this article. The Bouyant Drifters sound terrifying to have to live with let alone become one. That's not even discussing the downright horrifying situation the original Venus expedition went through.   With respect to the colony you do a fantastic job establishing its use, why it was done, and how they provide use to their home country.   This article is dark, and informative. Great job.


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