Western Reaches (/wɘstrn ri:tʃɘz/ (Aeillan: dɪtika sinnora/))
The end of what is definitively Aeillan Civilization, the Western Reaches, also known as the Spartharii Vale is a rich land that was hotly contested by a number of independent polities, and was the last culturally Aeillan territory to fall under the saw of the Empire. The Western Reaches have long been a state full of viciously independent folk, and were historically the primary recruiting grounds for military personnel in the Empire. The Western Reaches are less urbanized than other regions of Aeilla, though the area is still densely populated. Roughly four and a half million people call the Western Reaches home. It is also fully cultivated wherever possible, and maintains a very high percentage of arable land relative many other parts of the known world. The relatively close head of navigation of the River Spartharii (the primary watershed in the region) however, ensures that trade is more difficult than it is on the Ilos or Tyros. The Western Reaches have long been the home of a number of small, independent city states, which were, for a long time, the primary civilizations in the area. This tradition continued despite conquest by the Yulan-Tai, and later by the Aeillans, and is felt even in the modern era where the states in the Western Reaches are highly decentralized, and federalized.
The boundaries of the Western Reaches are demarcated by the escarpment at the edge of the Ilos Valley to the east, the foothills of the Odric Mountains and Salemesia to its west, the Yulan Ocean to its South, and lastly the northern Odric Mountains to the North. This territory is vast, and is often characterized with the rolling hills of the core territory of the Western Reaches. The land flattens towards the River Spartharii which is one of the key features of the region. The Western Reaches' water table is defined by the watershed for the River Spartharii, which also serves as the region's primary artery of commerce. The territory is frequently broken up by natural features such as small streams, hills, and the sparse woodlands that lie between arable farmlands that support the population of the region. The River Spartharii and its watershed provide ample water that, along with the needed precipitation ensure that the region remains quite humid. The soil of the Western reaches is quite fertile, and indeed the area has far more arable land than is the norm for Galisea, and as a result the area is quite densely cultivated with most of the land being host to some form of agricultural activity. Despite the bountiful quantities of food, the Western Reaches don't have that many cities, at least in comparison to the rest of Aeilla.
The Western Reaches consist primarily of rolling plains, and low hills, with sharper sloping areas towards the valleys that bound the area. Thanks to precipitation and ground water, the region is home mostly to humid plains, and humid, usually broadleaf forest. Forested lands lie primarily in the north, far away from the winds coming off the Yulan Ocean. However, most of the natural terrestrial ecosystem has been taken over by cultivation or sentient settlement with vast stretches of farm and pastureland blanketing most of the region, and dotted with many number of small towns, and a few cities as well. The nautical ecosystems of Reaches are just as diverse, as the terrestrial with the primary waterway being, of course, the River Spartharii which varies significantly in speed, depth, and course, which allows for a number of diverse smaller ecosystems in inlets, oxbows, rapids, and slower streams. Those streams which feed the Spartharii are similarly diverse. Lastly, in many of the sheltered vales in the mountains one can find freshwater wetlands and swamps which many scholars believe were once part of an interconnected system in the relatively recent past.
The Western reaches have a two season systemic cycle. with a relatively clean divide between the two seasons. There are hot, mostly dry summers, though with more precipitation than many other areas of the Aeilla. In the winters, temperatures fall somewhat allowing for much greater precepitation and fierce storms that roll in from the Yulan Ocean.
Fauna & Flora
The Western Reaches are the wildest "core" region of Greater Aeilla, and is thus home to a wider variety of flora than many other areas. The Western Reaches are home to a good number of Weeping Willow trees, in addition to wider array of primarily broadleaf trees with fewer varieties of pine trees. Berry bushes, and cereals especially wild wheat have also grown in the Western Reaches as well. The Reaches are also a well known, but not the only, source of Drojos Ivy. The Western Reaches have a reputation for being more dangerous than other lands in Aeilla. This is often the result of the higher density of predatory animals that live in the area. Gorgons, and Chimerae , creatures nearly extinct elsewhere in Aeilla can be found in relative abundance in the Reaches. Small groups of Cyclopes, otherwise content to live alone by themselves do sometimes raid human settlements to steal from their flocks. Bears and wolves, though not their oversized brethren are also commons in the hills and forests of the region. Other, less deadly animals live in the area as well, with sizable flocks of horses, cows, sheep, and deer living in captivity and in the wild. There are few large birds, with most being small, and able to avoid the wyverns that terrorize the skies of the Reaches. Aquatic areas too have a wide diversity of living things present. The deadliest of these are the Hydraswhich often take over isolated swamps as their territory. Despite them several types of algae, aquatic plants, reptiles, and fish calling the wetlands, lakes, and most of all the Spartharii River home. This ironically does also include the Ilosi Salmon.
The Western Reaches is home to a great organic wealth, with the lands providing rich soil and plentiful water for the growing of crops, many animals to kill for meat, and a wide variety of wild plants that can also be harvested for food, medicinal or recreational purposes. The Reaches provide for the fairly large sentient population, and plenty of additional food to export to the wider world. In terms of mineral wealth, the Western Reaches find themselves extremely rich in iron, silver, and coal. The Reaches are also home to some of the finest marble quarries in Aeilla, as well as its only Onyx quarry. The lands in the north of the Reaches are also home to a small number of Mithral mines, which are the rare few in Galisea that don't belong to the Kingdom of Cyrenica.
The Western Reaches have a long history with settled peoples. The first known inhabitants to the region were dwarves, those who would become the Cyrenic peoples. These proto-Cyrene who established themselves in the Spartharii River watershed roughly three thousand years ago would establish a great many communities. The most famous of these would be the great city under Mount Kyros which likely served as the center of this early civilization. Humans would arrive several centuries later, in small numbers at first, but later founding their own communities in the south. It was the arrival of the Yulan-Tai in the later days of the Yulani Period however, that would see a change in epoch as the conflicts between the Yulan-Tai and the dwarves would see the flight of the proto-Cyrenes to the north and the destruction of their civilization in the region. After the fall of the Yulan-Tai, it would take several centuries for the populations of the area to recover to their pre-fall levels and for urban communities to exist. Several poleis and free townships would be established eventually however, and would frequently arrange themselves in complicated webs of alliances and rivalries that would struggle for resources. This tapestry of conflict was undone during the Late Republican, and Early Imperial periods of the Aeillan civilization with the realm coming under control of the Empire over the course of two centuries cluminating in the "Conquest of the Western Reaches" in the early Imperial that seized the rest of the Reaches as well as Salemesia. Under Aeillan rule, things stabilized as the new Imperial bureaucracy began to smooth out distinctions between states, even outright erase old political blocs. This new geopolitical arrangement would be put to the test during the Late Imperial, and would become somewhat ironclad with the Fall of the Empire. In the post-Imperial Period however, it has become apparent that the fierce independence of the region's people and the vestiges of the old political order would result in the region being difficult to govern by a centralized authority, and both major states in the region have largely federalized as a result.