The journey began with a lecture, the way all utterly preposterous undertakings do. I will summarize that lecture rather than subject you to its entirety.
Description: mountain ranges exceeding in height any found on earth, dense forests with hearty frost-resistant vegetation, 3 moons, highly luminous sun fragments, purple-tinted sky, crystal clear lakes, abundant hot springs
Predators: Everything is larger in Arborea
Dominant Sentient Race: Nephilim
Since we came to visit the Nephilim it stands to reason that I should introduce you.
Physical Characteristics: Tall (7 ft average), brightly colored hair and eyes (more on the hair later), skin color variations comparable to those found in humans, small horn like projections around the eyebrows (males), wings, spots on the shoulders (females), horns (males, more on that later).
Hair Color: Hair color is often an indicator of magical persuasion
White- Weather (air/lightning)
Black- Necromancy, Dead Speak
Purple- Telekinesis, Psychokinesis, Binding
Orange- Magic Resistance, can turn body parts into weapons (mostly males)
Pink- Reanimation, Psychopompary (females)
Multi-colored- Can create pocket planes, travel through other dimensions, and can enter others dreams. If they have silver and pink they can remove things from the dream world (extremely rare)
*Females are more adept at magic.
Horn Size: The Nephilim hierarchy is determined by horn size (satyr, gazelle, ram) females don’t have horns and are thus exempt from the hierarchy. Only males with ram horns and females may assume governmental positions.
Race Life: The Nephilim live in small groups or tribes in the high mountains of Arborea They do not typically marry as they are polyamorous and rarely form close personal friendships among their own kind. The females only become sexually receptive once a year, as a result of this coupled with a high infant mortality rate the females often have large litters. The males are extremely virile, the more high-ranking a male the more females he may mate with during mating season. As part of the mating ritual they fight in fierce battles and participate in other extreme competitions of both strength and intellect to prove themselves.
For hunter gatherers, perhaps surprisingly, education is extremely important. University attendance is mandatory. They have huge lecture halls and massive libraries that rival those found anywhere else in the multiverse. As such it is not uncommon for scholars from other planes to visit. Travelers are welcome with great hospitality and open curiosity. The Nephilim do not even lock their doors lest a guest arrive when they are away (The Nephilim travel extensively). Their rugged landscape, high altitude, and abundant dangerous wildlife make if difficult for other races to survive in Arborea indefinitely and thus they have little competition and risk of invasion. Perhaps because of their high intelligence they do not make weapons of mass destruction, war is between leaders of different tribes, fighting has honor. Their only natural enemy is the The Watchers.
They are philosophical/spiritual but do not subscribe to organized religion. They live in accordance with nature.
Quiet a lengthy summary but the lecture proved difficult to condense in a meaningful way. Now onwards to the journey!
The journey began in a crystal cavern, which by all accounts is the origin of many a mysterious occurrence.
Position: Fighter/Comic Relief
Position: Opportunistic Merchant
And then of course there is me the lone human. As the official translator my utility was nullified on meeting Trias (a Nephilim and linguist we encountered early in our pilgrimage). If you have the misfortune of being born to the Prime Material Plane then you are probably not familiar with these races. Except dragons, everyone is familiar with dragons.
Mokcyin muttered some spell underneath his breath and the portal opened in what had been a nondescript sheet of rock. For those of you who are not familiar with dimensional travel, prepare to have your insides and outsides turned every which way. I threw up immediately on exiting the portal. I was, it turned out, fairly useless and cumbersome in many respects. Arborea is a place that defies description, though I have already done so at length (encase you’re wondering I had a special device in my nostrils that allowed me to utilize the thin air). It was terminally cold. In such temperatures a human female is subject to hypothermia, frost bite, and death (cryogenic stasis perhaps?). We needed shelter. For reasons beyond my comprehension living quarters had not been prearranged. Luckily the Nephilim are a hospitable race. Set transformed into a hawk and went to scout for lodgings. I spent the next 15 minutes engaged in a frantic jig. When he returned the hike began, it was an arduous one through rugged and unforgiving terrain. There was also some climbing involved but having lost consciousness the burden was not shared by me. When I woke we were in the cabin.
The interior walls were irregular and composed of the mountain itself, acclimation was minimal giving the space an almost cave-like appearance. The floor was likewise of stone but the texture was smooth and curiously warm. Sunlight spilled in from the ceiling, drenching the cavity in hazy golden filaments. There were still several hours of dayhaze left. A fireplace stood in the corner and from it hung a cauldron of simmering stew, the smell was otherwordly and mouth-watering. The main room was spacious and lined with wooden book shelves, all filled, all organized by specialty. In the center of the floor there were several large arm chairs made of hides pulled over bone, each laid with a soft blanket, they were facing each other. In the center of the ceiling there was a large ornate lantern (there were no visible cords as the apparatus was powered by magic). Against one wall was a wooden desk, with parchment, fine bone writing implements, and a smaller lantern which mirrored in many respects the overhead light (a facsimile of this light was in every room). In one corner of the room stood a chest, inside there were spices and dried meats. A round table with wooden chairs signified a dining area but there were only minimal cooking implements, plates, and eating utensils all of which were tucked away in a tall cabinet. Although there was a sink there was neither a refrigerator nor a stove. A refrigerator was unnecessary as perishables could be stored outdoors all year (in underground cellars). Food could be cooked at the hearth or as was customary outdoors directly after the hunt.
There were two corridors leading away from the main living area one lead to Kun-Jin’s sleeping quarters (the cabin was not, as it turned out, unoccupied), the other to the bathroom. The bedroom was spacious but contained only a bed and a wardrobe. The mattress lounged luxuriously inside of what looked like a hollowed out tortoise shell. The proportions of said carapace were enough to accommodate four human-sized males. The wardrobe was made of artistically carved wood of a deep purple hew same as all the wooden storage units. The only ornamentation was a set of gazelle-like horns nearly identical to those on Kun-Jin’s head. Nephilim shed their horns only once in their lifetime, a rite of passage and a sign of sexual maturation in males (the budding of wings signifies sexual maturation in females).
Although the house did contain a bathroom with running water it did not contain a bath or shower. Baths were taken outside in natural hotsprings. Bathing was a communal activity but as hot water was so plentiful in the mountains those of a more squeamish or antisocial disposition could still arrange for privacy.
You may be wondering at this point why I came to Arborea knowing that my human constitution was not significantly robust to endure the rugged polar climate. Well the truth is I came for the sake of my curiosity, which is a pitiful excuse but one more compelling than any other.
Our Host Kun-Jin (I made this using the Sims haha)
Mokcyin, Shiuto, and Yang are my friend’s characters but I am using their names here as I am currently writing a story with her about the Nephilim.