Death and Onions — the fantasy world of Lila Lestrange

Aman — Jungles and Spirits

Beyond the Road of Bones

Aman, far south of the old kingdom of Annaen, is shrouded in mystery, more so than even Overseas, where the dragons fly. Aman is hard to reach. Between Annaen and the tangled green jungles lie the highest mountains of the world, and through them leads the Road of Bones. It is a desparate and treacherous route, and only recently has it seen any kind of regular travel, when the Naressine West Trading Company opened the doors of their foundation in Rivertown, at the edge of the Edran Forest. From there, an ancient trail winds always south towards the mountains and the infamous road.
Rock falls, unpredictable weather, the thin air and other dangers claim many lives along the high passes, and those who have walked there say that they have seen the shattered bones of unlucky travellers far below the road, withering in the sun and wind. Burial towers, cairns and small memorial stones are common along the road, and superstion says that the souls of the unburied dead haunt the high passes, tempting those on the road to join them.

The more pleasant way into Aman is along the coast, sailing from Naressina south to Shikri, Xahar and then across the Wild Waters and into the Demons Run, where it is said that not the laws of nature, but the dark designs of otherworldly creatures control the weather. Vessels wishing to avoid the Demons Run sail around the headlands into Aoyan waters, and approcha Aman from the West. It is a long way to sail, and thus Xahar on the Needle Cape is as far as most Naressine merchants will trade. Xahar has become the main port for trading tea.

Not so innocent flowers

Aman is a land of rivers and forests, with plenty of rain and a climate ranging from hot and sweltering in the south to cool and temperate on the slopes of the northern mountains. In the fields along the great rivers, everything grows in an abundance that would make the inhabitants of other parts of the world weep. Tea is cultivated in tea gardens all over Aman, and so is the notorious starflower, or dreambell. Among it's other poetic names is ‘death's repose’. The brilliant black flowers are most often used for medicinal purposes, but in both humans and zereshi, they cause vivid dreams and hallucinations. The petals are often smoked or chewed, and exported in their dried state reputedly as far as the Eternal Desert, where they fetch high prices on the night markets. An unknown zereshi from Aman opened up a whole new world of addiction by distilling the dreambell honey into the liqueur known as ‘Night's Teardrops’. Many an innocent traveler has woken up naked and dazed in the backstreets of one of the large cities of Aman, if they woke up at all. Those who take refuge in the dreams too often become ‘Starchasers’, seeking for bliss in the dream dens of port cities like Indessa and Xahar, where the dreambell is most common.

But the addictive and dangerous dreambell is by far not the strangest plant among the Aman jungles. Compared to the man-eating constrictor vines it is perfectly harmless. Dreambell at least will not go out of its way to kill unwary travelers. Unlike the vines. But perhaps the strangest plant in the whole vast kingdom is the katta tree: Katta trees grow in the dryer, hotter parts of central Aman, and their large pods bear … kattaspirits. These impish beings burst out of the ripe pods by the dozen. They delight in accidents and cruelty. They are considered a field pest, and the farmers of Aman use many signs and charms to guard against them. Fortunately, so the stories go, kattaspirits are not very clever and easily frightened, so even an apprentice summoner has little trouble banishing them. Katta trees need regular exorcisms, which are provided by the wandering summoners of Aman in return for food and lodging.

A plague of spirits

Summoners are found everywhere in Aman. They deal with the spirits that inhabit plants, fields, houses, forests, stones and anything else that belongs to this world, in vast quantities. Charms, warding signs and the like are ubiquitous in Aman. Most encounters are mildly annoying — such as a host of small, screaming creatures trying to carry off fresh pies from a bakery, and being chased away with a broom. Sometimes, a benign spirit will also grant luck, health or other gifts on a mortal, and the spirit of the Aman River is said to never let a person come to harm. It is curious about any cargo, though, and takes a portion of everything. Summoners are sometimes tasked with getting the cargo back in exchange for another gift that is more to the river's liking. How Aman acquired this supernatural plague is unknown. Legends speak of ruined cities in the jungles, of ancient magic and a great tragedy. Some say the gods punished Aman, some say the gods bestowed on the land exactly what people asked for.
Not all spirits are harmless. The jungles of Aman, away from the rivers, are the abode of unspeakable horrors. Skin eating, shape changing Things wait in the darkness underneath the branches. But perhaps worst are those from Beyond: Unearthly entities that meddle with the world and its creatures for reasons that are entirely their own. In Naressina they are known as demons, and in Aman they walk unnoticed among the living.

Aman — jungles and spirits

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