Adventures in Lost Venusha
The Myth of Lost Venusha
Venushia (or Venusha, as it has come to be known in the modern age) is the name given in the most ancient history books for the long lost and nearly forgotten island civilization and it’s native race of people. The mythological tales of the Venushan civilization speak of it as if it were a utopian paradise of high technology operated from a perspective of elevated spiritual values by a god-like race of beings. The exact details of their description vary among many accounts. Some tales recount them as giants with blue skin, some describe them as half man, half animal. Other myths explain them as non-physical energetic expressions of consciousness. Others attest that they could take whatever form they liked. Despite differences in their physical description, they all shared one common thread: They were very advanced.
As divinely inspired scientists, they had acquired the secrets of universal energy. This limitless natural source of free energy was put to use for the benefit of the entire civilization. For a long time Power and Love were united. Unfortunately, all records say corruption suddenly caught up with them, at which point they began directing their technology at each other. This ultimately caused the cataclysm that brought their existence to an end.
Though mostly recounted among the oldest, verified authentic, historical texts going back almost 5,000 years, it’s frequency of mention was rare and, when mentioned, already considered ‘ancient history’.
Over time it came to be accepted that Venushia must have been a fabled civilization. Through the course of many generations, this ‘legend’ came to be called Lost Venusha. And so, a story is told of a civilization that existed before the current age, many thousands of years ago on a continent far, far away.
Even the most ancient of the elves (who’s lives span many hundreds of centuries) can only tell stories that have been passed down by their for-bearers, who only knew them as second hand recounts, and not direct experiences, even then.
The Discovery of Lost Venusha
The legend was believed to be a myth… until “The New World”, a formerly undiscovered island continent, had been located by the Velarian Empire in an expedition lead by a particularly determined, ‘crackpot’ Archaeologist.
Never before had Velarian explorers ever set their eyes upon such amazing wonders, both marvelous and tragic. Landmark ruins of exquisite and complex beauty, as well as strange, unusual supernatural events were discovered to occur with frequency throughout the land.
It had to be The Legendary Lost Venushia! After all, what unearthly beings other than the legendary Venucians could be responsible for the monuments and mysteries to be found there? Who else is spoken of to have left behind a cursed and warped landscape in the wake of a tragic cataclysm responsible for the abrupt end of an entire civilization?
Even without all the mythological conjecture, the question still exists: what has transpired upon these shores all these millinea since it’s previous inhabitants demise, regardless who they may have been? Who else might have walked these shores since the last ‘Venushian’ drew breath?
Not all researchers subscribe to the conclusion that the shores they have found are of Venushian legend. One could truthfully say MOST are not comfortable with the idea that such a race or civilization had existed or that an earthly being could (or even more objectionably, SHOULD) master and harness such power. With a mocking provoked by fear, more ‘rational’ men of scholarly renown exclaim the absurdity of such fanciful tales and have thus set out, nay, flocked to her shores to expose the mysteries of the new land to the scrutiny of their own doctrines, beliefs, or scientific methods.
These nay-sayers were soon joined, in droves, by fortune seekers, curious philanthropists, spiritual pilgrims, treasure-crazy adventurers, and all manner of unattached thrill seekers. After all, fortune favors the bold and here was a new frontier to be bold in.
A Brief History
The Kingdom of Velaria finds itself at the doorway of the Age of Discovery. The known world consists of a few continent kingdoms, spread very far and wide among the trackless nautical miles of the Great Vastdeep. Finally acquiring the resources and the technology to take to the seas, they have joined the race against rival nations for new lands and resources to claim.
The discovery of Lost Venusha was made by the ship “Murmure de L’Muse” captained by Admiral Heva of the Velarian Fleet. Navigating the ship was Sir Mendoza as contracted by Royal Directorate of Antiquities scholar, Mel’kezdek Kei.
Mel’kezdek was the known worlds most highly decorated and renowned archaeologist. Having made a career of being a member of the Royal Directorate of Antiquities, he had also risen among the ranks achieving many notable accomplishments. For his dedication and mastery of his fields of study, the Council of the Trimurti had awarded him the title of Kei.
Mel’kezdek Kei lived for the dig. Unearthing formerly lost knowledge was his greatest passion. His most prized accomplishment was achieving membership to the Expeditionary Knights Scholari: an elite Brotherhood of Knights whose code dictates the pursuit, discovery, and protection of any recorded, and verifiable knowledge. The Knights are notorious, impartial record-keepers of actual fact. Being a disciplined order, they practice that the body and mind are one and thus train their bodies as rigidly as the train their minds. They are peculiar in that when they are acolytes, the student chooses a weapon focus. The student is then expected to teach himself and master the focus. In this way the student learns the lesson of direct personal experience as the ultimate way to acquire knowledge, to truly Know something. Mentally, they are committed to an unbiased perspective. They claim to have been charged by Oghma, the God of Scribes, to research, pursue, unearth, and acquire, the true histories of the world as well as preserve and protect such records and knowledge. In short, They have been charged by their patron to know, catalog, and protect all there is to know.
For decades Mel’kezdek Kei led many expeditions for the Royal Directorate of Antiquities resulting in many successful digs. Around the age of 38, he came across an artifact that he claimed brought Lost Venusha out of the mythology books and onto the pages of verified history. From that point on, Mel’kezdek Kei had made it his life’s pursuit to find the Lost continent of Venushia.
Many debated the validity of his claims.
From then on, he would follow whatever leads he could unearth regarding Lost Venusha. Much to the detriment of his reputation, there were many more misses than hits. It wasn’t long before the Knights Scholari turned a critical eye upon his activities. They considered his persistent pursuit of what they considered a fool’s quest to be a violation of their code, which precisely instructs them to stay within the confines of knowable, provable reality. His refusal to back down despite hundreds of dead-ends, earned him their scorn and ridicule eventually resulting in his humiliating ejection from the Order.
Their rejection of him daunted him little. Other than activities tantamount to spitting on their figurative doorstep and stomping away, there was little said about the matter.
Not for lost, considering him an Alumni and one responsible for stocking their coffers with the treasures of ages, Mel’kezdek Kei retained his membership with the Royal Directorate of Antiquities. With their grace, he was able to continue his “research”.
The decades passed and so intense was his passion for his subject, each venture whether success or failure, chipped away, bit by bit, at his grip upon reality. He was a man possessed and in later years began to take riskier and riskier ventures in pursuit of his passion. Finally, when he had unraveled the secrets offered up by the Tome of Testament, there was no denying he was onto something real. With its revelations, he claimed to have found the last piece of the puzzle which pinpointed the location of Lost Venushia.
Begrudgingly, due to many of the Council believing him mad, the Royal Directorate of Antiquities agreed to fund one final expedition, decreeing that if this expedition did not turn up anything of value, his membership would be renounced, he’d be forced into retirement and his reputation cast into obscurity.
Undaunted, he gathered a trusted crew and immediately set out to do nothing short of land upon the shores of the Lost Continent of Venushia.
The journey by sea was quite peril ridden and many lives were lost on the epic quest. They say Mel’kezdek was near to madness when they finally spotted the Venushan shore. Gibbering and raving, he disappeared into the wilderness not long after they made landfall.
The expedition set up camp, but when the Kei did not return, they had to concede they were leaderless and they understood so little about this new land. Admiral Heva sent word back to the Motherland alerting them to the condition of the expedition.
Despite Mel’kezdek’s abandonment, and not so ready to give up on the mystery that had been discovered, (and, perhaps in amendment for their dismissal of him) the Expeditionary Knights Scholari offered their services to The Royal Directorate of Antiquities. An accord was signed and The Expeditionary Knights Scholari, being a disciplined order, were given the authority to protect and oversee the expedition.
The Knights, placed in charge of managing the operation, quickly modified the agenda. Perhaps seeing the potential discoveries to be made, and at least feeling the call of their purpose in this new land, they requested resources to fund a colonization effort. Seeing the potential for something big, the Royal Directorate of Antiquities willingly, but cautiously, granted their request – not quite yet fully comfortable with whom they were making pacts.
The colonizatoin effort and A small fleet of ships were sent forth containing the first pioneers to colonize New Venusha: scholars, historians, and merchant traders all with a thirst for exploration.
The Royal Academy of Research and Exploration
The first Circle of Knights to arrive in New Venusha (as it was determined to be called by Mel’kezdek) explored and cleared out a gigantic stronghold: a vast mountain-like castle of Ancient Venushian construction built within the walls of a broken, vitrified valley. This stronghold would become their base of operations. Due to the leadership of the Knights, a supporting community quickly developed around it.
This stronghold would become the Knights new reason for existing. The entire organizations resources were from then fourth directed at the New Venushan Project. From this sanctuary, they would train troubleshooters, adepts, acolytes, seekers, and squires in the many abilities, skills, and talents which are helpful in exploration… or to say it more excitingly, ADVENTURE!
Today, the main function of the settlement is research and exploration of the new land. The Royal Academy maintains a sort of Adventurers Guild where they train new explorers as well as research and debate the mysteries the academy teachers and teams of students uncover (such as items of magic or technology, new zoological discoveries, or odd events). Most popular are the many archaeological digs and excavations that are sponsored by the school.
As a result, The Royal Academy of Research and Exploration has become the hub of activity on a new and unexplored frontier.
As the Knights settled into the land, it was apparent that they were not the first explorers to set foot here. It wasn’t that they found other settlers, but rather, they found the remnants of former settlements quite unlike the native ancient structures. These were of lesser construction, not having the endurance found in the megaliths left by the Ancient Venusian people. The hallmarks of these newer ruins were unknown to them. Their construction and recovered records were not from any nation known to Velaria. Based upon these discoveries, it was apparent that Velaria was not the first nation to attempt to unravel the mysteries of this land. What records and information that have been recovered are kept confidential by the Knights. Only the most elevated of their order are privy to the newly uncovered secrets revealed in translated texts.
Alas, murmurings and gossip have given rise to the belief in a curse upon this land that may affect their own destiny.
Noteable Characters at the Academy
Admiral Heva – Official eyes and ears of Velaria
Magnus Malkus – A councilor at the Academy
Based upon the surviving architecture, which is extensive as they seem to have been built to last, the Venushian people were a complex and mysterious race with a very cosmic spiritual focus (as illustrated in the meaningful celestial alignments built into their immense monuments and surviving architectures). Unfortunately, their history is long lost and forgotten, the native races of the land being either ignorant of, or un-forthcoming with, any information. The shear size and frequency of ruins suggests the prosperity and peace required to build such an expansive empire, but despite 40 years of research, so very little is known about this land and its former inhabitants.
As if the quest for answers were not already hard enough to gather regarding a civilization believed to be over 10,000 years old, the greatest mystery of all is that no known language, written or spoken is known to exist. No means of passing on recorded history seems evident. No record keeping of direct Venushian creation has ever been found nor have any artistic expressions outside of their architecture been discovered.
And what architecture it is! Stunningly beautiful, very complex in design, and astonishingly, they would seem to require technology or massive cooperative magic as yet to be developed in order to build.
What is unique about these people are the presence of crystals found among the ruins. Archaeologists record that they are found fixed into the very faces of rock that make up the chambers and above ground structures. It is a strange rock. These crystals are somehow seemingly naturally occurring, spurring from the stone itself. Records say they are also found loose and scattered within the chambers at ancient Venusian ruin sites. The purpose and function of these items (which range in size, color, and shape across a broad spectrum – but all of which appear ‘raw’, meaning not cut or polished in any unnatural way) is a widely beheld mystery. What function they speculate they have has been speculated for decades by academy researchers and scholars.
Research thus far has uncovered that these crystals are chock full of unique properties but these discoveries pose more questions than answers. No known use or effect has ever been proven concerning these artifacts.
Under the guardianship of The Knights Scholari and funded by the Royal coffers of the Royal Directorate of Antiquities, New Venusha has been claimed in the name of The Velarian Empire.
The Emperor of Velaria is a brutish, boorish man caring only for the war games he maintains at home with his chosen enemies. Hearing that the discovery has not yet yielded any strategic or military value, he occupies himself with his military interests at home. So, very little governmental influence is found in New Venusha provided that the project does not require any of His Majesties military resources. The whole thing is on the books as being within the control of the Royal Directorate of Antiquities.
Velaria has been in occupation of this colony for only a short while (40 years) but the land must have been plundered by other as yet unknown explorers since the end of the Venushian civilization. Many sites have already been stripped of their artifacts. Some ancient Venushian artifacts are brought back from expeditions into some of the more recent visitors sites. Unfortunately, unless good research notes are found with the artifact (and not all of our predecessors have been so, uh, scholarly), it only makes things more complex when you are recovering artifacts that have already been removed from their original locations. Only the newly uncovered Venushian ruins have turned up anything of interest or value and provide us with what little we know so far.
The land is not without it’s native inhabitants, not that either of the two dominant ones lays any claim to be Venushian in heritage.
The first to be encountered were the Hu. They visually and physically qualify as human but their cognition is terribly handicapped. No being in the whole race seems to exceed the mental capacity or moral reasoning one would expect of a ten year old, with many falling lower than that in comprehensive ability. Mostly, they are found as slaves to more cunning predators across the land (some of the more scrupulous colonists being among the offenders). When found in the wild, exist as scattered, nomadic family groups which thieve from each other and scavenge where they can. They only know they have always been on the land. They have no history and seem stuck evolutionary-wise.
The other race are the Quantir. They are a very surreal fey race who don’t wholly exist in the physical world, though they are fully able to manifest physically. They live in what they call the “space between the worlds”. Arcane scholars theorize that, in the way two sounds can exist in the same space and yet not change or effect each other, these beings must possess the natural gift to phase between two ‘sounds’ present in this new place. One apparently we can ‘hear’ and another we are not able to ‘hear’, but of which they can. They call this land Arcadia, and claim it is their native ‘sound’. In layman’s terms, they inhabit an alternate reality and can flip between the two.
The Quantir are simultaneously enigmatic and welcoming. Everything about them would seem transparent. They are helpful and kind, asking nothing in return, and yet we know and understand so little about them. They claim to be the descendants of otherworldly explorers who came to our reality looking for more of their own kind. Having learned of elves on this plane of existence and suspecting the elven race to share a mutual heritage with them, they made their landing only to have the whole thing somehow disrupted. They were tossed back in time and split, like this, “between the worlds”. They do indeed look like very primal, alien elves.
According to them, the Venushian culture had already been abandoned when they arrived nearly 5,000 years ago and the Hu were roaming the lands. They claim to have tried to elevate the Hu, assisting them in their evolution but the Hu only ever sought to run away whenever they would be gathered, sometimes barbarically resisting the Quantir’s attempts at intervention.
The Venusian landscape around the colonized valley at Mathgahmna (as some translatable records attest is the sites original name) the original is a barren and desolate one: miles and miles of vitrified mountains beyond which exist a sea of sand dunes dotted with crumbling majestic stone buildings and structures that defy construction without great magic. Beyond the desert, a variety of odd and alien landscapes exists waiting to be explored.
Most structures are rubble and ruin, having witnessed countless unknown events, not to mention the ravages of time and environment. A few mostly intact megalithic structures have been located in the 40 years since the founding of the colony. They continue to be sources of mystery and wonder, troves of lost knowledge, and sites of adventure – all of which bring the wealth and glory that come with such things.
The Hu eke out an existence in competition with many hostile elements, small clusters of monstrous races as well as natural and magical beasts.
The fey Quantir do not maintain a constant presence physically in Venushia. They can manifest themselves anywhere they desire and sustain themselves from their ‘native’ reality. They will occasionally manifest and gather for short periods of time in certain places with permanent structures for some unknown purpose.
Many savage species have found a niche in which to exist. A fair number of natural and supernatural wonders are to be beheld as well. Reports of creatures, tribes, cults, organizations, recorded magical events and magical locations, sacred sites found in the new land include:
Goblins, kobolds, and other vile underground races. They migrated into the ruins of the old civilization, coming from the further northeast corner of the new continent. They’ve been living off the ruins as they do for the past thousand years or so.
The necromantic insectiods – primitive cricket/mantis-like shamans and ghostly hoodooists. They claim to be in touch with the native spirits of the land, the ancient civilization. They treat the native humans like cattle encouraging them to be docile through fear and treating them like animals.
Spirits of air, fire, water, earth. Aloof at best, destructive at worst. They are elemental creatures with no needs from anyone or anything. Very powerful and old.
Barbarian tribes of scorpion worshiping halflings.
The blisterlands: a badlands pock-marked with boil-like geysers which spew forth a fel, demonic goo