Aeldana De Shanru Tala – “The World Has No Mercy”
The world that surrounds the ven is full of danger. The jungles are populated with deadly creatures—some of which defy reason. The Season of Storms lasts more than half the year. Skimming the seas are leviathans, just waiting for the unwary sailor or fisherman. Travel requires bodyguards, roadmen, trained in the ways of the world.
When the ven speak of the world, they call her Shanru Tala, “the merciless mother.” The ven pray to many spirits, but not to Shanru Tala. She will not hear prayers. Scholars cannot agree on whether or not she even cares for her children. Some say she treats them harshly so they may grow strong. Others argue that she cast her children from her bosom because she hates them and wants them to suffer before they die. Petitioning her with prayer is useless. Only fools whisper her name for help.
This attitude of self-reliance has found its way into the very heart of ven culture. Every child is expected to stand on his own. Those who rely on others are weak and worthy of ridicule, scorn and even violence. Those who cannot protect themselves do not deserve mercy or justice. Even the ven legal system reflects this callous attitude (see below).
Those who are strong, those who grow from their suffering, those who prove themselves worthy may gain a blessing from the cruel mother, but none dare thank her. Speaking her name will only draw her attention and no sane man wants that.
While Shanri is filled with exotic fauna and flora, most of it is incredibly dangerous. Knowledge of what a ven can and cannot eat, where he should and should not go are invaluable. Fruits and vegetables are in abundance although collecting seeds is a risky venture. Also, mining is much riskier on Shanri than it is over on our side of the pond. Things live in the ground, drawn by sound and vibration. This makes most precious and semi-precious stones and minerals incredibly rare. Iron is a luxury as are gold, silver and copper. Most stones strong enough for architecture are also in scarcity. Not because they are hard to find, but because the world does not give them up without a fight.
Fortunately, the remains of the sorcerer-kings take up the need for most architecture. The ven prefer living in the ancient mansions of their masters, reveling in the homes where once they were slaves. The buildings themselves stand with the aid of sorcery unknown to the ven. Hallways that seem to go on forever, rooms too large for the structure to hold, secret passages, invisible doors. The buildings have secrets the ven are only beginning to discover.