Heaven's Tear

Cho-Lin Empire

Heaven's Tear is one of the sites of human power on Therafim, as well as the site of some of the most dangerous places on the planet. With a vast population, Heaven's Tear has ample urban areas, though the constant conflict with various powers keeps this population from growing out of control. Here, many of the schemes of the Yuan-Ti and the many spiderfolk are worked out, and then put into motion in the rest of the world, while the stalwart forces of order, embodied in the humans and dwarves of Cho-Lin, and the accepting culture of Gungbaz.

Places of Note
Sha-Hai Monastery: Centuries-old monastery near the Cho-Lin city of Yama, and the site of the original martial arts masters that eventually spread the secrets of the monk class throughout the world. Destroyed by the Cho-Lin Imperial Army after a long and very costly struggle in an attempt to remove a source of sedition, since the warrior scholars living and training there were essentially putting weapons into the hands of otherwise unarmed peasants through the spread of their style. Many of the greatest masters of the martial arts were slain in the Sha-Hai Massacre, but several escaped and lived to spread their teachings far and wide, even going so far as to travel to distant continents in their zeal to see the efforts of those who had tried to finish them thwarted, providing power to the common people wherever they might be found. Because of the taxing nature of the battle, the Imperial Army quickly withdrew after setting fire to the monastery, leaving most of its secrets in its lower chambers untouched and therefore ripe pickings for the adventurous. However, there are still many dangerous traps in the place, as well as constructs originally intended as tireless sparring partners, and even the undead remains of monks who could not rest after their deaths. Despite all of these hazards, Sha-Hai Monastery would surely have been cleaned out by succeeding generations of martial artists and fortune-seekers, if not for the additional odd quirk of the place, which causes it to be different each time for each visitor, sometimes being filled to the brim with strange scrolls telling of the most rare and ancient techniques of the martial arts, or perhaps crawling with strange and deadly monstrosities that have somehow infiltrated it from the Lower Reaches beneath the Stormlords, or crammed with traps, or sometimes merely an old, fire-gutted fort. This last is generally all that greets return visitors, after they have plumbed the depths of the secrets within and discovered what they were meant to learn, for Sha-Hai Monastery is a puzzle of enlightenment which can usually only be properly explored once in any person’s lifetime, after which it must be left to others for their own paths to enlightenment.

Terrain Features
Raging Jungle: A dense, steaming green hell filled with deadly plants, vicious arthropods and lethal reptiles of all types and stripes, the Raging Jungle is perhaps the least hospitable tropical area to be found on Therafim. Only the scaled folk of Butasta keep some parts of the jungle under marginal control, and even they are only able to defend what they have, inroads being an impossibility when the jungle is constantly growing at a rate of speed that all who have observed it conclude must be magical, requiring constant cutting back. There are many ancient ruins in the forests from times before the jungle grew and swallowed up the ancient civilizations that built them, but their treasures and secrets are almost impossible to uncover, for the jungle itself seems to be a sentient entity, seeking to devour all that enter it in the same way that it devoured those ancient cities. The Raging Jungle is a place where nature runs rampant without rhyme or reason, allowing only the most powerful and horrific of creatures to survive the brutal pace of life.

Raider Steppes: The Raider Steppes are the home of the Cho-Han, a minority that once held great power in the ancient past of the Cho-Lin Empire, but which has long since fallen from power, and has since turned to a nomadic life on horseback, hunting, gathering, and raiding the civilized lands that once threw them out. They are on the eastern side of the Stormlords mountain range, and almost constantly swept by a cool, dry wind. It is also the home of several dangerous monstrous races that constantly seek for ways to invade the relative peace of the civilized countries on the west of the Stormlords These high, dry steppes are a land of rolling grass and dusty areas on the mountainside fringes, though these latter are kept relatively small thanks to the proximity of the ocean, mostly acting as a buffer that keeps the worst of the hordes at bay.

Stormlords: An ancient range of mountains noted for its high, mist-shrouded peaks, especially in the southern part of the continent. Inhabited by tribes of giants and a host of strange and mysterious creatures, the Stormlords are a source of constant inspiration to artists and adventurers alike, for their greatest secrets have yet to be discovered, and many likely never will be, for the mountains are treacherous indeed for the ill-prepared, and of such a vast size, both above and beneath, that a full exploration is impossible for a single mortal’s lifespan.

Twin Rivers: These are the River of Gold and the Demon’s Fork, the main rivers that divide the arable land on the continent of Heaven’s Tear into thirds. The River of Gold, furthest to the west, is a placid, peaceful river that rises at a gradual, easily-foreseen pace at certain times of the year, and then recedes in time for the next phase of planting and harvesting. The Demon’s Fork is closer to the Stormlords, and has a branch near its base that forms two rivers which are called the Horse (eastern fork) and Bull (western fork) Rivers, after two legendary demonic guardians of the underworld, before running into Panoceana. While the silt-heavy River of Gold (the color of which gives it its name) is a source of great life and an excellent trade route, making it considered by all to be a true blessing from the gods, the Demon’s Fork, heavy with rich brownish-red soil, is considered a monkey’s paw, granting fertile soil and ample water to replenish the needs of farmers, but at the cost of frequent, sudden flooding that can prove costly to life and property, and treacherous whitewater rapids that make it dangerous to navigate.