Beyond the Kingdom of New Hope
Little is known about the fall of the Old Kingdom, but various stories mention a period of plagues, fires, and various natural disasters that lasted for 5 years.Less still is known about the Old Kingdom society, although it is generally romanticized as a “high culture” of arts and sciences, much of the knowledge of which has been lost. Very few histories or maps or detailed accounts of life in the Old World are known to exist, as the settlers are thought to have brought with them only necessities, and thus very few books. As such, any existing histories or accounts of the Old Kingdom were probably written from memory immediately following the exodus.
Expeditions to the Old World
Nearly 300 years have passed since the exodus from the Old Kingdom. In that time, some have forgotten the horrors of the five dark years that plagued that land and have instead begun to instead romanticize the glory of the Old Kingdom. This growing interest in the forgotten culture of the old world eventually led to a thriving market in Old World antiquities. With money to be made, people started to be willing to take the risk of returning across The Straits to ransack the forgotten cities for treasures and trinkets. They found mostly trinkets of course, but even a trinket from the Old Kingdom was a treasure.
This led to a “gold rush” of sorts which quickly became disorderly. First of all, the crossing to the Old Kingdom is treacherous. The current is fast and there are many shallow rocky places for ships to run aground. It takes an experienced captain to make the passage safely, and many good merchant ships were lost. Secondly, there was a growing “frontier town” mentality developing in the Old World – tales began to return of skirmishes between rival groups of profiteers coming to violent and deadly clashes over a particularly well-preserved cache of silverware or a library full of moldy books. Lastly, there was a rumor that some voyagers to the old country were getting sick – and that this sickness was a version of the same plague that befell the Old Kingdom all those years ago.
After a decade or so of turning a blind eye to the clandestine ransacking of what could, in the end, be valuable and important cultural history – the King stepped in. He drafted a decree that regulated passage to and from the Old Country. Ship captains must obtain a license. Travelers must obtain permits. The King’s Navy patrols the waters off of Southlanding for unauthorized vessels. The King’s Couriers maintain an official presence at the Old World Camp to maintain law and order. Exploration is orderly and controlled, and sites are explored with the thoroughness of an achaeological dig. Discoveries that are deemed to be of considerable cultural value are seized for the crown. And other smaller items destined to be sold for a profit by their discoverers are tallied and taxed upon their return to Southlanding Port.
One last provision of the decree establishes a one-year quarantine at the Old World Camp for anyone who intends to return to Southlanding.
The decree was just over 4 years ago, and is generally regarded as a huge success. The operations taking place across The Straits are supposedly organized and businesslike, and the influx of treasures and trinkets has led to a booming market in antiquities – even some small villages will have a dedicated Antiquities Shoppe nowadays. Money is being made, but prices are also dropping – which makes everyone happy. And taxes are being collected, which one might imagine makes the Lord Southlanding VERY happy!