Isle of Dogs
Origins and the Object
Nestled in the woods, somewhere to the east of the Winter cities and just beyond the clear mushrooms which dot the island in thin rings, rests a strange object; an obsidian cylinder, anchored deep in the dirt and rising some 7 feet high, tilting just enough to notice from a distance. Creases along its body suggest that it may in fact be a very sturdy structure of several wheel-shaped segments stacked atop one another and fastened tightly. On dark nights, a bright yellow glow will issue from the creases in flickers and ebbs. For those who will listen, it seems to hum. Snow melts on contact with the ground around it for some 30 yards, and no plant will grow for another 20. The animals of the forest keep farther still, and wolves can sometimes be seen at the outskirts of the city, watching in a row as if respecting some invisible line in the ground. Occasionally a squirrel or low-flying bird ventures too close to the city, and to people who witness it, their fear is obvious.
Those first men who discovered the object’s effect on the local wolf population were quick to come to a decision: they would establish a city around it, one with safety to rival even Legacy at its peak. In time, they discovered that the object, by then called the Ward, seemed to make cold winters warmer, hot summers cooler, and infections and plagues a rarity. However, this was not free of problems.
Initial exposure to the Ward caused feelings of sudden, inexplicable dread, and often people traveling through the dangerous wilds refuse to even approach the town for the subtle taste of its effect. Anyone hoping to move to Dyrwarden spend no more than an hour or so within the city in the first week, and even then only to adjust to the effect. With sufficient exposure, this dread effect gradually fades, leading to the secondary symptoms of acceptance by the Ward: hot flashes, cold flashes, an extreme sensitivity of the skin, and a constant, debilitating nausea. These last for upwards of a week and a half, and many who have traveled to join the inhabitants of Dyrwarden find themselves turning back after only two days of constant exposure. Because of this, Dyrwarden maintains a very low population, consisting of descendants of the founders and of those who wished to break away from the seasonal-life model of the Isle population.
Dyrwarden is habitable year-round through the successful agriculture of several plants around the town’s very outer edge which seem incapable of growing elsewhere on the island. While hunting is possible, wolves tend to flow around the Ward’s area of effect in threatening numbers, making potential game both scarce and risky to acquire. The Ward’s strange effect on animals makes subsistence herding a non-option; birds in the area cannot lay eggs, and cattle become intensely aggressive and in constant fear or their lives, or refuse to eat and die a tough stringy mess. Meat tends to be reserved for special occasions, and can fetch quite a high price. Dyrwarden is a barter town, and one of the few in which both Alklaron teeth and Grey Breakings certs have no value. Silver remains silver, though, so from time to time Legacy currency makes its rounds into and out of the city through the routes of incredibly brave traders and those who need need a vacation from the consistent Dyrwarden life. Dyrwarden pays handsomely for meat and alcohol imports, and its only export is its exotic and rare variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbal medicines.