Long ago the empire shattered, and now we run like ants among its bones. Many know little outside their own villages, and few indeed are those who travel far, for the world is a dangerous place. Yet to all points of the compass rumor flies: it is the one thing that no power can stop.

To the north, they say, the land rises, and the clannish hill-people make their homes amongst the dales, whispering of faeries that live within the trees and beneath the earth.

To the north-east lies the ocean, storm-grey and limitless. The fisherfolk swear strange oaths to the sea-gods in the hopes of returning home each trip, and do not leave their huts when the water glows at night.

To the east the sea's moisture draws forth life from the earth and trees climb towards the sky; their branches are hung with vines, their trunks are hairy with moss, and their roots are wrapped around the foundations of ancient ruins.

To the south-east the trees sink sluggishly down into the soft ground, rotting into hidden pools of mud; and yet the true danger of the swamps lies not in treacherous paths but in deadly inhabitants.

To the south tale-tellers speak of only one thing, the great battlefield that paces the horizon, where bones and ghosts and rusted armor mark the spot where six warlords fought to tear apart the flesh of the dying empire until all were destroyed.

To the south-west are the great plains, where days of open riding between small towns are broken only once: by the mighty river that cuts the land like a whip, down which sail traders, pilgrims, explorers, and the rogues who prey on them all.

To the west the temples in the capitol of the old empire have been made into arenas, and crowds cheer for the deaths of gladiators where once worshippers stood; outside the city, the desperate paw through rubble, hoping to find ancient treasures.

To the north-west the land is denied moisture by the hills, so it stands as a harsh and uncompromising desert, though there are always those who tell the tale that it was not always so, that something secret lies beneath the sands -- but none have returned from the desert to prove it.

Finally, the new political center of the world is the City of Eyes and Hands, but few outside its walls see the appeal of a place where business deals are settled with a pen in the day and a dagger at night, where the Hands of the lords carry out dark plans, where an Eye may be watching at any moment.

Those are the stories, these are the places -- and if you but have the will to claim them and the strength to take them, they can be yours.