Into the Deep
“As the autumnal sun sets on Kimidori Woods, desperate strings of golden light pierce the canopy, but are soon smothered by the encroaching stillness. Twilight rushes silently through the forest tonight the same as it has done for millennia. The usual ancient hush, punctuated by the creak of ageless pines, descends throughout the undergrowth and bathes the forest floor in darkness. The swift dark courses through the feet of the mighty trees, drenching all with inky blackness.
In the deep blues and greens of a fading day, the long shadows of the Emperor Pines take on new life. It’s old Tonbo folklore, set forth in the days when people still gave their blood and their bones to the Mine, nearly 200 years ago now. The dark, long forms of the pines stand watch for the town during the day, but as night falls softly, the trees around Tonbo seemingly turn their gaze inward. The protectors of their town became their assailants. Tonbo shrinks against the night, and every Tonbonian knows that their fires and blades are useless should the forest turn on them.
The hamlet of Tonbo is a small slice of refuge against the ferocity of the Kimidori. The town and many of its citizens have spent their entire life in in the cool shadow of the pines. Tonbonians survive the forest because they know the forest. Circled entirely by the pines, the townsfolk have known for years that it’s a fool’s wish to hope that your fate isn’t determined by the whisper in the trees, discussed in the clatter of unseen birds and faceless beasts. Everything hangs in the balance, but the wise remember that, in Tonbo, the scale is held by the branches of the Emperor Pines."
A band of rebels, tired of the oppression of the dread Emperor Osagawa of the Old Empire, fled the Great Quarantine of Akarui. Under the cover of darkness, approximately 200 citizens of Akarui left the capital and dove into the Flood of the 77th century. Even after suffering heavy casualties, the pilgrims braved the dark of the Kimidori and settled the hamlet, upon instructions from Miiko the Tainted.
The early settlers of Tonbo strove to carve a living from the inhospitable wood, to devastating results. Arriving in the winter of 7701, the wood offered minimal protection from the elements and food was scarce. Of the 45 settlers who made it to Tonbo, only 12 survived the winter. In the spring of 7702, construction began in earnest. As the flood began to recede and the grip of Osagawa diminished in power, more and more settlers began arriving in Tonbo, swelling the numbers of the embattled rebels.
As Tonbo’s population expanded, supplies grew thin. Miiko, now unknowingly taken by the Unholy Grasp, ordered the citizens to halt all activities and begin rushed construction on the Tonbo Mine in 7706. Anyone who acted against Miiko’s wishes were put to death. Citizens of Tonbo struck the earth, convinced of the truth of Miiko’s revelations.
In the winter of 7707, the starving citizens broke into a large cavern of the mine, and were amazed to behold vast fields of golden Plump Helmets. The cavern provided enough sustainable rations for the entirety of the population. The town of Tonbo began to grow and flourish.
Miiko, now cemented as the hero of the Tonbo for his revelations, fell deeper into the throes of the Unholy Grasp. Ultimately, Miiko lost his mind completely and fled Tonbo in 7711, beginning the the reign of the Nagai clan in Tonbo.
Tonbo survives on the continued sustenance provided by the caverns of Tonbo Mine. In addition, Tonbo has established a reputation for being home to some of the finest woodworkers in Morizuma. The townsfolk’s fine crafts and lumber are a staple of Tonbo’s economy.
Located deep in the Kimidori Woods, Tonbo is constantly shadowed by the towering pines. Resting in a clearing punctuated by streams, most of the town’s buildings are built on the ground, with the exception of a few homes built high in the trees. To the east, large hills of rock lie underfoot the towering trees, and form the skeleton of the Tonbo Mine.
The Tonbo Mine is a geographic anomaly in that the presence of Plump Helmets growing in vast caverns is not a well-documented natural phenomenon that occurs without civilized intervention.
- Tonbo Townhall: The second oldest building in Tonbo, crafted by the hands of Miikoto himself. Its stoic exterior disguises a warmth on the inside, perpetuated by Attakai, the steward of the Townhall. No tapestries or other embellishments decorate the walls; powerful strokes of wood race through the interior, forming a practical space for the day-to-day operations of the town. The space also includes rooms for offices where the commerce of lumber and crafted goods is discussed with foreign traders.
- Tall Pines Tavern: Run by the bullheaded proprietress, Kotai ki, the Tall Pines is a comfortable, rustic tavern known far and wide for having the warmest fires and headiest plump helmet ales. The rooms here border on spartan though, but provide the essentials for a hardy traveler. Kotai keeps an impeccable cook on call at all times, and brags that the inn can fill even the most famished adventurers.
- Tonbo Woodworks: This enormous shop provides a workspace for all craftsmen here in Tonbo. Smelling strongly of sawdust and the subtle singe of powerful saws, both the grand and subtle wooden works of Tonbo are created in this building.
- House of Miikoto: This once-magnificent building stands in decay in the center of the town. Miikoto dictated that the house remain standing and that no one stay in it or repair it. Near the end of his madness, he knew that his works were so mighty that they would never decay.
- House of Nagai: Ever since the flight of Miikoto, the venerable, kind family of Nagai has been in charge of Tonbo. Their house stands on the outskirts of the town, unpretentious and quite modest. The Nagais have turned Tonbo from an obscure rebel outpost doomed to failure into a relatively prosperous town.
- Fire House: For those who make it to the town, the people of Tonbo go out of their way to provide hospitality. In the center of the town, a large building stands as shelter for anyone seeking to get out of the cold. A large fire, perpetually maintained by a ward determined by the Nagais, maintains this fire and welcomes the weary travelers. In fact, travelers who have visited Tonbo and returned to their hometowns have championed similar concepts all over Morizuma.
Present Day Tonbo
Dark streams bubble through the clearing in which much of the town is built. There isn’t much in Tonbo, but what is there has been built to stand the test of time. A few enterprising townsfolk have extended outside of the clearing, building their homes high in the clutches of the Emperor Pines. The old families have deemed this behavior arrogant, and know that should the pines turn on Tonbo, those structures will be the first to go.
Today, the small town lies sleepily in the Kimidori Wood, hardly remembering its violent past. Tonbo’s population is estimated around 300. The population consists mainly of humans. Despite the relative peace of present-day Tonbo, the darkness of the Wood is still a formidable obstacle, and the citizens of Tonbo rarely leave the borders of the town.
The Fall of Tonbo
In the autumn of 50 DA, the town of Tonbo was burned to the ground and the majority of its citizens were brutally murdered.
Ode to Tonbo
Written by Miiko, First Mayor of Tonbo
Tonbo, set within the harmonious woods
whose gentle streams
harbor the chatter of night crickets.
Strong hillsides of rock full of fertile caves
beset with gems
are wrought by the giving hands of gods.
Surrounded by strange auras and sprits,
our nature hums
with life that is full and not our own.
Deep and engorged with subtle mystery,
the streams and woods
babble with strange and unexpected.
The sun shines on the outlaws and outcasts:
honest, and searching for peace and calm.