"The summers wet, green and gold;

The winters wet, snow-filled and cold;

Fair Cascadia, land of the morning mists;

God's favourite latrine when he yearns to take a piss."

- A verse from an obscure drinking tune in a pub in da-Tstsaqrar

Part I

"...My journey to the southern lands was one of great intrigue to say the least. For many years in my youth I spent time brooding over a trip there; concocting plans, coaxing sailors and longshoremen for stories and fables- pouring over books, atlases and codices. I, like all others brought up on tales of the Old Empire, thought the lands a wonder of nature and a center of culture, art and civic duty. In ancient times I was told the fort cities of the Cascades served as waypoints for sailors heading south to the richlands of the Gold Coast. Settlement along the coast was intensified when it was found that many precious metals hugged the coastline and Cascades, easily accessible for kobold and dwarves. The swaths of broadleaf trees; some hundreds of feet tall dotted the Cascadian coastline, which made for a profitable industry of timber. What made for rare animals in Polaria were abundant and common southward in the forests of Cascadia; and for this reason entrepreneurial fur-trappers could make an easy living selling pelts by for great profit. The forts grew and size and brought a stark contrast to the region; one of urban splendor, opportunity and hard work- and one of natural beauty, sylvan charm and exploratory wonder.

When finally I came of age enough to travel southward I hopped on the first boat I could find with little more than notes (written mostly in my memory), food, clothes for a month's journey and a great desire to explore. I remember spending days aside the ship; hoping and waiting for the signs of the morning mists I had so eagerly heard of, the sights of the glorious Cascades rising up unto the heavens; the passing by of ships filled with pottery, jade and gold from the south- ships heading from the north in search of rare products for trade.

But we saw nothing but rain, hail and cloud. Days at sea and not a ship or land in sight. From a distance I could see the tops of white-capped mountains, which for a time was spectacular; but I admit I soon resented their site at dawn every morning, wishing that they might extend themselves somewhere useful where I could chance upon a hot-meal or some entertainment. But I must digress and turn back to the rain. I cannot forget the rain. Everyday, anytime and anywhere; for in Cascadia I am told it is gray 8 months a year, with clouds ready to spill at a moment's notice. Say what you will of Cascadia's abundant minerals, trees or fur; if there is one thing Cascadia has truly in abundance, it is rain, rain... rain.

After nearly a week, the ship's first officer told us we would soon be docking in the city of da-Tstsaqrar; located deep within the mouth of Dragon's Bay. At this my vigor returned and I got very excited, and distinctly remember sitting packed with my things ready in tow to hop off the boat at a moment's notice. I hoped to be the first on deck to spot the city from afar. da-Tstsaqrar, once known as Ap-Tsqrutany [1]. I knew it to be an ancient port city millenia old- once the principal seat of the Old Imperial Navy and housing one of the largest and most spectacular ruins of the Old Temples of the Six. I had heard it to be a center of the arts, to have retained many glorious relics of the Imperial Age and to be a preserver of many of the Old Ways and Imperial Culture long since lost to us here in the Near North.

But- though I was not first to spot the city, I may have been first to smell it. The stench, even for myself; who had spent some time fighting in the Fields was overwhelming. When finally the massive twin-spires of the city, called the Swords of Tsqrutany came into our sight from miles away, I could see both their splendour... and their decay. Built several millenia ago they appear to have scarsely seen a proper scrubbing, let alone polish in the years since the Empire had fallen. Around the towers were great tall walls; gating off the city's prosperous and wealthy from its poor, undesired and transient traders shopping wares from abroad. Pillars of smoke rose from the guildhouses and metallurgies on the shore and hordes of people from many races criss-crossed through its narrow streets like bees round a hive. As we neared to dock we passed by many of them; traders, crafters, farmers and conmen. I saw in plain sight many a time necromancers bargaining with the Mournful over the price of demagifying fresh cadavers, Priests openly prosthelytizing in the streets; the sounds of babes crying, drakes brawling and rokhs singing.

It was chaos; utter and complete chaos. It was then I think I found a ressentiment of my interest. While I hoped perhaps in other cities the splendor of my youth would turn out to be true, it was then that I truly began to understand Cascadia; the true Cascadia- a region long divorced but still struggling with the memories of the Old Empire, a region facing unprecedented political turmoil, a region suffering from extensive economic stagnation or decline and a region marked by the immense contrast between its heavily urbanization and immense distal isolation from areas more prosperous and enduring."

- From The Memoirs of Ishichyratt s-Sr, by Ishichyratt s-Sr VIII (Dr.); 4,024 D.A.

[1] U-Tsqrut id an Irttan, II was an ancient and glorious emperor of the Ntebkkakau Empire; and the city's name (Ap-Tsqrutany) thus once bore his name.