Every province in the Empire has its perennial dangers. In the Celestial Peaks, nameless beasts and remnant constructs stalk the undermountain regions left behind by the Strife of the Twin Emperors. In the Thousand Lakes, the manifold children of the Face Stealer, slain by Yao the Fisher, haunt the fens throughout the province, and the foul creatures of the red jungle plague the west. The plague of the Ashwalkers scourges the Golden Fields, even millennia after the Cataclysm. Ebon Fields sees the Zheng war forever with the man eating spirits of mountain and river. Even the Alabaster Sands must content with nightmares left behind by the terrible engines of the strife.
However, the Emerald Seas has suffered more and longer than any province save for the Golden Fields. This is of course a contentious point. Yet it must be pointed out that even under the Weilu, these lands were not free of war. The Weilu were not the stalwarts of the Celestial Peaks, the unquestioned rulers of the Bai, nor even the bizarrely stable mob which are the Zheng. They were themselves a confederation of tribes, well prone to civil war.
This passed on to their descendants, the Xi and Hui, who have at best simply kept the violence of these lands to lower simmer. This fractiousness impedes the advancement of human authority, and so it is that the great province of Emerald Seas is filled with regions where man does not walk, and beings which haunt our roads and towns. In the wake of the horror that was the great Khan, this has only grown more true, who knows the true number of unconsecrated battlefields, ruined, overgrown villages and other sites of woe which dot the south even now.
Before discussing the dangers and challenges of the Emerald Seas in more detail, it must be said that the Ministry of Integrity has done much good. In the destruction of the Bandit Kingdoms and the death of the destruction of proscribed cults across the province, they have done much good. Never let it be thought that the purpose of this document is to denigrate their works. The Emperor’s burden is beyond the humble imaginings of a mere scholar, and this document purports only to catalogue those places and things which human ingenuity and drive has yet to conquer.
The dangers laid out in this book shall be divided into three categories. The Unquiet Dead, the Vile Spirit, and the Deep Places.
The unquiet dead are most common in the south, where the ravages of the Great Khan lie close to memory. In that chaos there was no time to give those slain their proper rights, nor in many cases access to the sites of those deaths. The least of these dangers are lost hamlets and watchtowers where a few hundred mortals or common soldiers met their end, tainting the land with their anger and despair. They are beyond a single exorcism and the solution to them is the construction of proper shrines to death gods and regular offerings to slowly put those suffering to rest. The Greater among these are whole towns or minor battlefields, which must be violently cleansed by noble and honest cultivators to allow the exorcists and priests to begin their labor. The greatest example of these lies far in the southeast, Hushao pass, Hushao pass was the site of single largest slaughter of imperial forces by the Great Khan, here the Patriarch Wu was overwhelmed and his clan near destroyed as they waited for promised reinforcement that would never come. The deaths of so many potent cultivators in the throes of hate and betrayal has transformed the once peaceful land into a terrible wasteland.
Vile spirits are unfortunately far more common, these are individual spirits, or courts of spirits which, for whatever reason refuse to negotiate or coexist with humankind. In truth it is difficult to categorize these. The spirits of disease born from improperly salted meat technically meet the requirements, but this section is primarily concerned with spirits capable of higher thought, and who have caused more long term harm than making a peasant a bit ill. The destruction of the bandit kingdoms has been a great boon for the battle against them, for the most common method for such misanthropic spirits to gain power was through the promotion and protection of such malcontents that fed their hunger for death and misery. Of those that remain, perhaps the most notorious is the entity known in common circulation as the Grinning Fox of Xuzhen, or Madam Grey. This four tailed fox spirit has haunted the viscounty of Xuzhen and its neighbors since the late Xi period. This key to this beasts longevity is in the relatively low lethality of its activities, only taking some scores of mortal men and the occasional soldier in a year. Still attempts have been made to hunt the beast and it has thus far evaded all attempts, even those led by those in the fourth realm.
The last category comprises those locations which are fundamentally hostile to human life and settlement. The name chosen for it is somewhat fanciful, but descriptive. The dead might be put to rest, and even the greatest vile spirits slain if sufficient force can be gathered. These places however are those which resist the will of all but the mightiest cultivators. The heart of whole regions of woodlands, the dwellings of a great spirits avatar and other such locations. With the death of the bandit kingdoms, it is these regions which are most like to appear marked as ‘wilderness’ upon maps of the province, for it is considered ill luck to even claim ownership of them. The most well known example is the Fantasia, a stretch of fenland in the west which it is whispered once held the greatest dream palace of the Weilu clans and is now known to be the preferred haunt of the Moonlight Dancer a well known avatar of the Great Dreaming Moon. It is a place where the logic of dreams seeps into reality, and to merely navigate its foggy waters and pass through its shallows is a great achievement. It is said that the Meng clan may even use it as a testing ground for the greatest of their scions.
Much effort has gone into cataloguing the multitude of dangers which pepper the Emerald Seas, for as any cultivator knows, danger is opportunity for the lucky and the skilled. The rest of this volume shall take on an encyclopedic format, listing the facts and rumors associated with each, as well as some suggestions on how a discerning individual might profit from them…
-Forward of Adventure in the Sea of Trees, by Chen De, a merchant later charged with fraud and trafficking of illegal goods.