. Ollphéan Wilds
Ollphéan Wilds

the wilds

The largest landmass of the new world is known as The Wilds, and is split up into five different territories ruled by three Avemdeus.

The Hollows is the most densely populated area of The Wilds. Numerous flocks call the massive forest their home, and the deeper you go into the woods the larger those family groupings become.

The outskirts of the forest are made up of a smattering of smaller trees, most of them no bigger than an average Aveminare. Other wildlife-- deer, hares, wolves, etc-- are more concentrated in the outer ring of trees that edges The Meadow and The Reef. The Aveminare that live in the outskirts are considered either very brave, or very reckless, as the sparse trees provide less cover than the denser jungles of The Hollows.

The risk is double sided, however, as the deeper parts of the forest are rife with Aveminus. The overwhelmingly large trunks of the trees closer to the center are the only ones thick enough to support a bird of Aveminus size, and many of them will make trips out to the edge to pick off Aveminare as pets before returning to their nests deep within the woods. Community nesting grounds can also be found near the center of The Hollows. Flocks will search for small clearings, starting on the mossy ground and building their way up until they have full on city-like structures, trees carved into makeshift skyscrapers and stuffed with nesting material. The clearings will act as city centers, with the thick trees surrounding the open space acting as stand-in walls.

The inner forest is so dense with foliage that it is always notably cooler or warmer than the rest of The Hollows, depending upon the weather above the canopy. Almost no light is able to penetrate the thick leaves that form the forest's "roof". Due to the dark, inconsistent conditions, wild animals-- besides the Ollphéan-- avoid going past the outer edge. The Ollphéan's primary source of food and light within the forest comes from gigantic, bio-luminescent bugs. Water can be found in thin, twisting rivers that cut through the underbrush and lead to small springs.

Despite their comfort deep within The Hollows, even the bravest of Ollphéan is too scared to venture towards the very center of the woods. Whispered rumors state that there is an ungodly large vulture that lives there, an Avemdeus large and cruel enough to eat even the biggest Aveminus that wanders too close.

The Meadow is a dangerous stretch of wide open plains. But, for a clever Ollphéan, it can be a fruitful home. An Ollphéan hidden in the tall grass is treated to a wealth of prey options, the wildlife being much more abundant than it is among the trees. There are insects and small animals to sniff through and scavenge meals from, and for an Ollphéan either big enough, brave enough, or with enough friends, there are ungulates to hunt.

The increase in food also comes with an increased risk. Most Aveminare who are swept away by an Aveminus are picked up in The Meadow. Many Aveminus avoid making The Meadow a permanent home, finding more comfort in moving from one tree to the next, but a number of them venture out from The Hollows to hunt before returning. The trees in The Meadow are very few and very far between, and none of them ever grow quite large enough to entirely camouflage an Aveminare. Watering holes are also a dangerous place to be. Any pool or lake fresh enough to drink from is banked by hard-packed, dry dirt and a few scraggly patches of grass. There is no protection for an Ollphéan dipping their head to take a sip.

Community nests are rare here, but it is not unheard of to find a handful of smaller Aveminare forming flocks of their own and sharing look out and hunting duties. These flocks know better than to make their nests too close to The Hollows or The Peaks, preferring instead to scatter about the middle of The Meadow.

Though the Avemdeus who lives in The Hollows has never been seen, all plain-dwelling Ollphéan are acutely aware of not only the existence of the Avemdeus, but of the power struggle over who lays claims to The Meadow. Whereas the vulture that is said to rule The Hollows is still regarded as just a rumor to those that live in the forest, the Avemdeus that controls The Peaks is very, very real. Ollphéan who have lived in The Meadow long enough have seen the enormous harpy eagle swooping low through the mountain range on the opposite side of the valley. While Meadow-dwellers generally don't want to be caught up in the contention, some will pray for safety to whichever Avemdeus they consider to be the true owner of The Meadow.

The Peaks are a cold, unforgiving stretch of mountains. Surprisingly, however, it makes for one of the safest homes for a lone Ollphéan. Caverns that cut back into the rock and jagged cliff formations that jut out from the side of the mountains ensure plenty of places to hide for a vigilant bird. Additionally, meals are not as scarce as the apparently bare peaks might make it seem. Fresh water springs cut through evergreen forests nestled deep within The Peaks's valleys, providing an admittedly thin, but very present, food source.

On top of nuts and berries growing deep in the underbrush, small herds of prey animals-- caribou and other ungulates, mostly-- roam the snowy land. Still, regardless of the foraging and hunting opportunities many Ollphéan choose to live solitary lives in The Peaks, slim resources being among the top reasons as to why. Even among the few nesting communities that span multiple caves along the base of the mountain range food is a "fend for yourself" situation. Things such as group meals, family nesting, and social interaction are seen as unnecessary additions to flock life, and most flocks are formed on the basis of warmth sharing throughout the cold nights and the principle of safety in numbers. The Peaks, second only to The Meadow, is one of the most open-aired territories in all of The Wilds, and it is not uncommon to see the shadow of an Aveminus swooping from summit to summit in search of something smaller than it to capture, or worse, chew.

But even the biggest Aveminus has reason to be cautious while patrolling the alps. The Avemdeus that lives on the tallest, iciest peak isn't picky about the size of its dinner, and has been known to swallow down Aveminare and Aveminus alike. Ollphéan who live in The Peaks know better than to attempt to reason with the harpy eagle, or to pray to it like those that live in The Meadow do, as all such actions are meaningless. They know that it's much better to hide, and pray that they're not found. Unwitting Aveminus who have tried to appease the Avemdeus with offerings of their finest pets have been rewarded with their own death.

The eagle is not altogether unavoidable, at least. Despite choosing the largest peak for his perch, the Avemdeus's own size out shadows his chilly home. Often times during long naps atop the cliffs he is blanketed with snow, the cover of white blending him into the mountain and making him appear to be part of The Peaks itself. The sudden downpour of snow that is a result of him opening his wings is a sure sign of his imminent arrival, and a smart Ollphéan is able to take it as their cue to get to safety.

The Reef is a cluster of smaller islands just off the coast of the mainland. Here lush, tropical palm trees run wild on the inland, and pleasantly warm, sandy beaches ring the shores. The waters are sparkling blue and, in some places, so crystal clear that the bottom of the shallow pools are perfectly visible. Protein is readily available to any Ollphéan skilled in fishing, but even the clumsier ones can find plenty of fruits and insects in the jungles. Many birds learn to swim for the sake of catching fish, but end up finding they enjoy it as a sport.

Life in The Reef is much, much easier than it is on the mainland. As long as an Ollphéan isn't hellbent on causing trouble, co-existing comes naturally to Aveminare and Aveminus alike. Large flocks enjoy tightly knit familial relationships, and raising offspring is generally a community effort. Their peace is due almost entirely to the Avemdeus that rules the islands. The massive albatross is very protective of what she considers to be her birds. In-fighting and predation is unacceptable on her islands, and any offending birds are often swiftly consumed.

The albatross is highly revered among Reef dwellers, and many dream of one day being chosen as one of her personal pets. The Avemdeus's harem are among the most well taken care of birds in all of The Wilds. Their numbers are large enough to be considered a flock of their own, so company is never in short supply. Neither is food, shelter, nor grooming. The albatross is known to absolutely spoil her pets, showering them with gifts of treats, flowers, and jewels. They are safe as long as she is near, and some of them have taken to sleeping curled up in her chest and neck feathers. A healthy mix of Aveminare and Aveminus make up the group, and some have developed mate relationships even within the flock.

Pets are not the only ones who benefit from choosing to be near the albatross. The Avemdeus preys primarily on whales that swim in the waters around her home, though she rarely finishes a whole one. Large portions of the carcass are left lying about on the beach, free pickings to any nearby Ollphéan. With plenty of food and shelter to go around, the greatest threat to island life comes in the form of storms. Family groups try to construct their nests low to the ground and with plenty of cover in the event of harsh rains and whipping winds.

The City is a sprawling, twisting stretch of ruins located in The Hollows, near the edge of The Meadow. It is known as a godless place; even the Avemdeus avoid it. Massive skeletons litter the streets--remains of Aveminus too large to safely squeeze through the rotted buildings that ended up impaled on rusted metal or crushed under collapsing stone--making the uneasy stench of death inescapable. The crumbling buildings and sharp spires of torn steel make for a treacherous habitat even for small Aveminare, and very few Ollphéan are brave enough to call the wasteland their home. Flock life is nearly impossible, and the few birds that live in The City have adapted to a strict, almost military lifestyle. They are on high alert at all times. The Ollphéan that avoid The City whisper about how city birds are paranoid and possibly psychotic, believing them to suffer from hallucinations.

Still, despite the danger, there are the few handfuls of birds that dare traipse the cracked asphalt roads. They know that it is what is left of the creatures that destroyed themselves in order to make way for the Ollphéan, and they are curious. Books, music, tools, materials, and other treasures lay scattered and ripe for the picking. Cunning birds are able to slip through the wreckage and find these things, spiriting them away back to their flocks. Smarter birds have started the long and arduous process of learning to read, and the few books recovered from The City prove invaluable to the scholars of The Wilds. Advancements in healing, flock defense, and food gathering tools have been made wherever there exists an Ollphéan that has managed to decipher the peculiar markings in those aged pages.

Along with useful texts and machinery, there is also the irresistible allure of sparkly things. Abandoned jewelry shops are free game to any Aveminus looking to impress a mate or decorate a pet. The shops are routinely raided, most Aveminus only taking a few pieces at a time. There is an unspoken rule to not clean house and make off with the whole lot, each bird being careful to not alert the other thieves to their presence. The more sporadically gems are taken, the more difficult it is to decipher just how many Ollphéan, and who, knows about their location. Being unaware of each other keeps each of them safe in the end and, as long as those reckless enough to brave The City come away with more than they entered with, none of them are about to get greedy and cause any trouble.

Of course, for birds who desire goods but are unwilling to risk their lives, there is an oasis in the metal desert. Ollphéan can venture to The City's limit to visit Shop and Keep, the magpie twins that own The Nut Hole. For a fair exchange of foods, the two are willing to part with some of their hard earned items. Their unwavering generosity and admirable sense of community service make them wonderful swindlers shopkeepers.

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