By Chester Seaton
9/2/282- The Deadlands of the great western continent remain to this day the crown jewel of world exploration, and with good reason. None who have entered the region have ever returned, until recently.
According to Colonial Marshals stationed at Fort Faulkner, Professor Uriah Farringdon Oke has been found. The Marshals offered no details about what Oke saw and did over the course of the last half decade, but did report that the Professor was extremely malnourished and psychologically impaired.
Six years ago, the renowned explorer led the largest expedition to date into the Deadlands. Correspondence with the team lasted for two months, and according to a letter written by Professor Oke himself, the expedition had been charting a river leading to what they believed was the region’s center-most point. Contact dropped off after that, and it was believed that Oke’s expedition had met the same mysterious fate as those who came before.
Johnathan DePlante, Professor of Archaeology at the Empress University in Oeil de Fleur, spoke to us of the unique dangers inherent in exploring the Deadlands.
“The biggest obstacle is how little we know of it,” said Professor DePlante. “And what we do know isn’t pretty. First, one must cross over a treacherous mountain range that runs in a ring around the region. The peaks of these mountains are concealed by horrible cloud cover and tumultuous winds whip through them at speeds that even our most advanced air ships would have trouble getting through. The only way through, until recently, with the Julianos expeditions (who aren’t being forthcoming), is a narrow pass that can only be traversed during a specific, two week window. Even then, a freak storm or rock slide or avalanche often proves fatal.
“Once through the mountains, out of the freezing winds and ice, a team would descend into a basin thick with rain forests. The climate would be oppressively humid. The flora and fauna would be an unknown (Professor Oke’s own correspondence was tragically bereft of any such details; he was more enamored with emotions caused by the natural beauty of the place…man should have been a poet, not a scientist), but we speculate one would expect to find an abundance of large reptiles, insects, territorial primates and large predatory cats that can be found in similar environments around the world, along with the typical spectrum of diseases they carry.”