Friday Lore Post: The Scoured Crater

In the year DN 1689, a small Dolovin region just south of the major fork in the Saint’s River was on the forefront of an agricultural revolution. Three villages named Ellon’s Stow, Merrik’s Waste, and East Garn had come together to work out a novel method to make their land less dependant on imported grain and vegetables by irrigating the grassland between their three settlements to turn it into extremely fertile farmland that would feed not only them, but also the nearby city of High Haven, reducing the need for food to be shipped upriver, a concern recently to the nobility as some of their food stock was coming from Kyaine, with whom they had recently been at war. With the help of a group of academy mages, planners in these three villages came up with a plan to draw from the river to irrigate the land, and were about to put it in motion. 

And then they were hit by a meteor, wiping out all three villages and farmland in a hundred square kilometres, and killing all of the roughly five thousand people living there. 

The immediate effects of the impact were devastating. A dust cloud covered large portions of eastern Dolovai and northeastern Kyaine, as well as the northern ridge of Ech’kent. Even in some of the eastern nations of Neser and Haveal, effects lingered in the lower atmosphere for months, destroying most of the growing season and forcing an unprecedented amount of food importation to stave off famine. Many people still starved to death, and even more became sick, because the meteor’s impact poisoned the water of the Saint’s River for many kilometers downstream. Historians credit the recent cessation of hostilities between Dolovai and Kyaine for saving many lives; despite concerns of a few that the southerners might take advantage of the disaster, Kyainese grain was imported in large quantities, for free, to feed Dolovin people. 

The dust cloud eventually dissipated, and everything in the surrounding regions returned to normal. But this was not the case in the immediate area of the impact. The crater from the impact has a nearly six kilometer radius, and for fifty years after impact, it was unsafe to approach in any capacity, even with magical protections. No matter what anyone did, all those who neared it died within a few hours, and so the area that came to be known as the Scoured Crater was labelled off-limits to everyone. 

In that intervening fifty years, speculation abounded as to what had actually happened. Some people claimed to have seen something fall from the sky, while others claimed the magic involved in the project backfired, though this latter theory was generally dismissed as unrealistic. Factions within (and without) the church saw the impact as a sign of the end times, interpreting certain lines of the Leader prophecy (“He shall wear onto his head a crown of birds and on his hands gauntlets of iron fire”) to mean something large falling from the sky, implying that it was the Leader himself who had fallen and was now walking among the people to end the world. 

This was never the position of the mainstream church, who instead took the stance that Ellon’s Stow, Merrik’s Waste and East Garn had transgressed a technological boundary and scorned God’s will for the human use of nature with their irrigation plans, which were seen as dangerous for the land. Rumours had also always circulated that the people in these three towns were abusing their animals in order for them to produce more milk and meat, keeping them in inhumane conditions and so forth, so the meteor’s impact became a lesson to not abuse animals, lest one risk wrath from God.

About fifty years later a brave explorer in the region was able to enter the crater, and it was deduced that whatever effect had been killing explorers had faded. Many people and groups were sent to study the crater and try to find out what happened. 

In addition to delegations from the governments of Dolovai and Kyaine as well as representatives of the mages’ academy and the Circle of Wizards, the Grand Coven of Witches also sent a member of the Yellow Witch Clan to investigate the land, under the assumption that their experience with earth and minerals would prepare them for analyzing whatever was left of the meteor. But as soon as the young witch descended below the crater’s rim, his connection to the earth was cut off in a way that it had never been at ground level or atop the mountains of his homeland. The rock beneath his feet was brittle and totally inert, lacking any of the energy that stones had always had. When samples were taken home for study, their effects persisted, and a small number of them have been made useful as anti-magic talismans, though the clan was careful not to let it be known that the rocks in this region had this quality, and to this day it remains a closely-guarded secret. 

In addition to the lack of magical or natural energy, nothing was growing within the confines of crater, and concerningly to everyone involved(and in support of the theory of the meteorite having been the Leader or a sign from God), the meteorite itself was not present in the centre of the crater. Despite many, many years of effort and a lot of money and resources being put into the search, it was never found. Whether it was stolen or something else happened to it nobody has ever discerned, and in the intervening two hundred and fifty years, the barrenness of the crater has not changed—not so much as a blade of grass grows in it, and no animals are to be found either. Several observers have noted that even birds and insects avoid flying over the crater. 

What has also been noted, however, is that both flora and fauna outside the impact crater seem different somehow. This is not the case with all plants or animals and it grows rarer the farther one travels from the crater, but animals that seem to move incorrectly; birds that seem heavier than they should be but still fly; cattle that produce milk that tastes like something that isn’t milk; and plants with thorns that they shouldn’t have or flowers that follow nearby movement, are all found in the area around the crater. At first this seemed to be localized only to a hundred kilometers or so around the crater itself, but the area in which these anomalous things can be found has been increasing over the years and now stretches to about five hundred kilometers from the impact site. None of these anomalous plants or animals are explicitly harmful to humans, and similar anomalies have not (yet) been noted in humans, but researchers and magic-users have been studying the phenomenon for years and have no real explanation. 

Though the phenomenon is still being studied and nobody really knows what happened, the impact of the meteor has had wide ranging cultural effects across Menechit. Despite many other technological advances in the last three centuries, farming techniques have remained relatively static, as the Scoured Crater stands as a symbol for what happens when humans try to take dominion over nature too far. As a result, farms across Menechit, on average, produce less food per acre than farms in regions of similar climate where they don’t have the cautionary tale to make them worry about the consequences of agricultural development. Fortunately, Dolovai especially has a lot of arable farmland, so there has not yet been an issue with the amount of food produced not being able to meet the needs of the population. 

To this day, regardless of what the official import/export policies of Dolovai and Kyaine are with respect to food, typically the people in the affected regions ignore them and trade at whatever prices they think are fair, ignoring tariffs and taxes in favour of feeding each other. The human compassion that kept people alive in the years following the impact became a part of the local culture. The most positive effect of the meteorite’s impact has been that, to the people in this region, the exact location of the border matters a great deal less than whether the people on the other side of it are hungry. 

From “The Definitive Atlas of the World, Vol. 5: Histories and Mysteries,” by Pascal Tiberius Naoton Quimbell Haeverine anNatalie, published in White Cape in DN 1997.

16 thoughts on “Friday Lore Post: The Scoured Crater

  1. I assume that there is some horrible secret behind the anomalous flora and fauna. Like, they’re all part of an assimilating hive mind, or they’re secretly the Thing imperfectly imitating the organisms they used to be before it devoured them, or the meteor housed an incorporeal magic-draining possessing entity, or a grey goo scenario is imminent.


    1. I mean it definitely seems likely that something horrible and/or worrying is behind the anomalous flora and fauna. As to exactly what it is, of course no comment at the moment, but it’s definitely something, and you might not even be that far off the mark!



      1. A dirty bomb, then. Or a chunk of uranium at high velocity. Barrels of nuclear waste. SOMETHING dangerously radioactive. I’m just saying, the effects on the area look an awful lot like Hollywood radiation, complete with mutated wildlife…


        1. The effects do very much look like some kind of Hollywood Radiation, you’re not wrong. 🙂 I mean we know something fell from the sky, but we also know that no meteorite was found, so…make of that what you will!



  2. Jenova is here! The Calamity From the Skies has descended upon Nova! From the Northern Crater she creeps forth, devouring the life of the Planet as she goes!

    If any pretty boys with long silver hair, a fucking GIGANTIC katana, and a penchant for leather show up, kill them on sight.


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