The outlying settlements — hamlets, villages and small towns — are an experience not to be missed, although the canny traveller will pack items they can’t do without, since facilities are extremely limited, to put things mildly. You’ve heard the phrase “off the beaten trail”? Well, this realm doesn’t even have trails, whether to ease travel between neighbouring settlements or even leading to Ascar herself.
When questioned on the lack of roads or paths and the reason for keeping each settlement in isolation, Security Councillor Devon Martek had this to say:
“In my opinion it would be unacceptably dangerous to provide easy travel between settlements for just anybody who wished it. There is always a risk that a traveller becomes cursed en route, and wreaks havoc at their destination before they are apprehended. We are reasonable people in the Council. We do not forbid travel independently of the convoy, but neither do we encourage it. Who knows what the ruralites would get up to if they could travel back and forth as the whim took them?”
I guess that’s us told!
Travel to the settlements should be carefully arranged. Although the realm has early blimp technology, it certainly isn’t in wide use and you will cause alarm if you arrive out of the sky. Please be culturally aware and sensitive. You could accompany one of the convoys, but because of their circuitous route this isn’t the best mode of travel for the tourist on a short timescale. Alternatively, you could use your regular transport method, conceal it some distance away (beside a “cursed mound” is ideal because of the superstitious avoidance of them) and hike in, pretending you walked the whole distance. That might make more traditional types uneasy, but they won’t ask for details since the topic is almost taboo.
That said, if you do have the time, walking through the wilderness can be a fantastic experience. This Intrepid Correspondent spent a few days with the convoy hiking from Burnley Woods to Maldon town, and the peacefulness on the journey was remarkable, as was sleeping under the stars. There were some challenges, such as the lack of paths, and finding suitable points to cross rivers without getting too wet. But it’s well worth the effort to appreciate such untouched terrain.
And what should you expect on arrival at a rural settlement? Well, in our next article we’ll tell you about one of them.
Obligatory statement of responsibility: In accordance with the conditions of our alternate world exploration permit, Intrepid Explorers™ affirm that 1. none of our ICs (Intrepid Correspondents) will challenge citizens’ current state of knowledge or world view and 2. any use of technology more advanced than in the visited world will remain concealed.