The first creditable sighting of Nephele by Agenoreans occurred in the 14th century when sailors in a crippled ship were driven wildly off course. Found half-dead in the waters near Harn, they reported seeing a land guarded by “grindn shols replet with decayd hulls.” The land was dubbed “Nephele” after the mythical retreat of the Argenti at the end of the Age of Silver.
It would be nearly two centuries before advances in shipbuilding permitted a reasonably safe crossing of the violent Sea of Rona. In 1543, Sir Elias Backshale’s fleet was blown off course and into the waters surrounding Nephele. While half the fleet was destroyed on the rocky shoals that seem to surround the land, the rest of the fleet was able to limp south to Harn and, from there, back to Wahlagia.
Sir Elias became obsessed with exploration of Nephele, and obsession he passed down to his son, Sir Everett, who would finally make landfall and establish the Wahlagian settlement of Griggston.
The Land of Nephele
Nephele is a large land. Indeed, no Agenorean sailors have yet circumnavigated it. It is know to extend at least 100 miles to the north and south of Bluebay. Judging from the inland mountains visible from the coast, the land is at least 200 miles east to west.
Located in the northern stretches of the Sea of Rona, the climate likely ranges from temperate to sub-arctic. The western coast is subject to frequent savage storms throughout the summer months and heavy snowfall throughout the winter.
Between six and twelve miles from shore lies rocky shallows that stretch to the north and south as far as Agenoreans have sailed. The shoals are crisscrossed by many labyrinthine channels, most of which lead to inescapable dead-ends. Only the Wahlagian’s have discovered a path through. The many rotting wrecks of ships attest to the hazard these shoals pose.
Compared to the angry open waters of the Sea of Rona, the inter-coastal waters of Nephele are generally calm and easily navigated. The coast of Nephele itself, however, seems to be largely composed of towering granite cliffs, with few safe harbors to be found. Anyone traveling by sea around Nephele should be prepared to spend to weather storms on the water.
The People of Nephele
Nephele is inhabitated by indigenous people who live in tribal groups. The Nephelese are robust and heavy browed. So far, the Agenoreans in Nephele have encountered only the Kerr people around Bluebay, but from them they are aware of the Tumon to the north and the Wemic to the southeast.
The Kerr have recently been driven south by the expansionist Tumon and warn the Agenoreans that dealings with the Tumon are unlikely to go well. The Wemic, on the other hand, are an extremely passive tribe. The Wemic have very strong spiritual traditions and treat most things as symbolic of some deeper reality.