The province of Meroma is known primarily for the Meroma Desert, the single largest desert region on Atla. Above the sandy desert and nestled at the foot of the Meroma Mountains is a region of savanna where indigenous tribes have coexisted with a variety of unique wildlife for thousands of years. From lions to wild horses, it is one of the most active and diverse regions of Atla.
The capital city of the province, Veyo, was once a bustling trade city that served as a waypoint for ships traveling around the southern tip of the continent. The many roads and pathways leading out of the city were lifelines for the people living deeper in the province, providing them with easy access to the goods brought in by ships. However, with the advent of raillines and quick magi-operated ships, Veyo has been largely forgotten. Today it is inhabited mostly by organized crime families and mercenary-guarded smugglers.
A majority of the province’s population lives north of the desert and against the foot of the Meroma Mountains, with many settlements wrapping around the edge of said mountains and north towards Sed. Due in part to the circumstances surrounding the Meroma Desert which will be discussed shortly, few historical records or concrete evidence exists that can explain more than a trifling summary of the people’s ancient past. There are numerous relics and monuments in the area, but there is little to explain their origins or purpose. The first written records and settlements date back to approximately 20,000 PM, shortly after the formation of the desert. For thousands of years the people are believed to have lived in grass or mud huts. Hunters and gatherers, the people lived simple lives and stayed mostly to themselves. Tribal intermingling was kept to a minimum and was usually hostile. Tribal boundaries covered areas between 10 and 100 miles and included small settlements of up to 1,000 people. This way of life changed little for thousands of years. As the people throughout the rest of Atla advanced technologically and ideologically, the people in Meroma were caught in time. It wasn’t until 2,000 PM when the people of Sed expanded south around the edge of the Meroma Mountains and began interacting with the Meroma locals that the natives showed any signs of cultural progression.
The savanna of Meroma remains culturally and ideologically isolated. While the people are officially part of the Atlan nation and they participate in Grand Council voting, the region is bereft of modern conveniences or necessities. Like Grey Hearth, Meroma is the only other province that does not have a single railline within its borders. Lines run towards the eastern coast from Sed and to the farthest reaches of Old Light City, but none of them reach into the province itself. There is little reason to install raillines throughout the area, as the cost would be enormous. Until rails are cheaper and easier to install and maintain, there is no benefit that can outweigh the high cost. And given that Veyo city is no longer considered a shipping hub for the region, there is no reason to install lines further south that could connect to the shipping lanes. The natives have adopted motorcarts to some degree, but they are mostly used for hunting expeditions. While the area is home to several different precious metal and mineral mines, none of them produce enough to justify installing raillines from the mines to the rest of the nation. As a result, the people continue to live as hunters, farmers, and miners that keep mostly to themselves. It must not be said, however, that the people are unintelligent or ignorant. There is a nationally accredited university in one of the largest settlements to the northeast, the people regularly travel to the rest of Atla and are as culturally relevant as any other people, and a few members of the Grand Council hail from cities in Meroma.
To many, Meroma’s ancient history is far more interesting than its current situation. The Meroma Desert is home to some of the most significant archeological and historical discoveries in the world.
Throughout the desert region of the province are a number of isolated monolithic structures. These obelisks, some of them reaching heights of 400 feet, are thought to date back more than 40,000 years and represent the earliest feats of human engineering. Humanity is said to be between 60-40,000 years old, with the birth of life taking place on Feron. It is thought that humans traveled to Atla 40,000 years ago, simultaneously landing in Bedrin and the regions around Westlake. But where the people of Feron and Bedrin were primitive and nomadic, the people of Meroma were building structures that would be difficult if not impossible to construct using modern technology.
Every obelisk stands alone, though they are just close enough that you can see the nearest pillar on the horizon, barely within the limits of human vision. Beneath almost every pillar is a circular platform or foundation, usually 1,000 feet across, that is dotted with smaller pillars around its circumference. A huge number of relics have been discovered in and around these monolithic sites including pottery, weapons, jewelry, and what appears to have been ancient parchment or early books. The sites have been explored extensively, many of which have been completely uncovered and excavated. All the sites share a common layout (central pillar with outlying foundation), though the look, style, and material of each one varies. It was recently discovered that there might be hidden passageways underneath what archeologists are calling ancient shrines. Though there is no apparent means of entrance, acoustic tests and images carved in the obelisks themselves suggest hollow cavities under the structures.
What’s most perplexing of all is that the monoliths and the surrounding shrines are not built from any common materials found in the area. And indeed, the crude images, tools, pottery, and other remains suggest the climate and topography was altogether different than it is today. From all gathered evidence experts surmise the area shared a similar climate to Westlake and Land’s End—warm, moist, and full of flora and fauna. Between 30,000 and 20,000 PM a major climate event altered the landscape and wiped out the ancient civilizations. By the year 20,000 PM a new group of people had taken up residence in the area to the north and were more primitive than their ancestors. The dune desert known today had already blanketed the lower half of the province by the time the new people appeared in the savanna.
There is no evidence that can explain the sudden downfall of an entire civilization and the subsequent climate change. Some experts believe the native people were far more advanced than anyone on Atla today and brought about their own downfall. Others believe the climate change was natural and that the prevailing winds moved northward, leaving the desert dry and lifeless.
Regardless of the cause, the province of Meroma is home to more research outposts, exploration teams, and research centers than any other province in the nation. And though it might be harder to reach, it has provided some of the most important historical discoveries in the known world.