O'er many a frozen, many a fiery Alp, rocks, caves, lakes, fens, bogs, dens, and shades of death. - John Milton

+For four hundred years, the Unknown Regions have laid in the pall of chaos and death. Wracked by the Gulag Virus, none now know how these isolated tracts of space have fared. Under special Mandate, Seroth Ur-Rahn is sent to explore and aid these remote realms, a newly christened Jedi Ranger tasked to hunt down evil and aid the oppressed. On his own in alien territories, the boy will need every ounce of courage and skill he can muster to survive... And a powerful compassion to not become what he's set out to defeat.+


ABY 853
Mid-Rim - Mytaranor Sector - Kashyyyk Region - Kashyyyk

Northayyk - The communal city-grove was hollowed out of some of Kashyyyk's tallest wroshyr samples, coolly, intensely casting a far gaze over five hundred kilometers in almost every direction. Below, far beneath the platform-catches constituting the city's maintained sub-structure, sat a long, sullen ridge of cratered granite peaks. The Ikaneekenak Hills were the eldest geological formations on the northern continent face - its beaten haunches had been witness to over eighteen billions years worth of slow galactic history. Glazed pockmarks and augured channels cut into some of the hinterlands adorning lower stretches that transitioned into the thick, arboreal canopy that marked the rocky shield of land. No one could recall who had fired and scored across the rock and it hardly mattered. Whether their ancestral foes, the conniving Trandoshans, or the act of some belligerent pangalactic confederacy, they would remain and give character to an otherwise unremarkable roll of moisture laced granite hill-rolls.

What drew Northayyk esteem laid in its construction. A titanic amalgam of both root and stone, the settled huts and Wookie longhouses were partly composed of seasoned, treated planking and smoothstone, cut from the very mountain ranges weaving about the wroshyr-root labyrinths. Some outspoken elders were abrasive of this aesthetic. It left the community, they berated, too unyielding. Northayyk laid in the path of regular storm systems, battering their interwoven walkways and bark-plated roofing with three feet of rain fall. Wood was sinewy, fibrous, able to lean as a reed to survive both atmospheric disturbances and the occasional throbbing tilts of the wroshyr-trees themselves. All Northayyk had to say in return was that it still stood. Its clans and families survived and thrived. And would do so on and on.

Council was held in the lofts of Freyyr, a three kilometer thick tree-trunk, whose wood and bark resisted the bite of fashioning durasteel and chain-drills. For a time, the black, dun longhouse laid amid the branch networks quiet and unheeded. The Gulag Virus, that terrible desolation, worked to rob the one hundred thousand inhabitant Wookie's of their Chief and advisers. The subsequent death tolls distracted from replenishing their leadership; fifty thousand natives were consigned to either cleansing fires or laid to fall into the Shadowland depths. Not a puff of aromatic smoke drew from the coiled, polished chimneys.

Now Kerriissh held seat.

Gnarled claws absently bit into the wood-railing separating a small mote of space between the longhouse floor and a plastisteel frame. There was a vague reflection of a hoary face trailing lengthy stripes of silver and off-white, sharpened if milky eyes looking too watery. The Wookie was aged and the long five centuries showed in his stiff gait, crackling wrists, and laboured knees. Kerriissh would argue he still possessed the strength to out-perform any youth in an honest clench-fight, but his eyes... They slowly dimmed, year by year, robbed of a familiar, predatory gleam. The Chief released the halted sigh pent up in his cavernous lungs, then decided to hobble for his seat. The Branchair grew from coaxed, steely wood directly from Freyyr, dyed and polished black as jet. Ominous. Primeval. The old Wookie settled his bulk into the unyielding arm-rests and stared forward.

An asymmetric table, too high for human standards, idled unattended. Nine thrones, wood thrashed with old claw-marks and smelling of fur-mould, faced him - tall and empty. The long hut echoed with the tapped out rhythm playing up in one arthritic paw. In the other, a slim datapad that his left-paw idly tapped and cycled through. A little smile tugged at his thick jaw; the elder still possessed a modicum of dexterity. Something he refused advanced years to rob him of.

Moments of review, pouring over the holonet burst-packet communique, brought Kerriish out his fugue. The 'pad was slid away, right paw folding into an iron block that hammered against a hefty, woodwind pipe embossed along the curl of the arm rest. A deeper note, felt in the belly rather than the ears, sounded. An aide appeared, a muscular specimen with butterscotch fur seemingly constantly glossed, bright, cyan eyes attentive, wary, and deducting. She strolled to Kerriish's side by the Branchair and waited on his whim.

[...Is that boy still down on the 'floor'?] Kerriish rumbled.

[His vessel's at dock still,] She replied. [So yes, sir.]

[Lof...] The Chieftain said after a beat. [...I've a demanding favour to ask from you.]

Lof plied her furry brow high. [Sir?]

[...Retrieve him.]

The Wookie balked instinctively, on habit turning from the throne before Lof remembered herself. She turned, found Kerriish favouring her with a knowing smile, teeth glinting, and found her sudden irritable bout momentarily calmed. Lof nodded accordingly and sighed to brace her nerves. No Wookie was a born coward but the long dark of the reviled Shadowlands only called to the truly foolhearty. Lof ventured down once, with three cousins and a brother and sister. Two of their relatives were slain within a fortnight, her brother maimed. The shame of their folly and the repercussions that came subsequent lasted for decades. Lof herself wondered at her good luck, in position of grooming for then next Chieftain of Northayyk.

[Yes, Kerriish. But...] She ventured. [...If I find him dead?]

[He'll be waiting,] He reassured.

Lof snorted, making for the longhut exit as she called over her tall shoulder. [One that short wouldn't make much of a meal.]

[Ha!] Kerrissh trilled.