The Dark Jungle and its Jungle Men
March 23, 2011
To the east of The Jungle proper lies more jungle, known as the Dark Jungle. Remnant of a primordial past and untouched by the apocalyptic Wizard Wars. The Dark Jungle canopy is much taller and thicker, blocking out nearly all sunlight. For this reason, the undergrowth is not as thick as in the western jungle. In fact, the floor of the Dark Jungle would more accurately be described as a honeycomb of giant fallen trees, rot, fungus, mist, and mud.
Genteel explorers have described the Dark Jungle landscape as a dim, boundless cathedral. The great buttress-rooted trees serving as mighty pillars supporting an impossible roof of leaf and branch, letting through few stray beams of misty sunlight, lending the spectacle a feeling of grim solemnity and desperation. The sound of rot, they say, is most unnerving.
Those aristocratic early explorers from the expanding eastern kingdoms found the Dark Jungle too inhospitable and seldom do they venture there anymore. Instead, a more hardy breed of eastern men wander the black jungle: the Jungle Men.
(Imagine if the fur trapping mountain men of the Rocky Mountains journeyed further west — the gold miners, settlers, and the encroaching civilization bringing an end to their era in the mountains– hoping to continue their solitary and fierce way of life and, instead of the Pacific Ocean, they find…the Dark Jungle. Those are Jungle Men. They’ve adapted their clothing to the new environment, of course. Some have even trimmed up their beard slightly to reduce jungle lice.)
Most Jungle Men could no longer live in the civilized world of their homeland, so they came to the mountains and jungles in search of solitude and an unfettered life. Some were fugitives wanted for brutal crimes. In a sense, the Jungle Men combine the most savage elements of their culture with those of the jungle cultures. For this reason, they are both feared and respected by all who hear stories of their exploits, some of which have reached mythical status.
The Jungle Men cherish their independence and freedom, but they still maintain a connection to their civilized homeland through the goods and materials they gather in the Dark Jungle. Pelts, carapace, and ivory are examples of materials taken by the Jungle Men. Gold and other treasure, magical or not, is also found occasionally. Most of the harvest occurs during the rainy season when the animal goods are at peak quality. During the dry season, Jungle Men from all over bring their bundles to a Rendezvous with merchants from the east to trade, debauch, and tell stories.
The life of a Jungle Man is perilous. In a necessary adaptation for survival, Jungle Men have become proficient in junglecraft. Some even rival the skills of the jungle natives. Interaction with the natives is the source of much of their jungle survival knowledge. Though they are commonly in private war against some clans of natives, the Jungle Men would have difficulty surviving without the mutual agreements and friendships established with other clans. Many a Jungle Man has purchased or been gifted a native woman as wife.