One day in our editorial offices, I happened to glance up at an old map pasted on the wall. A peninsula to the northwest of Vollbow caught my eye.
The word "Tavnazia" was inscribed next to it. It was none other than the Marquisate of Tavnazia Archipelago, laid waste by the beastman hordes during the Crystal War.
As our valued readers know, modern maps show only a few small islands in the area. It is almost as if no peninsula had ever existed there.
Why were the maps rewritten? What had happened there? I decided to dig up some more information on the fate of this country. My first stop was the port town of Selbina, situated near the archipelago.
The mayor of the town, Abelard, gave brief pause before answering my inquiries.
"Tavnazia... I haven't heard that name in years. People have shied away from it since the Great War ended. Maybe it's about time to shed some light on the topic," he said.
"Roughly five hundred years ago, Alphollon Tavnazia, a vassal of the d'Oraguille family, was bestowed title to the land. Eventually the area became its own independent nation, the Marquisate of Tavnazia.
"The capital of the Marquisate flourished on land that split the Nosteau Ocean from the Bastore Sea. Selbina, as the gateway to the center of the continent, did a fair bit of trade with Tavnazia. And to think that they befell such a fate..." he continued.
This left the question of what actually happened during the Great War.
Abelard relayed to me a strange tale he heard from a soldier who fought in the Crystal War.
"Several days after the fall of the capital, the beastmen war machines exploded in transit at the base of the peninsula. The explosion split Tavnazia from the mainland. The currents to the south underwent a sudden and violent shift, making any approach to the island exceedingly difficult at best. San d'Oria sent a team to investigate the remains of its protectorate. The party managed to evade the beastman scouts, but found no survivors.
"The land eventually faded from memory. Thus is Tavnazia," he concluded.
How true is this? None can say. This all happened twenty years ago. At the very least, it is more than myth.
When asked to describe Tavnazia, Abelard explained that he had "never actually been there. Sure, it wasn't far as the crow flies, and it would have been an overland journey, too. But it would have been a journey over some rather formidable mountains. The only way to get there was to buy passage on a boat. That was not cheap at the time.
"But there is a young lady, a painter, who once stayed here. She might know something," he added.
He then told me of a Hume woman--a painter named Angelica. Until quite recently, she had been living at the inn in Selbina and painting pictures of pre-war Tavnazia.
Paintings would be fine. I very much wanted to see even a small glimpse of pre-war Tavnazia. With this in mind, I headed to Windurst, where the artist was currently residing.
"Like, wow! You know my work so totally well. I really did paint pictures of Tavnazia," said Angelica as she continued to apply broad strokes to a canvas.
"This model I was really into working with at time was, like, really from Tavnazia. I just loved all the things he told me about Tavnazia before the war, you know? Every time he told me something about Tavnazia, I got these, like, images in my head. It was totally awesome," she said.
She stopped painting and closed her eyes.
"The Cascade Edellaine Falls lie at the end of the clear rivers that flow across the plateau. There's The Rafeloux River that, like, carved the canyon dividing the peninsula in two. And then there's Leremieu Lagoon, where the princess had her wedding-on-the-water. And there's that hill where I painted the Marquis. And all those phantasmic creatures I added to the paintings to, you know, round them out..." she recounted.
"Or maybe not. Maybe that was a different painting. I'm sorry. Perhaps it would be better if you had a look at the originals to confirm this," she said after a moment's pause.
However, all of the relevant pieces had been purchased by a stern Elvaan who was staying at the same inn as Angelica.
"I can't remember his, like, name, but I heard that he was working with some trading company, or something, in San d'Oria," she offered.
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of San d'Orian companies is the infamous Brugaire Consortium. I needed to confirm that someone from this group had indeed purchased the paintings.
The next day, I headed to San d'Oria, via Jeuno, on an airship. I visited the Brugaire Consortium and spoke with Arminibit and Ceraulian, who were busy inspecting merchandise. They had several things to say about the pictures.
"Pictures painted in Selbina? Angelica? Hmm. I wonder..." pondered Arminibit
"Ah, maybe it's those pictures the boss bought to impress that artist lady?" suggested Ceraulian.
"Keep it down! If he hears you talking like that--" interrupted Arminibit.
If they were indeed speaking of Angelica's paintings, the images on those canvases would tell me how the Tavnazia of old appeared.
I explained the situation to them and asked to see the pictures. Alas, their response was truly disappointing. An art collector had appeared several months prior and bought all of the paintings for a very generous price. My shoulders slumped in despair.
"I don't know what it was a painting of, but I find it unlikely that such a horrifying scene was Tavnazia," said one of them.
"Trust me. If you are serious about learning of Tavnazia, you would be best served by following a different trail," the other replied.
With that, I could do naught but suspend my search.
But even back here in Jeuno, my curiosity only grows. What was this land like at the apex of its prosperity, and how would we find it now?
I intend to resume my research soon.