This is Sphère. Here, the French nation is a Great Power.
Ah, the jungles of Austroasia... Out here, they carpet many mountains. From up here, they drain into many rivers. And the rain just won't give this land a break.
In Sphère's history, Vietnamese, Lao, and Khmer states have risen and fallen. Their kings have left ruins.
This is an ancient city. It was once the capital of Walloon Indochina, a great power in the Southeast. From here, King Mathis ruled with an iron hand.
Now, the capital is in ruins. Mostly, it's been long-pillaged. Alas, that's not to say there's nothing left to steal...
From some of the heights, clouded leopards stalk around. They could sure afford to find a mouse, about now...
In the city's lower levels, pangolins forage around, flaunting their natural scaly body armor. They lap up whatever termites and ants they find.
Aloft, squirrels leap, and glide from height to height. Elsewhere, Draco lizards and Chrysopelea snakes do too.
This city's guard is very low. Raiders don't come here as often as they used to. Either way, it's still illegal, in Vietnam, to pillage from ruins.
From the jungles near the city wall, an arrow flies. It's got a cable attached to it. It anchors itself into a wall, and allows its cable to have its slack robbed.
From its other end, a raider slides down, into the city. He's Walloon...of Walloon Brabant, a small land in the Northeast. From hooks rigged to his gauntlets, he slides down the cable, and over the wall. He's dressed to raid.
As he slides, he pulls out a pistol with a silencer. He aims at a window he's sliding towards, and fires several shots, weakening the window. There shouldn't be a need. The window's over thirty-five centuries old.
In style, Jules smashes through the window, rolls across the floor inside, leaps up, and lands on his feet...with a flashlight in hand, which he shines forth. With his feet, he maintains his pose, as he left-faces in all four directions...pointing the light as he goes along...
He does a 360...and realizes that it's all clear. He also realizes that it's too bright to need that light yet. So, he turns it off, and packs it.
Before him, a stairwell descends. He follows it downward.
In the vaults, a colugo sleeps. He sleeps with his head inside his bulk...like a sloth. He pulls his head out of his bulk momentarily, to acknowledge what goes on below. He doesn't. He can barely keep his eyes open. His sleep is that good...
In bigger vaults, a swarm of mega-bats hangs upside-down. They're big, and hairy. They've got quite the wingspan...when they're airborne. For now, though, Fevre's just thankful they're not.
Also in the shadows, a tarsier clings to a very high wall with his sucker-toed feet. His eyes are huge, and see much as he turns his head from here to there. He can see in the dark. Some wouldn't believe he's kin to humanity.
In other shadows, moonrats scurry about. They're kin to hedgehogs, moles, and shrews...more so to hedgehogs than the other two. Moonrats lack spines. They may look more like rats, but they sure eat more meat than rats.
SOME wouldn't call what they eat meat. There are many in Austroasia who'd argue that insects aren't real meat because they aren't red meat... But then, at their size, moonrats could only eat so much red meat before they became cannibals, so that's that.
Downward, Jules proceeds. He turns on his headlight, as it gets darker.
Around him, the waters get deeper. He expects this to become of consequence very soon. He expects traps to become a hazard very soon...
Soon, he wanders among the less-explored depths of these ruins. He's very close to unclaimed loot. Any moment now, he expects to have to fight for it. And there's more than a small chance that who he'll be fighting will be either a legal personality, or as good as...
Alas, that's not to say that there aren't more dangerous types in these depths of the jungle. In fact, one of the more famous ones is orange with black stripes. And they can probably see better in the dark than tarsiers can...or Dr. Mid-Nite, for sure...