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by Pete Grey

Elloni has been in an ice age for the last 500,000 years, and fifty percent of the dry land is shrouded in kilometer thick sheets of glacial ice. The ice-free areas are covered in thick permafrost tundra and forests, covered in marshes and bogs that are filled by glacial drainage. Towards the equator this gives way to sand-dune filled deserts, and finally a belt of habitable savanna and grassland.

The desert regions show evidence of a pre-existent sentient species that lived on the planet before the ice age, and are thought to have become extinct because of the climate shift. The ancient Ellonians, also known as the Steiger Culture, were a race of giant quadrupeds that built a complex hiearchal society based around extensive irrigation projects, and who built massive stone buildings that rival the megaprojects of ancient Vilani and Solomani prehistoric societies. At their greatest zenith, they had achieved early industrial technologies.

But the Ellonians were also done in by their own wasteful agricultural practices. Their farming drove most other advanced species into extinction, and heavily stressed natural habitats. Most of the surviving wild regions were driven into remote arctic and subarctic climes, regions that were destroyed by the advancing ice sheets. Their agriculture destroyed by shifting climates, and unable to adapt to their new climate without the species they had destroyed, the Ellonians were first starved out of their settlements, and were decimated by famine, disease and warfare. Eventually their gene pool diminished below genetic survivalbility, and they slowly faded away over 10,000 years.

Despite Elloni's wealth of ancient ruins, the world was never a high priority for development. Ice sheets cover what had been the richest and most productive land before the ice age, and the remaining land is generally non-arable. Plus the extensive bogs and marshes create massive amounts of CO2 and methane that clog the lower levels of the atmosphere in a dense, poisonous haze. The wet climates also create ripe conditions for breeding of poisonous and parasitic microfauna that make travel through the temperate latitudes dangerous during the summertime. The world's location on the spinward border opposite Mnemosyne does not attract much trade anyway.

Aside from the tour and academic research groups travelling to the world, the world has few independent sources of income. Most of the population is considered to be "wild", runaways that have managed to scrounge for a living despite the world's terrible climate and poverty. Most of these are organised as farmers and herders in the equatorial zones, though a hardy few subsist on the edible crops they raise in the marshlands. These marshlanders cultivate the local peat bogs, which are rich in unusual compounds, which they harvest for sale to offworld pharmaceutical firms.

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