Darkest Nights – The Sikkel Islands

The Sikkel Islands is the place where my campaign is taking place. It’s located a decent bit east of Bermuda, and a little nearer to the equator. The climate is subtropical, around 20-25 ºC  (~65-80 ºF) depending on the time of year, though it may be 30 ºC or more during the day in the summer. Due to its location, the island group is often near, or even hit by, hurricanes. That occurs only rarely, however, due to the small size of the islands. In total, they reach only around 30 km² all included, and that’s counting the Devil’s Isle.

Map
The Sikkel Islands map of 1834, by the Wallace Mapping Company. Probably Accurate.

History

The island group was first discovered by Portuguese traders in 1612, who promptly ignored it due to it seeming insignificant and without any real resources. This would later prove to have been a mistake on their part, as indeed there were treasures there to be found.

Some 15 years later the first permanent inhabitants arrived, in the form of some Dutch merchant ships that were stranded on the islands during a harsh storm. Their ships broken to pieces, and they themselves presumed dead, were forced to settle down, along with all their slaves, passengers, and goods. They are the ones to name the islands the “Sikkels” (which translated to english is exactly what it sounds like: “sickle”). Contrary to what one might believe, they manage to do more than survive, and actually live pretty well there for over a hundred years. During this time, the then village of Rozenburg was founded, along with a few other settlements.

The Brits arrived in 1744, surprised to find “civilized” (well, still fairly civilized at least) people out in the middle of nowhere. They were even more surprised when it turned out that there were brilliant rocks there. Diamonds. This initiated what is known as the First Diamond Rush, in 1745. The Somerset Company from Bermuda set up mining operations, and there’s a huge influx och fortune-seeking workers. This causes a rapid growth of the villages, Rozenburg most of all. The rush sustains itself for over 5 years, not at the rate of the first year, but enough to turn a profit, until there are suddenly no more. This causes a sharp decline for the isles, both in the number of inhabitants but mostly in the prosperity.

The slump lasts for almost 20 long years, until mining stragglers make new findings of diamonds on Somerset Island. The Second Diamond Rush is on. This would persist even longer, but at a more controlled pace than the first one. The findings slowly dwindle over the course of 20 more years, but this lowered income is more than made up by the growth of Rozenburg as a center of entertainment of all forms, as well as a resting place for sailors going to or from the Americas. It’s still a British colony even after the independence of the American colonies, although exempt from some of the laws held elsewhere. It’s still a large city, ever growing and prospering. Such is the city of sin and dreams.

The Islands

The two main islands are the North and South Sickle. They form the crescent that named the island group initially, and were the earliest to be settled. The South Sickle in particular holds the city of Rozenburg, the very core of the Sikkel Islands. They mines are long closed, but the fields help supporting Rozenburg, and an actual railway is being made.

Somerset Island was named for the company that originally owned the rights to the Sikkel Islands, though the crown now has the rights again. It is much less heavily populated than the Sickles, but still has a few slowly working mines that still produce the occasional find.

The Devil’s Isle is, as the name might suggest, uninhabited. It’s surrounded by a vicious reef that is a graveyard for careless ships, and those that actually managed to get to shore without sinking found nothing of interest there. Still, some daring seamen go there. Most return without their ships, if at all.

There are other small islands, but they are generally counted to whatever major island they accompany, and most of them holds no special places.

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