Sinjoh came to the world through a crack in a mountain, a secret hole, opened by some archaeologist swiping their fat, bumbling, blunt fingers the hundredth time across some old, old writing that looking at makes that lizard part of your brain want to find a hole to die in. Because that's what you need in Sinjoh. Stubbornness. Not science. It's all one big mystery and all the shadows that come bleeding off those monstrous mountains don't give up much; the light doesn't reach too far here. It's all one big swath of forest, split by a big, mean river, the apotheosis of all rivers -- they call it the Grandfather, but the locals know it by Paw Paw, and there isn't a stretch of water in Sinjoh that don't come from it. You have to know the Grandfather in Sinjoh, because there's no other way to travel unless you're brave enough to risk the forest, that unwelcoming snarl of root and bark and leaf. Roads get reclaimed too quick and easy by that thing, making upkeep aggravating if not a downright waste of money, and the winds and weather are too fickle to fly in.
No one would live in Sinjoh if it weren't for that stubbornness. It's stubbornness that got the first scientists into the region, the first base camp set up at some old, decrepit ruins that were lost in the boughs of the forest. Stubbornness and equal amounts greed that got the first town set up and settlers coming from all over when it was discovered the region was seething with precious ores. Stubbornness that got the first big town built against the tallest chunk of mountain in the region, stubbornness that grew that into the blossoming city of Whiteweir, stubbornness that put people on boats to the other side of the region to create sister city Blackbell under the sprays of the great waterfalls that feed the Paw Paw.
And because folks live in Sinjoh, because cities and towns and people and Pokemon were built and bred here, civilization has come, and civilization can put up with a lot. It can put up with only being able to reliably travel by river, it can put up with all the Pokemon it brings in from other regions acting scared and confused and sometimes going a little feral, it can even put up with all the people disappearing in the forests and on those lonely stretches of river.
But now people are starting to disappear in the cities. In the arms of civilization. A whole cargo ship disappeared in the safe harbor of Blackbell, on a calm, gently misty night. All that trade, all that crew, vanished, and now lights are appearing in the sky, throbbing and strange and arresting, bleeding up from the water and the sewer grates. Panic officially set in when a bus full of children disappeared inside a tunnel and three weeks later small bodies were found, naked and featureless, bobbing in the docks.
The city is scared, and has no idea how deep it'll have to reach to survive.
It can't even begin to imagine.
The Sinjoh Region
Decades ago, a passage was unlocked within the Sinjoh Ruins. Researchers discovered a vast, mountain-locked land, abundant in Pokemon, natural minerals, and the quiet, ghostly ruins of an ancient people. As the years marched on, entrepreneurs took to settling the land, and while there are pockets of civilization, Sinjoh is mostly frontier — many of the towns are made nearly inaccessible by the wide swaths of wilderness which most travel via chartered caravan, if they're too stubborn to take the river ferries.
Sinjoh is still wild, despite the encroachment of modern civilization. Though it is home to two growing cities full of promise, there's still a feeling of lawlessness about the land, a romanticism which has drawn in both the starry-eyed idealist and the shark-toothed opportunist.
Sinjoh is a monstrously large region. It's why the roads are always in such disrepair, and to connect anywhere, you'd need a lot of road. The river's better. The weather of Sinjoh is notoriously unpredictable. The temperature fluctuates wildly, which leads to violent storm bursts and the occasional heavy snowfall. Fall is, strangely enough, the calmest season of the region. The other three are moody and vicious. You can be flooded, pelted by hail, snowed in, or burnt to a crisp all in one week in Sinjoh.
At least there's never been a recorded tornado...
Like everywhere, Pokemon are thought of differently by everyone. They're your pets, your cute companions, maybe even a source of income. To kids, though, they're extra sparkly. There's something freeing about owning a Pokemon. About having someone who will stick by you through thick and thin, about something that will let you start the journey of your youth, let you see the world. Keep you safe.
And keeping you safe is what Pokemon are for in Sinjoh. Because people and Pokemon both can disappear at a moment's notice out there. Sinjoh is restless and mean and wild, and the local Pokemon are much the same as the region. They're unnaturally aggressive.
So kids can't travel here. Not alone. Not legally. It's also why kids are banned from having Pokemon until 7th grade, and even then, they're watched hard by the schools. After a brief mandatory course, it becomes legal for a child to publicly carry up to three pokeballs, though they're allowed as many Pokemon they'd like as long as the excess are in boxes or at home.
There's a tradition in Sinjoh for parents to give kids their actual first Pokemon on their birthday the year before they hit seventh grade. Usually a shiny -- though that's not as important as the first part. It's not technically legal, but no one seems to mind the 11 and 12 and 13 year olds walking around with one Pokemon trailing behind them.
The world really opens up at 16 for kids. That's when travel becomes legal, and when a trainer can finally begin to carry six Pokemon. Most 16 year olds decide not to travel Sinjoh. They go to other regions. Where people die less.
Whiteweir is important to Sinjoh. It was the first town, and quickly became the first city. Some would argue, especially those that live in the city, that it remains the region's only city. With a population that fluctuates between 300 to 350K, depending on the phase of the moon, Whiteweir is not a large city to the rest of the world, but in Sinjoh it's gigantic, dwarfing everything else. Whiteweir is nestled against the tallest portion of the mountain range ringing Sinjoh, because everything about the city must be impressive. It's got skyscrapers and a shiny new rail system, which it brags it might bring to the rest of the region. It's also a surprising titan of the entertainment industry, and many shows and movies are filmed here, likely for the low cost and exotic locales.
The other commodity unique to Whiteweir is visitors. It's the entry point to the region, and the only place civilized enough for some outsiders to brave, whether for trade or tourism. There are other ways in, of course, but they’re far less comfortable, and most people arriving to Sinjoh have been sternly warned to avoid the backwaters, lest they sink into the shadows of the region.
BlackbellBlackbell is the next big city on the map.. according to the brass. It's still a small city, with roughly 40K bodies, but that makes it big in the context of Sinjoh, where the average town is 2K or less. It's the official sister city of Whiteweir, but Whiteweir's the prom queen. Blackbell is just the dorky little sister with braces. The mayor and business elite of the city are frothing at the mouth to change that, and they just might. Whiteweir's businesses are secured, its resources claimed over the years by those with keen eyes and big pockets, but Blackbell is just beginning, and there's plenty of veins that haven't been tapped. Johnny-come-latelies have a chance here. They're celebrated and encouraged. Anything to bring more souls down to the pulpit. To cleanse them of that big city taint of Whiteweir's neon yellow eyes and little red cocktail dress, so bright it distracts you from the spade-tipped tail.
There's nothing like that here. Not yet. Not publicly. Just pure, honest, down-to-earth work, and that's true. Most of the jobs here are physical -- mining or factory drudgery. All that sweat keeps a city purified, but you eventually get used to the smell. Much to the consternation of the powers-that-be, the citizens are mostly okay with being cogs in the machine. Aspirations get people hurt. Better to keep on the straight and narrow, even if it isn't glamorous or exciting. They got enough of that just crossing the region to get here.
Of course, that's not everyone. There's entrepreneurs and innovators. There's movers and shakers, even in this small city, and the Mayor is pushing hard for growth still: For bigger businesses and, especially now, tourism. Yes, scenic Blackbell’s basically built for tourism. It's set beside a gorgeous stretch of lake at the end of the river, the far end of it churned by a massive set of waterfalls. People get married there. A lot of people. The beach that rings the lake on the city's side is also often enjoyed, families coming out on the weekend to bask in the sun (if the weather permits) and watch the falls and the mist curl around the mountain peaks in the distance.
And those mountains are impressive. There's a volcano up there, amidst the snow, and hot springs! About an hour away by bus, because there's not too much forest and roads keep easier there, the mountain flattens out a little, and a small river, more of a real big creek, feeds into a large set of hot springs.
But all that pretty's useless when people keep disappearing, right?
Yeah, the tourism industry isn't doing too well in Blackbell. No one much comes here any more. Not since Sinjoh's gotten hungrier. Not since it's started to creep into the cities, the big and little sister alike. The city's weathering it. It watches the wilds stolidly, gathering in on itself, and keeps up the good fight. It keeps plodding along. It's got to.
The Belfry/Blackbell Junior High
Blackbell Junior High, or as the locals fondly call it, the Belfry, has always been known as the rustiest cog in the city's education system. People say it's from all the water. Others know better. The Belfry is an oddity among its brethren: it's a massive structure, square and towering and the color of dry blood, whose simple architecture's poor attempt at flair does little to soften it blunt edges. It looks to many to be what it was: a rushed afterthought.
Amidst the furor of building the city, the elementary and secondary schools were given all the filigree and attention, and it wasn't until several of them were well underway that officials realized that the dainty things couldn't possibly hold all the students in the academic body. As most of the respected, qualified architects were busy with the rest of the city, the Belfry was given over to a local artist by the name of Yancy Turtletaub, whose work was well liked by anyone who heard of it but none who ever saw it.
Now, it houses the 7th and 8th grade classes, full of young girls and boys as gawky and strange as the Belfry itself. At least they can look forward to outgrowing it.
A small town set in the northern ranges of Sinjoh. It's an unassuming place, with an unassuming people. It's surrounded by waterfalls, and oftentimes it and its surrounding forests are shrouded in mists -- hence the name. There's darker rumors about the town, mainly that it's home of the Gin criminal family, a strange clannish brood whose influence stretches across the region like a spiderweb.
More to come..