West of the Old Mount, between the Giant Seed Forest and the Great Ocean, there lies an arid, lifeless desert, once a thriving part of the Giant Seed Forest, but upon the Usurper constructing his Echo Factory, the massive airship yard, within the Giant Seed Forest, he quickly decimated the southern sections, cutting the once-sprawling forest in half, before placing hundreds of massive fog-burners across the landscape, with no purpose except to keep the landscape's vegetations beaten down, and to deter intruders who would attempt to bypass the massive, desolate barricade.
And if that wasn't enough security, Lucky placed thousands of floating land mines, called Boomers, across the man-made desert, which patiently floated at variating heights, some with their chains reaching many miles into the sky to deter airships, others low enough to the ground to prevent ground travel, but spread out just enough so that when an explosive Boomer sensed an intruder and swung downwards, impaling one of its exploding spikes on the intruder or the ground, triggering an explosion, the blast radius was large enough to injure the intruder and send them flying into the radius of another floating ball of spiked doom, but small enough not to trigger a needless chain-reaction.
Just when you would think that entering the Boomlands would be a potentially deadly idea, your decision would be made for you when you discovered that the excessive blasting of the Boomers, triggered by anything as small as a bird or a leaf, made the underground caverns beneath the Boomlands unstable, causing frequent collapses, creating sometimes enormous sinkholes or pits of quicksand.
With all of these defenses, both natural and man-made, it would seem that the Boomlands was a nearly impenetrable barrier, which is true, emphasizing the "nearly".
Only a dozen or so talented individuals have ever made it across the Boomlands, either by tuning their ears to pick up the Boomers' clockwork to dodge the ever-vigilant, wood-and-metal outer shell, iron chained balloons of explosives, by painstakingly making their way across the landscape by laying flat on their belly and pulling themselves across the hot sand inch by inch, or by "distracting" the Boomers by making use of many frequently-thrown objects, with the Boomers swinging towards their first target, the stone or piece of scrap metal, as the hurler of the shrapnel goes along unharmed, repeating the process as they went along.
However, upon investigating the rumors of hidden veins of precious metal and gems buried deep in the Giant Seed Forest, along with the mutterings and mumblings of senile old men and bumbling scientists that dinosaurs may have once roamed the Giant Seed Forest, one individual thought it beneath his dignity to walk through the Boomlands, soiling his clothes with the sand, leaping out of the way of deadly Boomers all the way, perhaps having to throw himself onto the floor to escape with his life.
Not wanting to act like such a buffoon, the shrewd individual decided on a different course of action. By sending dozens of scouting parties into cave entrances scattered across Aethasia, from the Old Mount to the Snowmoors, whose jobs were to find their way through the spaghetti-like cave system until they arrived beneath the Boomlands, where they were to lay a large strip of explosives along the longest cave system beneath the Boomlands they could find, signal the man who had contracted them, then run away, detonating the explosives behind them once they were safe.
After finding one such sprawling cave system, planting the many explosives they carried in their knapsacks on the walls of the caverns, then fleeing and triggering the explosives once they were in daylight once more, Navigation Team #4 succeeded in their task, causing the caverns to collapse from the sudden shock of the overkill amount of explosives, shaking the Boomlands' very core, and causing dozens of sinkholes to open, taking entire sections of rock and sand into their depths, along with dragging down dozens of Boomers, with the swallowed Boomers exploding over and over until their reserves were exhausted, enlarging the already-growing main sinkhole.
Finally, a few minutes later, when the explosions had ceased, the individual who had hired the dozens of research teams to find the largest stretch of caverns beneath the Boomlands stood on the edge of the Boomlands, satisfied with the massive ravine which had just been born smack-dab in the middle of the man-made desert, extending from a mile or two from the eastern border of the Boomlands until the almost exact middle of the arid, desolate plains, with the canyon stretching many miles into the multi-colored earth.
Christening it "The Great Canyon", the individual quickly dismissed the exploration teams, paying them their wages, with none of the teams drawing a connection between their explorations and the massive ravine that had just opened up in the middle of the Boomlands, partly because they only found out about the massive canyon a few days later, when the rest of Aethasia discovered it, and partly because the individual who had hired the men said he wanted them to blast "to test for charcoal reserves", something which, at the time, the citizens of Aethasia had limited reserves of, before secretly hiring another team of men entirely, telling them he wanted them to build an underground railroad, running from a location near the base of the Old Mount in the Old Wood, through the Boomlands and the convenient canyon which had just opened up a few days prior, all the way to the Northern Slurries of the Snowmoors, which the individual falsely said was "for quick transfer between the Snowmoors and the Old Mount area, where Academy Automicus recruits can reach both Evercity and No Man's Landing with ease.".
The team of men quickly got to work, mining and digging underneath the Old Wood and through the Boomlands, laying down track as they went, until they eventually broke through the orange, red, and yellow stone which made up the underground of the Boomlands into the Great Canyon, where they moved onto the next stage of ferrying men on small gliders down onto the floor of the canyon, where they would build up massive wooden lattices to support the train tracks high enough in the Canyon to give a great view to its passengers, but lower enough to be far out of reach of the Boomers.
The men eventually reached the other side of the canyon, breaking through the multi-colored stone once more, until, suddenly, their contractor informed them that the Emperor had terminated the project and cut all funding, with them being paid their wages and sent along their way, with a reminder of their signed contracts binding them to a vow of silence.
Finally, the individual behind the creation of the Great Canyon and the train tracks running through it secretly scouted out two dozen families, all of which he lured into moving into the Boomlands with the promise of money beyond their wildest dreams, backing up his promise with seismographic charts portraying the massive wells of oil hiding beneath the Boomlands' sandy crust, along with the scientific research papers that speculated upon potential veins of rare gems and metal being hidden within the Giant Seed Forest, which, the individual reminded his audiences, once covered the entirety of the Boomlands.
After the families swore to tell no-one of the mysterious individual's secret, and agreed to simply "disappear", half of them volunteered to be miners, while the other half offerred more practical services, such as farming, livestock, and entertainment.
After three months of altering the trajectory of the tunnel which ran straight through the Boomlands so that it went upwards towards the surface, clearing out the nearby Boomers by making use of long-distance rifle shots, constructing mines, oil wells, and buildings, the two dozen families gathered in front of Town Hall, now citizens of the newly-christened Boomtown cheered on the man who had lured them to this desert, their new Mayor, Thaddeus Overquil, younger nephew of Baron Fairrow of the Academy Automicus, who smiled broadly as he cut the red ribbon which ran across the front steps of the large, tan-colored stone building, basking in the adoring glory of his audience as his mind schemed over what he could do with such willing subjects.
Almost a year later, the glow of such an apparent paradise had faded, as the population of Boomtown slowly realized their isolation, as their Mayor refused to let them have any contact with civilization, insisting that he and his men, the crooked Sheriff and Deputies of Boomtown, would act as go-betweens for them and the outside world, effectively maintaining control over every aspect of their lives.
It started with stating the train which led out of Boomtown had been sabotaged, with the tunnel leading from underneath Boomlands into the Great Canyon collapsing and being declared "off-limits", and a few days later, the so-called "perpetrators" were caught and publicly hanged, the same few men who had petitioned for more democracy among the citizens of Boomtown, a detail which went unnoticed until a few days later, and even then, the citizens who expressed their suspicions were mugged and beaten at night.
Slowly, the citizens of Boomtown became frightened into submission, and Thaddeus Overquil ruled the entirety of Boomtown with an iron fist.
It ended with a man in a gray cloak walking into Boomtown a month before Boomtown's first anniversary.
That man, who came under an alias of Rex Axelman, discovered the town entirely by accident, and quickly realized the oppression nof the citizens by the tyrant Thaddeus Overquil, before attempting to confront the Mayor, only be jumped that same night by a group of muggers, who failed to beat him up, as by quick-thinking, Axelman was able to escape a dire situation, and ceased his protests of the Mayor's iron rule.
A few days later, another lone figure came from the desert, but this figure was different. He wore all black, black boots, a black hat, black pants, black gloves, with the only splashes of color being the white shirt underneath his vest, the silver spurs on his black boots, and a white domino placed over his eyes, just above the short black bandanna tied around his mouth, obscuring both his voice and his identity.
His first sighting was the night the post office was ransacked and caught fire, with the Boomtown Police flocking to the scene, where they attempted to douse the fire with the small amount of water they had, but decided to let it burn out, as the post office was on the outskirts of the town, and the wind was blowing east, sending the flames and smoke into the desert.
As the town watched their post office go up in smoke, the Sheriff's head deputy noticed a suspicious figure in the midst of the crowd, clothed in black, and wearing a white domino. Upon the mysterious character catching the head deputy's gaze, he appeared to tip his hat, then walk backwards into the crowd, being swallowed by the throngs of citizens still rushing to the flaming spectacle of the post office, with the suspicious figure disappearing without a trace.
The incident was coined an anomaly, a by-product of the constant drought in the Boomlands, with most of the rain being dangerous, as the fog would taint the clouds and turn the otherwise-normal rain into an acidic substance, deadly if it touched your skin, which sizzled when it hit the ground, and most of the citizens of Boomtown forgot about it, including the head deputy.
This intriguing memory was brought back to the front of his mind when one of the underground gold mines in the Great Canyon collapsed, trapping several miners, with the other workers and some of the Boomtown police force working to free the captives, but to no avail.
The head deputy, who was called to the scene, bringing with him as much dynamite the stingy Mayor would spare, upon his arrival, was surprised to find that the miners were free, rejoicing with their fellow companions, with the mine entrance collapsed still, but with fresh dust swirling around.
The head deputy inquired as to how the miners had gotten free, and was surprised to hear that a man trapped with them had pulled a large arsenal of dynamite from his pockets and blasted aside a seperate section of the cavern they were trapped in, with the wall of rubble giving way to reveal a hidden tunnel, which the men ran through, discovering it led in a roundabout way to the other side of the Great Canyon, and raced across the Canyon floor to the scene of the accident, where they announced their freedom, with their companions rejoicing.
But this incredible luck wasn't the strangest fact of this otherwise tragic accident.
The strangest thing was the man who had freed them, the miners said, was wearing all black attire, except for a white domino, with the men losing track of him once they had left the tunnel.
Upon investigating, the head deputy drew the attention of the Sheriff, who, after ordering the head deputy to tell him what was amiss, reported the incidents to the Mayor, who declared the man in black was wanted for questioning.
Within the week, another sighting occurred, this time, at the office of Edward Keyview, who was known for printing the absolute truth in his newspaper, The Boomtown Chronicle, and wasn't shy about verbally expressing his opinions of the Mayor's iron grip on the town.
Edward had been on his way out of his office, locking up for the night, with an article set to be published the next day, when a small group of men had pulled him into a nearby alley, starting to beat Edward, who was an elderly man, when suddenly, as if out of thin air, the man in black from the post office and the Great Canyon mines appeared behind them, proceeding to attack the men with fury, defending Edward, until the men were forced to flee, cursing the man in black as they held their bruised bodies and broken limbs.
The next day, The Boomtown Chronicle had an article detailing a first-person account of the near-mugging of Edward Keyview, foiled single-handedly by a man in black, who, Edward speculated, was the same man wanted for questioning. If it was, Edward printed in the article, this man should be rewarded, not punished, as he had saved his fellow man's lives not once, but twice. And as for the charges of suspected arson, Edward scoffed, a man shouldn't be called an outlaw just because he was sighted in the crowd of townspeople who swarmed to the burning post office.
After the article was published, the name stuck, and the Outlaw, as the man in black was called, slowly but surely chipped away at the fear surrounding Boomtown, until he made a secret, public appearance on the stage in the theater of Boomtown, where he called all able-bodied citizens to stand against the Mayor of Boomtown, telling them to meet in front of Town Hall the next day, where they would all confront the Mayor as one.
The Outlaw's audience cheered, excited at the prospect of finally being free from Thaddeus Overquil's tyranny, so excited, in fact, that they didn't notice the Sheriff of Boomtown down his drink and slip out the back door.
The next day, at eleven o' clock, the Sheriff of Boomtown announced to the entire citizen population that the Outlaw had been arrested on the charges of attempting to assassinate their Mayor, and was set to be hanged at twelve o' clock precisely.
The hanging, however, didn't go quite how the Sheriff planned it, as the entire population of Boomtown, who were required to be present at the hanging of their hero, intervened on the Outlaw's behalf, revolting againt the corrupt Mayor and his police as one, disarming and capturing the Sheriff and all his deputies, except for one, the head deputy, who revolted against his fellow police-men and the Mayor with the masses.
The Outlaw, head deputy, and the citizens stormed Town Hall, only to find it deserted, with the Mayor gone, no doubt having fled into the desert, barely escaping being tarred and feathered, then run out of town on a rail.
The entirety of Boomtown Township rejoiced at this occurence, and, after the Outlaw administered justice by imprisoning the crooked law force and distributed their former roles of enforcing righteousness to trustworthy citizens, the entirety of Boomtown threw a party that lasted from sunset until midnight, with food taken from the Mayor's massive hoard in Town Hall's pantry, music liberated from his gramaphone, and fireworks brought from the long-forgotten storage rooms in Town Hall's basement, not to mention lots and lots of joyous dancing.
Two weeks later, the railroad out of Boomtown, which was not nearly as broken-down as the former Mayor had claimed, was repaired, along with the passenger train, with many of the citizens of Boomtown opting to leave the Boomlands and return to their families, including Edward Keyview, with as many more deciding to stay in Boomtown,with their new Mayor, the head deputy, now residing in Town Hall, as their temporary Sheriff, the Outlaw, who revealed himself as, indeed, Rex Axelman, left on the same train as the departing citizens, leaving many grateful humans beings behind, with neither the Mayor nor Rex Axelman, also known as the Outlaw, being seen again by the citizens of Boomtown.
That was three years ago, and since then, Boomtown had grown from an secluded community of slaves living under one tryant, into a still somewhat-isolated community, with their Mayor Rustquil doing a wonderful job, promoting democracy, fairness, and righteousness.
The train running to Boomtown still comes and goes, going back and forth between the Boomlands and the Old Wood carrying crates of gold, oil, and sometimes cars full of people, once a week, letting the citizens of Boomtown live in peace, content with doing business with one another, only buying things they absolutely needed from outside the still somewhat-secret Boomtown, not letting their wealth go to their heads.
Some people have left Boomtown, but as they left, new arrivals would come, with the population growing from around eighty citizens to about a hundred twenty as families grew and new citizens arrived, seeking to discover the romantic reality of living in a peaceful, secluded community in the Boomlands, where, upon their arrival, they always get a hearty greeting:
"Welcome to Boomtown!"