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The borough of Ou is an administrative region in the central Ro Highlands of Vekllei, located southwest of Laisiyo and north of Kyala. It is named after Ou, a prominent agricultural town of Vekllei’s Middle Period that was transformed in the 20th Century into the cultural and military centre of the Ro Region. At nearly 1.2 million residents, Ou was narrowly excluded from becoming one of Vekllei’s five Crown Boroughs in 2021, but remains the second-largest borough of the Ro Highlands, after Lonne. Its importance to Upen leads most Upen-observing Vekllei people to regard Ou as a sacred borough.
Many townsfolk in Ou are employed in operation of the dam, either through the Thunder or Hydroburos. It is also the site of a small Vekllei National University laboratory which examines the dam environment and trains its staff.
– The Ou Hydroburo Office
Ou is a Topyas pure Ocean Vowel meaning “spirit” or “personhood”, and in its written form is considered a core Rapotenne rune in Upen. Ou is regarded as the birthplace of demons in Upen mythology, who emerged from the Valley of the Dead to return humans to the spirit world. For this reason, Ou is considered a sacred borough in Vekllei and much of its territory remains untouchable Crown Land.
Ou was settled originally as a rest stop between the burgeoning trading town of Montre and the southern port city of Vekllei circa 1440, and by 1480 had developed into a “glorious township” subject to the sovereign monarch of Vekllei. Its settlement was originally plagued by crop failure, which was considered a curse for encroaching on the sacred land of the nearby Valley of the Dead.
In 1520, as a result of the ongoing food scarcity in the wake of the Junta’s rebellion, Ou suffered a famine that killed the majority of its population.
In the late 19th Century, Ou was incorporated into the Atlantic Junta’s electrification program, which incorporated the borough and its major towns into the Southern Vekllei power network. The town of Ou was a major staging point for network extensions northward, which would see Montre electrified in 1886.
The town is the birthplace of Yelsi Visma (1976-2063), who represented Vekllei in gymnastics at the 2000 Paris Olympics and was the recipient of the 2025 Vekllei Person of the Year.
Significance in Upen #
The Saga of Spirits, an undated oral myth dating at least to 150BC, describes the region around Ou as the birthplace of demons.
[There were] sick mountains, falling to spirits, between Sko and Nuc [present-day Mt Scohe and the Adey Range], the spirit went there to die, and from the place he died emerged a creature of misfortune, blessed by Ku [god of death].
– Verse 16, Saga of Spirits
Demons in Upen are creatures that emerge from the places spirits die, and access the human world through the resting places of souls (most commonly flower-tundras). The Saga of Spirits suggests that demons were created accidentally by a selfish spirit and the death of a wicked man, and that Ku, the god of death, learned from this event how to entice their creation.
As demons remain an important aspect of Upen mythology, Ou’s Valley of the Dead (the place described in the passage above) is regarded as one of the most sacred sites in Vekllei. Its closest town, Tiamoin, is the site of Vekllei’s Festival of Rest, a spectacle designed to attract the attention of demons to allow human souls easy passage to the spirit world. Since the Valley of the Dead’s flower-tundra is considered especially close to the spirit world, many other rituals take place here, including sumoirnesdenen (ego-death) and communion with spirits.
Hydrotown Development #
In 1912, Vekllei’s dwindling economic outlook and failing electrification programme led the governing Atlantic Junta to explore the establishment of hydroelectric dams, to put the unemployed to work and stabilise the southern power network. The construction of Ou’s first dam in 1916 marked the beginning of a broader hydroelectric initiative in the region, which had a radical effect on the cultural makeup of the borough. Two of Ou’s major towns, Ada and Tiamoin, were first founded as “hydro towns” by migrant Chinese labourers employed by the Hydro-Electric Commission (HEC), which to this day represent major centres of Vekllei’s Chinese population.
After major construction by the HEC ceased in the early 1930s, Ou’s towns continued to support the hydro infrastructure and power plants that supplied electricity to Vekllei’s north coast in Afouismeh and Lava.
Postwar Redevelopment #
Shortly after independence in 2015, Ou was ranked by the Vekllei War Recovery Bureau as a borough of “critical need”. Its preexisting status as a Hydro Borough prompted research towards the expansion of the newly-formed Hydroburo’s presence in the area, looking to replicate the prewar success of the borough’s original hydroelectric initiative.
In 2018, new construction began on the Ou Hydroburo Office, a pumping and power plant complex designed to establish a postwar Hydroburo presence in the borough and supply fresh water to communities in the Ro Region. The construction accompanied a housing revitalisation effort towards the city of Ou and its nearby towns, building new apartments and parks to facilitate immigration from Southern Europe after the Atomic War.
The Floral Period in Ou, much like the rest of the country, was marked by widespread immigration and population growth, which saw the city of Ou double in size between 2015 and 2046.
Ou lies in the heart of the central Ro Highlands, a region dominated by dramatic mountain ranges, minor volcanoes, and flat highlands flower-tundras central to the Vekllei physical identity. Ou is known especially for the density and beauty of its flower-tundras, making it a popular tourist region and pilgrimage destination for Vekllei people. All of Ou’s major towns are shielded by its surrounding mountains, keeping weather mild and clear throughout the year. Ou also receives good sun, and is considerably warmer than its southwestern neighbours. It is also home to Stelavik and Cosmivik, two active volcanoes that erupt periodically.
Valley of the Dead #
The Valley of the Dead is a sheltered flower-tundra between the Scohe and Adey mountain ranges of great spiritual importance to Upen. It is one of the largest such tundra in Ou, covering nearly 2000 acres west of Tiamoin. As Crown Land, it is completely bare of infrastructure or permanent human presence and requires an hour’s walk from the nearest station to access.
In addition to its spiritual significance, Ou is best known as a hub for both the Hydroburo and Thunderburo in the Ro Highlands. Several geothermal and hydroelectric power stations operate in the area, in addition to small nuclear facilities, water-treatment plants and water storage facilities designed to supply the region with fresh glacial water.
Geothermal Power #
The Ada Geothermal Power Station was built in the Magma-Electric Commission’s northern plans in 2047 to support the expansion of grid-independent military presence in Ou. The station provides power for the Ada Rocketry Base and Test Sites, with surplus power directed towards the local towns and city of Ou.
Hydroburo Development #
The Ou Dam, the borough’s first and oldest hydroelectric dam, was constructed in 1916 and has remained in continuous operation for over 150 years, with major renovations in 1982 and 2046. Since the Atomic War, the Hydro-Electric Commission has expanded its facilities in the area to include further dams and power generation capacity, and water supply for Ou and its neighbouring boroughs. Power generation in Ou provides for 6% of the country’s total commercial power use.
Ada Rocketry Base #
Ada is the site of the Central Rocketry Base, a network of facilities that belong to the Rocket Navy of the Vekllei Commonwealth Armed Forces. The Ada Rocketry Base resembles a closed town, since secret research work is performed at its laboratories and test sites. Although the sprawling complex does manufacture test rockets, they are not fired or “live-tested” in Ou because of its adjacency to important cultural sites.
- Ayn Rumouisen, despite being born in Yana, lived in Ada for senior schooling.