History of Sakura Valley:
Located directly between the northern and southern ends of the continent, Sakura Valley (so-named for the beautiful cherry trees that bloom during spring) is now home to number of pioneering residents. about 150 years ago a large number of refugees fleeing from the dragon-ravaged city of Ibara Be-ru took shelter in this forested valley. With time, the villagers separated into 4 distinct villages:
Shitataka village has less forestry surrounding it than it's three brothers, which allows the villagers to seek a more agricultural way of life, especially in the way of Chocobo raising. The title of "Chocobo Breeder" is not to be taken lightly, and with the recently developed addition of Kogane Road passing directly by Shitataka, it has become a frequent "go to" for many chocobo enthusiants and purchasers from either end of the the continent.
Hanafuku village resides halfway between the normal forest and the beginning of the Deeper Forest, which puts many of its citizens on edge. However, due to their close proximity with true nature, they are all the more respectful of it. They excel at logging and lumbering the forest around them, while causing minimal damge to the enviornments inhabitants. For every tree cut, another is planted in a previously lumbered section of the forest, in a manner that would disguise these "tree farms" from any ordinary onlooker. Of course the villagers of Hanafuku would never so much as scrape their hatchets against the bark of a part of the Deeper Forest.
Zawawata village, unlike it's neighbor villages, is populated almost half and half by Humans and Dwarves. The Dwarven refugees of the Ibara Be-ru disaster instinctively fled to the Backbone mountains (so named due to their positioning along the entire back side of Wutai), where they shared their superior mining and metallurgy skills with the humans that also took refuge in the area. To this day, the Zawawata stone quarries are unmatched anywhere on Wutai, the the amount of Machalite Ore they produce yearly is not to be laughed at. Also not to be laughed at is the bizzare mixture that is a Half-dwarf: they'll catch you with their long legs, and beat you with their sturdy arms.
Shouma village is located near three of the most interesting locales in Sakura valley: To it's south is the forest of cherry trees, whose beauty is unparalled in the spring. To the west of Shouma lies Lake Prima, a large lake that flows out of a large mountain stream from the Prima Steppes. It's waters are considered blessed by the people of the valley, who make it a spring ritual to travel on foot to it's waters and bathe in it, and later witness the blooming of the cherry trees. those who bathe in it feel renewed vigor, and a sparkly glow lights up their eyes. The Prima Steppes that the lake flows from are more resemblent of sharp mountainous spikes, that scratch the sky with an otherwordly fervor. Contrasted against the pristine Lake Prima, the Steppes look almost foreboding. The ridges of the mountains become thicker and more clustered towards the center of the range, and misty clouds swirl about the center, preventing any from viewing the centermost peak.
However, as ominous as the Prima mountains may be, they are a blessing upon the Village of Shouma which is sheltered in the foothills of it. Materia is know to form naturally in the rock of the place, and the villagers derive much of their wealth from a small "mine" of materia, which may be plucked from the walls of the caves as a ripe fruit, glowing incandescently. This blessing is an envied one, and during the forming of the villages of Sakura valley, the power given to the village of Shouma was sought after by it's neighbors. After heated skirmishes and inter-village combat, the settling peoples
agreed that as long as Shouma were to provide for their safety through materia and whatever their wealth may provide, the surrounding villages would allow Shouma it's newfound wealth.
More recently, within 20 years of the Campaign's beginning, the dragon that had set ablaze the city of Ibara Be-ru was seen flying over the valley, some 200 years after it's previous attack. The valley was in an uproar. The villages of Shitataka, Zawawata, and Hanafuku agreed that warriors from Shouma must seek out and slay the dragon in it's own layer, so that it would not set the forest valley to the flame. Outraged by this unwanted accrual of resposibility, Shouma declined, and immediatly began keeping their protective magics and supplies for their own safety. Thinking that Shouma had abandoned them, the rest of the valley rose in anger, pointing fingers at those who had drawn the dragon to them. Raids on the village began, which eventually escalated into full warfare. Fearing both the misplaced wrath of the neighbor villages, as well as a potential attack from the dragon, many citizens of Shouma fled valley, some even leaving the continent. After the brutal battles (that were only close due to the heroic efforts of the incomparable Mashi Yamaguchi, a Samurai) the villages came to an agreement: if the dragon was seen again, then all four villages would band together to seek the dragon. And in the mean time, Shouma would continue giving supplies and tribute to it's neighbors, at an increased rate.