Naag-Ironflow River Valley

Naag River Valley
  The Naag and Ironflow Rivers, with their tributaries and extensive canal network, cover more than one million square leagues in the heartland of Kibalagaldi, surrounding the fertile Naag Rainforest. This river network allowed for the colonization of the rough inland terrain of Kibalagaldi, as roads were dangerous to build and maintain across the vast, wild country.   In total, the network is comprised of 8,562 leagues of rivers, though not all that length is navigable to the source. In addition, the network has 2,716 leagues of canals, of which 1,086 leagues are tunnels and aqueducts.  

History of the Network

Despite the large number of rivers through this region, the heavy rainfall always led to temporary and dangerous washes, flooding, and occasional mudslides. As more permanent settlements started to pop up inland, they slowly changed the land to direct the water into local canals, held for irrigation with the excess filtered and dredged for fertile mud and channeled out to the river.   While a few of the canals were built in the early days of Kibala by the prison colonists trying to improve travel between their coastal cities, the canal and river network expanded greatly after the period of exploration and colonization of inland Kibala, with the first major inland projects starting around 597. Cities would each maintain their own irrigation canals and the rivers and canals in their immediate area, until 784 when NIRVANA - the Naag-Ironflow River Valley Area Network Authority - was formed to maintain waterways across all of central Kibalagaldi.   The first canal dug on Kibala, despite not being connected to either the Naag or Ironflow directly, is now part of the greater network as well. This was the Lin Passage, now known as the Historic Eastern Amity Canal, connecting Amity Bay with the agricultural city of West Meadow. Ground was broken on this canal in 516 by the Bollard-Kritch Digworks, and remains a masterpiece of canal engineering.   Many modern canals utilize tunnels and aqueducts to maintain height and prevent travelers from having to use as many locks to follow the route. The Lin Passage connected the Lin Creek and Eastern Run at points that were, at the time, perfectly matched in elevation. For <GET MEASUREMENT> leagues, the canal wound between steep hills without a single lock.   By 640, water flow in the Lin Creek had dropped by about 15 percent, and it was necessary to add a single flood gate halfway along the Passage to balance the change. Over decades, the Lin contined to decline and the Eastern Run increased flow, which led to two more flood gates that needed constant adjustment.   In 800, as part of its celebrations for uniting the entire network, NIRVANA installed a colossal lock at each end of the Passage, removed all but the original flood gate for historical interest, and remediated all the erosion and flood damage to the original canal, restoring it to its original course with a few upgrades.  

The Unspoken Need

While travel and commerce are always important, the canals also provide a life-saving service to the Nation. Every eight years, Adin's suns reach the closest point of their orbit, and the resulting conjunction bathes Adin in intense sunlight and causes earthquakes, forcing the population underground for four long months.   This period of sheltering can be done in local caves or even in a residence if it is properly reinforced and shuttered. For the vast majority of the population though, a conjunction means a trip to the nearest Underworld, and all four located in central Kibalagaldi are tied into the canal network. Almost every citizen over the age of eight has made this journey at least once, but the importance and mystique of the canals leads many to establish their lives closer to them.  

Demographics

In the NIRVANA survey of 840, it was determined that five percent of the population of Kibalagaldi either lives on the canals full time, or is currently living on a wideboat in a marina or in pond moorings next to locks. Another four percent of the population resides in wideboats that are in drydock or have been semi-permanently converted to land dwellings or land vehicles.   Their survey did not include vessels that contained golemic devices and could be converted between land and water on the fly. From reported manufacturing estimates, it should be an additional two percent for these vehicles, but it is uncertain whether these numbers were counted in other parts of the survey. This data is expected to be included in the 850 NIRVANA survey.  

Vessel Standards

Craft of all shapes and sizes can be found on the canals, but the most popular among those who live on the canals full time is by far the Kibala longboat. Built off the design of the smaller, more slender Anzakar style, canal dwellers on Kibalagaldi's waterways are treated to a slightly shorter model that is more than twice as wide, at 48 feet by 18 feet. These provide ample living space for a small family, and can fit four to a lock when traveling together.   For extended or working families hauling cargo or passengers, a longboat may tow another unpowered vessel behind it on a short tether. This can be a smaller boat depending on the needs of the boaters, but is often another full-sized longboat to double their available space.   Another popular model is the thinboat; at 48 by 8 it is sufficient for one or two crew living on board. Thinboats are often used for recreation or comfortable travel, and are often the choice for a family boat or rental for Underworld travel.   Massive barges are able to travel through the network up to a hull size of 96 by 36, but are typically only used on the larger trunks to ferry goods from warehouses to coastal ports.   Vessels are flat-bottomed with a layer of titanium protecting the hull material from the water. Anodes of aluminum and zinc with a coating of platinum are arrayed along the outer titanium hull. If prepared correctly and the vessel doesn't run over any debris that punctures the hull, it can stay in water for as long as ten years without problems. The sub-hull, frame, and cabin areas are made from a variety of materials, but usually include a frame of steel or titanium built off of the base plate, and traditional wooden interior walls. Hulls are wood, polystick, steel, titanium, or aluminum alloy.   Most vessels on the Naag-Ironflow network still use the tried-and-true Ishigi design, a small steam turbine that runs one or two propellers and is powered by Hearth Stones. These Ishigi models are affectionately called pigs or pig motors due to their size and appearance. Boiler water is kept in a closed system, condensing in pipes that run along the bottom hull to cool the water, which is then pumped back into the boiler. Steering is primarily by rudder, but poles are kept on board to push off from banks or prevent collisions and can be used by idle crew to aid in maneuvering.   Modern ships have built upon this ancient design in different ways. Batteries were an obvious addition, and even some traditional longboats stow a battery in some closet now to store power when the boiler is off.   Some systems rely entirely on the battery to power an even smaller electric motor to the propellers. The battery is charged using a pig engine, with the steam heated either by a boiler and hearth stone, or by solar power collected through special paint added to the hull and roof.   For lighter electric boats, some vessels remove the propellers entirely and replace them with pumps that pull water from under the boat and force it out through a nozzle to create thrust. Sometimes called jetboats, these are nimble craft capable of maneuvering in ways other boats simply cannot. Rather than using a rudder, the captain's controls can lower a diverter over the jet to use the thrust to stop, turn, or reverse. In these vessels, the condenser system is not simply along the bottom hull, it is along the side hull. Pressurized water can be released through jets at each corner of the vessel, providing even more control. This water is vented from the boiler system, so these boats require a distiller to replenish steam from the impure water drawn in by the pump.   While this jetboat configuration will work for heavier boats, it can be hard to get moving from a full stop and can require some pole work to get underway.   The newest vessels include golemic devices that add a host of modern features, and the applications for golem technology are growing every year. Ships can respond to voice commands, aid in navigation and piloting, provide location data to NIRVANA if they are looking for you, cook your breakfast, even scan the water for dangerous obstructions.  

Life on the Water

In a word, life almost anywhere on the Naag-Ironflow network is idyllic. Outside of cities and a few specially designated areas, a longboat can pull up to the side of any section of river or canal and moor there for as long as they like.   Cities have their own rules, but generally one can expect to be able to moor for a day or two almost anywhere. Unless there are signs.   On most parts of the network, speed is limited to one league per hour, for safety and to prevent wake erosion to the banks. NIRVANA response craft may exceed these speeds considerably, so be aware of your surroundings at all times.  

On the Towpath

In the older Nations, before steam engines were common, most barges and longboats were pulled by Du-Lum Soris along a towpath built next to the canals. Kibalagaldi had few Soris, plenty of steam, and rough terrain. While there have never been any true towpaths on the Naag-Ironflow, anywhere one pulls their boat over is known colloquially as the towpath. The term here simply means you are near your boat, or on the banks of a body of water.  

If You Build It, Someone Will Notice

A towpath camp is a loose term for three or more boats that are moored in the same location and are spending time off their boat living off the land and setting up temporary or permanent shelters. Towpath camps are monitored by NIRVANA, and their locations become common knowledge among nearby boaters on the network. This can attract more boaters, as an industrious camp often means a valuable resource has been found nearby, and steps begin towards founding a new town.   If a camp persists for longer than three months, and has attracted at least 36 people, they can apply to NIRVANA for a permit to create a "bud" on the network. This is an artificial pond, or side pound, connected to the canal or river via a flood gate or lock that must be installed by the camp, and thoroughly inspected by NIRVANA. This pond can be built to accommodate up to 100 longboats, so the prospective town is able to attract more citizens without clogging the waterways.  

Keep Cruisin'

Most boaters consider their vessel to be their permanent home, however, and take great joy in traveling around the network, waking up to a different landscape every morning. One popular vacation route is to visit the sheer rock walls of Hobart Canyon one day, spend the second day in the bioluminescent neon Underworld at Port Elysium, then the third day in the Naag Rainforest nursing a hangover.  

Changes in Altitude

The Naag-Ironflow network extends from the mountains to the sea, but water only flows downhill, and fast. An extensive system of over 12,000 locks, lifts, boatwheels, cable gondolas, and flood gates maintained and expanded by NIRVANA keeps the network flowing smoothly in all directions. Rivers have been sectioned off and widened, deepened, sometimes even straightened to keep a smooth flow.   Kibalagaldi had the distinct advantage of setting up their canal network after learning from the limitations of canals in the other Nations, and bringing the network together under NIRVANA allowed for national standards to be easily set.   Locks are built at least 100 feet long by 40 feet wide, with a series of drains and pumps along the walls to safely drain or fill the lock quickly. Water can be fed from above the lock, or from side pounds or underground reservoirs or tanks depending on the location. In the case of step locks where one opens into the next for gradual elevation change, the water is pumped between the steps to keep the water available for the next crossing.   Many locks still have the traditional lockkeeper house adjacent, and a lockkeeper is employed to live there and maintain the area. In most cases though, the lockkeepers no longer operate the locks themselves. Every ship-moving apparatus on the network is now manned by a NIRVANA golem, tirelessly working and always watching.
Total length of rivers to headwaters: 8,562 leagues   Total length of artificial works: 2,716 leagues   Total length of stonework: (Tunnels or Aqueducts) 1,086 leagues   Locks: 8,021   Floodgates: 3,810   Lifts, Wheels, Cable Gondolas, and Other Conveyances: 387
Type
River Basin
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Sage George Sanders
George Sanders
25 May, 2022 19:42

I have to come back to read through fully but what is your sidebar plan? :)

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Sage George Sanders
George Sanders
26 May, 2022 02:32

I like the concept of two way river travel/flowing that you explore here!

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26 May, 2022 02:52

Thank you so much! Right now, the plan is for captioned photos of the boats and a few canal features, but as I am running dangerously low on time and word count, I decided to put my pencil down early and just polish what I have now. :) A work in progress, as some wise man once said.