Not a bad place to be, besides all the ways it can kill ya.When most denizens of the Inner Shell think of the Surface, it is often Kagarai that comes to mind. It is a craggy mesa, surrounded by mountains or Blight, home to both deserts and boiling swamps. With only tolerable levels of Blight, Kagarai is one of the most explored and exploited of the Surface regions. Those who mistake this for any notion that life in Kagarai is easy or the region friendly are swiftly corrected, for it is a bleak and dangerous land.
At least it's dry.Most of known Kagarai is centered around the rocky plains and mesa, becoming more mountainous to the north and leveling out towards the south and east. The ground is mostly rock and gravel, with the most common plants being tenacious shrubs, weeds or cacti as well as a fleshy, polyp-like growth that feed on Blight. Kagarai is dry and dusty, with temperatures ranging from uncomfortably hot to chilly depending on the season. There's little water here, mostly concentrated in a springs and deep pits, thought there are lakes of noxious sulfur or acid.
The Mesa PlainsThe rocky plains of Kagarai are home to countless rock formations, with the mesas dominating the landscape. From massive plateau to grand archways, wind and time have carved these enormous structures. Blight here is relatively low and tough but wholesome plant-life has been able to cling to existence near the mesas. Flying creatures often use the flat tops as nest, harried by the few hungry beasts that can scale the sides. A few have been ravaged by the meteoric impacts that have left pockmarks across the Mesa Plains, with the largest becoming so-called "mazes". When the top of a particularly large mesa collapses in on itself due to erosion, impact or digging claws, they become hard to navigate labyrinths within the mesa itself. For travelers and wildlife both, the mesas are important as shelters and sources of food. As wind wear away stone, some mesas become little more than jagged columns or massive colossal towers.
To the south of the Mesa Plain, the rocky formation dwindle in both magnitude and number until they reach the Crater Fields. These plains are littered with countless craters from meteors since time immemorial. Such impacts still happen, making it a destination for Star-Chasers across Araea. While such impacts are common across the surface, they're particularly frequent in the Field. The reason is unclear, but most scholars attribute it to something more malicious than mere coincidence.
The PaleA desert of pure white gypsum sand, the Pale is located at the southern regions of Kagarai. They touch borders with the Crater Fields and stretch eastwards, further than anyone has yet to go. The border between the Pale and the Mesas is splattered with red from the many sandstorms that sweep through the rocky plains, earning it the name 'the Jagged Cut'. The exact line of the borders wander as the wind turns and after an especially vicious storm, the cut might dig far deeper into the Pale than it normally would. The beasts that live here have adapted (or, some say, been warped) by their surrounding and adopted a more pale hue than is typical for their kind living elsewhere. The that live here are all white as the sand around them, and the desert is home to snakes, reptiles, insects and arachnids, in addition to less identifiable things.
The Iron Mountain Deep within the Pale, a hollow metal triangel of vast size juts out at an angle from the white sand. The metal has rooted itself into the soil enough to slow decline, but as the wind wanders those roots can be exposed or buried. The surface is smooth, despite time and the howling winds. While it has the luster and color of iron, most agree that it is something else. A large tear opens a gaping hole into the hollow interior of the Mountain, though few have seen it. Those who do speak of glowing lines in the metal, moving and crawling crystals, and insist that the metal grows like tumorous flesh. Beasts that lair in the Mountain change and mutate, behaving strangely. It is a cursed place, but many can't help but to wonder what lies within its depths.The Pale doesn't end before it extends into the Borderlands and from there into the Shrouded Lands. Towering mountains mark the horizon and some trails might lead through the Blight to arrive there safely, though none have managed.
Field of BladesThe Field of Blades is named for the countless cragged columns of limestone cover the land before the mountains of Rasatalah. These columns are sometimes placed so closely together that they are impossible to pass without climbing, or divide to form many branching paths throughout the Field. Some of the Blades reach as much as ten meters tall, but most average around half of that with only a few outliers that tower above the rest.
Ever so often among the Blades are perfectly square columns of the same stone. They show none of the pitting or erosion of the blades around them and resist tools.Much of the Field is submerged, though not in water but noxious chemicals or acids. With great care, these ponds can be crossed with boats or rafts although such ventures always risk their craft coming apart before they reach their destination. Despite the name, the Blades aren't sharp with must edges dulled by erosion. The greatest risk to travelers come from the toxic fumes or falling into the alchemical stew that boils beneath the blades.
Rasatalah MountainsPast the Field of Blades, the Rasatalah Mountains rise high enough to pierce the clouds. The mountainous region stretches far north, further than anyone has gone and most expect the Shrouded lands to envelop the peaks at some point. The Rasatalah mountains are permanently capped with frost and ice, with the occasional coat of snow. Unlike Aschar, the region has little in the way of volcanic activity and instead play host to storms and ravenous monsters for travelers to worry about. Much of the venomous lakes that have formed in the Boiling Swamp or the Field of Blades might have originated in Rasatalah. There are lakes of sulfur and rivers of poison that dribble down the mountainside. Some leave colorful trails on the stone and ice, while others rake the mountains with powerful acids. In time, these turn to deep grooves when the acid cuts far enough to reach rock it cannot dissolve, then either pools in small ponds or spread out into the soil.
Boiling SwampFormed from underground springs and the run-off from the mountains that border it, the Boiling Swamp is a stew of venom. A miasma hangs over the the entire swamp, thick enough to cut with a knife and shaded a sickly yellow. Travel into the Swamp without protection is a fatal affair, with the fumes from the bubbling cauldron enough to put the unwary to sleep.
The Swamp gets their names from the constant bubbling and stir the swamp. Some bubbles are larger than a man and even the faintest flame can cause them to erupt into devastating explosion.The liquid that makes up the swamp come in layers, with only the top behaving like water. It is separated from the bottom half of the swamp, which moves like a coagulated goo. The swamp surface is a multicolored mishmash, different fluids sharing the same space or standing apart from each other. The stirring swamp set these patches of color into constant motion, together with the dense algae-like growths and voracious molds that grow along the surface.
The BorderlandsThe Borderlands are at the very edge of Kagarai, an region where the Shrouded Lands shift back and forth. Even before the Shroud, the Blight is much more prominent here. At any given time, the Shrouded Land can shift as much as a few miles into the Borderlands and into Kagarai, making what had been safe lands suddenly awash in Blight.
Blight-Trackers view the Borderlands as something of a training area. Nowhere else can the ebb and flow of Blight be studied quite so reliably as here. Especially cruel mentors leave their wards well beyond the safe zones of the Borderlands and abandon them to find their own way back.Very little distinguishes the Borderlands from the rest of Kagarai. It envelops the region, spreading throughout it all. Without specialized tools or knowledge, by the time the shift is noted, those caught within have already begun contracted Blight.
Flora & Fauna
Hunters like the place because there's usually game to be found. I think the beasts they hunt are equally pleased.Kagarai has the most varied and rich ecosystem of all the Surface regions outside the Shrouded Lands, with everything from cacti and hardy bushes to and Chūduk making their home here. Even the Boiling Swamp and the poisonous lake among the Field of Blades many paths has spawned much life, albeit suited to their unique environments. Most life in Kagarai do not feed on Blight. Those that do often live on the Borderlands around the region, drifting in and out of the Shrouded lands to feed or hide from much more dangerous predators. On occasion, some great beast will migrate from the Shroud and into Kagarai to disrupt all established patterns, though this is rare.
Polypoppies These fleshy, spongy fungi seem to bloom on corpses and rotting flesh on their own accord throughout most of Kagarai. When there's no meat to blossom from, they cling the side of mesas and cliffs in oozing clumps. Their color is comparable to human flesh and they reek of terrible decay.
A combination of accessibility and relatively low levels of Blight make Kagarai a favored destination for those who seek to map the Surface. Despite its many dangers and the many parties that end their hunts as bleached bones scattered across the wastes, fortunes are made here. In the Crater Fields, Star-Chasers race to every new impact in hopes of finding riches and perhaps even Starsteel. In Rasatalah, prospectors find veins of precious metal and rare gems, some which have yet to be found elsewhere. Such are the reasons that see explorers brave the unknown reaches of Kagarai and villages nest among the many dangers. Adventure awaits in the dunes of the Pale or the depths of the Boiling Swamp for those bold enough to seek it.
Death & Opportunity
The Surface Blighted and barren, the Surface of Araea is a hostile and alien world in which mankind are only visitors. There are many ways to die on the Surface, and none of them are pleasant. The beasts here have learned to live in poison and fear neither sword or spear, while continent-spanning storms regularly scour the Surface. Were it not for the fame and fortune to be found here, mankind would likely never visit. Read More About The Surface
Bloody WeatherKagarai is regularly engulfed by enormous sandstorms, with the largest covering the entire region. These storms are tinted red from the hue of the mesa and stone in the region. Walking into a Kagarai sandstorm is like wandering through a mist of blood, with everything dyed sharp red. While not immediately dangerous on their own, some storms carry Blight with them and almost all hide predators. Other than that, Kagarai hosts dust devil, twisters and gale winds that can knock explorers off their feet. Other phenomena such as when the skies turn mad or stones fling themselves towards the heaven are more uncommon.
Some Mesas become riddled with passages and burrows by either human hands or nesting animals. These warrens can be dangerous gambits for sanctuary - if the digging goes too far and the softer stone left to erode, the entire thing is prone to collapse.
The WoundThe great canyon of Ucurum, also known as the Wound across the World, has one of its ends in the Mesa Plains. The shallow trenches that jut out from the rift provide sanctuary to explorers, but also home to many nesting beasts. The deeper canyon holds horrors like the Blood Bugs. Read More About Ucurum
Crater TownDespite the danger of living near an area infamous for frequent celestial bombardment, there are those who do. Retak is one such settlement, an quarrelsome collective of feuding clans that inhabit a vast crater. In their minds, the odds of the same massive impact happening in the very same place must surely be slim and the crater's edge does keep the storms out of their homes. What's the worst that could happen? Read More About Retak
So called Pale Blooms are crystal-formations made from the gypsum sands that can be found across the Pale. They're a popular, if inexpensive, thing for visitors to the Pale to take with them home.They can frequently be found on the markets of Thânh and other nearby settlements. Despite being crystal, it is a popular belief that they grow beneath the sand like mushrooms.
The SinkOnly rarely glimpsed, the Sink is a vortex of sand in the Pale. It isn't certain if the Sink is a singular event capable of movement or something that can happen anywhere in the Pale. The first sign of the Sink is that the sand begins to move even without wind, soon swirling down towards some unseen maw or hole. It expands until it reaches several meters across and continues for minutes before it stops abruptly.
Blade ShrinesSome Blades in the Field are carved and engraved as tribute - to gods, to professions of love or a marker of an explorer's passing. It isn't clear when the tradition began but it is now a rite of passage for some explorers to travel to the Field of Blades to make their own shrine. The further into the Field a shrine is, the greater the glory for those who carved it. These range from simple to elaborate, depending on the time spent and the expertise of the artist. By true explorers, it is considered bad form to simply hire a mason to do the work for you and it isn't uncommon for travelers to deface such sham shrines if they come across them. Vulgar graffiti is a favorite, but some chose to put as much work into their destruction as supplies allow.
Out of all the regions of the Surface, Kagarai is without doubt home to most human settlements. These range from camps for hunters and prospectors, to more permanent towns and villages although this later variety is much more rare. The reason for establishing a home here range, but they usually come down to either greed or curiosity. Some see the Surface as wholly untouched by industry and tell tales of riches just waiting to be found while others cannot stand to look at a map and see only blank.