Khasanganay, Land of Many Pools
I never thought I'd get so sick of water.Dominated by countless vast caverns, filled with mist and knee-deep pools of fetid water, Khasanganay is a region in the Inner Shell where civilization clings to islands of safety surrounded by vorocious predators. It is a place of water and blood, of boiling fog and rivers of magma, of boats traversing shallows to find food, shelter, and vengence. Superstition has found a home in the minds of those who live here, and they try their best to appease the spirits of the land with sacrifice. In the dark, a thousand wings beat like wardrums.
I'm going to find whoever built this bridge, and I'm going to kiss 'em.Khasanganay is a muggy, wet realm, haunted by streams warm winds that emerge from the far ends of the pool-lands. Heat hangs thick in the air like a wet blanket, rising from bubbling ponds and pools. Most of the region is in water, from knee to waist deep, divided as caverns cut away into tunnels with trickling floods becoming waterfalls at the greatest drop. The further into the heart of Khasanganay one travels, the greater the heat and deeper the pools become.
Pool-LandsThe vast mainland of Khasanganay are miles-wide caverns filled with waters. These pools have through ages dug into the stones, creating rings of stone around each one, like the steps of an enormous staircase. Other, older caverns have eroded all barriers between pools and turned into single, vast lakes. Such pools are usually no more than a meter deep, but in some places the water plunges down to unknowable depths. The people in the region have created bridges in the most populated pools with stone and hattick, creating warning caerns where the water is dangerous, and landmarks for merchants to follow. In times of war, these bridges become fiercely contested battlegrounds, as fighting in the pool is near suicide.
Rumored to lead straight to the Far Deep, the Drop is a pool seemingly without bottom. Never has the ground been found beneath water. Some of the Xuat use the Drop as a site of sacrifice, but most avoid it, claiming it is the womb of terrible spirits.
Dry land is rare and the competition for it bloody between both humans and beasts, won as often as lost for civilization within the region. Predatory migrations can scour such havens clean, only to be resettled again by someone or something else. The largest dry landmass holds the city-state of Tshoggan, still unbroken despite every hardship that Khasanganay has to offer. It remains to be seen for how long.
The BeadsThe Beads are spread across all parts of Khasanganay, smaller caverns that that wrap around and sometimes connect parts of the Pool-lands. Some hold estates or farms, ranchland or military outpost, but most are home to the creatures of Khasanganay, particularly the so-called Waspers - a variety of dangerous, insectoid critters native to the region all lumped together as one hostile whole. The Beads-caverns range in size, but none are more than a fraction as large as the great caverns of the Pool-Lands. Many parts of the Bead lead somewhere else, including to lands not yet explored by any Kaia. Despite the dangers, the Beads are often the target of expansion and industry. Many, especially once drained, contain deposits of ore and crystals to be exploited, or sludge suitable for raising crops.
The Heart of Khasanganay
Where water meets fire, life meets death, and I make my exit.Deep within the region, the Heart of Khasanganay is where water gives way first to superheated steam, then to vents of sulfur, fire, and finally magma. From here, unnatural winds blow the heat across the rest of the region, carrying with it the stench of brimstone and disintigrating stone.
Little of the Heart is explored, with the wall of stream that envelops entry there hot enough to boil flesh from bone, but some settlements skirt the edges of the region. These exist either in pockets insulated from the worst of the heat, or in the face of it, where ascetics challenge themselves against all that the Heart has to offer in hopes of emerging reforged from the experience.
The Heart has its name not only as the believed center of the region, but also by myth that credit its ferocious heat to birthing life in Khasanganay.Many parts of the Heart is still unreachable except for a few, tenous trails, as it lies well beyond the domain of humanity and well into the darkness of Araea's wilderness.
Flora & Fauna
Look down, and something drops on you. Look up, and something leaps out of the water. It's a real welcoming place.Khasanganay is a vibrant, busy realm, where life can drink deeply from its waters, no matter how tainted, and grow. The wet cavern walls are often slick with moss, fungi, and blooming cavernous plants, and vines dangle from the ceiling. Insects swarm among the bounty, eating and being eaten by the plantlife, or speared from below by fish, leeches, and abominations that hide in the water. Predators stalk from pool to pool, hunting the life within.
Each Bead holds another secret, another creature not yet seen. Leeches have become especially common in Khasanganay as one of the staple animals raised by Tshoggan farmer along with fish, crab, isopods, and others. In turn, these creatures and more prey on the unwary and the unfortunate.
The bridges made have become small havens of plantlife and other creatures, nesting around the clustered stones. This in turn lures hunters to the bridges, necessitating regular patrols and cleansing expeditions.Most numerous in the region are the Waspers - in reality a broad stroke of creatures that often have very little in common except the danger they pose to mankind. The Waspers feature prominantly in Tshoggan culture and religion, and even in their architecture as most buildings in the city-state are built from the fibrous nest-material that Waspers make for themselves.
The Inner Shell Far below the Surface but still above the dangerous Far Deep, the Inner Shell is home to most of humanity. Vast caverns, endless labyrinthine tunnels, forests of fungi and mushroom are all features of this underworld realm, where city-state carve out their dominion among darkness and monsters. It is not an easy life, but it is here humanity has managed to survive in the greatest numbers. Read More About The Inner Shell
And Not A Drop To DrinkThe water in Khasanganay ranges from unpalatable to lethal, filled with waste and parasites, laced with mercury and other toxins. Others seem placid, but are living beings - enormous colonies of amobae, waiting for prey. Identifying what water can be drunk and what is poison separated corpses from travellers.
Most inhabitants in Khasanganay have deviced various means to filtrate and purify the water, though some clans out in the bogs have through generations developed a natural immunity.
Going UpWith little beneath their feet but water and leeches, most cities and settlements in Khasanganay build upwards, seeking to create new, dry homes in the cavernous ceiling above them. Such excavations have to be done exceedingly carefully, least the whole cavern come crashing down upon the would-be home-makers.
XuatsThe original inhabitants of the Khasanganay are the Xuats, often derisively called Poolers by citizens of Tshoggan. They make their settlements out among the pools, either on great floating homes made from Wasper nest-material, or on stilts, and prefer tools made by Cadaverurgy than metal. Over time, many Xuats have integrated with the Tshoggan city-state and without their secrets, it is uncertain the city would've survived as long as it has. Despite that, conflict between the two groups are common. "Wild" Xuats, as city-dwellers call them, are the first to suffer when the city seeks new resources, or to expand, or someone to blame. In turn, Xuats raid the city and destroy their projects.
Travelers are usually left alone and frequently welcomed into Xuat towns, unless they particularly flaunt the views on Xuats shared in the city-state.
Leech-PitsLeech-Pits are pools especially set aside for raising leeches, its edges raised and waters disconnected from any pool around it. Some are made within Beads, or carved out of the vastness of the Pool-Lands, depending on the size and need. Once set up, farmers bleed animals into the pools to feed the leeches, then harvest their crop when they've grown large and fat.
In some cases, criminals and blasphemers are bound and dropped into a pool, combining punishment with agricultural practicality.