Khasanganay, Land of Many Pools

I never thought I'd get so sick of water.  
— Sodai, Kaia
  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.      

Geography

I'm going to find whoever built this bridge, and I'm going to kiss 'em.  
— Sodai, Kaia
  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-Lands

The 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.  
The Drop
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.
  Outside the holdings of mankind, the creatures of Khasanganay have made their homes among the waters and in the stone. Wasp nets are a common feature of the unclaimed Pool-lands, clustering among every dry stretch of stone or cavern wall, or floating on the waters. Glittering kelp hang from the ceiling with bioluminsceant globules, tainted by parasitic blooms. As the caverns wind towards Khasanganay's heart, they become more barren, and life becomes more unrecognizable as such.  

The Beads

The 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.  
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by Dive Store Exile
 

The Heart of Khasanganay

Where water meets fire, life meets death, and I make my exit.  
— Sodai, Kaia
  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.  
— Sodai, Kaia
  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 Drink

The 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 Up

With 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.      

Xuats

The 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-Pits

Leech-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.

Blood & Water

    Tshoggan is the only city-state in Khasanganay, a relatively thriving settlement that have mingled the native people with conquerers from abroad. Tensions run along a razor's edge between the two, with smaller villages around the region resenting the intruders into their land, and raids between the two are commonplace. Only during the devastating nomadic incursions by Waspers or other monstrous foes do the two sides unite - and even then, it is far from certain.  
Most travel in Khasanganay are by boat, or by bridge as trudging through the waters is both dangerous and tiring. Tshoggan sees many visitors from other parts of the Inner Shell, trading with cities as far away as Mharaji and Ahumahi. Metal tools rust quickly in the damp, fog-shrouded Tshoggan settlement, and new ones are always required. In turn, leech-meat, wasper chitin, and purified water make steady sales in the rest of the Inner Shell.   For the Kaia, there is still plenty of unknowns to discover in the caverns and oceans of pools in Khasanganay. Beads hold wealth for those who can claim it, and a new, safer path to other parts of the Inner Shell would etch its discoverer's name into legend and glory.
 
Mercenaries can always find work in Tshoggan, and never at better rates than during the Cull - expeditions out into the pools to cull the population of Waspers before they grow too large and trigger another nomadic migration.
     

 
Hey!   Your support means the world to me! If you liked the article, why not consider leaving a like, and a comment to let me know what you thought? I love getting feedback that helps me make these articles better!   Thanks for reading!

Cover image: by Jorge Jacinto

Comments

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1 Dec, 2020 21:02

Cool! Do you have any plans for other regions of the inner shell?

3 Dec, 2020 09:00

Another 5-6, though the exact details are still missing. But they'll show up, eventually. :)

3 Dec, 2020 22:41

Wow...Thats 3 times what I expected! yay

Sage Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
2 Dec, 2020 10:02

This sounds like a both beautiful and miserable place to live. I feel as though you'd be damp all the time living here. Really well done, Q - you have the best ideas. I love reading about Araea!

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea!
3 Dec, 2020 09:01

Awh, thank you <3 I hope I can do the ideas justice and keep fleshing this place out for WE :D   Thank you <3

5 Dec, 2020 11:37

That was an amazing read! I am not too sure about this "leech farming" in blood pools, but it sure sounds cool and creepy :D

5 Dec, 2020 12:14

Thank you very much, I really appreciate the comments and read <3   Yeah, it's not a nice part of the place, but starving is a great motivator. It's kinda why we have stuff like black pudding and surstr√∂mming in our worlds, haha!   If you are curious about them, I just realized I forgot to link them here... I should fix that. :)   https://www.worldanvil.com/w/araea-qurilion/a/leech-pit-landmark

24 Dec, 2020 04:24

Hot and humid? Knee deep pools? Creatures living in waters that shouldn't be habitable? Reminds of somewhere... xD Great work as always Q.

-ZogMadDog

"I am become destroyer creator of worlds!"
24 Dec, 2020 07:56

Constantly on the verge of getting overrun by gaters monsters? :D   Thank you!

6 Jan, 2021 13:28

I love to read your work, Q. It's always painted with emotion, details and a magic that makes one know more. The sentences are a pleasure to drink.   Can one adopt a leech as a pet? :]

9 Jan, 2021 09:07

Oh wow, thank you very much <3   And... You can now. Based on that, I think leeches are going to be semi-popular pets in this joint :D

9 Jan, 2021 03:51

Sodai <3   Another brilliant article, as always!

Author of Fillimet, bright fantasy land of possibilities
9 Jan, 2021 09:06

Thank you!