What do you do when the land itself is sick?
The Khālī region was once home to civilization and industry, but has been reclaimed by the wild. Life is never easy in Araea and the lost lands of Khālī is a testament to humanity's feeble grasp of their domains. It is now a land of caverns flooded with poison, tunnels of barren rock and ruins. It is more than abandoned - Khālī has become a byword for cursed.
Khālī was a moderately sized region of the Outer Shell, touching the surface at the highest point but never reaching close to the Inner Shell at its lowest. The flooded caves that were scattered around the region once served as centers for a wide-spread ecosystem and in a land of scarce water, Khālī was envied for its rich supply. The city-state of Maleun dominated the region and held its colonies hostage with its control over the vital waters.
Now, little of that remains. Khālī's waters have dried up or turned to poison. Maleun lies in ruin and its inhabitants have fled, or died.
The Dead City
The city-state of Maleun was moderately prosperous power that ruled most of Khālī through its control over many of the flooded caverns that hold the region's waters. Today, its name is cursed and it is only called the Dead City. Much of the city-state now lie under water, a venomous marshlands of stale water, pollution and Blight
. The caves here are larger than the rest of the region and home to a number of air-pocket tunnels and caverns beyond the plague-riddled waters. Maleun was located well for trade and travel, making it difficult to pass through Khālī without at least skirting the edges of the Dead City.
Off to the side of the central cavern that held Maleun and covered by a hazy miasma lies the Death Lake. The bones of old industry jut out from beneath the water, badly corroded. This was where much of the city's industry took place and much of its waste was dumped, which have turned the lake into a lethal cocktail of pollutants, metal and poison. Entire pools of mercury lies at the bottom of the lake, though some claim not all are content to rest in motionless slumber and more than one traveler has carried back tale of metallic blobs that drag the unwary under the water.
The Dead City is empty, save for the occasional desperate scavenger or passing Kaia
. The only life reported has been clumps of floating fungi that subsist on the tainted water. The dangers here are many, from enormous bubbles that break the surface and release poisonous gas to the threat of infection or disease. As a result, despite the tales told of riches left behind by the rulers of Maleun, diving through the waters of Khālī in search of gold is not a common venture.
Not all of Khālī is devoid of life. The Pits are a series of flooded tunnels connected by a long, continuous cavern that holds the regions only known safe exit to the Surface. Cracks in the cavern ceiling allow sun and Blight to creep down into the Pits, flooding the flooded caverns and tunnels below. Between the pollution from Maleun and Blight, the Pits is a place of aberration. Life here has become strange and abnormal, suffering from countless mutations
passed down through generations.
One of the uppermost caverns is known as the Gallery, for the cracks in the ceiling allows light to fall down to the cave floor like beams of brilliance. Unfortunately for Khālī, the Gallery is right below the Shrouded Lands and along with the light come Blight-tainted dust and sand particles.
While the Pits is the most obvious example, there are other caverns like it in the Khālī region where abominations lurk in toxic waters and Blight-tainted muck.
There used to be a passage from what is now the Pits that lead straight into the Senjō Region
that served as a major road between the regions for travelers and merchants. It has now been collapsed in attempt to keep the taint from spreading and it has been mostly successful, save for a trickle of Blight-tainted
If it's not part of any other region of the Khālī region, it belongs to the Barrens. The tunnels of Khālī are short and often cramped, with most caverns reaching no higher than at most a few meters and some little taller than a standing man. The climate is moist and slightly warm, but all life has been scourged from the stone. With the vital supplies water tainted beyond recovery, moss and fungi that once fed on the vapors and grew across the stone are gone, leaving only an unpleasantly slimy slick stone.
Life in Araea is a struggle against harsh and unusual circumstance. Sometimes, that struggle is lost. When Maleun grew beyond what the caverns could support and begun to strip it bare beyond what it could regrow, when they poisoned the wells that were the basis for life in the region, they began the chain of events that lead to the Barrens.
The Barrens is a dangerous path to travel but not because of any lurking monsters or dangerous hazards, but because its lack of anything. The tunnels are empty of nearly anything and besides slipping on the slimy stone, the most pressing threat is that of running out of anything. Even the most cunning Kaia
will find nothing of use here. There is no food or water to forage, no mushroom or insect that can provide light.
There are some that say that a faintly glowing fungi have begun to grow on some rocks, deep in the Barrens. It remains to be seen if these death-eating fungi can remain or if the poison they are forced to feast on will end them.
Flora and Fauna
Some life still cling to the Khālī, emerging from polluted muck with new and terrible shapes. The region holds two extremes of barren, lifeless tunnels or cancerous, twisted abominations that survive on poison. All beasts kept by humans have died or escaped, their crops withered or gone feral. The most abundant form of life are fungi that feed on either the toxic stew of the flooded caverns or on Blight from above. Neither are suitable for human consumption, though some of the creatures of the region have managed to stomach them.
Khālī was once home to an abundance of aquatic and amphibian life centered around the many flooded caves, but only a scattered few remain now. Others have twisted beyond all recognition and between the sickly vine-like fungi and lifeless tunnels, few would recognize the region as it once was.
Some fear that Khālī is lost for all time and that the space where humanity can yet live in Araea have grown forever smaller. The wise look to their own homes and search for signs that they are making the same mistakes that the city-state of Maleun did. At present, there seem to be cause for their pessimism. Every year, even the abominable life present in the Pits seem to grow too twisted to continue on and what life remains shrink. There is no signs that the toxins infesting the waters are evaporating.
Others are not convinced or unwilling to surrender what was once a prosperous region. Whether motivated by greed or ideals, there are attempts made to purify the tainted waters or reintroduce healthy life to the tunnels, much of it funded by the House of Revyera. Kaia
go into the region to bring back samples of water or wild life, and scholars of both Atma
struggle with the challenge of healing not a human body, but an land.
The efforts to bring life back into the Khālī region have suffered a setback with the conflict in the Senjō Region spiraling into all-out war. Destructive sapping have closed tunnels and roaming war-parties are making it difficult for the expeditions for samples to continue.