The Sunlight Well

In case pollution, mutation and gas wasn't bad enough, now there's sunlight.  
— Sodai, Kaia
  The Sunlight Well is a place in the Khālī Region where the cavern ceiling has been smashed open and now yawns open into the sky. Sun, dust and Blight now spills down the chasm left in its wake, mixing with the stew of pollution and decay left behind since Maleun's fall.   Once considered beautiful, if dangerous, the Well is now flooded and overgrown - home to things that thrive in the venomous sunlight.    
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by Dive Store Exile
     

Geography

  The Well consists of one large central cavern and a surrounding maze of tunnels that honeycomb the stone along it. It is unusually deep for a Outer Shell cave, in part owing to the impact that first opened the ceiling. The walls are slick with muck and slime, some of which crawl away when touched. The Well is not an straight drop, but twists around outcropping rock and jagged edges.   Warmed by the vast bubbling cauldron of chemicals at the bottom, the air is humid and fetid, filled with a grime that cling to everything. Fuzzy mold blooms from the slime before being devoured in turn, but bursting spores into the air when disturbed.  

Cavern Ring

  The caverns around the Well are small and cramped. The filth has accumulated enough in some to clog some with barriers of muck, sometimes several meters thick. Only a few of the tunnels were widened and expanded before Maleun's fall, connecting the Well to the civilized part of Khālī. Any path into the Well proper goes through the slime-covered ring of tunnels around it, safe the the Surface path.  


Blight has seeped into the stone, bleeding in from the Well's surface opening. In most caverns, it is only unpleasant but in others the Blight has pooled in lethal shrouds.   There is more life here than in most of Khālī, either mutated cave critters or blight-eating things from the Surface that make the tunnels their nest.

 

The Well

  The Well itself is a deep chasm that opens directly into the Surface. When the sun is right, light filters down directly into the chasm and warms the ooze that covers the length of the shaft like a undulating mass. Openings, some grown over by mold or slime, pocket the Well across the drop all the way to the stagnant, flooded end. The pool at the bottom of the well has grown since the end of Maleun and churns constantly. Bubbles burst across the Surface, sometimes catching fire when they reach the sunlight. No one knows how deep the pool is and it is difficult to measure the distance from the first accessible cavern below.  
Something, they say, is growing at the bottom of the pool. Even before Maleun fell, there were those who said that the meteorite that smashed open the Well was no inanimate chunk of rock, but something living.
  Unlike much of Khālī, the Well is full of life. Blight-eating things from the Surface descend into the Well for shelter and fungi from the caves adapt to feed on their waste, their corpses and the venom that suffuses the caver.  

The Outer Ring

  Outside the Well and on the Surface, there is a hostile wasteland of stone, sand and wind. A crater marks the entry to the Well, surrounded by jagged formations of stone and glass that are being slowly ground away by the winds. Blighted dust-storms sweep over the Well irregularly, coating the entire land in poisonous dust before the wind can pick it up again. It was never clear what part of the Surface that Khālī was under and there is no one left there to give it a name.      

Sunshine

 
There was never a bad idea the people of Khālī would not consider.  
— Sodai, Kaia
  The Sunlight Well predates the fall of Maleun by about half a century, though any records on the matter are now deep under venomous waters. In the early days of the Well, the flooded chamber was much lower. There was no muck or sentient slime then and the sunlight was considered a wondrous sight that was often visited by artists and poets. There was even a brief but deadly belief that the well-waters could cure ills and promote health. Blasphemous cults venerated the light and offered sacrifice to the thing at the bottom of the well. All that ended when Maleun fell.  


  The Well degenerated together with the rest of Khālī. Desperate to salvage their water supplies, Maleun tried to drain polluted water into the Well, mixing the Blight there with industrial run-off and alchemical waste.   It became a foul cauldron and not even faith could compel visitors.

  But desperation did. When people begun to flee Maleun, they did so in every direction they could. As caverns became clogged with refugees and bandits, blockades or disease begun to fell them, some looked to the Surface. Few made the climb and the fate of those who did is uncertain. Surface predators were drawn by the influx of prey and soon stayed along the Well's entrance.    
There's little love between the Suru and Rawa; the Suru see the scavengers as thieves and villains - an accurate assessment, as the Rawa see them as easy marks.   There's an uneasy peace between the two camps. No one knows Khālī as well as the scavengers by now and so the Suru need them to do their work.

Khālī Region   Once alive, now a desolate and polluted wasteland, the Khālī region has become the by-word for cursed. Part of the Outer Shell, many of its caverns and tunnels are smaller than those found deeper down.   Khālī was blessed with an abundance of water-logged caverns from which both men and beast could drink, but these are now polluted and foul.   Read More About Khālī Region

Slime, Ooze and Muck

  Nearly every part of the Well is coated with slime; an unpleasant rot-grey colored muck with the consistency of greasy mud. Some caverns have filled entirely, blobs of ooze festering in the dark with pseudo-pods clinging to the ceilings and walls.   While not particularly fast, not all of the slime is inanimate. Exactly what animates them has only been guessed at, but more lively-colored slime has shown itself to be mobile.        

Maleun's Fall

  Once a great power, the city-state of Maleun held dominance in the Khālī region by virtue of its control of the precious waterlogged caverns. Others there were faced with the choice; obedience or thirst. When no enemy could best them, arrogance, as is often the case, proved to be Maleun's downfall.   Today, Maleun is a ruin drowning in lakes of poison. It's inhabitants have fled or died, the water that once gave it such power now irreparably fouled.   Read More About Maleun, the Dead City        

Rawa

  If there was still a place that could be considered settled in Khālī, it is the wretched hive of scum and villainy that is Rawa.   Rawa is a ramshackle camp set up at the edge of the region, set up along a few caves that are tolerably tainted. It is inhabited by scavengers, grave-robbers and those who fleece them off their meager findings. They make their living by picking over the corpse of Maleun for anything of value and such expeditions frequently take them near or through the Well. Hints of their passing can be found here, from broken tools to ooze-gnawed bones.   Read More About Rawa    
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by Dive Store Exile
   

The Suru

  Not everyone believe that Khālī is lost. The Suru are a group of scholars, cultists and engineers that make it their business to restore life to exhausted or polluted caves, and they have set their sights on Khālī - and the Well in the particular.   They are interested in some parts of the Well, where the slime and the mold have blossomed. Traces of fungi and healthy mushrooms, hidden behind sunlight and Blight, speak of a potential cure for the sick lands. The Suru intend to find it.   The Suru Revivalists    



Cover image: by Mathieu Lauffray

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