Ucurum, the Wound Across the World
They say it takes a lifetime to walk the length of the Wound - I have yet to see an end to it.Ucurum is a great rift in the Surface, a canyon of immense size and depth. It is called the Wound across the world for its sheer size, cutting across the width of a continent. Twists and forks in its path are havens from the harsh Surface for wildlife and explorers, while city-states like Thânh cling to the walls where the rift is deep. Humanity's reach across Ucurum is limited to a few enclaves. Distance and danger make most of the Wound alien to mankind.
Ucurum ranges in depth and width as it snakes across the Surface. At its most shallow, it is no more than a few meters into the ground, though these trenches linger only at the very fringes of the rift. On average, the canyon is a couple of miles deep and several times that at its deepest. Similarly, the width between cliff edges ranges between a few meters and a few miles, with the average falling somewhere under half a mile. Inside, the canyon is mostly dark and cool but warms considerably when the sun is at its zenith. The interior of the canyon consists of different strata of stone, painting it a colorful tapestry that explorers often use to determine their depth. A significant part of the Wound lies deep inside the Shrouded Lands and only the very bottom of the canyon is safe from the lethal Blight above. For this reason, Ucurum is generally considered divided into two sections, with the Shrouded Lands cutting it in two: the Southern Ucurum and the Eastern Ucurum.
The TrenchesThe Trenches are a collective name given to all the shallow fissures and cracks that fork away from the main canyon depths. Some are only a few meters deep, but they average somewhere ten meters. These trenches are a sanctuary against the elements, though not usually deep enough to provide shelter from Blight. The Trenches are used by explorers, prospectors, and hunters to take them further into the Surface without exposing themselves to the sun and Blight.
For this reason, explorers are careful before they descend into the Trenches to camp - the same shelter is sometimes sought by the beasts of the Surface.
Southern UcurumBeginning in the Surface region of Kagarai and heading north before turning eastward, the southern part of Ucurum begin with the Trenches and a slight decline. The rift quickly widens until the two edges defy easy crossing, and the drop becomes a plummet. Hints of ancient settlements dug into the sides of the canyons, erode with every year. As walls crumble, tiny rooms are laid bare, but these are more often than not occupied by wildlife.
The deepest part of the Southern Ucurum rift connects directly to the Sprawl, making the area particularly well-traveled and mapped. Like the Sprawl itself, this area of Ucurum sees regular travel and is, as far as Araea is concerned, reasonably safe.Besides travelers, it is also in the Southern Ucurum rift where Thânh lies. These two factors make this part of the Wound the most inhabited by humanity. Even so, the further towards the Shrouded land the canyon goes, the dimmer the light of human exploration becomes. Entire sections of the Wound are too dangerous for travel, and many instead attempt passage through the Outer Shells tunnels.
Eastern UcurumBeyond the shrouded divide and well into territory less Blighted, Eastern Ucurum stretches into a part of Surface that is difficult to reach by other means. There are only two, maybe three, known ways to reach this part of the Surface, and it is cut off from parts like Kagarai or the Howling Plains by the Shrouded Lands. The region Atharkam lies within these new lands and exploration efforts have been limited. There are more rumors and myths about this part of the Surface, and Eastern Ucurum is no exception. Much less traveled than its Southern counterpart, they share many similarities, but Eastern Ucurum lacks any significant settlements. There are signs in parts where the stone has been worked by tools or warped beyond its natural shape, but whoever- or whatever- did so are long gone.
Ucurum offers sanctuary from the worst ravages of the Surface and is an oasis for a variety of species. Stubborn vines cling to the canyon walls, blooming only to absorb the rays of the run while hand-size flies feed on their nectar. Insects are the most common sort of creature found in the Wound, followed by a variety of fungi, shrubs, and hardy plant life. Bats make frequent use of the caves and tunnels in the canyons to nest before it is time to hunt. Most creatures in the Ucurum can fly or climb, while others nest along the bottom and feed on those who fall or come down for shelter. As such, the canyon is essential for many species, even those who do not nest within the rift itself. Life thrives in and around the Wound, at least compared to the bleak wasteland outside of it. As the Wound stretches into the Shrouded Lands, the life that inhabits it warps. The things here survive Blight that would kill lesser beings and feed on bloated plants that have learned to harvest it. Creatures like the Mahu'ca stalk the edges of the canyon here, preying upon the careless.
Flora & Fauna
The World Within the Wound
It's home to many of us. As bad as it is, we're always reminded how much worse it could be: all we have to do is look up.Ucurum is what enables much of the exploration into the Surface. While other, smaller exits onto the Surface are used across the world, none have as wide a reach or as well-established a base to operate from as Ucurum. The rift shields explorers from Blight, and the abundance of insects allow them to stretch their supplies. Despite the three times it has been decimated, Thânh is a hub for travelers that seek to brave the Surface or bring their bounty back below. Travel through the Ucurum is not without risk. The same wildlife that might sustain a party of explorers or feed a village can also spell their doom.
The Outer Shell While the Outer Shell normally refers to regions of caves and tunnels less immediately exposed to the sun, the Ucurum is considered part of the Outer Shell rather than the Surface. After all, all rightly thinking folk stay well below the ravine's peaks and the dangerous Surface. Read More About The Outer Shell
World Wide WoundWith its vast size, Ucurum touches upon many other regions mapped by explorers. Certain tunnels at the canyon's deepest expanse lead to the Sprawl, while one end of Wound form a jagged decline well into the region of Kagarai. A few enterprising souls have attempted to construct bridges across the canyon to make travel between regions easier, but none have yet to succeed.
Tales tell of a rift that cuts deep into the Wound, where an ancient creature lurk. An infinite mass of snapping maws and ever-lasting hunger, it waits beyond the touch of the sun. Certainly, there are parts of the Wound from where no explorer has ever returned.
The WellFar into the unknown realms of Ucurum, the Well beckons. It is a pit of stygian darkness, burrowed deep into a extension of the canyon. The Well seem to be without end, with things dropped into the gloom disappearing without trace. The light of torches wink out and at least once, the screams of a man dropped into it stopped abruptly. The slick, sheer walls have made climbing down into it impossible and no one has been able to reach it from below. But then, few want to.
The HiveThere are parts of Ucurum where the walls are overgrown with insect nests of massive size. A few of them are so thick with insects that they are referred to as Hives. In Hives, the grey-nesting material of the many different breeds of insects that live there can span for hundreds of yards down the side of the canyon. There are reports of spider-webs that stretch across the entire divide. The insects themselves have grown in proportion to match. Most can hear the buzzing echo down the rift well before they come close to entering a Hive.
Here and there, hints of some ancient civilizations peek out from decaying monuments an hidden temples, dug deep into the canyon walls. Some in places that make explorers question how they could even reach them. Others remnants only raise more questions: a rusting iron cage with a skull, suspended far from reach by wire, halls that lead nowhere and engravings of things never seen by any current explorer.