Artenesian Sound (/artenizən saʊnd/ (Aeillan: /kolpos ton artenos/))
Κόλπος τον Αρτενοσ
The islands are, themselves relatively barren with little in the way of a natural ecosystem, and only limited agriculture. Instead, the seas surrounding them are rich with a wide variety of sea life much of which can be used by sapient beings, and indeed, goes to support the relatively dense population eight hundred thousand sentient beings, almost half of which live in the vast city of Artenos itself. The Artenesian Sound, as a result of this dense sttelemtn and its strategic position are also some of the most heavily fortified lands in Galisea.
The Artenesian Sound consists of a chain of islands arrayed from east to west, as well as the opposing coastline, and the waters between them. The islands themselves are comparatively sizable, and the land area of the islands and the coastlines are approximately the same. Regardless the Artenesian Sound is one of the smallest regions in the whole of Aeilla, and is by the standards of most scholars merely an importat subregion of Menaulatolia. The islands of the Artenesian Sound are hilly, and rocky with many of them having tall cliffs on most of their breadth. The opposing coastline that makes up the other half of the land area is, by contrast, relatively flat and is some of the richer areas in coastal Menaulatolia for farming. The sound itself consists of narrow, relatively shallow ocean wit predictable currents that make it a very stable and incredibly safe maritime region.
The terrestrial ecosystem of the Artensian sound is relatively barren, consisting primarily of warm coastal grasslands, or sandy beaches, or in the case of the steeper hills, barren volcanic rock. The coastal region of the opposing mainland is relatively more fertile with thicker, richer soil, but has been heavily and aggressively converted into agricultural land with virtually nothing other than farms, beaches, and the rare brackish marshland. The maritime ecosystem is however, much richer and more diverse with the sheltered waters of the sound being host to one the largest coal reef systems near the Coast of Galisea, and as such is host to a wide variety of fishes, and crustaceans as well as marine plant life, and is one of the most biodiverse and productive areas in Aeilla, in spite of the fact that these maritime ecosystems have not been effectively cultivated by sentient beings. The seas have however become heavily exploited by the Republic of Artenos, in desperate need of resources to feed the large city of Artenos itself.
The Sound of Artenos has a relatively balanced ecological cycle with minimal difference between the times of year. Being situated on the coast sees the sound host to a number of storms (usually seen inland only during the winter) throughout the year, and with vicious winds that have stripped most of the surface of the life that could live on it.
Fauna & Flora
Terrestrially, the natural biodiversity of the sound is moribund. With much of the plant life in the area consisting of a few species of wild grass, and a handful of seabird species. The intervention of sentient beings has introduced some invasive species to the island, mostly as livestock with several species of sheep and goat, and a great many hardy crops introduced, and occasionally going feral in the wild. The rocky islands however, are, comparatively bereft of life. The oceans are different story however, with several hundred species of fish, and nearly as many aquatic plants, and crustaceans and a few dozen species of marine reptile and mammal. Though the largest creatures tend to live further out to sea, this has meant that smaller organisms can thrive in the mild currents and ideal water conditions found in the Sound. Of particular note is a fairly healthy community of the Occirine Worm, rare north of Leandris, and the great variety of Smith's Coral can be found in the reefs of the sound.
The Artenesian Sound, is in terms of organic richness a very uneven space, with a rough and unforgiving land, but serving as a very wealthy fishery. Agriculturally lackluster, the lands provide little more than adequate grazing land for hardier herd animals. On the mainland it is little better. At sea, the fisheries are plentiful and can more than meet the needs of the burgeoning populace, which has resulted in many communities being dependent on fishing to meet their needs, and that of the perpetually hungry city of Artenos. Minerally, the islands themselves are relatively bereft of resources, barring the hardy and erosion resistant stones that make up the islands themselves. Formerly a fairly sizable silver vein existed on one of the large islands, though this has mostly been played out. Similarly Obsidian used to be much more common, but has since been fully exploited by the populace. Out at sea, there has been little exploration for resources however, a massive silver deposit which the Alimentus Company has begun putting together an expedition to being prospecting.
Despite there being some limited exploration and settlement by the Yulan-Tai, the Artenesian Sound was for a long time mostly uninhabited. Extant Yulan-Tai records indicate that they found the islands rocky and utterly unsuitable for any large settlement. After the fall of the Yulan-Tai, the few settlements that did exist within the Artenesian Sound disappeared entirely, leaving only a few artifacts and ruins behind to mark their existence. The sound would not see much settlement, except on the mainland coast, until the Era of the Aeillan Empire. The Empire, which sought to create a chain of defenses guarding the approaches to the River Tyros and Ilos, and Coastal Menaulatoili established a chain of forts along the islands. These fortifications eventually became small towns, which then steadily grew throughout the later Imperial period as instability on the mainland, and eventually invasions from Felora meant that the islands, and their naturally defensible location made for a lot of refugees. In the post Imperial period the Artenesian Sound continued to grow as the area was safe from the unstable first centuries after the fall of the Empire. It continued to expand and become ever more important as the Sound of Artenos became a major trade hub, and a vital link on the commercial lines between the continents of Galisea, Felora, and Leandris. In the last century the Artenesian Sound has become one of the most geopolitcally important realms in all of Aeilla.