The Eiquereus Craglands are an unusual group of geological features that take up the entirety of the Eastern C cube layer and spill over into the commissures connecting it to all adjacent cubes. The Eiquereus Craglands skylines are dominated by the aforementioned crags: triangular pyramids of dark iron jumbled together beneath an arid atmosphere of dark red dust and orange clouds. Silty winds howl through the jagged, overhung valleys of the badlands, where the dim sunlight casts tenebrous shadows that hide Distal polyps, claim jumpers, hostile military contractors, or worse.
It is believed by researchers within the Manifold Sky that the entirety of Eastern C somehow formed as an enormous geode of highly unusual chemical composition, with the internal crystalline structure oriented such that the vertices of the cuboid crystals within jut out perpendicularly from the faces of the cube layer. As a result, dark, sharp, polygonal peaks comprised of relatively high-purity iron ores erupt from the landscape, craning to impressive heights near the edges and vertices of the layer. Pools of yellow silicate and red iron oxide sands have been washed into the crevices between the cubes by erosion over the centuries, creating some pockets of flat terrain within the Eiquereus Crags. Water is extremely limited and low-lying; beneath the cubes, the action of water aquifers and springs against large pyrite deposits has created large pockets of hot, dilute sulfuric acid. The exact geological process that would lead to such an environment existing in the Manifold is unknown and unlikely to be discovered in the near future, as the trace presence of chlorinated (and even fluoridated) iron compounds in recovered ore samples suggests a tumultuous geochemical history that would seem completely at odds with the comparatively hospitable environments of adjacent cube layers.
Fauna & Flora
Some water does manage to form shallow pools in the gaps between crystals, but these are invariably void of aquatic life save for the occasional growth of algae. Instead, drought-hardy trees, shrubs, and pockets of shardleaf eke out a meager existence in nearby crevices where the acidic red soil is deep enough to permit roots to grow. Lizards, small mammals, and flying insects make their homes in and around these oases. Small numbers of Distal urticators move about in the shadows and underground, feeding themselves on the shardleaf; in underground caverns choked with sulfuric acid fumes, these creatures dine on mats of chemosynthetic bacteria found there. A few patches of Distal polyp have taken root beneath the overhangs of crystals undermined by flowing wind or water over the centuries, making these regions dangerous for most humanoids to explore. These polyps feed primarly on those Distal urticators which, whether from sickness, desire to nest, or sheer foolishness, wander too far from the protective light of the prepetually dust-shrouded sun. Gangs of flabbergrypes hunt and scavenge on any distal life they might find in the open, their pebbled hides offering some protection from the acidity of the environment.
The crystals which gather in the vertices of the layer form miles-wide high-altitude plateaus which would be ideal staging areas for airships save for the lack of fresh food or water. It is believed that the highly reducing environment of the Eiquereus Crags is at least partially responsible for the relative dryness of the Eastern Tesseract, as the iron crystal points that dominate Eastern C scavenges free oxygen from water over geological time. The hungry, violent, and remote nature of the place ensure that the Eiquereus Crags never support a population greater than around 10,000 people at any given time. Despite their rugged terrain, dangerous and arid environment, and remoteness from any major population center, the Eiquereus Crags are a frequent source of military conflict within the Manifold - indeed, the War of Reunification is actually more about resources than it is ideological differences or historical grievances. This contention over the Craglands is due to the region's fantastic wealth of useful iron compounds, especially raw iron ore and (deeper) pyrite deposits, as well as subterranean sulfuric acid deposits which can be drawn up by simple pumping derricks. Mining the metal-hard mountains is difficult - often performed by prisoners or slaves and overseen by the disfavored employees of cold-eyed mining conglomerates - but is also extremely lucrative. Clandestine refinery complexes use natural hollows or overhangs created by the massive crystals to avoid direct aerial bombardment, feeding themselves with agri-mines stocked with imported soil based on the resident workers' native diets (in the manner of the Manifold Conservation Society).
The 'Eiquereus' moniker was first applied to the Craglands by famed explorer Eqai Voiranoi, who discovered the unusual location earlier in the same expedition which would eventually lead him to Petalcap Vale. "Eiquereus" is an Iuxat word roughly translating to "place of only one substance," an appelation which Eqai thought properly encapsulated the (then assumed) iron-only composition of the terrain. This portion of the expedition features in a relatively brief portion of Voiranoi's journals, as landing the expedition airship among jagged crags and with mounting winds proved exceptionally difficult. Nevertheless, the crew did spend several hours at ground level collecting samples for later analysis by Navigator's Guild scientists; a small cuboid of iron chiseled out of the arid earth by Voiranoi himself still sits on display in a museum case aboard the Castle of Aurorae as of the year 10,000 AR.
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