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Eastern Erana Cave-tinent

General introduction


In addition to the regular surface world, there are also vast underground expanses in Samthô called cave-tinents, because they are for the most part huge cave systems which sometimes rival the continents in size. In eastern Erana there is one pocket that spans from somewhere in the Central Erana Mountain Range to the very east of the continent. It is a diverse area with multiple tunnel systems more or less connected to one another and some major chambers of the size of entire countries on the surface. Spanning over such a vast area, this cave-tinent has huge array of names, either in the tongues of the surface peoples around its access points or the peoples living within the cave-tinent.

Position and structure


The Eastern Erana Hollow-Samthô Cave-tinent (EECT) has its westernmost point somewhere underneath the Central Erana Mountain Range, without any openings in the western parts of those mountains. This contributes to the relative separatedness of the eastern and the western parts of Erana from one another caused by the massive mountain range. The cave-tinent then stretches to the Mukebahari bay north of Madini and in the south reaches the southern fringes of the Moiyeli Swamplands as well as the southern borders of Andaperna.

There are three major chambers making up the EECT, one of which is the Madini-Mukebahari chamber, the second of which is the Moiyeli chamber and the last one is the chamber under the Central Erana Mountain Range. The Moiyeli chamber takes the central position with the other two being connected to it but not to one another. The Moiyeli chamber is densely connected to the Madini-Mukebahari chamber by a multitude of caves and passageways, whereas there is only one major tunnel connecting it to the Central Erana Mountain Range chamber.

Major access points from the surface


There are only five access points to the EECT, but other than with other cave-tinents they are evenly distributed, so each of them is in theory accessible directly from the surface.

Some of the entrances lie in more desolate areas or at least now are tucked away in some remote wilderness, but historically where under the influence of some political power. The openings are as follows:

The Kalon Korkaks opening:
This entrance lies in the Moiyeli Swamplands. It used to be the site of a city, the origin of which is disputed. Nowadays the ruins that are prove of the existence of the former city are a religious site for the Umoyaleyn of the Moiyeli Swamplands.

  The Mukebahari opening:
This opening is positioned on the equally named Mukebahari Island by the flank of the Mukebahari Volcano. The only major civilisation known to settle in the vicinity are the Madini, which avoid not only the island but also navigating the bay because of their superstitious beliefs. The volcanic activity with its noises originated the story of the Volcano Bear, a supposed giant beast that is believed to be the actual cause of the noises of the volcano.

The Central Erana Mountain Range openings:
The remaining three openings are relatively close to one another within the middle part of the Central Erana Mountain Range, with two of them being closely intertwined to one another. The southernmost of these entrances surprisingly does not connect to the chamber below the Central Erana Mountain Range but rather to a cluster of smaller pockets which in turn are partly connected to the chamber under the Central Erana Mountain Range and the Moiyeli chamber.

 

Sources of light


All of the light sources known to exist in the subterranean areas also exist in the EECT. This includes Lúsmorl, light/heat sources caused by volcanic activity as well as sun crystals. The different sources of light are not evenly divided though, with volcanic activity only being present in the Mukebahari chamber. The Moiyeli chamber is mainly provided with light from Lúsmorl communities. These also make up the majority of light sources under the Central Erana Mountain Range, though some sun crystals do exist there, too.

Major civilizations


Not much is known about the peoples which live in the EECT. The most well known ones are the Dzel Luak living around the opening to the Moiyeli Swamplands. They are also believed to be the originators of the ruins found in the Kalon Korkaks. Nowadays they live a seminomadic lifestyle with smaller, non permanent settlements. Their current architecture contains elements of what can be seen in the ruins of the Kalon Korkaks, which makes them a likely candidate to actually be the builders of those buildings.

Also Joun, who inhabit the Central Erana Mountain Range delve deep into the caves, tunnels and the chamber there to settle or exploit natural resources. Both of these goups are known to have rivalries with local Kubolen societies.

Nothing is known about the peoples that might live in the Madini Mukebahari chamber and adjacent areas.

Natural resources


As above ground, depending on the specific location resources can be more or less abundant. Many assume, that the subterranean areas lend themselves to mining far better than mining on the surface, but that is wrong. Nonetheless, some specific ores or minerals can be found mainly in the cave-tinents and only seldomly in mines closer to Samthôs surface.

Besides mining products, the very diverse ecosystems of the cavetinents in general, but also of the EECT offer an abundance of organic materials that are used in different ways by local peoples. As the subterranean ecosystems differ for the most part vastly from the ecosystems above ground and many of the species are endemic to their cave-tinent or even only parts of it, these materials are as manifold as those above ground, albeit often of a very different nature. Some of what can be found also makes for good alchemical ingredients and is widely used among the different communities under ground but in some cases, if known above ground, are highly sought after goods there. The same is potentially true for all resources and materials found or produced in the cave-tinents.

Ecosystems and biodiversity

The shape the ecosystems take in different areas of the EECT is mainly dictated by the light sources available in that general area. While plants play a subordinate role in the Lúsmorl-ecosystems, they are common and abundant in those areas, where sun crystals are the main source of light. The volcanic parts of the cave and chamber system pose a special challenge to life and thus are home to more specialised and hardy creatures in general.

As said above, the Moiyeli chamber relies mostly on Lúsmorl as a source of light. It has developped a special fauna with giant invertebrates being the most notable creatures within that area. In fact, the giant scorpions called Moiyele, which gave the Moiyeli Swamplands its name originated from the Moiyeli chamber and made their way up through the Kalon Korkaks opening. This species is so striking, that local communities adapted the name by which the [Dzel Luak](ethnicity:d8ec6e7a-2ca7-4060-9631-efca245d1b6e), which now have retuned to live exclusively underground, addressed these creatures. In the contemporary form of their language they are called Mowelle. The faunal exchange is not limited to the giant scorpions though, as other species of giant arthropods in the Moiyeli Swamplands - Khlivye, Hhlán faich and Snaici faich and Noira - prove.

Also creatures originating from the surface have entered the Moiyeli chamber. The most successful of these critters is probably the Fihhi, which radiated into a number of subspecies, one of which even lives in the Madini-Mukebahari chamber and has adapted well to this harsh environment.

The Madini-Mukebahari chamber is dominated by lichen instead of fungi as they are more resistant to dehydration. The climate resembles that of a steppe and some succulent plants have made parts of this chamber and the bordering caves and channels their home, too. Most creatures living here are reptiles or fur reptiles which can regulate their hydration far more effectively than other creatures.

The Central Erana Mountain Range chamber is lit in part by sun crystals, in part by Lúsmorl. The sun crystals are a very special form of mineral which forms under unknown circumstances in the depth of the earth. Their light is similar to, albeit not as bright as the sun. Also they produce hardly any heat and are only lukewarm. Some areas with sun crystals resemble underground tundras, if there's no other heat source available. This is also true for some parts of the Central Erana Mountain Range chamber. The majority of the area is of a moderate warmth though and sustains a variety of different organisms. Also, as water is not too sparse here, there is quite a considerable diversity in mammals and even a handful of specialised bird species.

Type
Underground / Subterranean

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Comments

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Master Moondare
Laure Yates
2 Jul, 2022 11:25

Love the giant scorpions! Great article. :)

6 Jul, 2022 14:53

As stupid as it might sound, but what actually inspired me was the idea of giant scorpions in a swamp - something I remembered from this book from my childhood. The rest of the world grew around it, with the elven language (that has up til now but a stub of an article) being my first element of the world. Glad you like it - hope I can paint a picture of one of those critters one day, too. :)

My world is Samthô - a 'as realistic as possible' fantasy-world, that's still in its childhood stage.
A current addition to Samthô is my contribution to the rivers ant waterways challenge: Paunis