The Burning Archipelago is a collection of inexplicable and (until roughly a century ago) deserted bubble cities, tethered together by magic that somehow float unburnt within the Pact Worlds sun's flaming corona.
45% human, 16% efreeti, 7% android, 5% ysoki, 27% other Humans make up nearly half of the Burning Archipelago's population and hold most of the power, as corporate executives and high-ranking members of the Church of Sarenrae. The Fireside Foundry is home to androids who design heat-resistant bodies for new androids to inhabit the lower stations build beneath the Archipelago. Many kasathas have turned small bubbles in the fringes of the Archipelago into solarian monasteries. The lashuntas inhabiting the Burning Archipelago are psychically beset with a feeling of impending doom consuming the Archipelago. Unknown to them, this feeling is the result of telepathic warnings from the anassanois inhabiting the deep-sun city of Kahlannal. For this reason, the lashuntas in the Burning Archipelago are cynical, paranoid and isolationist, and have taken over an entire bubble-city, which they named Asanatown, for themselves. Efreet from the Plane of Fire are common visitors to the Burning Archipelago. Daily life in the Burning Archipelago is not very different from other cities, despite its strange location. Its residents are inured to the threat of instant death should the bubbles fail, but are less comfortable with other mundane problems, like crime or protests.
The Burning Archipelago is a collection of self-governing cities, each with its own law and police. Each city sends an elected representative to the Archipelago Senate, which only has jurisdiction on issues affecting the entire Archipelago (like maintaining the peace between bubbles or preventing residents from interfering with the bubbles' technology) and very little authority in the affairs of each individual bubble; when the Senate does intervene, it inevitably has to go through significant bureaucracy, infighting and political grandstanding. Many large guilds and organisations handle their own affairs, and can freely speak at senate meetings. Collectively, the Burning Archipelago is a self-governing Pact Worlds protectorate, with the right to send non-voting representatives to the Pact Council on Absalom Station.
The Burning Archipelago was discovered in 223 AG by Sarenite scholars orbiting and observing the sun. Shortly after its discovery, the Sarenite priestess Imryll Novaheart had a vision of walking through its streets and knew that Sarenrae was calling her there. She came to Sunrise Station and managed to convince some of the crew to travel to the Burning Archipelago according to Sarenrae's will. As their ship started to fail due to the extreme heat and gravity, the tunnel into the Burning Archipelago suddenly opened, allowing them to pass into Dawnshore safely. Sister Novaheart discovered and named the Radiant Cathedral in her "Speech Under the Prominence". As the speech was broadcast to the Pact Worlds, it triggered a mass migration to the Burning Archipelago. Although it's still not known who, or what, originally built the cities or why they were abandoned, the bubble cities quickly became the Church of Sarenrae's most sacred settlement.
The Burning Archipelago consists of bubbles with cities or large platforms suspended inside. Unknown mechanisms, likely magical, keep the bubbles habitable and shield them from the sun's radiation and blinding brightness. When a starship approaches the appropriate area of the sun, a narrow tunnel opens an entrance to the Burning Archipelago, specifically to the Dawnshore Spaceport; the outer end of the tunnel is guarded by the Sunrise Station, which is garrisoned by the Sarenite Dawn Patrol, who checks whether visitors have legitimate business in the Burning Archipelago or not, and keeps watch on the suspicious. Each of the Burning Archipelago's bubbles has its own unique flavor. Cities include the heavily religious central bubble of Dawnshore, containing the Radiant Cathedral of Sarenrae, as well as the more corporate Fireside or scientifically-focused Stellacuna. The bubbles are connected to each other and kept in a static formation by energy tethers. At the ends of each tether are magical membranes which all vessels must go through if they want to enter or exit the bubble. Linecrawler ferries hug the tethers, while those in a hurry can charter sunskimmers, vehicles built to harness solar winds.