Haifatneh Sea and Basin, The (hai.'fat.nɛ)
"Captain?" "Hmm?" Farsam replied, his trance suddenly broken. "Sorry, you were staring off again, in that same direction. The crew are starting to wonder, uhh... Can I ask..." The fresh-faced junior navigator Haftiz hesitated, not confident that it was befitting of his rank to inquire into the workings of his captain's mind. The captain had spent every late afternoon staring off to the north, however, sometimes for an hour or longer. Captain Farsam considered resuming his work without another word, but instead he elected to explain himself. "I suppose I shouldn't worry the crew, then, should I?" He paused for a moment. "Every day we're out here, my mind goes back to Andaen. Not because I miss it, no. But back at the harbor, where those sons of merchant princes fatten themselves, lounging in the shade and watching the sunset, I wonder whether they give any thought to what we do out here." Farsam looked back out over the water. Haftiz stood beside him and turned his gaze in the same direction, hoping to gain any insight into his captain's thoughts whatsoever. When this failed, he turned back to the captain, about to speak up again, but the captain cut him off. "They idle away there, admiring how the setting sun paints the azure canvas, chattering about their comfortable lives. But do you think they ever realize that lying underneath this azure canvas is a great sepulcher?" Haftiz's face wrinkled in confusion for a moment, then soured with visible discomfort. The captain continued regardless. "Do they realize that keeping that canvas pristine and empty are crews like ours? That they are spared from seeing us carry out our bloody work? That they are spared from hearing the cries of men fearing death? That they are spared from knowing that underneath the azure canvas lie mass burials entombed in sunken galleys?" Haftiz turned away from both his captain and the waves, for as he listened, he began wondering whether the faint lines he saw on the canvas were in fact the outline of a long-lost vessel beneath the surface.The Haifatneh ("where the sun rests") is a vast inland sea, and the surrounding Haifatneh Basin is the most recent cradle of settled civilization in the history of the Continent. As opposed to the ancient kingdoms of Takhet and Au-na-Lai which emerged in river valleys, Haifatnehti civilization developed when migrant tribes from Far Takhet brought their desert crops and livestock with them, then began supplementing their food and other resources with the bounty of the sea. As these tribes designed better rafts and became bolder about leaving the shore for longer periods, they began to spread rapidly throughout the entirety of the Haifatneh Basin. With this, the Haifatneh Sea would grow to be one of the most geopolitically critical locales across the Continent.- Excerpted from the historical saga The Breaking of
the Pirates of the Azure Sea by Nailah in-Milja
Most of the Sea lies between -30 and -50 degrees latitude, with a bay protuding in the northeast towards the entrance to Saukkan Ghat (the Saukkan Valley). The climate of the Haifatnehti Basin is mostly semi-arid but relatively mild compared to the deserts of inner Takhet to the northwest and War-al-Ashad to the east, with long, warm-hot summers and mild, wet, foggy winters. Most of the land at -40 degrees and northward featuring a hot summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa) and most land to the south of that having a warm summer Mediterranean climate (Cfb). In the mountain ranges overlooking the Haifatneh on its southern and eastern coasts, temperature and humidity are more variable, with a Mediterranean-influenced hot or warm summer climate (Dsa and Dsb) climates being more common. Most of the Basin only experiences snow or frost for fewer than ten days out of the year. The Sea is fed by a number of rivers, mainly from the Tahwame Bounds to the south and Saukkan Ghat to the northeast; the Andaen Strait to the north is its outlet into the vast northern ocean. On the Sea's western flank is the Agratekt Isthmus, a coastal plain dried out by a cold current running up the Continent's west coast. Agratekt once featured a milder climate before the desertification of the Isthmus and of Vast Takhet to the north; this accounts for the disparity between the number and scale of ruins scattered across Agratekt and the relatively meager lives of the pastoral nomads living there now.
Aside from the relatively dry Agratekt Isthmus, much of the Haifatneh Basin hosts evergreen shrubland or chapparal biomes, best known for tall, robust pine trees that readily tolerate summer droughts. These zones have long supplied Haifatnehti polities (and, briefly, the Reborn Theocracy) with timber for their navies, such that engagements between forces of galleys consisted the primary means of carrying out warfare during the late Ancient Era and throughout the Grim Era. Olive and fig trees are also endemic to the Basin, and date palms have been successfully introduced to its northern reaches from coastal Takhet, making the Basin a center for diversified subsistence agriculture and cash crops alike. Though less significant on a macro scale, the biodiversity of herbs and spices growing in the Haifatneh Basin has resulted in court chefs and gourmands nicknaming the Haifatneh the Pungent Sea or the Sea of Savories. Mint, sage, thyme, and tarragon all grow in abundance there, and sumaq, a.k.a. the tanner's berry, is unique to the Basin and has practical as well as culinary uses. Further, in times before documented history, garlic and onions were introduced to the Basin by nomads from the Continent's inland steppes.
Once used mainly for tanning hides, sumaq's high tanning content and rich color made it an appealing culinary additive as well. (Image credit: Shutterstock.) The Basin is reasonably well suited to the production of alcoholic drinks as well, with the predictable seasonal climate and few days of winter frost readily accommodating wheat for ale and grapes for wine. Indeed, the ale brewed by the Basin's first settlers, though crude, was a practical alternative drink during water-scarce summers. The marine flora and fauna of the Haifatneh Sea are rather diverse, though the Haifatneh is second to the tropical Great Lai Bay in overall bioproductivity. Fish are reasonably abundant there, with tuna being the most significant for feeding the region's human inhabitants. The most economically important species, however, are the sea snails used for vibrant red and purple dyes (most famously Haifatnehti Burgundy), the oysters spread throughout the Sea, and the mussels settled in the channels and mouths of the rivers feeding into it. These oysters and mussels are not merely food sources but yield pearls and other nacre products that are exported throughout the Continent.
Sumac by Unknown