The Great Nirkana.

It’s cities cling to the course of the river, providing much needed life and magical power to sustain its people. Stretching over a dozen miles away from the riverbanks are fertile land, the waters abundant bounty giving life to the lush banks of the Nirkana, catering for every physical need and nurturing all that call it home.
 
The blessed Nirkana is an abundant source of life, providing a thriving habitat for countless creatures, enriching the soil and providing water to both humanoids and animals alike.
  There are countless rivers and waterbodies throughout Evalaw that could be heralded as important or sacred to one civilisation or another that call their banks home. But none can arguably be more integral to the very survival of the life that has grown up around them than the Great Nirkana, a rather peculiar river that runs throughout the vast Dsja'taresh, the seemingly endless subterranean desert found deep in the bowels of the world. Carving it’s course through the landscape, the great river Nirkana runs the length of the Dsja'taresh. Tumbling forth from the Dsja'taresh highlands, this dark ribbon in the midst of the sweltering desert snakes its way across the land, cutting deep channels in cliffs as it thunders toward the Boiling Abyss, the vast underocean to the south. Here the Nirkana begins to fan out into an immense spread of waterways, islands, lakes and swamps before joining the sea.  
Renowned for its magically infused waters, they act as the very lifeblood to the settlements that cling to its course, to sustain the people and animals that call it home. Bringing to life the lush valley's and river banks within an otherwise lifeless desert. For without the great Nirkana, the Dsja'taresh would be nothing more than a barren wasteland. Buried beneath the world, a lifeless tomb for the hollow sun to slowly fade away in solitude. The diminishing light of this dying celestial body ebbs and fades during the day. This cavern has its own irregular day and night cycles of searing brightness and chilling cold darkness as the dunes calm. The Nirkana provides refuge and safety from the irregular behaviour of the hollow sun, allowing many of the creatures that have formed and flourished here to adapt to the severe environment. Cults have flourished among the river cities that venerate and worship the river, epitomising it as a deity and veiwing themselves as it's guardians.
by Jonas De Ro.jpg
  Despite the existence of this tranquil Oasis amongst the bleak unforgiving sands, and the rich tapestry of life it sustains. Like much of Evalaw's Underworld, the Nirkana and its tributaries can be a treacherous place, wrought with countless danger and perils that have led many Ill prepared explorers to a less than savoury end. Either by the rivers unseen natural hazards or running afoul to the beasts that lurk along its waters. Many will also find the locals to be less than hospitable to outlanders the further down the Nirkana one dares to venture.  
It's puzzling to conceive how clouds and weather patterns have somehow managed develop deep in this subterranean microclimate unique to the Dsja'taresh; even more perplexing is how life has managed to thrive among the verdant banks of the Nirkana river whose course we have travelled down for perhaps a fortnight? Furthermore the very nature of the impossible celestial body that looms ominously above the remarcable vaulted cavern ceiling is intriguing. Its bleak crimson glow casts light on everything below growing ever brighter before fading away into nothingness… While many would gaze upon such a sight and behold as a tale of whimsy or the ramblings of a madman lost in the twisting caverns below the world. Here I am, gazing upon the impossible, the fantastical in awe…
Phyraxgian vector

A Land of the Gods and Magic.

The Nirkana is more than just a mere river, this is the very blood of our land. This is the a blessing from the Gods themselves.
  Water is revered as a precious commodity and mystical source of life in most subterranean societies where pure water can be scarce if non-existent. As a result, pristine waters imbued with magical characteristics that allow life to exist in what would otherwise be a cruel and desolate wasteland are understandably considered holy and revered. The people who inhabit the Nirkana have come to see themselves as protectors of this enchanted river, demonstrating their love of the river and dedication to it through the construction of stone monuments, monolithic sculptures, and places of worship. Many of them are dedicated to Osirah, the Goddess of Magic who has a close relationship with these hallowed waters. Her magic is thought to protect the Nirkana's people from the inhospitable Desert. Her power is believed to shield the Nirkana's inhabitants from the Desert, which perpetually gnaws away at the fertile plains along the river's banks. It represents the eternal struggle, waged for centuries between Osirah Goddess of the Nirkana and Sek-habti, Goddess of the Deserts.  
Praise be to Osirah, mistress of the blessed rivers. Praise be to Sek-habti, tyrant of the desiccated sands. We ask your forgiveness lest you draw the ire of Nekharah, queen of life and death.
  Denizens of the river generally believe it to be a delicate balance in appeasing both Osirah and Sek-habti. Being careful not to favour one over the other lest they incur their wraith. Sandstorms, scourging winds, floods, droughts or plagues that can destroy crops or worse are but a few act of vengeance these two deities have been known to reign down on those who do not show them to proper respect. Such Worship is prolific amongst the isolated Ophidian communities of the Kmethekt Oasis and throughout the Kingdom of Phyraxgia where cults to these antediluvian deities remain rife. Intricate temple complexes are constructed in veneration to their chosen gods, where the people know they are as important to the Gods as the river and the land are.   To the northern reaches of the Nirkana, while the vast majority of the denizens of Zhennu'janai have long been indoctrinated into the Temple of the Seven Signs, remnants of the old cults to the Osirah and Sek-habti still exists in pockets. However in their customs these two beings are not gods, but powerful Djins. Two bitter rivals set into a constant state of conflict with one another and are the reason why the Dsja'taresh is filled with so much magic and impossible phenomena throughout; Why the river runs, weather and clouds exists and that a celestial body exists in its subterranean depths. That both these beings have for centuries being vying to outdo the other, in a contest that is beyond the understanding of mortals. These ancient superstitions still drive the need to make offerings to shrines to appease the belligerent beings by all echelons of scoiety. While tolerated, a close eye is vigilantly kept on the Cults by members of The Templar Order should this heresy ever pose a threat.  

Geography.

The Nirkana is a rich tapestry of plant life and untamed steaming forests and wide open plains on its banks. Fed by numerous waterway that reach out from riverbeds into savannas and plains. It is a haven from the merciless desert, which gnaws at these fertile lands, creating a home for innumerable wildlife, including many species of birds, fish, and amphibians that have come to call its rich dark waters home. Vast swaths of savanna and tall grasses stretch outward from the Valley and Delta. Numerous herd animals and birds graze here, providing ideal hunting grounds for predators. Such beautiful vistas and an abundance of plants and food attracted many more monstrous creatures lurking behind its picturesque surface. The delta's marshes, bogs, and dense jungles are home to enormous carnivorous reptiles, unusual predatory felines, vicious crocodilian behemoths, and virulent cobra-headed hydras.  
The exactly length of the Nirkana is something that has never been accurately measured. It is approximated that the stretch between the Dsja'taresh Highlands to the coasts of the Nirkana Delta in the south stretches 4,800 miles. However, no expedition has ever been able to correctly confirm this approximation, many attempts have fallen a foul or disappeared entirely. Then there are the Phyraxgias of the Nirkana delta whom are not known to be the most forthcoming with such information or accommodating to outsiders. The Rivers source is believed to originate from the myriad of subterranean lakes and rivers found in The Caverns of Ameranth. Springs drawn up through the shimmering depths, or the geysers from The Volcanic Basin deep below Ameranth. Such waters are pure, richly imbued with residual magical energy that permeate from the crystalline chambers and channels these springs are pushed up from.
 
During the winter seasons on the surface, the underworld becomes wetter, it's oceans and enormous river galleries rise dramatically increase as torrents of water flood into the world below. The Nirkana is no exception to this. The Southern regions of the Nirkana delta is the wettest and most humid amongst the regions of the river, during this winter season the riverbanks begin to overflow, flooding the fields and nourishing them with silt. These season of floods last for several months, renewing the land and fertilising the farms.
Phyraxgian vector

Table of Contents

A Land Of The Gods And Magic.
River of the Dead.
Geography.
Ecology
Trade And Transportation.
Political Landscape
The Great Nirkana Bestiary.
Further Reading.
   
The Great Nirkana
Type
River
Location under
Related Ethnicities

River of the Dead.

The river plays an important role in the final stage of Phyraxgian life.
  The relationship between Phyraxgian religious funerary practices and the Nirkana are closely intertwine. It is common for one to see funerary barges making their way up and down the Delta, with white robed necromancers and priests of the mortuary cult on board. This voyage marks the final journey for the bodies on board, as they make the journey toward the Necropolis of Nekharah, where their bodies will be embalmed and prepared to rest peacefully in the afterlife, and not suffer the virulent curse of unlife that plagues the dead of the river kingdom.  
…The name of the Goddess Nekharah and the river Nirkana can be forgiven by outsiders of these lands to be misconstrued. In Phyraxgian Culture, Nekharah possesses the dichotomy of life and death, and therefore associated with the rivers role in that circle. She is by no means the deity of the river…
— Magister Kifaaya Lhalabar - Religious practices of The Sunless Realms Vol.2.
 

Trade and Transportation.

Even the best of times, traversing the Nirkana can be challenging. Most people warn against traveling through the verdant Nirkana valley's hinterlands, let alone crossing the harsh dunes beyond. Due to its extreme environmental conditions and the deadly creatures that live there, most of the desert remains inaccessible despite its vast size. Because many regions of the desert are inaccessible, settlements and tribes have developed various means for crossing the dunes and avoiding a gruesome fate beneath the hollow sun. Most visitors usually travel the Nirkana by water, which is the most common and safest mode of transportation. Throughout the year, a large number of boats and barges transport freight, passengers, and livestock up and down the river's length. Any significant settlement may be reached by water. Many traders have been known to board boats that travel between the city state of Zhennu'janai and the provincial capital of the Kingdom of Phyraxgia, Veilnakhet. The river passage avoids the dangers of desert raiders, the scourge of undead, and native wildlife attacks that afflict land routes. The river, however, is not without its own hazards; on rare occasions, enormous aquatic serpents or worse have been known to ambush unsuspecting vessels and drag them beneath the waters...   Trade relations have always played an important aspect of life along the river, seeing countless cargo barges, sand ships and merchant caravans travelling between the cities and among the tribes that call it home. Excess goods are exported up and down the Nirkana to other regions of river and further afield. Linen, grain, jewellery, dyes, spices perfumes and spell scrolls crafted in the settlements along the Nirkana can be found throughout underworld and are much sought after. The bulk of these high quality imports and exports are moved by trade caravans that brave the deserts and the boats and barges that frequently ply the length and breadth of the river day and night all year round, operating as a natural highway for its denizens.  

Political landscape.

Understanding how a civilisation thrives requires understanding how it relates to its water sources, which is especially important for a civilization with roots in the desert. One is vulnerable without a protected supply, and it is clear that those who control the water have power. This is undeniably a manifest symbol of power for a leader, controlling the source of the water in the desert is symbolic of authority. The River is contested by two clear powers, the city-state of Zhennu'janai in the Dsja'taresh Highlands in the north and the Kingdom of Phyraxgia in the Nirkana delta to the far south, both commanding integral strategic water sources.

The Dsja'taresh Highlands.

The Dsja'taresh Highlands encircle the northern Dsja'taresh Desert, and its cliffs and craggy ranges from the majority of the enormous northern cavern walls. The Highlands are a massive network of arid broad shelves and plateaus built amid almost 200 miles of cavern wall that descends toward The Dsja'taresh Desert. Waters flow from the Ameranth areas through a network of canyons and gorges that carve the Nirkana's route through the Highlands. Numerous waterfalls tumble and crash their journey down the highlands' rugged rock walls.   Here the great waterfalls that plummet down the Highlands, eventually pool in one place, this area over the centuries has formed into a series of Wadis in the foothill and valleys of the highlands, swelling during the rainy seasons when the Nirkana banks overspill and pool. The greatest of these is known as the Mhakesha Oasis, one of three large water bodies the Nirkana that formed along the course of the river.
by Legend of Zelda; Breath of the Wild

Mhakesha's Pride.

Characterised by its fertile grasslands, plentiful water and relatively docile climate. The savannah plains of Mhakesha Pride are nestled in the valley to the west of the Mhakesha Oasis is the closest region in the north to resemble a welcoming home to many species of animal and plant life. Surrounded on the east by the main body of the river which flows and wends from the north through the vast jungle of the Mhakesha Oasis into the south.   The rivers waters have allowed a this remarkable plethora of life unique to the Dsja'taresh to flourish, creating a diverse ecosystem that supports life and can sustain communities. While Zhennu'janai holds some sway over the territory, this haven has fuelled the ambitions of numerous Dravarii clans, Warlords, and outlaws. Each looking for some way out of the desert's hard circumstances and to claim a piece of the pride for their own purpose.   [placeholder]

The Scourge Lands.

A large and barren waste of dry parched land, great crevasses and canyons break through the landscape. Colossal rock formations littler the landscape, offering little shade and poor vegetation throughout, what little water exists is scare. Much of the Scourge lands features are the result of its proximity directly beneath the Hollow Sun, where the land is literally scorched under the intensity of the suns gaze. Countless bones a gargantuan creatures little it's landscape, some speculating it to be where the great sand Wyrms migrate to at the end of their livecycle. What creatures call this locale home have had to uniquely adapt to try and take advantage of its limited resources, many becoming nocturnal and burrowing deep breath the surface, waiting for the Hollow Sun to wane and fade for the day before emerging. It is a region seldomly consider travelling across let alone settling in. Only the hardy Hives of the Seck have managed to eke out an existence here. Their hives marked by the massive spires they construct throughout the scourge lands.

The Kmethekt Oasis.

Cloistered at the heart of the rivers course, it has been speculated that the great Kmethekt Oasis is the remnant of some primeval jungle, a surviving glimpse into Evalaws forgotten primordial past. Home to the elisive Ophidians, who skulk in the ruins of ancient cities and temples hidden throughout the jungle. It's steaming pools and lakes of allowed countless strange and exotic species of to thrive and survive. While the Kmethekt would otherwise be considered safe from the terrors of the scourging deserts sands by many travellers, such idyllic vistas and abundance of vegetation and food also attracted far more monstrous creatures lurking beneath its picturesque surface. Gargantuan carnivorous reptiles, strange predatory felines, ferocious crocodilian behemoths and virulent cobra headed hydras are known to lurk deep in the swamps, bogs and dense jungles of the Kmethekt Oasis. Occasionally leaving to hunt further afield into the Nirkana Delta and Mhakesha's Pride.  

The Nirkana Delta - Phyraxgia.

Here the Nirkana begins to fan out into vast network of canals, islands, lakes, and marshes before joining the boiling abyss beyond. The Delta, the agricultural heartland and foundation of the enigmatic Kingdom of Phyraxgia that dominates its banks, is the name given to this area in the south. Narrow streams pass past muddy banks, thickets of papyrus, reeds, and lotus blooms, reshaping an otherwise bleak environment. This soil is known to Phyraxgians as Nehq'oridi, which is said to be a Veilnakarii term meaning "life giver."
... Phyraxgia is a tale of two lands, the river valley and the desert, life and death, order and disorder...
Kingdom.Under.Fire.II.full.172184.jpg
by Kingdom Under Fire II

The Asanibis

The Asanibis, or red land as it is informally translated by the inhabitants of the river kingdom, is a mainly featureless dry and barren desert that seems to go on forever with no shade, water, or protection. Windswept dunes and scouring, ever shifting sands, and continuously changing topography make for a harsh infinite wasteland. Those who are foolish enough to brave them in search of treasure will die a horrible death. Half-buried remnants of long-forgotten tombs, large necropolises, and many outcrops dot the great open desert, where one can scarcely move without uncovering some antique statue or sculpture. These echoes of the past, monuments vaster and grander than anything else seen in Evalaw, remained tantalisingly preserved beneath the sands.
   
by Chris Rahn
 

The Great Nirkana Bestiary

 

Further Reading.

Phyraxgian vector

Comments

Please Login in order to comment!
19 May, 2022 23:27

Super good-looking article! The Egyptian influences are very clear, but the fantasy elements still make the article feel fresh ^^

Check out my Summercamp Pladge and follow my progress here!
Grandmaster ChroniclesofEvalaw
Olarae & Astaroth Arcaine
27 May, 2022 15:52

Thank you kindly! Yes, the Egyptian elements to our Phyraxgians do shine through the strongest. There are a variety of other cultures along the river we haven't quite fleshed out enough yet, but hopefully we'll get the chance during Summer Camp :).

Dare you travel the sacred waters of the The Great Nirkana.? Our entry for the River Challenge. Tell us what you think!   Please check out our project Chronicles of Evalaw or come chat with us on our Discord Server!
27 May, 2022 18:28

A Great article full of good information and history, etc. I also like the pics used. All in all a well deserved Like/Fave from me.   Aemon

Grandmaster ChroniclesofEvalaw
Olarae & Astaroth Arcaine
28 May, 2022 11:10

Thank you kindly! Really pleased to hear you enjoyed it. I think the pictures got the right vibe ^_^

Dare you travel the sacred waters of the The Great Nirkana.? Our entry for the River Challenge. Tell us what you think!   Please check out our project Chronicles of Evalaw or come chat with us on our Discord Server!
27 May, 2022 20:24

This was so rich and atmospheric! There were a few grammatical mistakes throughout—very minor things that you could probably find and fix by just reading through again—but otherwise it's very polished and well put together! My favorite parts were probably reading about the religious/mythological influences, and the deities that are worshiped in relation to the river.

Grandmaster ChroniclesofEvalaw
Olarae & Astaroth Arcaine
28 May, 2022 10:24

That you for your feedback, I'll give it a read through and get those corrected! I think I was probably just blind to them as I was writing! Really pleased to hear you enjoyed the mythological influences, was really an important part I was trying to get across, so I'm glad I didn't over do it too much! :)

Dare you travel the sacred waters of the The Great Nirkana.? Our entry for the River Challenge. Tell us what you think!   Please check out our project Chronicles of Evalaw or come chat with us on our Discord Server!
Starfarertheta
Starfarer Theta
28 May, 2022 14:05

Great article! If I read this right, the Hollow Sun shines with a red light? When this sun is shining the cavern is lit as if in twilight? The imagery for that is really cool if I read that right. :)

Grandmaster ChroniclesofEvalaw
Olarae & Astaroth Arcaine
28 May, 2022 14:13

Yes, you're absolutely right! It's quite a eerie red light, so would be a Twilight, or early Dawn kind of light at it's brightest I would suppose. It's been a really odd concept to try and hash out. But I'm really pleased it's evoked the right kind of imagery I was aiming for! :)

Dare you travel the sacred waters of the The Great Nirkana.? Our entry for the River Challenge. Tell us what you think!   Please check out our project Chronicles of Evalaw or come chat with us on our Discord Server!
2 Jun, 2022 14:20

A desert river is fun :) Makes sense it came to have a large religious significance.

Grandmaster ChroniclesofEvalaw
Olarae & Astaroth Arcaine
2 Jun, 2022 18:10

Thank you! Yeah, just felt the religious significance was a must- though it's now caused more questions for different cultures I currently have in development. More work, woot woot! xD

Dare you travel the sacred waters of the The Great Nirkana.? Our entry for the River Challenge. Tell us what you think!   Please check out our project Chronicles of Evalaw or come chat with us on our Discord Server!