Home planet of the Xyllae, Xkoli'xaz, as they've named it, is a harsh, dangerous world, of which its people reflect. This planet, although certainly habitable for Earth-based life with approptriate effort, is difficult and viscous, due to some stark differences to Earth.
The DesertThe majority of the planet is covered by a vast expanse of sand, with rolling dunes as far as the eye can see. Much of the northern desert is empty and sandy, mostly flat with exception to the dunes. As latitude increases the desert becomes a hot steppe, which then gives way to the northern plains. The desert to the south is older and rockier, with large bodies of sandstone jutting out from the sand. This desert is rugged and no less treacherous than the desert to the north, as its sands hide sinkholes beneath their surface.
The desert is also rockiest near the Kla’gatøl , the great mountain range that stretches around the planet. These mountains are similar to Earth’s Himalayas, containing the tallest mountains on the planet, and some of the only places where snowfalls. These mountains mark the demarcating lines of two of the planets tectonic plates.
The NorthThe northern reaches of the planet are covered largely by a great savanna that stretches almost entirely around the sea. The only exception is on the side that is bordered by the northern mountains and part of the Kla’gatøl, which are lush, fertile marshlands and flood plains, mixed in with a few of the only rainforests on the planet. These fertile grounds are on the windward sides of the ranges, whereas the savanna and deserts face the leeward sides.
The SeasXkoli’xaz is essentially an inversion of Earth, in which 80% of the planet is land. Because of this, the majority of the water is contained in two large inland seas, with a few massive lakes able to be seen from space. The northern sea is surrounded by the savanna and feeds some of the planet’s few fertile regions. The sea to the south is surrounded by the desert and provides a cool, salty breeze to the southern desert.
In addition to the seas, three massive lakes in the desert serve as bastions of life in viscous wastes. Two of these are on the opposite sides of the Kla’gatøl, while the third sits in the center of the desert. The west lake sits snuggly up against the mountains and is the only passage to two small fjords surrounded by the mountains. The eastern lake surrounds the Vkla’tløga , a peninsula growing out of the mountains covered by a series of several rivers that flow from the mountains that are well known as the most fertile region on the planet. The central lake holds a small, lush island which holds Kiig’akz’a , the capital of both the planet’s most powerful nation and the Xyllae Imperial Confederacy.
ClimateXkoli’xaz’s lack of water means there is a noticeable lack of water vapor in the atmosphere, the only noteworthy difference to Earth’s. As a result, the air is much dryer and rain is much rarer, especially in the desert where it seldom rains. As a result, dry thunderstorms are a commonplace, especially in the sandstorms common to the desert. Because of these storms, fire is commonplace on the savanna of the north, so much so plant life needs wildfires to survive.
The lack of water also gives the planet extreme temperature differences between night and day. This is especially true for the desert, where the temperature rises to as high as averages of 40 to 50 degrees Celsius in the day and drop at night to below the freezing point of water. It is also because of the lack of water, that winds between the regions that are hot and cold being incredibly strong, which has the side effect of making strong storms common, while hurricanes are even rarer than on earth.
Flora & Fauna
Evolutionary HistoryThe evolutionary history of life on Xkoli’xaz traces the processes by which living and fossil organisms evolved, from the earliest emergence of life to the present. It is unclear exactly how old Xkoli’xaz is, but current thinking is that it is at least as old, if not older than Earth, roughly 4.6 billion years old. The earliest identified lifeforms, just as those on Earth, were simple, minuscule and relatively featureless. Biologists reason that all living organisms on Earth must share a single last universal ancestor because it would be virtually impossible that two or more separate lineages could have independently developed the many complex biochemical mechanisms common to all living organisms. However, in the case of Xkoli’xaz, a phenomenon has occurred were in at a point where life was still in a very simple stage of development, two separate lineages, both related to the same common ancestor, split into entirely separate trees of life. It is unclear how many there were, but only two have survived to the present. The standing hypothesis for why this has occurred is that the common ancestor to life lived in a single sea which eventually split into two separate bodies, allowing for both populations to evolve distinctly from each other, however, there is nothing to suggest when this occurred. While different lifeforms have evolved in both seas, many occupy the same niches within their respective regions.
FloraBeing much shallower than earth’s, kelp-like plants spread in massive forests across the floor; where such habitats exist only on earth’s coasts under certain temperature requirements, they are the dominant habitat on Xkoli’xaz and entirely cover the coasts of the northern sea, as well as a decent portion of the southern sea. Smaller kelp beds dot the ocean, especially on the tops of underwater mountains. Webs of parasitic algae spreading over the top of these forests is a common sight and a valuable resource for the animals that inhabit them.
The primary flora of the southern sea is a vine-like plant, which grows along the seaside to use as much water as possible, in a similar manner to kudzu. These plants grow all along the shallows and creep up seaside cliffs, even crushing them. A similar plant grows in the northern sea but is most prevalent on the sides of underwater mountains. With the limited space, many photosynthetic organisms have formed symbiotic relationships with filter-feeding animals that skim the surface of the water.
Being an arid planet, fires are common and as a result, many of the land-based plants are pyrophytes: that is, they are adapted to tolerate fire.