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The Alphatian Underside

by Jamuga Khan

In the year 2010, when the first ships were leaving the new Floating Continent Alphatia, the mage Snyder left for a first exploration too. Instead of penetrating the Sky Shield, he looked for the underside of the continent. He steered his small yacht through the thick fog surrounding the continent. It originated from the numerous rivers pouring their waters over the edge of the continent. The view was really spectacular as the water falls down several hundred feet before dissipating.

Nearly the complete underside Snyder explored is covered by an ever-lasting fog. Of course he found nothing special, only a seemingly endless expanse of empty rocky soil. But besides being a mage, Snyder was a real estate agent too, and he saw profit. The gravity pulled down to the Hollow World and not to the underside as he has hoped. So the task would be difficult, but he saw towers and cities hanging down, and he knew that Alphatia could do it.

Snyder returned to the New City in Zandoria and reported to the Imperial officials. With the same report he made his claim for the underside known to the government. The Grand Council was informed and made a quick decision as they were occupied with much more urgent matters. Snyder got the Underside in exchange for 30% of all profits going to the Crown, but he was made the owner only, and not a ruler. Otherwise the status would be that of Imperial Territories.

Happily Snyder began to made his plans. He hired some architects who started developing hanging buildings and left for the underside in his yacht, the "Building Land" for further explorations. What he found astonished and delighted him. The bottom of Alphatia was not flat but hilly. The terrain sloped down to the middle of the continent, where a "mountain" even reached out of the fog with an estimated depth of two miles. In the following years he constructed a tower, around which was built a little village on and in this mountain. The Alphatian Imperial Navy constructed a naval base as the admirals saw advantages in the position. But the real money Snyder made was the by construction of several towers which he sold and rented to wizards who wanted to live in such a unique building. While some wizards rent the towers so they can be undisturbed, or because they simply want to live there, others are carrying out research that is either too dangerous to be done in Alphatia proper, with the usual exception of Blackheart, or it is simply illegal. A startling rumour says that some of the towers were sold to liches and vampires who both found an especially appropriated biotope. Such undead creatures are rarer and less active than in other countries as their tremendous special and spellcasting abilities are countered by the Alphatian magic.

The standard design consists of a tower hanging down from the surface with at least one air-ship dock and some cellar rooms built into the solid rock for the unlikely case a tower threatens to fall down. One interesting feature most towers have are floors of glass on the lowest level, so that the inhabitants can watch the ground flowing by underneath them. Unfortunately it was no more than a trick as most towers are constructed in the foggy zones with a good sight only a few sleeps in the circle. Some towers are connected by tunnels but not too many.

As there is no king or queen, only the low Imperial taxes are collected and some companies have made the underside their main seat. The kingdoms are not too happy with that but so far neither the empress nor the Grand Council have denied the rights.

Snyder never thought about a name for the underside, but the little village is now known as "Down Under" and the naval base as "Point Below". As mentioned before both are constructed on the bottom of the central hanging mountain which has been called Mount Tylion. The village makes it living from housing the real estates company of Snyder, some other companies which has settled there because of the taxes, and the taverns for the nearby naval base. A little agriculture has started with magical-lit greenhouses built into the rock but it still depends on supply shipped in by air-ships. The technology of these greenhouses is exactly the same used for growing Zzongas the last two thousand years.

The Point Below Naval Base has two tasks. First it serves as a base with a good look down to the Hollow World. So the guards have a good chance to spot and intercept attacking Hiakrai riders which has happened during the last conflict with the Neathar or Heldannic Warbirds trying to sneak from below. Second it houses a part military, part civil research group which tries to examine how the water from the rivers dissipates into fog, condenses again and rain down on the continent. Another research project is to watch plants and animals conquering the underside, which inevitably happens even if nearly the complete underside is covered by a eternal and thick fog.

The animals on the underside must have the ability to fly or to take a strong grip to the surface. So most animals are lowlife like worms, further insects, stirges and bats. The greater species live in caves some immortals must have donated to them.

The first plants which have settled are some lichens and mosses some of them even phosphorescent. Such extra light is very much needed as the underside is covered by the shadow of Alphatia and the fog. So the houses of Point Below and Down Under are all magically lit by Continual Light spells. Both places are located on different sites with no direct connection between them. Some businessmen are thinking about a tunnel but the Navy prefers it that way. The life for those unlucky soldiers on the base is hard and the navy wants to control the access to the village as the only connection is via navy shuttles.

Snyder is just thinking about building a railcar device that goes through the continent to the underside, but many legal, financial and technical problems have to be solved prior to doing this. He is willing to build it because as the owner he can charge fares for riding it, but the government is reluctant to allow it for fear of weakening the flying continent. Besides, the navy has not yet decided whether they want a connection to Down Under, Point Below or no connection altogether. As long as the admirals will not have made their final decision it is unlikely the shaft will be built.