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Drakhaba al Kaloon

by John Walter Biles

I have an unfinished project to develop part of Skothar into a Nausicaa-inspired area. I'm going to post pieces of it on here for feedback in hope it'll motivate me to eventually finish it.

This region is set east of Minaea along the southern coast of Skothar and up into the mountains north of Tanagoro lands.

Drakhaba al Kaloon (The Sea of Corruption)


In the time of the Third Thonian Republic, this land was known as Yuila al Kaloon, the Sea of Grass. It formed the southern boundary of the various Thonian empires over the centuries, an ocean of hot and dry grassland inhabited by powerful nomad tribes who checked the further expansion of the Thonians south. The Deres tribes, a mixture of the Neathar of what was then northern (instead of western) Skothar, and the Tanagoro peoples of the south, were horse nomads, much like the modern Jennites.

The first Thonian empire foundered in the Yuila al Kaloon, and it was a wave of incursions from the Deres which led to the short lived second Thonian empire, which was really a short-lived feudal state ruled over by a Deres elite. Many a Tanagoro would-be empire builder found his Waterloo there as well. For untold centuries, they successfully held off pressure from both sides. Until the men of Blackmoor came.

Around 3900 BC, the men of Blackmoor conclusively crushed the Skandaharians of eastern (now northern) Skothar who had successfully prevented the third Thonian 'republic' from developing its naval power, and began their first tentative voyages down the coast. They traded with the Deres and with the Tanagoro to the south.

By 3700 BC, the men of Blackmoor had become the tail that wagged the Thonian dog. They had trading stations along both of the coasts of the Yuila al Kaloon, and their explorers had mapped it quite well. And then they found gold in the interior, and more importantly, discovered that 'Utherite', the strange black rock which underlay most of the province of Blackmoor, underlay a vast region of the Sea of Corruption as well.

The result was the Black Rock Wars. For a hundred years, the Blackmoorians gradually drove the Deres from their lands, killing some, enslaving others, and driving many south into Tangor, or into the far west (now south) of the Yuila al Kaloon, where there was little utherite or gold. In part, the climate saved them, for the men of Blackmoor did not flourish in this land, which was far too hot and riddled with strange diseases that only smote them.

But by 3600 BC, the Blackmoorians were firmly entrenched in the central and eastern (now northern) regions. They built cities and riddled the land with strip mines. The many mining companies contracted to buy slaves in the Tanagoro lands, and the slave trade began the work of causing Tanagoro society to disintegrate. Dwarves settled in the eastern (now northern mountains) in large numbers, and all over the rest of the colony, for there was much work for them to do.

By 3000 BC, much of Yuila al Kaloon had been turned into a wasteland of sterile lakes (strip mines filled by water), polluted rivers, and withered, strangely altered grass. But the mining continued, and the slave-owners, now largely independent of Blackmoor, continued to flourish and become wealthy from the minerals and utherite. Yet, many could see the writing on the wall. Much of the land was now uninhabitable, and the areas easily mined with the methods available to them were dwindling.

It was around 3060 BC that the government of Kaloonland began the 'Land Reclamation Project'. This was an effort to develop ways to render the land habitable, so that it could be used for farming once the mines finally all gave out. In the cooler northern (now western) regions, some progress was made in cleansing the waters and developing irrigated farms. In the very heart of the Yuila al Kaloon, a group of magitechnicians began experimenting with life forms which would consume polluted soil and water and convert it to fertile soil.

One year before the Great Rain of Fire, it was announced that a ten year project by these technicians was proving to be a great success. While the process of cleansing would be slow, a large swathe of land could be purified by the time the mines ran out, if currently projected figures proved accurate. Weeks before the Great Rain of Fire, the go-ahead was given to begin the project on a large scale in the centre of the region. Exactly one week before the Great Rain of Fire, the seeding of a 400 square mile region was complete, and the supplies had been put in place to extend the project.

And then civilisation died screaming. The Great Rain of Fire was the result of a chain reaction involving the igniting of most of the deposits of utherite on the planet. The basic problem was that the Blackmoorian civilisation had developed powerful 'reactors', which converted utherite into magical energy, which could then be used to power various devices which blended alien technology and mortal magic. Utherite itself is normally quite stable.

However, under certain conditions, it could create a chain reaction like that which modern world scientists feared would result in our world if atomic bombs were detonated. Reactors had blown before without causing disasters, but the one in Blackmoor City itself was the largest of its kind, and Blackmoor City had six more huge ones. The result was a chain reaction strong enough to ignite the entire layer of utherite that lay under most of the Kingdom of Blackmoor.

And when that went up, it sent a wave of magical energy across the entire planet, energy trapped by the skyshield and redirected down onto the planet, the Great Rain of Fire. Worst of all for the people of the Yuila al Kaloon, the Great Rain of Fire ignited all of the utherite remaining in their lands. The major cities, built over undiscovered deep strata of utherite, were blown sky high within two days of the beginning of the Great Rain of Fire. The minor cities perished in explosions, steppe fires, and fire from heaven. The survivors found that many of their devices no longer worked because every reactor had become a crater, although stored energy survived.

Further disasters scourged the land in the years to come. The shifting of the axis caused disastrous storms and freak weather for decades in the wake of the Great Rain of Fire, and many creatures were strangely mutated by the Great Rain and by the massive detonation of utherite. Even more of the land became polluted waste; it was at this time that the Keres changed their name to 'Waros', which means survivors in their tongue, and dubbed the land that had once been theirs as 'Drakhaba al Kaloon', the Sea of Corruption.

The Waros were few in number, and the after effects of the Great Rain made them even fewer. But slowly they began to flourish. Most of them had abandoned their nomadic ways under pressure from the Blackmoorians, and their coastal region, which was now on the southern side of Drakhaba al Kaloon, became a land of stubborn farmers and tough warriors. The boldest of them returned to the way of the horse and moved into the interior, learning how to survive among the wastes.

It was they who brought back the news of the 'Virik al Rigoon', the 'Forest of Fungus', which was gradually growing in the heart of the Drakhaba al Kaloon. It was a strangely pale land of huge intertwined 'fungal' growths and insects which dwelt within it, led and guarded by the powerful 'Rigoon al Asagir', the 'Wise Ones of the Forest', huge armoured insects the size of a small village. The forest was filled with a strange miasma which would slay the unwary and careless. The explorers came to call themselves 'Sebgir', or 'Daring Ones', and learned how to survive briefly in the forest, and fairly well among the devastated lands, which in some places were beginning to heal, although many remained dangerous.

Over the centuries, the Waros farmers, and the Sebgir nomads split apart, and began to war with each other. The Waros built a series of short-lived empires which repeatedly crumbled into city states, sometimes falling prey to conquest by Sebgir tribes. They traded by sea with the Tanagoro, Jennites, and the tribes of what is now Minaea.

This might have continued forever, except for two things. First, the Sebgir became concerned when it finally sank in that the Virik al Rigoon was growing ever so slowly, consuming more and more of their land. Secondly, the forces of the Sakhalian empire pushed around the northern and southern ends of the Virik al Rigoon and began to conquer their lands.

The Sakhalians were descended from the humans and dwarves who had lived on the eastern (now northern) coast of the Drakhaba al Kaloon. The dwarves had largely died out, but the survivors were a tough and sturdy stock much like the ones altered by Kagyar on Brun. The humans had become tougher as well, nearly immune to disease. Most were descended from the bands of slaves who had survived the disaster, with a small intermixture of Blackmoorians. Led by the most recently enslaved, who still possessed the low tech survival skills of their ancestors, they had slowly and painfully dragged their way up from the stone age to the Iron Age by 1000 BC, then began to explore the ruins beneath their cities and scattered across the plains south of them.

By 500 BC, the Sakhalin Empire had arisen. It combined Iron Age technology, skilful magic, and salvaged Blackmoorian magitech in its arsenal. They found undetonated Utherite deposits in the mountains, which had been shielded from the global chain reaction by the bulk of normal rock above them. These deposits were small, but enough for them to turn their capital, Sakhalin, into a wonder of the world. Their forces now swept across the rest of the Drakhaba al Kaloon, conquering it.

They integrated the lore of the Sebgir into their arsenal, and swept down, conquering the Waros farmers in a series of fierce wars. Their armies pushed into Tanagoro and the Jennite lands as well, and by 350 BC, they had become a mighty empire. They began to exploit the creatures of the Virik al Rigoon for their own benefit, especially the Rigoon al Asagir, whose shells could be used to make nearly indestructible armour and weapons.

It was in 333 BC, in the reign of Tekhmet the Magnificent (called by later times, Tekhmet the Fool), that the time of Sakhalin greatness came to an end. Tekhmet saw the Virik al Rigoon as an abomination, and its continued growth as a direct insult to himself. Was he not the ruler of the greatest empire of the world? (Rumours of Alphatia that drifted in from the Jennites were ignored.) Had he not forced the God King of Eryos in Tangor to submit? Had not the Jennites been forced to kneel? And yet this forest deadly to man sat in the heart of his empire, nibbling away at it.

And so, egged on by the priests of Ixion, he decided to burn it. On the first of Fyrmont, his armies attacked the forest. And the forest struck back in the first known example of what is now known as 'the Daikasho', the 'fatal onslaught'. Thousands of Rigoon al Asagir swept out of the forest, attacking and destroying much of his forces. They swept east and north across the thinly populated regions between the Virik al Ragoon and the heartland of the empire beyond the mountains. None reached the mountains; his armies managed to slay many, and others seemed to die once they went too far from the forest. Still, they buried many of the old cities which had been resettled by the Sakhalin, and spores fell from their bodies. From those spores grew fresh forest, and the Virik al Ragoon swelled to several times its former size.

The Sakhalin empire collapsed. The Sebgir revolted in alliance with the Waros and drove them from the west and south. The dwarves revolted, cutting off the Utherite supplies, and the Blackmoorian devices of Sakhalin failed. Sakhalin broke apart into squabbling states which periodically reunited into brief-lived empires.

The eastern and northern fringes of the Drakhaba al Kaloon became the home of many squabbling city states, much like the southern region of the Waros, but slightly higher in technological level. Most of these states could boast a handful of functional Blackmoorian devices, pried from ruins and carefully maintained. The dwarves gained a powerful economic position from their control of access to Utherite.

The third and most recent Daikasho came around 500 AC, when a powerful Waros leader, Nimrod the Great, united the Waros lands and conquered the Sebgir. He then began to exploit the Rigoon al Asagir to arm his troops. They had begun to conquer the remnants of the Sakhalin states when the Rigoon al Asagir had enough and unleashed the Daikasho across much of the Sebgir lands. This happened during a major troop movement, and the Waros emperor was slain. The Sebgir came close to extinction, and the Virik al Ragoon now reached the border of the Waros lands.

Around 700 AC, Tanagoro sea raiders began to harass the coast of Waros, which was sunk into another period of squabbling states. One foolish ruler invited a group of Tanagoro raiders, the Taymor, to settle along the coast of his lands, hoping to get them to stop the others. Instead, they conquered his kingdom, and with the help of more raiders, conquered the others as well. Some of the nobles of the kingdoms escaped to the northwest, and joined with the remains of the Sebgir, who had settled down into a series of small farming communities in the small islands of healthy land which dot the western and northern fringes of the Drakhaba al Kaloon. These became known as the 'Valley Kingdoms', and were forced to swear fealty to the 'Taylin Heptarchy', a collection of seven kingdoms dominated by a Tanagoro-derived ruling class and led by the High King of the Taylin.

Around the same time, a mysterious figure who called himself 'the Holy Emperor' appeared in the lands of the Sakhaba (the human survivors of the fallen Sakhalin Empire). He possessed a great knowledge of Blackmoor's secrets, and he used those to gradually forge 'the Holy Empire of Sakhaba', which he ruled, apparently without aging, from New Sakhalin, built on the ruins of the old.

This took him centuries, during which the Heptarchy of Taylin consolidated its power and began to become a more consolidated state. For a hundred years, the Heptarchy and the Holy Empire have sparred around the fringes of the Virik al Ragoon with each other. With the forest in the way, neither has been able to wage a truly successful war, and the continuing wasteland status of the whole area has hampered matters as well.

Currently, the land is at a fragile peace which may shatter as soon as one side or the other feels driven by the continued slow growth of the Virik al Ragoon to make war on each other once more. Both states press against the Jen and the Tangor states, seeking further room to grow beyond the wastes, but also seeking control of the wastelands, which still contain much valuable lore and provide access to the dangerous resources of the Virik al Ragoon. Neither can afford to let the other have sole access to the forest, and thus they struggle for lands hardly worth the battle. War seems inevitable, but ever more futile.

Further complicating matters, however, are whispers of the birth of a Holy Messenger, sent by the Immortals to finally bring peace between humans and the Virik al Ragoon, who will unite the lands and cleanse them, bringing about a new age of peace. Only time will tell if this is truth or a hopeful lie.