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by Cab

'Mercury', Masauwu

A planet existing after the destruction of Damocles. Orbiting the Sun every 88 days, with a radius of around 1500 miles, this small rocky planet exhibits some of the hottest and coldest conditions in the whole solar system. In some of the deep, rocky craters near the poles no light from the sun ever penetrates, and temperatures approach absolute zero, wheras the long apparent day length close to the sun can lead to temperatures of many hundreds of degrees.

One of the most distinct and hostile features of this planet is the length of the day. It takes two thirds of an entire rotation around the sun to rotate on its own axis (59 Mystaran days), meaning that from the surface of the planet it seems to take three of its own 88 day years for the sun to cross the sky. The thin atmosphere of this world (most gas is simply blasted away into space due to the planets proximity to the sun) means that the rocks on the sunward side heat to a point where they glow red, whereas on the cold side of the planet temperatures plummet, and remain icy cold until the sun rises again.

The result of this unusual situation is that the inhabitants live in a state of perpetual migration, with the heat loving inhabitants (helion, efreet, fire elementals, etc.) on one side, and cold loving creatures (hydrax, white dragons, frost salamanders, etc.) on the other. Indeed, except for the more intelligent creatures inbhabiting this world, few realise that on the opposite side of the world an entirely different way of life exists.

Inhabitants and Ecology
The curiously long, hot days make the sunward side ideal for any heat loving organism capable of traversing the surface. However, only those creatures able to survive in a thin hydrogen atmosphere can do so, meaning that it is mostly creatures native to the elemental plane of fire who reside there. In fact certain of those races consider this planet to be rather a stronghold of theirs; Efreet and fire elementals feed on the intense heat energy, and a range of unique heat loving plants (resembling corals more than ordinary vegetation) thrive, retracting thier heat and light harvesting parts into stony bodies to sit out the cold spell. No permanent settlments exist across most of the surface of the planet, creatures of necessity must ne nomadic to survive, but great caravans carry inhabitants on their slow, incessant migration.

On the cool side of the planet, a similar process occurs, with the ecology dominated by scavengers feeding on the immense amount of energy fixed by heat loving plants during the long day. Specialist crab like creatures break open the stony shells of the fire loving plants, which support an entire community of creatures. Cold loving beasts (such as hydrax) and creatures native to the plane of Earth (such as earth elementals, and at least one Horde) make an excellent living here during the night. Indeed, without these creatures consuming the dormant fire loving plants and creatures (digging them out of their hibernation cycle), nutrients necessary for survival and reproduciton during the day would not be released. Thus a fine balance is maintained betwen the two seperate lifestyles represented on the planet, each being dependent on the other.

Some of the cold loving creatures manage to construct burrows deep beneath the surface of the planet, their dens extending hundreds of yards under the surface to remain cool enough. These burrows are treacherous places to explore, and it is a dangerous lifestyle choice, with the extreme heat on the surface leading to frequent land slides and cave ins.

Some creatures have a unique life-cycle that depends on extremes of temperature. Strange, primitive, three eyed shelled creatures that live short lives, reaching adulthood during either night or day before laying eggs in the soil. The eggs do not hatch until after exposure to the other extreme of temperature; thus young never compete directly with the adults. This strange lifestyle means that these creatures have never developed any degree of intelligence or social structure, and instead roam the planet mindlessly preying on anything that moves (including their own species). While simple, these creatures are among the more dangerous predators of Masauwu.

Major Personalities
While there are many interesting races on Masauwu, few personalities have gained major notoriety. The lack of permanent habitation, even a permanent and trustworthy migration route, means that life here is fast and difficult. Finding the same group of creatures here twice in a row can be a challenge in itself.

Terrain and Interesting Sites
Few permanent structures exist on this planet, but there are some interesing natural phenomena to see.

Aeons ago, a comet stuck one face of this world, creating a crater many hundreds of miles across. The impact was so great that on the opposite side of the world, a vast, broken mountain range was produced. Such harsh terrain defines the surface of the planet, with vast, curved cliff faces, scarps and broken lands being created by the successive heating and cooling of the planets surface, coupled with massive amounts of gravitational and magnetic pull by the nearby star. This makes the permanent migrations of the natives dangerous and long indeed, with regular pathways often unexpectedly cut off.

Near the poles are several deep, dark craters where sunlight never penetrates. Little is understood about these locations, and some scholars believe that immortals of the sphere of Entropy maintain interests there, perhaps using these locations for defensible gates to entropic planes.

The migratory caravans themselves are one of the marvels of the system, with thousands of fire or cold loving creatures plotting parallel paths on either side of the world, pulled along by fantastical beasts of burden.

Survival Notes
Any visitor to this world must initially decide whether to visit the light or dark side; naturally, adaptations to survive either extreme cold or heat must be arranged, and all of those requiring a specific atmosphere to breathe must make suitable arrangements. There is little liquid water on this planet, with what there is quickly condensing and being absorbed on the dark side, so visitors would be well advised to bring sufficient supplies.