As part of the my ongoing effort to flesh out the “Weirworld” recursion for “The Strange,” todays post will cover the gross geography of Krollis. I originally thought that the history of Krollis made more sense as the next post, but quickly quashed the idea in favor of giving readers a better idea of relative locations. I will mention a bit of history but fear not, I will cover it in greater detail tomorrow.
Krollis is a roughly Earth-sized planet with slightly lighter gravity. A single sun burns in the sky. Though farther away from Krollis than Earth, it is larger and far more unstable. Massive flares regularly erupt across its surface, some large enough to see with the naked eye. Only the powerful magnetic field of Krollis protects the planet from regular irradiation. As flares strike the planet, bright and vigorous aurora light the sky on a daily basis. This constant bombardment gave the sun its name; Rager. Some primitive Krollians still worship the star as an angry and vindictive god, forever trying to destroy the world.
Krollis has one main continent, Reth, roughly the size of Australia and two smaller continents approximately half Reth’s size within a few weeks sail to the East and West of Reth on the same latitude. These smaller continents, known as “The Twins,” “Little Sisters” or “Pak” and “Tak.” a Given the size of the planet and relatively small land mass, most of Krollis is open ocean. This lack of land to blunt typhoons means that massive storms driven by the planet’s rotation strike the leading continent (Tak, the Eastern-most continent relative to Reth) frequently. This makes Tak a rain forest wracked by massive storms, constant flooding and thick, boggy jungles filled with superstitious and dangerous tribes. A common idiom for something that will never happen is, ” It will be a dry day in Tak before that happens.” For all its dangers, Tak also provides many of the herbs, spices and medicines used on Krollis. Some fool is always trying to make his fortune on Tak. Few return, but those that do return wealthy.
“Pak,” being on the trailing edge of Reth in the West suffers a different problem. Tak and Reth receive the vast majority of the moisture and little, if any rain reaches Pak regularly. The coast is free of storms and provides excellent fishing grounds, but only the coast is populated. Pak’s interior is poorly explored and many that seek to enter the deep desert never return. Rumors of ephemeral, intangible creatures stealing life from explorers is a common, but widely accepted rumor. Still other tales tell of an ancient civilization predating the Krithali empire that still exists, biding its time and preparing its triumphant return.
Reth, the primary continent is prone to frequent rain showers on the Eastern coast, but not lashed chronically as with Tak. Frequent storms and low elevation produce large evergreen forests and verdant plains. As one approaches the continent’s center, a towering mountain range bifurcates the continent. There are several good passes over the range, all controlled by His Radiant Highness’ forces who charge (cough) fair tolls for traders. Though anyone is free to carry as much as they want over the mountains without a toll, so long as you survive. The average height of the range (called God’s Test) is Mount Everest or higher (29,000 ft./8848 m). Smugglers often make the journey, but artifacts and cyphers specific to climbing are a necessity for all but the hardiest or lucky to survive the journey.
To the West of the Test, lies the High City, center of His Radiant Highness’ demesne and source of all Burden. Rethel. Though his Radiant Highness’ golden city is far less golden surrounded on all sides by 100 kilometers of the Black Jungle. Though Foulborn move relatively freely in the Jungle, few outsiders survive the poisonous miasma that permeates the jungle, slowly poisoning all who enter. The only safe approach is through “The Lord’s Way,” a series of man-made tunnels and natural caverns that allow safe passage beneath the jungle. Building the Way cost so many live in slaves and prisoners many call it “The Last Way.” Waystations, fortified bunkers provide places of rest for weary travelers and their mounts. Regular patrols of Burden-heavy priests and Consecrated (paladins) work to protect waystations and seal any breaches in the Way. Should the Way fall to the jungle or other threat, the High City falls, starved within its high walls. Any perceived threat to the Way faces maximum force.
A few centuries ago a group of fanatical Foulborn breached the Way and seized a small section, barricading traffic to the High City with a powerful artifact for nearly eight hours. Visitors to this day marvel at how the extreme temperatures fused the cavern walls to glass. More still marvel at the man-shadows burned into the wall. Some holding weapons in useless defiance, still other with hands held high, a few float in mid-air, legs pumping in terrified flight. Every visitor, even those that visit the Shadowglass cavern frequently, always stop to pay homage at the man-shape near the exit. Arm outstretched and about six-feet tall but made not of shadow or glass, but untouched stone outlined in a halo of rippled obsidian glass. Here stood, for the only time since Gatefall outside the High City, his Radiant Highness.
It was the last time any native of Krollis threatened the Lord’s Way.
The High City of Rethel rests on a massive plateau 500 feet tall and miles across. At the top of the plateau is The Wall. One-hundred feet tall and 50 feet thick, it provides the platform for Priests and Consecrated warriors to fight the Jungle when it erupts. Some say the Jungle can think, others say it is just random. No one is certain of anything save that occasionally the Black Jungle erupts in a flurry of rapid growth, besieging the great city with vine and beast. Only through the courage of His Radiant Highness’ loyal followers is the assault beaten back. Eruptions come a few times per year, sometimes twice in one day, other might be months apart. Vigilance is all in the great city.
A series of tunnels lead from the Way up into the plateau and finally into the city proper. Once in the city, it resembles any Middle-Ages metropolis of Earth with bakers, urchins, traders and whores. Though, at its center is the High Lord’s Weir. The Great Weir. The Weir that stands against all the darkness and keeps everyone safe from the terrors of Burden.
The Great Weir is a crater, two-miles across, surrounded by high walls and many Consecrated warriors marks the center of the city. Within the crater lies the Great Gate’s remnants, surrounded by a lifeless sea of blasted stone. Nothing grows in the crater. Ever. Plants brought in wither or slowly transform into dark, poisonous aspects of the Black Jungle. Animals go from feral to diseased to finally becoming the stuff of nightmares. Built into the Northern edge of the Great Weir’s defensive wall is the High Keep, home of His Radiant Highness and the Tabernacle. Heavily defended by the most loyal and elite troops, no one enters the High Keep without invitation and such invitations are rare, for his Radiant Highness must be ever vigilant. The Tabernacle at the base of the keep functions as the seat of power for the Holy Church. All acolytes train here and it is here that all may come to lift the Burden and give it to his Divine Radiance.
This is a basic outline of the continent and some key locations that should help with the history post coming up next that discusses the dangerous hubris, fall and rise from the ashes of the Krythali Empire.
Trask, The Last Tyromancer