The Geography Of Blackbloom, Part One

Last week’s challenge has borne fruit:

THE GODS OF BLACKBLOOM HAVE BEEN CHOSEN.

(All Blackbloom entries are here.)

I thought initially we might leap in and do some creation or other divine myths surrounding the gods we chose, but then I thought, well, it’d be nice to have a greater sense of what these gods create.

Thus, it’s time to examine the physical world of Blackbloom.

What is this place?

What does it look like?

Where can you go? What vistas and nightmares can one explore?

We know a few things.

We know that seas of sand exist.

We know the place is fairly diverse.

We know it’s subject to three seasons (rainy, dry, dark).

But we don’t know much else.

So, you have 100 words.

With those 100 words, describe a place in the natural geography of the planet — think about how Earth has Everest or the Grand Canyon or the Hawaiian Islands or whatever. Go nuts. Go big. Go weird. Blackbloom is not a world for timidity. Note, however, we don’t want to talk about cities. The cities of Blackbloom — which are sentient and can communicate — will get their own challenge. For now: think geography, not man-made (though certainly divinely-made and feel free to incorporate the gods if you feel it’s valuable). Give us the names and the places and the madness of this new world writ large.

You’ve got two weeks. Till Friday, 11/25, noon EST.

Post your 100-word entries below.

Please: only one entry per person.

Further, again, you’re likelier to have your entry chosen if it’s written more like an entry from an encyclopedia (or, for more salient reference, from a roleplaying game book).

I’ll pick — well, I dunno. However many helps us start to cobble together a map of the planet. Because that’s what we want. Not a whole map, not yet — we’ll still have those Here There Be Dragons portions — but enough so we start to see the world in all its splendor and terror.

36 comments

  • The Ghost Marshes stretch for 500 miles in the south of the foggy island of Iertu. It is a fertile land of hidden swamps, where every step can mean an eternity trapped in sludge. The lucky ones are absorbed, turned into peat; the unlucky ones find their bodies everlastingly preserved while their souls wander the black-green morass. The tribes of Iertu avoid the marshes if possible, using ancient roadways visible only to those whose eyes are blessed by Tallyr if necessary. Rumors say the rare Blackbloom grows at the center of the marshes, guarded by the spirits of the Bog-sleepers.

  • The End Of The World – the name given to the southern hemisphere saltpan 75 miles long. Frequent but light rains maintain a surface of water around 8 inches deep; high salinity means there isn’t much more than insect life. Old roads once bisected the lakebed, now flooded; between the roads that disappear into the lake’s mirrored surface and the salt winds, the pan’s given name is understandable. Folklore suggests that the lake was formed by Torrda’s tears as she wept for daughter, Diome, and her fate; given that very little that we know of grows here, this is suspect.

  • The Exomorphic Archipelago (more commonly called the Kinnis Maw) is a series of 60 or so geographic formations stretching off the western coast of Blackbloom. The formations are composed of brittle rock that stretch hundreds–even thousands–of feet in the air but are only a dozen or more feet wide. The brittleness of the rock makes them essentially unclimbable. Moreover, periodically a tower will snap and fall back into the ocean. Scholars hypothesize that they are the result of a burst of volcanic activity many ages ago. Common folk have more … colorful … explanations.

  • Ringing the equator of Blackbloom are towering volcanoes called the Inferno Tors. Rivers of lava paint their slopes, exuding noxious gases and blistering heat. Creatures of fire live here, known by different names as they age: newborn Sparks; young Flames; adult Blazes; and enormous ancient Infernos, for whom the crags are named. In the dark season, frost falls constantly from the air and unseen entities roam the world, feeding on hope and thoughts. The fire creatures, which dispel these dangers, entice hunters known as Firechasers to travel to the Tors in hopes of snaring a valuable Spark or Flame.

  • At the top of the world, if it still exists, you’ll find Pure. The air is clean and grass still grows knee-tall. They say this is where the sky is sewn to the earth, where the rivers pour down from the great mountain, and where you’ll find the caves that descend into the underworld.

  • The Chasmlands comprise a 1,000 mile stretch of land punctuated by hundreds of deep sinkholes. Some of these pits are only a dozen feet in diameter; the largest is almost half a mile across. All are thousands of feet deep; the larger holes contain their own unique microclimates – and ecosystems – that change as one goes deeper. The Chasmlands extend through a range of geographies and climes. The sinkholes are joined at the bottom by the deep, slow river that runs beneath them all. Many cities sit along the edge of these pits, and more than one has disappeared into them.

  • The Delves of A’kaar are vast caverns that riddle the world of Blackbloom. No human has ever come close to accurately mapping these immense passages. Even were it not for the insane, twisted monstrocities that dwell there, there is a single facet which keeps peoples of all cultures from the Delves.

    Those who travel within, return… changed. There is something within the caverns which slowly and subtly, twists, depraves and pollutes the minds and bodies of all who have traveled within.

    Most believe that the inhabitants of the caverns were once humans, who simply journeyed too deeply.

  • PS. What’s an Inkslinger gotta do to get his actual and for reals picture up next to his name? Is it buying Chuck some whiskey? Because I will. I will buy him some whiskey if that’s what it takes.

  • Now I know who deserves the whiskey around here.

    BTW, Daniel, before your response, I liked the Ghost Marshes so well, I checked out your blog. You’ve got some good work on there, sir. :)

  • Tears – People say there is a land of eternal sadness where the heavens cry endlessly. Tears is a natural anomaly where the weather changes little from season to season. There is nearly constant rainfall causing plant life of all sorts to wage war with one another for space and sunlight. The sun pierces through the canopy of growth and heats the earth below. There are stories of creatures and denizens who exist here not seen anywhere else in nature. Fungus and moss covers nearly every surface. Plants grow to tremendous size and prey upon man and beast alike.

  • The Feral is a region of woods and glades that no country in Blackbloom has ever claimed sovereignty over. Something about the Flora and Forna is wild and disconcerting to civilised people, the mansbane trees that grow tall and proud, too proud to be felled by man and the trees are the least of the dangers. The titan-elk herds migrate through the region every dry season, trampling over the surrounding lands and peoples as they go. Then there are the warebeasts, shapeshifting carnivores whose hunts spread outward in the dark season, prompting many of the nearby towns to evacuate.

  • Once, there was the kingdom of Erisale. The king of Erisale was a cruel man who thrived on war. Then, war came to his very doorstep, neighboring lands banding together to put an end to the tyranny presented by Erisale’s king. Legends say the fields were flooded with scarlet, giving the kingdom a new name: The Red Lands. Since that dark time, no man has ever laid claim to the Red Lands, the fallen kingdom now nothing more than a desolate wasteland.

  • The orbiting Rings of Blackbloom are the domain of Kinnis. When sunlight passes through the rings, a splay of color is refracted over the equator. When the sun rises, the sky shimmers and the ghostly sound of music once played in the Halls of Kinnis echos throughout Blackbloom’s entire atmosphere, reminding everyone of their folly.

    The Rings have their own atmosphere, but are not within reach of Blackbloom’s living residents. Crazed travelers who have ingested the bloom and wish to regain his favor brave the trip to the equator to be immersed in the beautiful display and be granted an afterlife.
    ______________
    There, posted in the right place :D

  • Glanworn Isle, once the abode of Osren, God of the golden breath:

    This small island, (362 miles in length, 60 miles across at its widest point) lies midway between Tears and the Feral forest. A citadel island, crumbling barricades rise and fall along the slopes and cliffs of its 1,766 miles of coastline. Magnificent groves of orange and blue Pocker trees touch the heavens on its mountainous north coast. Glanworn loses its island status—and much of its soil—twice yearly during the great Bidal Tides. An endangered herd of silk furred tri-horned flacs survive on its eastern shores.

  • The Cantilever Causeway – Stretching across the Valley of Nurn the giant stone bridge connects […] and […]. High above the grasses of the valley the causeway is strewn with humungous stone jars, each situated at the corner of a section of the bridge to balance its weight until a traveler seeks to pass over it. Each section moves independently of the others and travelers must be wary not to overland a particular section or get too near the edge as no one has returned from a fall in the waves of grass below. The causeway was built by an unknown civilization.

  • The feathered trees of the Eastern Jungle can only survive in the light. They will draw their roots from the ground and take to the skies, catching the wind during the dry season to carry them away from the dark, settling down in a new location in time to catch the rains. From a distance they are frequently mistaken for flocks of birds migrating. Settlements must keep a careful eye out as the trees will settle wherever they land, regardless of what they land on. Groups living in the Eastern Jungles are nomadic, either fleeing or following the trees.

  • Adustrym, the Charred Lands: Adustrym’s feature landmark is the massive crater situated in the center of the country. Legends say that Death, in one of his jealous rages, cast out a minor god. The minor god slammed into Blackbloom in a fiery blaze, burning everything within a two thousand mile radius and destroying the land. Scholars discredit the story, instead saying a meteor destroyed the country, although no fragments of the meteor remain.

    Adustrym is thought to be devoid of life, but explorers have returned raving about the dark beings that dwell in the shadows of the crater.

  • The Kimbrisk Peninsula in the north is a place separated from the mainland by the Borkin – a wide river that keeps most strangers away. The peninsula itself is home to the Yutes, a race of tribal warriors that still yearn for days of old and believe in the ancient gods.

    Vast plains cover the lands, home to massive Silfraxi and Ephawan (giant horses and elephants) that stroll the blue-sky country. The Yutes call them the ‘walking trees’, for they are so big as to create forests in their herds. It is a dangerous land, but a safari like no other.

  • The Dire Rift – A massive canyon that almost perfectly splits the main continent of Blackbloom north to south, nearly ten miles deep at the nadir. The Southern Maw is a steep entry into a network of caverns and recesses that never get any sunlight. There are other pathways down into the gorge, some well known, some not. The northern end opens onto frozen lake Karriri. The Perfidy River runs the full length and is one of the few ancient rivers of the world that runs south to north. Near the midpoint is the ancient Sanguine Arch, which spans the gorge.

  • The Scourging Sand Storm is a permanent fixture of Blackbloom’s Sand Sea. It is observed to migrate between the tropical latitudes. Modern research shows it to be caused by environmental factors including the lay lines and a permanent low pressure system. Expedition teams that skirt the edges report sand and wind capable of stripping flesh from bone. All who seek the center have never returned. Indigenous legends tell of a swirling maw of an ancient beast large enough to devour an entire sand ship. This theory is universally rejected by all except some sailors who leave offerings before long voyages.

  • The Rock-weed Plains

    The Rock-weed Plains are two stretches of land that exist at exact opposite points of the world. The unique metallic elements of the rocks and stones of the plains generate strong magnetic forces that cause the rocks to form into long strings of stones many meters high. From a distance the swaying rock formations look like sea-weed.

    Despite the movement of the ‘Rock-weeds’ the plains are completely lifeless, neither plants nor animals can exist there. Few details about the centre of the plains exist because anyone who attempts to travel the plains either goes insane or commits suicide.

  • Few features on Blackbloom baffle thaumatologists and technoscientists alike more than the Wandering Bayou, a large patch of creeks, marshy lowlands, riparian forests and mangroves that seem to permanently evade the dry season. The Bayou moves around the globe in no predictable manner, disappearing from one place and gradually reappearing at another locale, where it stays for the duration of the wet/dark season. There’s no record that the Bayou has ever settled itself down either on Blackbloom Ridge or the sentient cities. Its flora and fauna are well known, and the screeching water-puppy is sought for as a weapon component.

  • Black Falls is a waterfall so tall, it soars as if from the sky. Waterfalls are uncommon on Blackbloom so this natural wonder evokes both fear and wonder in those who view it, even from afar. Many myths surround the spray from the waterfall. It is rumored the spray causes mystical trances, seizures, and personality changes but most believe it is just a source to one of the planet’s great rivers. The authorities have gone to great lengths to prevent access to the waterfall to protect the public from further accidental deaths.

  • During the three months of Dark, the Shining Hills become either a pilgrimage site or a tourist attraction, depending on your perspective. Comprised of quartz-shot granite and covered in a phosphorescent lichen that may be distantly related to Maritae’s algae, the Hills are dank and forbidding in the Wet season, and dusty and drab in the Dry. But in the Dark, the quartz collects and magnifies the lichen-glow, green or pink or purple or blue, until the Hills shine with a shifting kaleidoscope of color and light.

  • NovySan has an addition to the above: “The lichen is poisonous to touch. The pilgrims know this. The tourists don’t.”

    (As this brings the word total up to 102, by my count, please delete “and light” from the final sentence of my first entry to drop it back to 100, should the Shining Hills be chosen as a planetary feature.)

  • For a planet that has the odd ability to grant after-life or undeaditude ™ there sure is a big push for geography that kills, maims or simple drives its inhabitants insane. Which I guess would render the need the for the black bloom to be quite severe at the same time having major implications for the population in terms of growth and the use of resources.

  • “The Island Where the Sun Spilt” is rocky, abandoned and dead through the rainy and dry seasons, but once the dark season comes, the sun fruit plants grow. Where there was no light, these trees and bushes spill warm sunlight from their fruits. During the dark season, birds fly from all over Blackbloom to nest, while mammals swim from the nearest shores to mate. The radiance of the fruits calms even the fiercest of predators and there’s little violence and rivalry. However, sun fruits are not meant for consumption as they are addicting, although they empower spells’ potency.

  • Negarthnym
    Situated well below sea level in the Lowland Valley, Negarthnym twines through the porous rock as Blackbloom’s largest single living organism. Technically a breed of angiosperm, Negarthnym has adapted to the cycles of the planet, soaking water during the wet seasons and rationing it for the dry. Within the valley, its stalks create the misnamed Negar Forest. The organism covers over a thousand square kilometers and is home to at least four hundred specialized species. Sentients of the surrounding area mine Negerthnym for water, its curiously strong fibers, and the fermented sap it leaks when in bloom: Negar.

  • Cutting the desert in twain is a twisting line of white rock formations – huge arches, dips, and leaning towers. The Necropripa. When the children of Life and Death fell like rain, many did not survive their descent, their broken bodies forming a river through the desert, now fossilised. When people arrived, the “river” also provided them with a home – the First City, now abandoned. Wanderers from the desert say that Zephyr moors his ship on the bank, and sends his soul between the rocks, wailing a lament for the Gods that never were. Others say he is howling with laughter.

  • “Doesn’t seem to be as many entries here as for the gods, but plenty of good ones nonetheless!”

    Hmm… True, but, you see, I’ve interpreted the recommendation that we should write it like an encyclopedia entry as something like: “write it in-character”. Since Blackbloomers (or Blackbloomians?) don’t believe in gods anymore, I’ve figured they would rather not mention the divine beings, except when relevant information would require mentioning “old legends”.

  • @MC Zanini ah, ok. I was thinking the encyclopaedia thing was just a way of saying keep it simple and to the point, and in fact, leave as much character out of it as you can.

    By the way, have these been chosen yet? Can’t find a post for the winning entries.

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