Friday, June 7, 2013

Setting Snippet: Mhajapor II (Amonchia, The Three Sisters, Dhonai)

The Islands
Amonchia/Isle of Good Hope
      The northeastern-most isle of the Mhajapor Archipelago is little more than a hill of volcanic rock linked by a narrow isthmus to a caldera-formed lagoon, and a favored anchorage of ships coming to and from the Roquerre.  At any given time, one or more ships may be anchored just outside the lagoon, while members of the crew restock their supplies of fresh water, fruit, and meat (from the abundant rabbits and pigs that live on the island).

The Three Sisters (Damalya, Panjah, Sumoret)
                Clustered together, these three islands are formed from some of the oldest volcanos in the archipelago.  They harbor some of the fiercest and roughest pirates in the Mhajapors, brutal buccaneers who favor the rough caves and dangerous waters of the Three Smokers over the indolent lifestyle of Mhaja.
                The three volcanic islands wrap around a central harbor.  It is accessible only via narrow, tortorously twisted channels between each island.  Underwater geysers, forested atolls, sharp reefs, and flowing lava all work to destroy and recreate navigable passages into the refuge on a monthly basis.  Once into the deep basin of the harbor, however, the lush vegetation of the Three Smokers and the myriad small atolls helps conceals the ships and the harbor from view.
                The volcanic rock is riddled with empty lava tubes, eroded chasms, and deep crevices.  Over the centuries, the pirates have enlarged these natural openings into fortresses, filled with secret passages and traps for the unwary and unprepared.  There are at least five separate complexes on the island, though only three are in use now.
                The largest island of the archipelago, Dhonai is shaped like a fishhook, with the hook in the east (and pointed south), and the stem curved north, then west, and finally south again, flattening at the southern end into a broad, bell-shaped expanse of mangrove swamps.
                Mhaja, the largest city of the Mhajapors, is situated just north of this swamp, straddling the mouth of the Hipre river, which runs northward along the volcanic spine of the island.
                The eastern shore of Dhonai is home to many pirate lords and captains, each with their own settlements and (minor) harbors.  Further inland, the jungle dominates the rugged terrain, harboring leopards, serpents, monkeys, parrots, minimal elephants, lizards, and other exotic creatures.  The volcanic mountains that form the backbone of the island are largely quiet in the east, but their western vents roar and belch forth magma and ash, pouring it over the desolate landscape that is the west, and creating lava flows that cut into the hungry jungle.  Only a few fisherfolk and their families, or the most desperate and hunted pirates make their homes on the western coast of Dhonai.

                The principal city of the Mhajapors, Mhaja is a frantic, chaotic city of a thousand vibrant colors and sounds.  Anything and everything may be purchased here, from Ni'honese jade to Ratik sablewood, kofee to opium, and rowboats to dhows or carracks.
                Mhaja sprawls around, over, and through the Hipre delta like a demonic maze writ large.  Stilt houses dot the sandbars and mudflats, connected to the mainland and each other by ramshackle plank bridges, brine-encrusted ropes, or not at all.  Further back, wooden houses huts and houses mark the high-tide water, forced there by the relentless pressure of the residences higher up, the stone temples and mansions of the merchants and traders.

                Mhaja is ruled by Amad Bamhadula, a grossly fat man of unparalleled intelligence.  He has ruled Mhaja, and thus Dhonai, for twelve years. 

No comments:

Post a Comment