Thursday, November 14, 2013

V is for Vuukrat Savana

The Vuukrat savana is the northern third of the territory of Kurushat.  Nestled between the Karkose Sea and the Saheli and northern Black Mountains, and pierced nearly in half by the Sukotu River, the Vuukrat is the backcountry just beyond the major urban centers, and core area where Kurushat culture developed: Sinjagat and Jekara.  The soil of the Vuukrat is dark and volcanic in origin; in ancient times, massive lava flows swept over the area, only to be eroded eventually into fertile soil.  Volcanic activity is now quiet over the Vuukrat--the hot spot that lead to the lava flows has migrated due to continental drift, and the center of volcanic activity in Kurushat is now Mount Kadu and the Ash Wastes.

The Vuukrat Savana, like the American Great Plains, is the breadbasket of the empire. Numerous farms dot the landscape, especially along the Sukotu River banks. Farther afield, drovers drive enormous herds of semi-domesticated bison who make up the main meat, leather and other animal products industry for the empire. Beyond that, the savanas are wild and largely unexplored. The wildlife is dangerous; hairless mammoths, elephants, cave hyenas, giant black lions, scimitar-tooths, and worse. The savanas are not as flat as one would expect; rolling hills and occasional brakes of trees keep the horizon hidden often, and craggy volcanic plugs jut like isolated castles from the yellow sea of grass. Fragments of crumbled ruins from some mysterious civilization that predates the rise of the kurushi are hidden deep in the savana as well.

The Sukotu River pierces the Vuukrat.  It is not a major highway, for it is often fast and rocky, and other times shallow and silted up, but it is a major source of drainage across the Vuukrat Savana, and brings fresh water to both Jekara and Sinjagat; two cities that are on opposite ends of the Sukotu river delta. The Vuukrat benefits from lake-effect rain from the endorheic Karkose Sea, whose water is not entirely fresh (the Karkose is very comparable in both size and composition to the Caspian Sea.)

The Saheli Mountains make up the northern border of the Vuukrat, and of Kurushat itself. There are no large settlements in that region, as the mountains are considered useless and resourceless. This isn't strictly speaking true, but the kurushi have yet to find anything worth exploiting in the region yet, with the exception of a handful of hardy herders and stockbreeders. The mountains are also extremely cold, and are notorious for their difficult to find and traverse passes and trails. Very little traffic of any kind crosses the mountain range.  A handful of small military outposts guard the few strategic passes and charge taxes on any travelers that pass through; otherwise, the empire officially rarely acknowledges the region whatsoever.

What few in the empire realize, however, is that there are many hidden colonies of escaped slaves and revolutionaries that live in the mountains, plotting against the empire. Some of these are clandestinely supplied by the empire's enemies, or even by the Emperor's enemies within the empire. Kajim Qaerkuun, the Emperor's favored heir and khan over the entire armed forces, is one such individual. In his search for any method to accelerate the death of the emperor, while his own status and likelihood to ascend are still high, he's considered trying to lure the khagan back into the field of battle where he can be carefully ambushed and killed without anyone being the wiser, and he believes that these escaped slaves and revolutionaries might just be the group to serve as his bait.

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