I. The Rhe'yublan Peninsula and Surrounding Isles
Nestled between the southwest tip of Vash and Ziguran's southeastern coastline, Rhe'yubla consists of a mainland continent, Tamin'los, and many surrounding islands. It is a land of extreme terrain, varying altitudes, and steppe air pressures. Roughly one-eighth of Rhe'yubla itself, Tamin'los' landscape is dominated by the twin volcanoes of Careet and Teerac. The entire continent, however, boasts of steamy volcanoes, the hottest desert on Thrael, a snow-covered mountain range, grasslands, lush jungles, and dismal swamps. Due to its isolation, and what some argue as "the questionable properties of cloakfog," Rhe'yubla produces flora and fauna completely unique to the world.
The interior of the mainland was often cursed by invaders as too treacherous for habitation. It was even ventured by these people that the native re'har were most likely incapable of surviving under Rhe'yubla intense conditions. However, greed gave these individuals a vast store of determination and enabled them to over-come their initial limitations. On Tamin'los' coastal plains, they illegally harvest immense batches of violet hhroufhawl grass.
This powerful narcotic is highly-addictive and potentially lethal. Distributing the illegal drug to the unhappy, displaced re'har throughout the world, these "Yrrorow," have grown wealthy enough in recent times to afford any of the stiff punishments that the Matriarch's Island Guard employ. Their booming port towns have become a haven for smugglers and pirates, posing a potential threat to all legitimate vessels that travel the Sea of Jihlall.
For millenia, leaden swarms of thick "cloak-fog," razor-sharp coral reefs, and violent sea tempests shrouded Rhe'yubla, making calculated maritime exploration by outlanders impossible. To the re'har, however, (humanoids with feline features of tooth, nail and fur), this collection of isles was home and they were, at the very least, marginally aware of their surroundings. They alone possessed the ability to navigate the mainland of Tamin'los and its outlying areas. They built their settlements, both small and large, upon the remnants of volcanic activity. "...And for many thousands of years, their two sub-races, the Inda'sim and the Re'hari, lived together under a shroud of mystery, the outside world ignorant of their entire existence. — E.S. Schaullot, Lore of the Re'har."
Thirteen thousand years ago, Rhe'yubla began to cool. Teerac and Careet experienced a century-long drop in lava production, and the surrounding bodies followed suit. The jungles and grasslands of each isle bloomed unimpeded, fed by vast stores of ash accumulated in the soil below. When these reservoirs were gone, however, the great walls of vegetation shriveled and died, exposing re'har settlements all over the continent. These natural trends were not looked upon as ominous signs by the re'har, however, but more as an interesting curiosity that would only partially disrupt their general routines. That was their mistake.
When outsiders began to arrive on the island shores, the re'har greeted them with curiosity. They traded with and learned of the outside world from these Vashan explorers. This relationship of mutual interest and trust endured for roughly fifty years (or two entire daun generations). However, the children of the Vashan traders looked upon the re'har as oddities, or more accurately, slaves. They began capturing them to serve numerous purposes, and the more slaves that the Vashan took, the more slaves were demanded. The inbred qualities of the re'har, diligence and loyalty, proved invaluable in the black market. The re'har became the chosen enslaved race for the Tanshui Empire, brought inland in droves and sold by the thousands. Within a few generations, re'har slaves outnumbered daun slaves by a ratio of five to one.
If betrayal by the Vashans was not painful enough, the re'har's newest threat promised to rend and tear the remnants of their once peaceful way of life. Out of the deserts of Ziguran, the nomadic Yathlu came to Rhe'yubla. These notorious, hyena-like slavers were ruthless in their pursuit of the feline race. Yathlu raiding parties mercilessly scoured the outlying islands for Inda'sim captives, as well as the occasional Re'hari. As resources became scarcer and scarcer across the isles, petty feuds between Inda'sim groups were not uncommon, and the Yathlu often employed the help of these contesting sects in their pursuit.
III. Legend and Politics of the Lost City
For thousands of years afterward, life on any of Tamin'los' surrounding isles surely meant eventual capture and slavery. An estimated one-third of the re'har population was scattered throughout Thrael in this manner, and consequently, many of the surrounding isles around Tamin'los are now little more than time-frozen visages of empty settlements. Here, it is said, the wind shrieks for the coveted. The stoic crags of jet reject the invasion of the sea, and the smoking skies absorb the wrath of cries unheeded in the night.
Hissed whispers emerged of a secret re'har gathering place, of a city called only Nieble... And of an intricate maze through jungles and grasslands, through twisting water-tunnels, through magma and wastelands, and over various other trials required to garner access. Exuberant shouts advertised "Nieble, the Gates to ksua'kar," (heaven in the kawaneese tongue). Folktales were murmured to the young re'har of Nieble's abundance, of its strength, of a refuge where crops grew bountifully, where the steps of war walked softly in prepared, yet patient, feline grace.
Meanwhile, far across the Sea of Vash, unknown to the re'har, the Celestial Court chose a conduit for their divine will -- Makoto Genki, born as a Tanshui slave. Destroying the corrupt and tyrannical Tetsu-ko overlords in a mighty blaze of holy wrath, Genki became Emperor of Vash and gave his divine edict: no slavery would exist within his new Empire. Every re'har slave was blessed and given their choice of passage back to Rhe'yubla or citizenship in Vash.
While many of the formerly enslaved re'har chose to remain behind in Vash as full citizens, claiming and rebuilding the land they were enslaved in for so many generations, others took the opportunity to return to Rhe'yubla, where they found a land beset and nearly overrun by murderous Yathlu and Murkish and Zigurandi slave-takers.
Today, in the wild terrain of Rhe'yubla, battle-hardened inda'sim don spiked, manacle-like bracelets, anklets and armbands over their fur, constructing trabiscii skin gloves fitted with slivers of diamond-hard copau crab shells. They attack the traders, exploiting the foolish trust of other, arrogant races, and will fight until the taking of slaves is a threat ended once and for all. Re'hari descended from Vashan slaves have created new settlements and struggle to reconcile the customs and traditions they developed during their long captivity with the traditional ways of the free re'hari on Tamin'los. They have established a thriving trade port in Withal'dun, stamping out slavers with a ferocity that rivals the rage of the inda'sim.
IV. Geography and Indigenous Life
The Open Sea
Just off of the coast of Tamin'los, dwells a portion of the Sea of Tamin, completely unique for its very warm waters. Each day, as the surrounding volcanic activity releases magmatic upwelling, the water temperature rises with the distinct smell of sulphur. Periods of volcanic release are highest just before the noonday sun and lowest at exact midnight. Surviving in these waters are the spiny tempest eel, patterned magareesh shark, black velos squid, and fierce morus'klaw kraken. The savage furlosta sea gull can often be observed, circling the water and scouring for any bits of flesh left behind by these predators.
Tossed into the ocean like a twin monument to barren wastes, are the tiny islands of Unmid and Dimnua. Dimnua is the larger of the two with an entire area of two flat miles, while Unmid is barely more than a mile totally. They possess absolutely no source of fresh water and are both composed of ash dunes, spawned from the implosion of a small network of volcanoes. Re'har adolescents often utilize these empty islands for rites of passage involving a "mythical" five-eyed beast called the great ash tablah that supposedly preys on the supple young tails of maturing re'har.
The Tropical Coastline
Bordering by the blue waters of Tamin and the Bay of Kaweshk, Rhe'yubla's coastline scurries with innumerable sea and sand creatures from all different areas of the world. Indigenous to the rocky coastline, however, are the barrel-chested trabiscii rodents, the copau crabs, the black garble doves, pink-bellied oysters and the groki'taul lizards. The savage farlosta sea gull also claims this territory as one of its homes, seasonally venturing to the coast to roost beneath the low-hanging branches of the kochtau trees that line the coast. The spiny, red-bellied siren flower is completely unique to the tropical areas of Rhe'yubla.
Wavering in soft hues of copper and gold, Rhe'yubla's grasslands are populated by the dark kav'eato jackal, golden nycel rat, the brown lashback viper and the immense thrushbreast vulture. This area is home to the family of gysenium orchids and the rootless wanderer's wildflower. Of particular interest to unscrupulous traders are the extensive stands of violet hhroufhawl grass that also thrive here. The smell of this plant is very sharp and distinct, described by the Vashans as crushed nutmeg mixed with iron-tainted rainwater. Its thick waxy leaves may be boiled into a paste, eaten fresh or dried, and they serve as a natural stimulant to the re'har.
North of Lake Kau'lin'baugh, between the Fenji and Ghata Paw River system, a fetid bog oozes toward the coast, flows across the Los'Hern River and disappears into Fenji forest. Mosquitoes and other insects buzz ceaselessly through Pos'cau Bog searching for prey. One particular species, a haefdin-sized bug, called the otashae, releases noxious clouds of gray stench from its wing flaps. Invader species of trees, ancient oaks and chestnuts, tower over the green water with skeletal, spindly limbs amongst indigenous crimson shaemahl vines. Horrific stories of bodies found mutilated in the bogs abound in Ghata culture, along with the myth of a green-skinned, bipedal beast that they call the fugorouse.
The Mountain Ranges
North of Tamin'los sits the mid-sized Island of Lina's Brow. Named for the first recorded Mother of re'har society, Matriarch Lina Tarro'sae of the Re'hari, it divides the isle in half by the ever-watchful snowcapped peaks of the Daecius Mountains. Within the heart of the mountains, dwell the Saneese harpies, a vocal species of bird with a keen eye for shiny objects. In early re'har history, these animals were hunted for their elegant black plumage. With the first Matriarch's coming, however, this practice was declared illegal under penalty of death, and the harpies' call was employed as a warning bell against invaders.
Mountains also cradle each of Tamin'los' two volcanoes, wrapping around and descending into the Ghata Paw forest and Tamin'los' grassland fringes. The Da'Kei mountains are a vibrant green all year round, feeding the Las'Hern River, while the wind-swept La'Kei mountains are coastal and dune-like in their formation.
The Blue Jungle
Towering groves of blue-veined fungi dominate the landscape of Rhe'yubla's Fenji forest, cloaking the entire floor in shadow. Their net-like structure of "roots" dig far beneath the shallow leached soil, sucking each trace of minerals from the surroundings. No other vegetative structure grows in Fenji forest, though it does house the gigantic baraslaud moths, a species of stinging ant known as the red-streaked ta'nas, and a peculiar little silkworm called the flocked burna'bar. These animals survive by meticulously grooming the fungus or attacking other animals drawn to its sweet scent. On many days in Fenji forest, the air is filled with the spores of exploding puffballs.
Tamin'los: Western Coastline
Thundering cascades of white water flow from the Da'Kei mountains, feeding the Los'hern River System. Cupping the Bay of Kaweshk from this point, it spills into the grasslands and fills the Kaweshk Tributary east of Withaul'dun. By the time that the water from Los'Hern reaches its final destination, it is tainted with pollutants and ultimately contributes dramatically to the Pos'cau swamp system. A colonial species of grazing fungus, the green worcawart, is indigenous to this area and feeds on the pollution that the port city creates.
The Ghata Paw River bisects the Tamin'los mainland, dividing it into two crescents before its contents are emptied into Lake Kau'lin'Bauh and the Sea of Tamin. Small paw shaped wildflowers flourish along the river banks, their white petals forming the "claws" of the feline appendage. At the river's vertical midpoint, the Ghata Paw Ford provides the only safe passage across the rapids. Below this structure, the river branches into a distinct "Y" shape, feeding the Ghata Paw Forest and forming the Mehi'Maur Tributary near its end.
Lina's Brow: Lina's Trust River
Forming a horseshoe shaped trough, the river of Lina's Trust cuts through the Daecius Mountains on one side, while avoiding them completely on the other side of the isle. Tall stands of gray mangrove trees line the entire length of the passage, their thick, skeletal roots obvious beneath the flowing water. At the last breast of its journey, the salty Bay of Giu'Bahhl meets the fresh water, pulling it greedily into her greedy maw.
Mehi Island: Mehi'Brauh River
The river on Mehi Island is actually a slow upwelling of groundwater that begins at a small oasis at the Island's center and flows south into the Sea of Tamin. Though not considered troublesome by the native Inda'sim of the region, the red-bellied siren flower lines the entire bank of the Mehi River, its spines creating an obvious obstruction to many of the non-rehar races.
Tau'ghatic Island: Cho'chock and Pelesse Rivers
At the far western edge of the Tau'ghatic Isle the Cho'chock and Pelesse Rivers begin. The journey of this water will take its suspended substances in a half-moon around the small island and ultimately beneath the Tempean Ocean. Between the two rivers, a fertile valley cultivates various indigenous orchids and several different types of roses as well as the crops of Ghata and Tau'jiri farmers.
Kawana Island: Kawaneese River
Branching into three tributaries, the Kawaneese River bisects the medium sized Island of Kawana south of Fenji Jungle. From the river's natural crest, a rise topped by kochtau trees and climbing scarlet kisau vines, the lights of Withaul'dun are tiny, stars in a sea of fog.