|Full Name||Ashal Islands|
|Races||Asha, various others|
|Cultures||All Asha subraces, various others|
|Flora and Fauna|
The Ashal Islands are a series of relatively small islands with a radically different appearance than those around them. This land, while humid and hostile in the past, has become a garden sanctuary of the Asha Race, while also being a region whose ancient Living Metal mechanisms survived the efforts of the Allorn Empire to root them out. As a result of this, the Ashal Islands today still thrive, the ecology restored, and the people happy. Though with dark clouds looming as the Altalar gather their strength following the Dread War alongside the return of their ancient Empress Talea Sunvidal, this beautiful new homeland for one of the most downtrodden Race in Aloria may be under threat soon.
The Ashal Islands were, for much of their history, irrelevant. At the height of the Dewamenet Empire, their power stretched across Ithania, Daendroc, and to this humble island group. Many believe that the Islands were the point of expansion that alerted the Altalar to the presence of the large polity to their north, or were perhaps even an instigating factor. But whatever the truth, the Ashal Islands were severely damaged during the war between the Allorn and the Dewamenet. Records of the Allorn suggest a total eradication and scouring of the land of all that was not “worthy to be handled by savage beasts,” but most suspect this to be a lie, for if that were true, much more the Living Metal machinery should have at least been damaged. Instead, it is hypothesized that as the Altalar invaded, the local population retreated before them and then deactivated the island group’s infrastructure from the furthest island before retreating. Others state this theory is optimistic and that the Altalar did indeed do massive damage to the region, but that over the past two millennia, the Living Metal restored itself yet did not activate without input from their absent masters. Whatever the truth, by the war’s end around 2550 BC, no Asha lived on the Islands and the lands were scoured of life with only the harshest species thriving under a scorching climate.
This remained the case for the next two and a half thousand years. Why the Allorn never settled the lands again is unknown. Some claim they sought an eternal monument to their defeat of the Asha, a living testament to their power of destruction against those that would fight against them. Others suggest that in later ages, the unnatural heat of the territory caused them to shun it as undesirable land, or that they perhaps lacked magical incantations to dispel the great heat which had fallen on the land. In that time, it is believed that the Siwath-Khenu traveled to and learned of the survival of the Living Metal structures on the island, but chose to wait in revealing this information until the Allorn were weak, and the Asha might break free. That time came with the Cataclysm, and The Great Journey. Thousands of Asha over a period of years walked to the coastline of Daendroc, and then, the Living Metal bridges formed to allow their passage over the turbulent ocean waters. For their part, the Ashal Islands appear to have been hardly disturbed by the Cataclysm, but the lack of contact with the area makes this truth unknown. Whatever the case, while the lands were barren and harsh, Asha efforts eventually reactivated the Living Metal machinery which began to turn, pulse, churn and thrive, allowing the land to do so as well. A series of new nations then arose on the Ashal Islands and have remained present ever since, anchored by the central power of Pharah. These lands are now lush and crisscrossed with brilliant blues and greens while the harsh yellows of sand slowly recede. It is believed that the Asha will remain free and safe here, but others now worry that with the return of the Allorn Empire, the Islands might once again be reduced to blighted, empty lands.
The Ashal Islands sit southwest of the Regalian Archipelago, due east-southeast of Daendroc, and south of The Azoras. It sits at the western end of the Corontium Sea. The island group is made up of five landmasses, four smaller islands arrayed around the central formation. The largest island is Shepharah (occupied by the three states that make up Pharah), while the other four are Perssil, Perazzol, Perkhar, and Pernakh respectively based on each state which has arisen on the landmasses and the Asha word for home. Each island is generally uniform in its geography, though with slight differences befitting the regional focuses and the creations of Living Metal that cover their surface. This Living Metal infrastructure is divided into three main buildings: the Mewer Pyramids, the Aphed Sanctuaries, and the Khem-Henquet Mills. The Mewer Pyramids are huge, four-sided pyramids that gleam in the sun, with gilded caps, and intricate hallways crisscrossing through their complexes of water management. This water is derived both from deep subterranean aquifers but also replenishes these caverns through a complex filtration process of various substances. These pyramids serve as the “mountains” of each island, sitting close to the center of each and often easily seen on the horizon, though they are often also nestled close to rocky, hilly terrain. The Aphed Sanctuaries, meanwhile, are often located on floodplains or close to ponds and lakes. Tall shining cylinders, they slowly rotate and have unknown facilities for the breeding, maturation, and release of the Aphed, a form of waterfowl unique to the Isles which is poetically described as “nourishing the land” which sees many with a dispassionate mind assume they are somehow pollinators.
Finally, there are the Khem-Henquet Mills, which sit in close proximity to other Living Metal structures along rivers and by waterfalls. Their great mill wheels are the most advanced in Aloria, effortlessly pushed by the current and turning interior mechanisms to help power both surrounding facilities and grand wind machines that once cleared vast stretches of sand for construction and creation, though now serve to regulate the climate. There is one unique Living Metal structure, found only on Azzol, and that is the Vault of the Dead, however it adds nothing to the geographical features of the Asha Islands. As a result of these machines, much of each island are lush gardens of life, particularly in the case of Perkhar, which is dense with trees and provides the wood so necessary for the many Corsair Fleets of the Asha people. Aridity does still exist several miles away from the waterways in most cases, forming fine-grain sand deserts, but even this has slowly been peeled back with time, and the conditions of such terrain are not nearly as harsh as they were for millennia after the fall of the Dewamenet. The Ashal Islands have gentle coastlines, with some rocky spurs and ridges, but the terrain is largely forgiving. Finally, there is the regional climate. The wind tubes of the Mills serve their job well and while the Ashal Isles are humid, there is always a gentle breeze blowing to help cool the air. Storms do still come to the area, but they are rare, as is rainfall, with much of the local irrigation and water table gaining its resources from the mechanics of the Living Metal structures.
The Ashal Islands were barren rocks for centuries, but when the Living Metal architecture was reawoken, within ten years, so too did the plantlife. Vast trees twice as thick as Etosian columns rose up, and waterfalls became not just water flowing off a ledge, but plants doing so as well. Many forms of life are unique only to the Ashal Islands, like the beautiful flowers of the Iam Iret which are commonly used in local teas, the size-shifting variety of wheat known Djew Sheney, and the aquatic plant used in many healing salves across the Islands, Seba Iaat. Other plants, while not as physically appealing, do often still serve a purpose like the sturdy, rope-like Shen Itja. In addition to these, there are some foreign plants, though these are kept around the Moon Ports, the points of entry for foreigners though most can go no further, and neither do their foreign plant life.
The displacement of the Asha from their original homelands into Altalar servitude saw many of their animals move with them, be they wild or domesticated, the Altalar did not care. But since the rebirth of the Ashal Islands, life there has flourished and many species important to Ashan society thrive there. These include the nimble, intelligent primate called a Turbahakh, the large and tireless Muff-oxen, which serves as a key source of food, and the huge, feline-reptilian hybrid that is the Taraq. But there is also stranger life still, like the semi-mystical Aphed, who are seen as bringers of life and travelers into the afterlife, and the fierce large arachnids, the Torat-Nekh, bred for mounts of war and transportation. There are also the strange Living Metal creatures of the Ashal Islands which are found most commonly around the Living Metal infrastructure. The most populous of these are another arachnid creature, the Mehtil, which carries its rider beneath it as it rapidly scuttles forward, shielding them from harm.
The Ashal Isles are wholly controlled by the Asha States, a collective of powers on the region’s islands that are led by royal and noble dynasties descended from formidable leaders of The Great Journey. These nations are all allied with one another in harmony, seeking to be a united front against their foes. Their relationship with Regalia has grown more positive in recent years, becoming members of the Crown Alliance forged several years ago, while also having signed some of the Navigation Acts in order to allow trade to proceed smoothly between them and Regalia. The nations are also highly charitable and often support Asha populations in wider Aloria.
- For information on the Asha States, click HERE
- Click HERE for more information on Luxxakhor
Tepesakah is found on the island of Pernakh, the island controlled by the Kingdom of Nakhoor, and is located the furthest east of all the islands. Tepesakah itself is found to the east of the island and stands as a vast complex unlike any other, as it is the control center for all Living Metal machinery of the Ashal Islands. When it was built is unknown, but it was reactivated soon after the Asha began reaching the Ashal Islands, greatly speeding up the process of terraforming the island group. The complex is unique, a mix of features from the other three base structures along with ancient Dewamenet architecture, which has remained surprisingly intact. The core of the facility is the Shaiaat, a tall obelisk-style tower that stands in the middle of a great square with four tall, metallic panels that cover a tube network of Living Metal, capped off not by metal but stone; solid black and laced with strange inscriptions. The tower is so tall that few have been able to reach the top to view these writings, but some claim they hold a similarity to the fabled “Deathspeech” of supernatural origin. The obelisk’s great panels are similarly layered with ancient Dewamenet writing, which reads as instructions on how to “awaken the lifeblood.” The square around the Shaiaat is made of stone, tightly locked together and forming four processions through the facility’s mechanisms. The east and west corridors lead to two great gateways flanked by statues of unknown Asha, beyond which are the Living Vats. Here, multiple walkways criss-cross within a dark enclosed space as below them, Living Metal shifts and schlops like it is boiling or churning in some great creation process. Indeed, the Vats are said to be the two chief sources for all Living Metal on the Islands. These two Vats then reach forward, down the way of the southern procession where great tubes twice the height of an Eronidas and run parallel to the earth before vanishing beneath the ground at the entrance to the facility. These tubes are responsible for carrying the Living Metal out to the rest of the region. Meanwhile, the north passageway leads to a residential section, where the keepers of the complex live, rest, and relax with small gardens and waterways sitting between their large homes. This area is set above the others on the huge hill Tepesakah rests in and allows for an expansive vision out to sea given that upraised position.
Vault of the Dead
Of similar high importance as Tepesakah, though steeped in much greater mystery, the Vault of the Dead was one of the last facilities to reawaken on the Ashal Islands, but one of the first to be perfectly understood by the Asha who came to occupy it. The Vault is a vast, largely subterranean structure built as the ancient necropolis of the Asha people, in a similar way that the Grand Temple of Ammu-Loa served as the necropolis of the Allorn Empire. However, unlike that great structure, the Vault was not destroyed by the death of the Dewamenet, but simply went dormant beneath the sands above. It has since risen and is held as the core of being for the nation of Azzol that controls it. The Vault is far more vast than many assume, with new corridors and chambers seemingly forming at the will of The Sefakhem, the cult of death which attends to this grand structure. The front door of the Vault of the Dead is easiest to find, towering out of the sands, with a huge stone archway set by a massive Steel door inscribed with both supposed “Deathspeech” and Ibeth. Once sealed shut, the door is now opened with increasing frequency as processessions of bodies are taken down into its depths for the embalming process. When one is beyond the door, a long slow slope down greets them, while the walls are carved depicting imagery of the Asha beliefs about the afterlife, Kharma, and more. These walls and indeed, all those across the complex, are also inscribed in the strange writing that is “Deathspeech,” and the Asha claim that is what gives this place its immense power. At the base of this descent is a massive central atrium, thick columns supporting a high ceiling and countless side passages feeding off into the wider Vault. It is said a non-Asha is almost sure to die here, as only The Sefakhem know the passages by heart. The Vault is also home to thousands of Undead, some decades old, others, centuries, all Asha of The Sefakhem who continue to serve their ancient order even after their death.
- Some believe there were at least three further isles in the chain of the Ashal Islands which sank due to the Cataclysm. While not attested to by many sources, there is one record by Ailor Velheim which speaks of “eight barren rocks” off the Daendroc coastline.
- While most outsiders believe that the terraforming of the Islands will result in all of the deserts being eliminated, this is not the case. Deserts have long been part of Asha society, and are the point of residence for many forms of life they find useful. It is more accurate to say that the deserts of the Ashal Islands will be controlled and carefully maintained.
- The Ashal Islands stood so apart from the rest of the surrounding terrain during the height of the Allorn Empire that some in the modern-day question if there is a magical reason for the region’s increased humid temperature. Others contend that warm air currents pushing up from Hadaria meant that the Islands were always this way.