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The third oldest basin on Kassidor is one of its least known. Until the Instinct, few who entered this basin were ever seen alive again. Until the Instinct few of these people left their tribal territory. Culturally it is as different from the remainder of the planet as Lumpral, but unlike the Lumpral Basin, the whole Fmak Basin has the same basic culture and language.
This is a large basin, 4000mi. north to south, 3200 east to west. There are many climates in the basin, but dry is the dominant theme. There are some steamy jungles along the Tuidain swamp and some lush savannah in both the north and the south, but the usual ground cover is sand.
Much of the basin is subject to dust storms. Those of the east are the stuff of legend. The southern part of this basin has the largest weekly extremes of temperature of any inhabited area. With the source of the Karedarzin two miles above sea level, Dawnsleep can get down to forty below zero Fahrenheit (-40C), Afternoonday up to 115F (46C).
The city of Fmaklar is two miles below sea level and does not get frost, or get over 100F. West of the city there is adequate rainfall and those lowlands called the Fmak Delta are where the majority of the population lives.
The Fmak seem to be the root stock of both the Megnors of the southern deeps and the Tundrites of the north. They have the same shiny black hair, long mustaches, little or no beards. They have the same large size difference between male and female as the Megnors. Unlike the Tundrites and Megnors, they have large chests and olive skin. While parts of the Fmak Basin are somewhat deep, most of it is above sea level barometrically.
The Fmak have a history of sexual inequality. Women were always second class citizens, and even now a woman is expected to show deference to a man. Women do not run businesses as a general rule. Harems are common even today. The rates of prostitution are the highest on the planet. Women are expected to remain faithful to their men even today, though few actually do.
The Fmak, the Megnors and the Tundrites (in particular) seem to have a mutation in their hearing system so that harmony and melody are unpleasant for them. Instead their music is reedy, grating, vigorously out of tune and abrupt. Music from the remainder of the planet sells very poorly in this basin, music from this basin sells in the outside world only to anthropologists and psychologists trained to study the problem.
The biggest entertainment here is religion, religion as entertainment. There are hundreds of deities and spirits and hundreds of ways to honor them. There are dances and theaters. There are participatory dances that may require elaborate costumes. Engaging in one of those costume dances is the best way to meet a companion in this basin. It can be done, but you'll have to go to your inn, unlike the Highlands or most other parts of Kassidor bringing you home would be a bad scene if she shares the home with a man. The biggest religion is actually worship of the emperor. Before the Instinct it was mandatory, since the Instinct other religions have been allowed but the emperor is still the most important diety and all others are considered subservient to him. This emperor worship was actually the start of the Karasis religion of the Ydlontrostl basin, they have removed the emperor and substituted society as a whole as the diety in his place.
Though the cultures of the northern part of the basin and the southern seem identical to an outsider, there has been a cultural divide between the two regions since prehistoric times. The north thinks of the south as wild and barbaric. The south thinks of the north as decadent and filthy.
The north is much more populous and has traditionally held the Emperor's court. The north once held a seacoast, though for most of history there was nothing across that sea. In ancient times the south was entirely dependent on the north as a source of dried onion. If it wasn't for that dependency it is unlikely the south would have remained under control of the Emperor for all the thousands of years that it did.
The amenities for travelers in this basin are problematic. Camping is a good alternative for most parts of the basin. Most of it is so barren that there is little dangerous wildlife. In some areas, especially in the south, the local chief will still have a lot of authority, even though he can't use force. You may need his approval to purchase supplies. Try to go without local companionship in those villages, more for her sake than yours.
In the cities, good facilities are expensive. Only the most exclusive inns have private baths, some are just a hole in the floor. Don't drink the water without sterilizing it. The water is safe from large predators, but spiker bushes are very common in the rivers of the north half of the basin.
The food looks bad, but actually tastes pretty good. They like to cook things in a hot gelatin made from a form of anosec (a family of the reedwoods) that grows well in the basin, especially the delta of the Fmak. Stay with the cooks with the longer lines, the locals may know something you don't about how safe it is in the short line.
In general, there are only two reasons to be in this basin, either you are passing thru to the basins beyond, or you are some kind of scientist here to study. If you are going to stay for an extended period, we will offer the following advice: Bring your own music. Make sure you have a way to sterilize water. Pick up a comfortable portable toilet before you leave the Yclel-vi Basin.
The Fmak developed a highly organized society long before they developed writing, so the early history of their culture is only what is passed down thru oral traditions. What has been passed down is that nothing has ever changed.
The fossil record proves otherwise. Settlements existed only along the Fmak and Karedarzin rivers in ancient times. The Tuidain was a seacoast at that time, but even that was too dry to farm at the time, though since the wildhull it is quite lush. The early Fmak seemed to be herdsmen everywhere but along the coasts and rivers.
By 10,000bc. they were building stone structures. The oldest sections on the site of the current city of Fmaklar date to about 8500bc. There were temples built long before there was writing. There was an emperor of both the north and south sections of the basin so long before writing that their oral history said there had always been one emperor of the whole basin.
Writing first came to this basin in the Energy Age, brought by the Elves of Dempala. The trackway crossed the southern part of the basin and never went up to what is now Fmaklar where the Emperor sat. It is known that the Emperor did receive guests from the Elves. Within five generations, long before The Fall, the old Elvish characters were being used to script the Fmak language. A blocky distortion of them continue to do so till this day, while all but a handful of Elves have been using the current Kassidorian script for at least four thousand years.
From then on we have hard evidence that the Emperor's reign was not as peaceful as today. Fossil evidence shows it wasn't before either. All thru the Troubled Times there were factions, and north vs. south was a common theme. For a time the Emperor even sat in the south at Histhooga. There are weeds among the crumbled stones there today and lentosaur are the only residents sleeping there.
During some dynasties the Empire grew powerful and established colonies on the shores of Ydlontrostl, Kshoned and Edniktar. The ones at Ydlontrostl were the most successful and that immense basin still shows a lot of Fmak influence in the bloodlines and cuisine. In Kshoned the Fmak genes are still apparent, but the culture has been erased by the particular culture that has grown up in that area, possibly as a reaction to the traditional Fmak culture.
The Fmak actually invented grown housing before the Elves. What they use is a giant anosec plant. The anosecs are actually a type of rushwood with large stems and little if any leaves. They bred them for large size and soft interiors. By the Energy Age, they were already large enough to make a cabin for a small family. Think of a woody green pumpkin the size of a two car garage. The plant will continue to grow for about four hundred years after you first move into it. After that, good waterproofing can keep it usable for almost that much longer.
The plagues were a major disruption to Fmak society. The common folk were kept ephemeral by the elites until near the year zero on the standard calendar. In spite of the peace plague, the fanatically militant emperor's guards remained in control of society by force. Local chiefs had similar men, all the way up until the Instinct arrived. The Fmak Basin lost an even greater percentage of its population to the sterility plague than the Lumpral Basin did. Even in the face of the near collapse of their civilization due to the aging and decline of the peasant population, the elites would not even allow the commoners to buy the youth they could afford. There were sweeps by teams of martial arts warriors thru the villages searching for banned substances. Today movies portray that time as being filled with others skilled in martial arts who procured supplies of youth for the peasants. No historical record supports those dramas.
When the Instinct arrived, the Fmak Empire collapsed in a hurry. The Instinct prevented the populace from harming their tormentors as much as it prevented the warriors from harming them. It did not protect the property of either side and before it was over, the old city on the site of present day Fmaklar was in ruins. What could burn, did, and millions of refugees poured thru the delta lands.
With such a long history of coercion, the Fmak were slow to adapt to the modern world. They collapsed back into tribalism and have been slow to develop large scale organization. That fact contributes to the poverty of this basin. Civilization did not really return until there was once again an Emperor to bless the plans. Today it is a religious post with no coercive power, but enough people will obey Imperial decrees that it could be called a form of government. It is the closest thing to a government the planet has.
The city of Fmaklar was rebuilt and renamed. The people who had been so long repressed had no desire to re-build Ukbloth (Imperial City in an old Fmak dialect) and so renamed it using Common Tongue and rebuilt it several miles upstream. It is constructed almost entirely of anosec, now genetically modified to grow much larger than a single family cottage. In the modern age the city has grown large and now covers the old Imperial City, except where areas have been cordoned off for archeological digs.
The city has a greater contrast of rich and poor than any other on Kassidor. The majority are very poor, living at a level that would be considered a scrounge even in other poor cities of Kassidor. About a quarter of the population lives comfortably, one in a thousand has extreme wealth, enough to employ dozens on their domestic staff.
The city is rather dirty, smelly and dusty. The annoying music blares everywhere, especially from religious temples and market places. Few who have been there recommend it as a tourist destination.