Map of the Elven Highlands with link to map of the city of Kassidor Yakhan

The Elven Highlands

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This map covers forty eight million square miles of land, including that which extends above the atmosphere. This map shows a population of 6.2 Billion or about that of Earth in 2000ad. Earth has a bit over fifty million square miles of land, counting Antarctica.


Culture

This map includes all the land currently accessible on the Kassidorian tube system in 4100ad. That system is built to Earth standards of the 30th century. The Centorin tube system reaches only the red dot named Kassidor Yakhan. The Kassidorian system reaches most of the red dots on this map and the detail maps associated with it. However, those red dots might have that one tube station, as in Zharvai or Ezigor, and animal carts that can get you to the edge of the city in an hour.

The people on this map can walk to data access any day of the week they want to. They probably have light switches in their homes but eat most of their meals from their own garden. Most of them have sex with strangers a few times per Earth year and with friends every week or few, but almost eighty percent, (78.2) share a home bed with a long term partner and participate as a team in the game of life. Team hunting is a very big participatory sport in the sex clubs on this map. Most of the people on this map are self employed, even in the red dots. In the Highlands only 38% of labor is earned 'off the boards' as it is called on Kassidor, what we would call 'daywork' on Centorin. It is not even daywork, it is piecework and your only defense against employers that won't pay after a hard day's work is to know who they are and avoid them. Since that kind of word gets around quicker than flame on gasoline, it hasn't happened in this basin, ever.

Almost everyone is literate and most are well read, even rural folk. They will not be experts on Centorin gossip however but will surprise you with what they know about physics, psychology and their local culture. You won't know anything about that however, so they will talk about it without you. As a first order approximation, no one on this map speaks a word of Centish, but most know it exists and one in a million has heard it. Kassidorian is just about the only language spoken daily by everyone on this map.


History

Before the arrival of a small party of Elves and Dwarves in the mid 1400's bc, there were only scattered Nordic tribesmen in the area that survived the weekly freeze by keeping chives in pots in their tents. They had no written history and a hunter-gatherer culture. Because the land was dry at the time and they had little technology, their lives were somewhat harsh, especially in the freeze of dark.

The history of this basin is the history of the lake. The first stones of the first dam were laid in 1437bc. and that was when history began in this region. The Elves who arrived here soon founded an institution dedicated to preserving knowledge from before The Fall. It was then called 'The Keep' or 'The Wizard's Keep' and is the institution we know today as the Kassikan. They hired the local population to build the dam, and for many generations as the population grew, the lake was the source of most legends, heros, conquests and adventures.

This whole basin was built by the Kassikan to be peaceful and honest. They deliberately and scientifically set out to control the genetics of the Highland population from it's earliest days. It was isolated from all the world and there were no controls on sociological and biological experimentation on humans. The populace was given the lake as something to do to take the place of strife and domination. Because they were given respect, personal freedom, and a great deal of comfort compared to their primitive past, most of the local tribesmen flocked to the dam site and were soon incorporated into the Elven way of life, creating the sub-race known as the Highland Elves.

As well as a social purpose, the lake served a great practical purpose. Most of the land shown on this map was desolate scrubland and nearly uninhabited. By bringing water to these lands, as well as new crops that could survive the freeze, agriculture was made possible. The Kassikan spread knowledge of medicine to the population, and perfected a natural mutation that allowed women to have viable babies at seven months, three and a third local years. That insured the survival of just about every mother. Because the mother survived, her other children were more likely to survive. Between this and the improved agriculture, the Highland Elves underwent a population explosion like no other in Kassidor's history.

In exploring what was then the northern wastes, a location was found that would allow yet another lake to be built at the same level as the first. This area was already home to an ancient and previously unknown civilization. A king of one of the states in that region strenuously resisted the building of that dam because it would submerge most of his kingdom under hundreds of feet of water. That was long before the Instinct, and he gathered a vast army with the intent of marching on the Kassikan and sacking it. As you can well imagine, his army fell ill of a virulent plague that left them entirely incapacitated. Nevertheless, King Zharvai continued to resist the construction of the first North Lake dam and construction was held up until after his death. In spite of his resistance, the dam and the city on it were named in his honor.

During the same time frame, the great tunnel of Cys Ungor was constructed. It took nearly a thousand Earth years to build this tunnel, but even so, it was complete before the lake rose to it's level and for centuries it was a caravan route thru the rugged Ungor mountains. Beyond here, explorers found even more opportunities to add to the lake. There were many tales to be told of the trials and strife involved in building the six southern arms. In the case of the Gengee, there was a population of Trolls and because this was still before the Instinct, armed conflict broke out on several occasions.

Around the time of classical Greece the Kassikan was already the center of a large and vibrant civilization. From that time forward they began to explore the remainder of the planet and their way of life began to spread to other regions. There was considerable strife caused by the new way of life in other regions, but none of the problems were felt here because of the extreme distances.

The cure for aging ignited a great fear of overpopulation, and for the first time in the region's history, there was a lot of rebellion and resentment against the genetic science of the Kassikan. One of the organizations against them, a fundamentalist Kortraxian church with some scientists of their own, released a virus that made all women sterile. There was an imperial government at the time, separate from the Kassikan. Operatives of that government caught, tried, and punished the scientists who made that virus by mind erasure using the drug shonggot. As soon as that was done, the imperial government officially disbanded and there has been no coercive government in the area since.


Climate

The extreme north of this basin is very seasonal, as far south as Kugenzglaw. There are another 500 miles of inhabited land beyond the northern end of this map that is still considered part of the Highlands, and almost another 2000 miles up the Kugenzglaw river. The far south of the Highlands still has a row of basins beyond, and the seasons can barely be detected there. But all of these Highlands, every single square mile of this map but the eastern equator and the Salvador Basin, are subject to frost every dark. The plants retreat or recover from it. The people go indoors, animals dig into the ground, everything has to cope. This climate is common to the other equatorial basins of the planet such as Bordzvek, Vesh, Kln, etc. Most visitors assume this is the 'Climate of Kassidor' because it is the only part of the planet they have seen, but many parts of the planet have vastly different climates.

The big water of the lake is too big to freeze in that dark but may cool down twenty degrees from the 71F it was in Afternoonday. Everything more than a few feet from the water freezes. People have to prepare for air that cold and they do it with tough insulated mats that seal tightly, thick and luxurious quilts meant to feel sensuous on a naked body, and small wood or alcohol fires in fine ceramic stoves.

Now that the lake is complete, most of the regions are well watered. Most precipitation falls as snow during Dawnsleep, most of the light hours are bright and sunny. Unlike deeper regions of the planet, the sunshine is bright in this region and the sky is a familiar blue, more like that of Earth than Centorin.

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Regions

The New Midlands

To many, this is a separate basin, but to most this region is part of the Highlands, and certainly is west of Miolyra. That they are part of the same culture is unmistakable, but they are not really part of the same land. East of Miolyra it really is a midland. There is never frost except in the hills, Nightdays are a little chilly toward the end. Morningdays start brisk and sunny, get warm after lunch. Afternoondays are warm and humid, sunshowers pop up here and there.

The architecture is different because this is the heart of archwood country. All buildings are trees, there's a little stone and almost no crystal. Most doors open between two thick trunks, now often several times re-cut as the trees grew. The land is full of archwood villages festooned with flowers. It is all gentle hills and irregular fields between the villages. It looks noticeably more tropical than the Highlands.


History

In ancient times the land beyond the Mountains at the End of the World was considered dead. It was unremitting desert as far as anyone explored. There were few waterholes and if it rained there were flash floods that ran down the dry riverbeds until they sank into the sand.

People from the Highlands began to come thru here in the late Troubled Times and join other settlers in the northwestern corner of Uttermost West. After the Breakout there was enough rainfall that some forests had begun to grow along the slopes of the Pentuush beyond the Mountains at the End of the World. A few Highland Elves began to settle that area, which has the same climate as the Highlands.

It wasn't till after the wildhull covered the Ttharmine that there was enough water in the Testigar and Yornashi rivers for the extensive irrigation that has been built since. The irrigation systems here have been built in the last three thousand years so they are very modern with pipes and automated valves. Most delivery to the plants is drip and over the millennia it has built up enough humidity in the basin and its soils that the desert has turned to prairie and forest with abundant wildlife.


Culture

It is like the Highlands, and most of the culture described in this handbook is that culture of the Highlands with a few notes of the differences. This basin is the distilled core of that culture. This basin was settled from the Highlands when the Highlands was already a thousand years old. To us the land with it's deep worn roads and thick-trunked homes and soft fields looks ancient, but if you ask the people, they just moved in. Much of the land is still inhabited by the original settlers who can tell you about planting the house and how it grew.

Most people live a few percent one way or the other of growing as much as they eat. Most walk to a paying job between once a week and once a year. Though they read the same magazines and buy the same music and look to the Yakhan as the main city of the basin, the people of the midlands take it a little easier, don't talk quite as fast and are more willing to put things on the back burner. If they think about it at all, they say it's just because we're a little deeper.

People are not as into their bodies as in the Yakhan, but they still like to be admired. Topless women are very common but not universal on Afternoondays. There are beaches on all rivers and ponds, people get nude there, and at home in the garden. It's pretty much a custom if one has to work in the garden on Afternoonday.

In the bigger towns and cities there are clubs of many of the same chains you find in the Yakhan, in the villages there is one public tap. Everybody knows each other and the conversation usually gets around to who wants who at various points in the evening, as it does at country places in the Highlands. If you can speak enough Kassidorian to know what she is asking, someone will eventually ask you.

Some say the diddle doesn't have quite the same zip it does in the Highlands. Some say that is due to the higher alkalinity in the soil. Restaurants, cooks, waiters and waitresses follow the same customs as the Highlands but since there are few large cities, you may not find the variety.

The best part of this basin is, it is accessible on the tubes today. The Testigar and the Yornashi rivers both have tubes following them and both reach nearly to the Mountains at the End of the World. You can hike from one to the other at several places. You can follow back roads that will take you thru countryside that is quintessential modern Kassidor, all lush fields, grown houses and warm laughter. You get into enough conversations, if you can speak Kassidorian, that it will take you twice as long as the miles alone would indicate.

Beware that you don't think that after a local year in the Yakhan Megalopolis and a local year hiking thru the New Midlands, that you have 'seen Kassidor.' There are some very different cultures on the planet and it will take you Earth years to travel once around it. Remember that the New Midlands is a small part of the map of the Highlands, and the Highlands is but one basin of many.


Miolyra

Most people in the New Midlands consider the Yakhan to be the main city in the basin. People in the Highlands consider Miolyra to be the first city in the New Midlands. At 21.5 million, it is the third largest city on this map. It is primarily an industrial center on the Testigar River with several tall locks providing water power.

Miolyra provides many of the same cultural amenities as the Yakhan on a somewhat smaller scale. There is no posation league, but there is a muscle-ball arena. There isn't as much music and video from all cultures of the world as you find in the Yakhan, but the popular genres and the grand symphonic sound of the Highlands is well represented. The tube line from the Yakhan divides here with one going across the countryside to the headwaters of the Yornashi. There is a local system that is being expanded. There are no great canals in the city and no needleboats. There is a good streetcar system.

The city is built mainly of archwood with some stonework in the lower floors. There are lots of rope bridges between the trees in the residential levels. The main pedestrian streets are on the third floor. It is more compact than the Yakhan and the population counted as urban grows only 41% of what they eat. The produce markets on the docks are some of the busiest in the Highlands.

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The Gengee

There are some who also consider the Gengee to be a separate basin. The region they're talking about is the region between the Gengee and Daggereth arms of the lake, not counting the actual shoreline of the Daggerth Arm. The only thing that makes this a separate basin is the history.


History

In Prehistoric and ancient times there was a small sea in this basin, and along the northwest shore of that sea there were a few thousand square miles of frost-free climate that allowed the growth of onions. A small population of Trolls lived there in complete isolation from the remaining world.

The region was somewhat drier than it is today, what is now the Gengee Arm of the lake was a dry prairie with scattered herds of swift lenta and hakken. To the south and east were endless forests subject to weekly frosts. To the south and west the Uvon mountains stopped contact with the Lumpral basin.

These isolated people remained peaceful for thousands of years. During the Energy Age a glideway came thru the northern part of the region. Some contact was made but nothing lasting. After the Energy Age life went on as before. The Trolls there did not remain literate.

It wasn't till Kassidor's 35th century (651bc - 421bc) that Highland Elves started moving into the northern part of the region and began building the dams that would create the Gengee Arm. They remained in parts of the basin that were uninhabitable to the Trolls because they did not grow hardy onions. The streams they dammed were small and for quite some time there was little contact or friction.

When the water level in the sea began dropping noticeably, there began to be trouble. The Trolls were slow to interbreed with the Elves and thus were slow to catch the peace plague and later the sterility plague when it came thru. They were able to take military action against the Elves for some time, while the Elves had been without alpha males for centuries already and were largely unable to resist militarily. At one point the dam at Dels Balmeh was destroyed and the filling of the Gengee Arm was set back fifty years.

From the Elves point of view Shalta, the woman who seduced several of the Troll chiefs and spread the peace plague, was a Hero of the Lake and greatly honored by the Kassikan for the progress she made possible. Shalta did bask in the adulation for quite some time but later grew tired of it and slipped back into the population. There is some speculation that she has returned to the Gengee under a different name.

Within a couple generations the Trolls could no longer mount a military campaign to stop the lake. Within another thousand years the water in the basin had been drawn up into the lake and the sea shrank to a pair of small salt lakes. Most of the Trolls did gradually relocate to the lakeshore. Most of them made little if any change in their way of life, but did appreciate eternal youth.


Culture

This part of the Highlands actually has the most cultural difference, although it is still relatively small. The Gengee is less affluent than the remainder of the Highlands. Styles are more utilitarian and not as graceful and well finished. You find more stews and roasts on the menu and diddle is considered an ethnic food. The bioluminescent lighting common in the remainder of the Highlands is rare here, as are needleboats. In many homes there are no water-spray toilets (though all have plumbing) and many homes out of the cities cook with wood fires.

Today the population is a pretty even mix of Highland Elf and Troll and all combinations there of. There are quite a few Enurates from the Lumpral basin in recent times and they have blended into the population fairly well also. Appearance is not the fetish it is in most of the Highlands. People are still beautiful, but somewhat more unkempt than the remainder of the Highlands.

The Brazilians from the starship age settled mainly in this area. There weren't enough of them to have much of an effect on the gene pool, but their culture did make some differences in the area. This is the only area with fenced-in ranches instead of just driving cattle from the open range. Fancy leatherwork on saddles and other tack is traced to Brazilian influence. A few of the old ranch houses have inscriptions in Portuguese. Today only someone from Naiho can read them.

The cities are not quite as clean and stylish as in the remainder of the Highlands, but everything is still serviceable. The tubes today reach as far as Dels Balmeh, and in passing thru Gengee City, have enough stops to give the city pretty good local service. Data service is almost as good as in the remainder of the Highlands but there is no local 'pocket eye' service in the interior.

Finding companionship is only slightly different than in the Highlands, there are similar clubs and similar customs. It seems a bit more casual and lower key, about the difference between 'sure I'd love to' and 'yeah why not.'

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The Westlands

This is actually most of the population and area of the Highlands. There are several million square miles of rolling hills, tiny farms and winding paths bordered by fences covered in flowering vines. There are nearly three billion residents. They are mostly Highlands Elves but all kinds of Elves have come to the area and settled in large numbers. Over a lot of it the climate is even more severe then in the Yakhan with frigid dawnsleeps and searing Afternoondays.

On average, these might be the most affluent rural people in the Highlands. Their homes are well furnished and appointed. They are snug against the cold of dark and airy in the heat of Afternoonday. The Nightcoat reaches its highest development in the inland cities here like Fmalif and Kodestone.

The black forest is the home of the greatest mesawoods on the planet. They have been there for millions of years, but are under pressure today because the climate has become much wetter in the past few thousand years. That causes their hearts to rot faster then they add new wood around the edge. The environments in their rotting hearts (which may cover as much as a square mile) are unique and many new species have come into existence since the humidity increased. There is some concern that steps may need to be taken to preserve these largest known living things.

The Westlands have one of the greatest cities on the planet, the 'new Yakhan' or 'West Yakhan' named Lasnar. Until recently this was the fastest growing large city on the planet. It is a manufacturing and cultural center. Many of the same businesses that are in the Yakhan have branches there. There is a large university there also, and they have replicated the megastructures of the Kassikan in the central part of Lasnar. The music in Lasnar seems to average a little heavier than the Yakhan.

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The Northlands

In this region the large weekly swing in temperature has a pretty large yearly swing added onto it. The frost of dark will be mild in summer, but brutal during winter. Snow may lie on the ground thru the week in many areas, especially in the higher elevations. Farms tend to be larger because of the shorter growing season.

The Northlands Prairie has the largest herds of grazers in the Highlands. Because there is a tube line that goes thru Eizigor, it is the easiest serious hunting to get to on the planet. There are outfitters and guides out of Eizigor, and the area has become quite popular, so popular that it may be depleted in a few years. There is no possible regulatory mechanism to stop it.

In the hills just to the north of Kugenzglaw are the most popular ski resorts on the planet. There are even some lifts. They are the only ski lifts in operation on Kassidor today. There is better skiing on the planet, but it may take years to get into the region and weeks to get to the slopes and all day to make the climb to take a run down.

In addition, the night life in Kugenzglaw is far better than you find in some remote mountains and as of 4092, there is a tube line from the slopes to the city. Kugenzglaw is a city of about nine million, but most agree it has the second best night life in the Highlands. The sex clubs are very free-wheeling, the music is crisp and lively and there are more swank restaurants, per capita, than any other city in the Highlands.

In the very far north another series of dams and small cities leads to a river than runs down into the Salvador basin. The climate along this river is actually less severe than that around Kugnezglaw because it is lower in the atmosphere.

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The Eastlands

Except for the south near Domedia, this is a region of nearly flat land and slow rivers. The climate of the Highlands is gentled just a bit in this region. Crops can be protected from frost with coldframes and a greater variety can be grown.

In the north, there are many people who can trace their ancestry to the Salvador basin. There is a group called the Northern Wood Elves, the Dark Elves (who are becoming very rare) as well as Nordics, Trolls and Dwarves out of that basin. Some of the sigils used in the languages of that basin are sometimes seen even today. A few know some of the languages from that basin, but Dolostel is the closest place you will hear them. Dolostel is considered to be in the Salvador basin.

In the lower parts of the area, getting close to Dolostel, you find some archwood, but most of the homes in this area are still grown from hangleaves or even shaftwood.

Maybe because of the lingering influence of the Salvador Basin, there are slightly more couples in this area than the remainder of the Highlands. There are still enough singles and people seeking variety that you won't need to stay alone.

The cities are along the coast and the interconnects. Egaiga, Zharvai, Entisonggass and Chessanishaw are normally considered to be in the Eastlands. Zharvai is the oldest and considered the hardest partying city in the Highlands, and may also be the grubbiest major city. Entisonggass is considered the most money-oriented. Chessanishaw has a good music scene. All are on a tube line now, but Zharvai has only one station in the center of town. Entisonggass is a linear city along the dam and has many stations that provide local service.

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The Southlands

The lands along the Daggareth and Cutaiaa arms have the most spectacular scenery on the lake. Over most of this region, mountains come right down to the lake and they are steep and densely forested. More Wood Elves and Silvan Elves live in this region than other parts of the Highlands.

There are lots of lakeshore towns and fishing is a bigger industry in these arms of the lake than in the others. In these arms the water is usually too deep for lon.

Away from the lake the elevation makes the cold of dark quite severe, but there is plenty of wood for heat and most homes have good ceramic stoves to keep them comfortable. The inns will usually have a big fire downstairs that will send heat up thru passages to rooms in the branches above.

Beltora is the largest city in the south at almost five million. Aroonador and Daggareth are very much cities of the Highlands also and not part of the Gengee. Beltora has a lot of crystal buildings in the center giving it the look of a Centorin city. The tube line to Daggareth is under construction but has not reached there yet. Beltora and Aroonador have been connected.

Einatn Crater is a feature of interest. Two tunnels pierce the crater walls and a lake within connects the Cutaiaa to the Gengee Arm. The crater is just about 200 miles in diameter and is about 20 million years old. Life on the planet was changed greatly by the impact but it did not lead to massive loss of species. The total ejecta cloud was probably less than that suffered during The Fall because there were so many more impacts at the time.

Kassidor has been subject to more impacts than Earth. It's moons are too small to be much protection and the 61 Cygni system is home to more small bodies than that of the Sol. This crater is the scar of one of the largest recent ones, but there are several other craters on the surface that are close to a hundred miles in diameter. The high wastelands show even more since there is less erosion at work there.

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