This is one of the great basins of the planet, eight and a half million square miles and close to two billion people. It does not get a lot of attention in the Centorin media because it is quite distant and little of its history has become popular fiction. That is because its history has not been particularly violent and few powerful ancient artifacts from the Energy Age were left in this basin, so that its history is no more exotic than that of Southeast Asia.
Very few prehistoric sites have been found in the basin. There were some settlements along the river and seacoast, a few tribes roamed the near interior. The cultivation of onions was not possible over most of the basin before the Energy Age, and the interior is years in extent. It is a challenge today for expeditions to cross the Etendur plateau, though in modern times there are nomads who survive in those harsh conditions up to three and a third miles above standard sea level.
There were at least three waves of colonization by the Fmak along the southern coast. The first was before the Energy Age, the other two were in the Troubled Times. Each time exploitive colonies were set up reporting to the Fmak emperor thru his church. They were farmed by serfs or slaves, there was little record of their treatment, plenty of records telling of the crops and tons produced, except during the oldest wave of colonization which was before writing.
The name of the basin can be translated best as 'Total Freedom of the Vast Prairie' and it comes from some of the serfs or slaves of the oldest Fmak colonies. They were aware of the vastness behind them. It seems there were secret organizations to help them get away and aide them in an overland trek to a secret haven deep in the interior. Few of the time believed it was true, most knew it was a band of cannibal pirates who raped all their female captives and kept the heathiest to raise children.
Of course both were true. Once the dynasty that founded them collapsed, the colonies were abandoned and no doubt there were bands of cannibal pirates in the jungles. There was also a secret land deep in the interior far away from any expedition the Fmak emperor could mount. It was so distant that many of the freed slaves never reached their destination. Most became convinced there was no such place a year or two into the journey and the line of cities along the central part of the basin traces the migration route of the escaped slaves across every valley that was warm enough to grow onions.
But there was a haven at the end of the trail, a land of freedom and democracy. Big farms lined the top of a bluff for many days march, onions survived the winter dark in fields in the lowlands less than a hundred miles away. A large canal was built only a few hundred feet below sea level along the top of the bluffs. In its hundred and ten mile span it goes across three bridges, one is fifteen hundred feet long and five hundred feet high, and thru two tunnels, the longest half a mile. All that was built by the time of the Energy Age. How the civilization of Dempala missed it, when they had orbital vehicles, is a mystery they can't explain to this day. The canal and the cities of the time can be detected on orbital pictures taken in that time now that we know where to look.
For centuries the only permanent settlement in the vast interior of the basin was along that canal. The republic, the kingdoms of later ages, all are in that one small area that catches a little extra rainfall and warmth. The area that is covered by the city of Ydlontrostl today.
During the Energy Age the Republic of Hest learned of the Elves, though the Elves never learned of them. They were able to procure a supply of bacteria that make plastic from wood and other vegetable wastes, so that they were able to make plastic sheeting cheaply enough to cover commercial quantities of onions for the dark, and all trade with the lowlands was curtailed for the remainder of the Energy Age. The ports and roads up the hills were abandoned. We have to assume that because that plastic was put on at dusk and removed at dawn, it was never seen from space.
During The Fall the republic collapsed because they were very dependent on tallgrains at the time. The canal was never extended, and fell into disrepair by 2400bc. The population of the area found substitutes for the tallgrains and after a century was increasing again. Several powerful kingdoms arose in the land along the ancient canal, their names live on in some of the names of the individual cities that make up the urban area today. There was more pomp and bluster than warfare between them. There were powerful nobles and lots of international intrigue. It would be fertile ground for romance writers if any of them knew the time and period.
During this time the temple of Karasis Yuhal was built in the republic of Yuhal. Yuhal was in what is now one of the western arms of the urban area. The temple is one of the largest buildings ever constructed. It is seven miles along the north to south axis and three miles east to west in each of the arms. The three mile square Courtyard of Sunset was between them. At that time the building walls were up to five hundred feet of sheet crystal residence chambers around that court and the whole courtyard was paved and landscaped.
That was all done in the name of the god the Fmak emperor claimed to represent on the mortal plain. The escaped slaves had not given up their religion, just their need for a single man to represent him. The republic of Yuhal was the last to continue the traditions of the Hest republic. As it was a theological republic, the church was the state and housed in the temple. As most of the people had voted themselves onto government handouts by then, most of them were also housed in the temple. The church continued to receive a lot of support from people thruout the area, and continued to maintain churches in all the states of the area. Yuhal even had the canal restored for awhile, before it became the economic basket case it was in its later years.
The settlements started by people who had become disillusioned on the trek to Ydlontrostl had grown to cities and kingdoms long before the end of the Troubled Times. Again there was plenty of historical detail in the area, none of which has been chronicled in the popular press in English or Centish, though some incidents have been written up as mythical events and kingdoms in Hindi.
Late in the Troubled Times a canal was built from the river to the base of the uplift holding the Ydlontrostl kingdoms. There were ports on this canal at all the old onion fields, and the trails up into the hills were turning to roads. During this time trade was underway with Kshoned, Edniktar and at times the Fmak empire. The biggest merchant ships of the age were out of Kshoned where they were building the equivalent of the square riggers of Earth's 19th or Centorin's 28th century by 1000bc.
Thru much of the early and middle 34th century (881bc. - 651bc.) there was a protracted war with the Fmak. They had established colonies again and tried to annex the kingdoms along the slave trail. The Fmak navy made landings all along the coast and some beachheads were hundreds of square miles and were held for many decades. The size of the land proved to be too much for the Fmak. The population of just the kingdoms of the slave trail was larger than that of the Fmak homeland by now, and they were more prosperous. They weren't as warlike or as organized, but much of the resistance was the people of the land wielding their sharpened farm tools.
In the Modern Age the canal has been restored and the land of all the kingdoms along these bluffs in the Troubled Times has grown into a single urban area. It is another of the urban areas that grows most of what it needs, but still must import thousands of tons per day. Most of that comes up the same routes that once saw onion caravans with big packs borne on keda back. Today there are wide roads with lanes of keda-drawn wagons going up and down them.
The endless western interior of the basin was not opened at all until modern times when the fast onion was available. Even that can only be grown along the river valleys even now so there are still millions of square miles of uninhabited prairie and savannah remaining in the basin. That may change as this basin is currently receiving the most immigrants of any. Perhaps most important of all, it is receiving a lot of Centorin immigrants and they are making a lot of long term investments in the areas around the big bend area on the North Ydlontrostl River. That area has the climate of Kex for the month of winter, up to twenty degrees warmer in the month of summer. The tubes will not reach that area until 4250.
The Fmak people who escaped into the interior from three waves of colonization have changed significantly from that time. The people who lived in this basin at the beginning of modern times had dusky skin and shiny black, bronze or copper hair. They had grown in stature and had less dimorphism, except the women are usually somewhat bustier than the Fmak. The social position of women had changed for the better, they were no longer property but recognized as souls by their religion.
In modern times there is full equality. Many other ethnic types have migrated to the basin. More than any other basin, ethnic type is a matter of personal preference. Many who move to this area choose to modify their look to be more like the original natives, for they are pretty good looking people, resembling Latin Americans or Middle Eastern people. But this basin sees the most genetic experimentation of all. You may find six legged centaurs, people with four or even more arms, hermaphrodites, people of all colors, horns and antlers, even a population with gills who live in the middle stretch of the river.
Somewhere along the way, either thru mutation, genetic loss or interbreeding, the people of Ydlontrostl lost the Fmak mutation favoring reedy music with grating tone clashes and began to enjoy music with harmony and melody and rhythm. The rhythm is pretty subtle most of the time and the harmonies can be rather striking. Some describe the most popular music here as power-swamp or Trenst-on-steriods, but whatever it is, it goes good with the visual arts it is usually paired with.
Their religion was very important to them from the first settlement and still is to them today. They agree it is the one binding force of society, the compact by which they all agree to live together. Their religion today is totally scientific and funds most of the scientific study in the basin. The church is still the leading institution, taking the place of the Kassikan in the Highlands, the cargo companies in Zhlindu or the Merchants Council of Bordzvek. Even though Ydlontrostl is considered a 'new' basin, the church is a thousand Earth years older than the Kassikan. It still occupies and maintains the northernmost square mile of the Karasis Yuhal in very close to the condition it was built. They have re-arranged a lot of the interior to increase efficiency, but the faces of immense stone are still there and regularly re-surfaced with protectant.
The warm hours clothing is a bit reminiscent of the Highlands but it's lacier and more elastic. It is laced on auto looms programed to individual measurments. For business they put a relatively loose knee-length translucent layer over it. The snug lower layer is closed for males, open but a bit longer for females, at least for business. The over layer may be a heavier material in the dark. Males often wear shoulder pockets, in colder hours, shoulder pockets with sleeves. Nightcoats come in all sizes shapes and styles and the average resident of the basin can afford two or three, a heavy and a light one, and then maybe one with style. They have leggings and boots for the dark, all but the far south and the Tuidain coast can see significant snow.
You'll meet people in any public place, but in this basin is is supposed to be the woman who makes the sexual advances, for a male to do so is considered boorish. One is expected to be polite when refusing and there will be times you will have to refuse unless you are really ugly or have enhanced your stamina. There are few other rules, casual encounters are just that, most people are actually in a long-term committed relationship.
There are few parts of the basin but the deep south where you need to be concerned about going to her place. The urban people in the towers have really nice homes reminiscent of the best of Trenst, the Yakhan or even Bordzvek, lacking only a tube port and autochef to be a fine home in Kex. The country people often live underground, but they have heat, light and modern plumbing in most cases. Very few city people have data service in the home, and almost none in the country. In the city a data terminal is less than an hour's walk, in the country it could be more. Treehouses along the path are also very common in both the country and the city. In the lowlands and the south they are usually archwoods, in the interior they will be hangleaves, usually bigleaf multibreaks. In agricultural areas the population is usually a little over one thousand per square mile. Urban land is about two to four thousand per square mile, so being in the city or country isn't as different in character as in most basins.
Travel is comfortable over most of the basin, once you get here. You will find hot water, warm women and cold beer in most inns. In the south and east you'll travel by coach more than canal boat, but once you get to the river, you'll travel by packet everywhere you go. In the Ydlontrostl basin the tradition of sexual adventure among travelers is second only to Zhlindu. There are places along the waterfront to meet people to share a cabin, both as passengers and for those working their way. In coaches the prettiest girl will pick first and you may have arrangements for the sleep before you even reach the inn. Group sex in a coach is not unheard of in this basin, but you will not be forced to participate. There may be room beside the driver.
Now about the hunting. There are four main regions. Prepare for a safari of more than a local year to any of them, prepare for multiple years to reach the Etendur or the plains of the far north. You will probably have to winter over once or twice on the expedition. Often it is in a camp that has been used for thousands of years, and some of them are pretty snug. The whole basin is loaded with various members of the mrang order. These are all large and tasty, and many, especially in the north and the Entendur, have valuable fur. The danger in hunting any type of mrang is that the whole herd can turn on you. They are slow moving and ponderous, but their shells, horns and size can make them dangerous.
There are professional and amateur safaris. Some are run almost like military expeditions. There will be good comradery. They will bring enough women to go around. They may be part of the staff or they may be hunting also. If you have come to Kassidor for the hunting, the trips into the mid basin plains are probably the best if you can find the time to get this far. Chose these because the short hair mrang don't tend to run in as great a herd, and the theiropsoids don't hunt in packs in this area. The Bmuul is a fast and vicious four hundred pounder that you better post guards for when you sleep.
The Tuidain Swamp is probably the least dangerous of the great swamps. The surface temperature varies from near 120 in the far south to the mid 90s in the north. Because it is the least dangerous, if you try to enter it, you might just live long enough to actually see it. You will not make it back. There are no expeditions into the area, no reputable guides into it. There are some crews in the far north that are trying to clear a sea route to Kshoned, but that's nearly a battleground and they don't want tourists.
The most difficult part of reaching this basin is the two local year caravan that skirts the north side of the Tuidain along the edge of the North Durelgar Waste. The trail is treacherous in spots, the weather can be nasty and finding food can be difficult. There are almost no facilities along the caravan route and when you do reach an oasis, even though it is rough, it will be tempting to stay there rather than brave more of the trail.
Once you finally do reach the Ydlontrostl basin, like most Centorins who do, you'll probably be content to wait for tube service before returning.
Most people in this basin believe in the Kassikan, the Yakhan and Centorin. They have the notion that the remainder of the empire, Centorin, Earth, Naiho and all the rest, combined, are not as big as their basin. If you take the five year journey up the river, you may come to believe as they do.