Can I have Area 14? I promise to be good to it.
Area 14: The Longest Land, or Hesurach
Everyone knows that when we die, our souls travel to the Longest Land, where they ascend through the clouds to their ultimate fate. The scholars and wizards of the world call it Hesurach, but those that live there know that it truly is the longest land, passing through this world and into the next. You do not have to spend much time in the Longest Land to realize that the land is not meant for mortals.
The land is old. The cyclopean ruins that dot the landscape are huge, and have been made for something much, much larger than a human. The labyrinths beneath them are immense, and only the shallowest of them have been excavated or explored. Gigantic highways still run across the land, forty feet across, built by the same extinct forerunners. In many places the flat stones that make up the road have been pried up and sold in the lowlands. Water is still transported by an ancient system of canals. The entire plateau is crisscrossed with canals and aquaducts, many tens of thousands of them.
The land is haunted. They are commonly seen, by merchant caravans as well as scribes. Ghosts, phantoms, spirits--there are many answers, but the phantoms seem to defy explanation. There seem to be two kinds of spirit. The first are called "husu", and are sometimes described as headless elephants that travel across the land in slow-moving herds. But they are so indistinct, that there is little agreement about what they truly were in life. The other type are called "Hro-yen", and they are the ghosts of giants. Their crypts have been found, hidden deep inside the earth, and many hundreds of mummies, each twenty feet tall. In bad winters, it is not uncommon for irreverent individuals to burn them for heat, and the giant bones are ground up to make black paint and dye. Called "Giant's Black", the paint is one of the Longest Land's most famous export.
The land is wet, cold, and flat. Cold rain falls on the plateau 200 days out of the year. This water is collected in the canals and to irrigate the fields. The entirety of the Longest Land is flat. With a few exceptions, such as Mount Thorn, the elevation across the plateau only varies about twenty feet or so. The entire plateau is almost perfectly flat. This immense flatness drives those not used to it to madness, called "staring sickness" by the locals. The canals are so frequent, that travel across the plateau is frequently done in small in a small type of sailboat called the jatho. In the eastern half of the plateau, where the canals are more frequent and better maintained, it is more common to see sailboats are more common than wagons.
The land is somehow a contraceptive. Conception is difficult. Couples try for years to have a child, only to fail again and again. For this reason, the people of the Longest Land are vegetarians, even if they don't wish to be. Cows never give birth to calves. Chickens lay empty eggs. Meat is a rare, expensive delicacy for those that indulge in it, and even they risk condemnation from their neighbors. Eating meat is seen as the most arrogant thing you can do. Another consequence of the near-zero fertility rates: nearly everyone is an immigrant. The people of the Longest Land are extremely diverse and open-minded. At least, the city-dwellers are. The Blue Tongue People are a different story. Because children are so rare, it is seen as a huge boon to have one. Children are a status symbol. For this reason, parents frequently bring their child with them at all times, so that everyone can see how heaven has favored them. Not only do blacksmiths keep their child near the door to their shops, but merchants, lawyers, masons, and even soldiers. In fact, it's not uncommon to find an entire family together at "their" occupation. And lastly, there is a thriving market for fertility charms and potions. The people of the Longest Land are known for eating all sorts of weird things in an attempt to increase their virility, or to get pregnant. Everything from iron shavings to tiger penis. There is even a style of cuisine, called "sungatham", that is intended to maximize your chances of pregnancy. There are even restaurants that only serve sungatham food. Everyone knows that pregnancy isn't biologically possible on the Longest Long, and so any children who are born do so only through the direct intervention of a god. All sorts of traits are ascribed to these children: they are all beautiful, they can perform miracles, their parents will never die in poverty, etc. These children--the native Longlanders--are called "Blessings". Only an ignoramus calls them Longlanders. If your wife was born in the Longest Land, she is a Blessing. You have a Blessing wife. It is still seen as something special, and Blessings in distant parts of the world frequently seek each other out.
The food is strange. Normal crops don't grow well in the Longest Land. They suffer from the same infertility as the rest of the species. Instead, the most common grain is called tasselgrass. Tasselgrass is a pale plant that seems to be in the same family as wheat. However, the stalks are very rigid, and grow over ten feet tall. The stalks are as tough as bamboo, although they lose their rigidity when dry, and cannot be used as building materials unless specially treated. Tasselgrass takes two years to grow to maturity, and is semi-translucent when young. By the first fall, the stalks have begun to turn milky, and by the second year the tasselgrass is white or pale yellow.
But but many elements are still normal. The people of the Longest Land are sorted into a handful of semi-independent city-states that have--incredibly--coexisted peacefully for their entire existence (although there have been exactly TWO bloody crusades waged in Hesurach, more on this later). They have harvest times, taxes, and militias. But unlike the rest of the world, the cities are small. Tiny. What is called a city in the Longest Land would be called a town anywhere else.
The closest thing that the Longest Land has to a capitol is the cathedral of [YOUR GOD HERE], built and maintained by the church of [YOUR GOD HERE] in [YOUR CITY HERE]. The cathedral is the final point of that religion's pilgrimage. Building and maintaining the cathedral is an honor to them, and a point of pride in their identity. They can proudly show the rest of the world this magnificent manifestation of their faith. Except for Mount Thorn, the cathedral is the tallest structure in the land. Naturally, an entire secondary economy has sprung up around it.
BLEARGH I'M TIRED AND REALLY @!#$ING HUNG OVER SO I'M GOING TO GO TO BED NOW AND FINISH THIS WHEN MY HEAD STOPS EXPLODING BUT I TOTALLY PROMISE I WILL COME BACK AND MAKE THIS PLACE INTERESTING LATER
The land is beautiful. The Longest Land is too large to call it a plateau, but most of it is more than 1000' above sea level. The cliffs in the west, where Hesurach meets the ocean, are called the Heavenly Step and are regarded as one of the most beautiful things in the world, and hundreds of painters have traveled there to create their own vision of the cliffs. They are perhaps the most painted subject in the world.
Mount Thorn is the tallest object in Hesurach. Like much of the rest of the plateau, the mountain seems shaped by some tremendous, ancient process. It is symmetrical, and tapers up to a steep pinnacle. From a distance, it looks much like the thorn of a rose. The flanks of the mountain are covered with black-needled pine trees and small red flowers called ladysblood. The mountain is home to one of the few wild animals that live in Hesurach--a large, hardy breed of goat (although some claim that is a deer). They are called Ollerhorns, and although the meat is savory, they are bad luck to hunt, because of the child-like screams they give when they are wounded. There are certain stars and wandering celestial lights than are only visible when on the mountainside. These secret, local stars are called thornpyres, and the higher up one goes, the more stars become visible. At the summit (which few have attained) the sky is clotted with millions of them. However, those that attempt to study the thornpyres invariably go mad. These madmen burrow into the mountain, and are never seen again.
Purgatory is one of two cities that claims to be the one closest to the afterlife. It is not any larger than it's surrounding towns, but it has the distinction of being on a main road into the plateau. It is ruled by a woman called Governor Gesta Barlahan. The office of inherited, and she become governor only after her two elder brothers died. One fell into a canal on his way home from a party and drowned, and the other was killed when a shingle fell on his head. When she became governor, the young Gesta promptly cancelled her engagement and enacted several reforms. For generations, Purgatory had been using the subterranean catacombs of the mummified giants as their warehouses (like all cities in the Longest Land), but Gov. Barlahan outlawed the practice, causing many warehouses and grain silos to be built and many businesses to leave the city. She also began construction of a series of windmills in the name of modernization, but with the loss of business and funding, much of the construction is delayed indefinitely. She has blamed the cities misfortunes on the long-dead giants, and seems desperate enough to hire anyone who claims to be a ghost hunter or spirit talker.
The Elephant's Teeth are the largest group of the few surviving above-ground giant dwellings in the Longest Land. They are square buildings built in two long, parallel lines along a cracked and overgrown canal. Most of these dwellings have collapsed into rubble, but a large number of the Blue Tongue People seem to have settled in them, eschewing their normal vagabond lifestyle. This is the closest thing the Blue Tongue People have to a city, and some merchants come here to trade with them. The Blue Tongue People have built their markets in the hallways made for giants, and have built their houses under their stone benches.
The Poison Bowls aren't are a trio of lakes on the south side of Hesurach. Like all six of the small lakes in this plateau, the Poison Bowls are nearly perfectly circular. However, they are unique in one respect: the central lake has dams that control the flow into the two, much smaller lakes along side it. The dams are huge, and extend deep underground. Some theorize that the two structures meet together under the central lake, as part of a much larger construction whose significance they have not yet divined. The water in the Poison Bowls is safe; the name comes from the diverse and deadly breeds of water snakes that make the lakes their home. The druids of the lakes are proud of claiming that there are 24 species of snake, each with a different deadly venom and uniquely brilliant skin.