The world of Manifestations
Manifestations is set on the world of Sena, a world as vast and diverse as our own. It has many stories to tell, but the focus of our story is the region known as the Ketaxil Peninsula.
The Ketaxil Peninsula
This is the northwestern portion of the continent of Kasuorvis, its southern lobe bordering a warm, shallow sea, whilst the northern tip thrusts into Sena's arctic circle. One of the oldest inhabited parts of the continent, the Ketaxil Peninsula plays host to several nations. The most prominent of these is Toxilivital, although it is only the latest in a succession of kingdoms and other states stretching back many thousands of years.
Places of interest within Toxilivital include:
Sia MarhuThe biggest city upon the Ketaxil Peninsula and the capital of Toxilivital, Sia Marhu lies on the shores of one of the four great lakes that run through the Toxiliviti lowlands. From the ground, the lakeshore is so vast as to be mistaken for the sea.
Sia Marhu is built against and upon the cliffside bordering the lake, and as such it is a two-tiered city. The Lower City, built upon the lakeshore, is the domain of the ordinary people, filled with the city's distinctive blocky buildings, covered in small balconies and rooftop gardens as the inhabitants try to make the most of their surroundings. The Upper City is built into the cliff sides and tops, and it is the seat of Toxilivital's secretive ruler, the Prime, their inner circles, and select scholar families. From high above the tiers, a waterfall plummets from the plateau above, channelled within the Upper City's gardens into twin falls that cascade side by side of the city. They reach the ground in two ornate parks within the Lower City, named North and South Cascade. Sia Marhu is famed for its double waterfall as the most breathtakingly beautiful sight in the Ketaxil Peninsula. At least, that's what the city used to be known for.
These days, it's more famous for the cold rift that runs through the city, cutting a wide arc through the Lower City's north end. In any other city, the inhabitants might have fled, but Sia Marhu is ancient, and so its inhabitants learnt to live with the intrusion. They erected tall, smooth white walls around the rift's arc (though whether it's to keep things out of the city or people out of the rift, nobody's sure) and carried on with their lives. To visitors, the Sia Marhu people's nonchalance toward the rift can be disturbing, but they will insist everything is under control - and for the most part, it is. But Sia Marhu is still well known as a hotbed of Phenomenon Class creatures, and a beast-hunter can find themselves in high demand for some unusual forms of pest control. Though invisible during the day, by night it appears as a white aurora dancing over the rooftops, bright enough to outshine all but the brightest stars - for this reason, Sia Marhu has been nicknamed "The City of No Stars".
But apart from that, everything in Sia Marhu is perfectly normal. Except perhaps for the strange dreams that you might experience from night to night, or the people who unexpectedly disappear, or the sight of the rift winding through the sky after the sun sets.
The TaivThis broad lobe of land is the oldest portion of Toxilivital, forming a bowl shaped terrain in the southwest. The mild climate and rich soil has made this an easy land to farm, and it was from here that the Toxiliviti began their rise to power, long before the Manifestation.
The Taiv's natural biome is lush, dense woodland, though over history much of this has been cleared to make way for farmland and cities. In the years following the Manifestation, though, the tides have turned. The forests have regrown at an unnatural pace, swallowing up any trace of civilisation in its way. They have long since destroyed Voji, the Taiv's former largest city, as well as countless smaller settlements. If not kept in check, the forest threatens to swallow the Taiv entirely.
Those who venture into the forests in search of the lost cities describe an unnaturally lush woodland, full of vast trees, near phosphorescent leaves, and a landscape that seems to change from day to day as if trying to steer intruders from its depths. On occasion visitors have seen glimpses of unnaturally large forest creatures such as deer, foxes, and birds, and it has been suggested that several myth class entities guard the deepest reaches and may be responsible for the forest's relentless growth.
The northernmost nation upon the peninsula, Rhusav is loosely organised as it was hit hard by the Manifestation. It is bisected north to south by mountains and was formed many hundreds of years before the Manifestation by the merger of two kingdoms east and west of the range. Although technically still a monarchy, currently that power extends only to the regions close to Rhusav's capital city, Vekdej. The rest, particuarly in the east, is a loose network of minor noble families who claim ownership over small tracts of mountain and taiga. These small domains frequently change hands, usually by violent means. Although in theory in the service of the Rhusav monarch, few of these families will have met them, and most do not know or particuarly care who the current ruler is. The Dhalsivs are just one of many such families. Further north, the system of warring families gives way to clans of roaming caribou herders who have little to do with their neighbours and are content to be left alone and away from the chaos.
Rhusav has few major cities and those it does have are small as much of the land cannot support a large population. Many of these cities were devastated in the Manifestation and their ruins are hence avoided as dangerous strongholds of the Cold. The largest piece of infrastructure still standing outside the remaining cities is the southern road, a simple but descriptive name that most Rhusavi know. It winds north to south through the eastern forests, connecting Rhusav with its southern neighbour Toxilivital, and is the primary route for news and trades with the south. Many of eastern Rhusav's cities lay on this route, though the road now twists and winds to avoid the ruins of those that no longer stand. Still, towns and villages cluster around the roadside, and it is considered to be the safest route through Rhusav, although that's not saying much.
Rhusav's climate is harsh, but mediated by its proximity to warmer ocean currents. Summers are short and cool, winters are long and bring heavy snow. The lowlands are blanketed in sombre taiga forest, which begin to thin out towards the north. The mountain slopes quickly give way to alpine meadows, and many of the peaks are snowcapped year round, with the result that many of Rhusav's rivers are glacier fed. Farming is difficult and hardier crops such as oats and rye dominate, though potatoes, introduced prior to the Manifestation, do well in the lowlands. Hunting for meat is a widespread practice, and the Rhusavi learn early on which animals are natural (and thus considered safe to eat) and which are not.
Most of the Rhusavi people are descended from Toxiliviti, and their language is closely related. Culturally they have diverged somewhat, as the Toxiliviti's philosophy of the importance of knowledge and understanding has been replaced by the need to survive, and many Rhusavi consider their southern counterparts to be soft and lazy, though this rarely goes beyond the odd insulting comment. There is still some semblance of the ancestral culture - books are a popular trade item, and the faith of Rakaros is common. However most Rhusavi stories of the wandering god are tied more strongly to the natural world. To a Rhusavi, Rakaros is a deity of the sun, daytime, growth, and summer, whilst his opposite figure Kroakani has become a representative of the moon, night, decay, and winter. The turn of the seasons is very important to the Rhusavi people, and the summer and winter solstices are the most important dates in the calender. These celebrations are marked by feasting, all night vigils, and huge bonfires. Indeed, fire is a common feature of Rhusavi ceremony, from marking the seasons to sending off the dead.
Places of interest within Rhusav include:
Rhusavi ForestsWith the exception of its bare peaks and slightly milder southwest, much of Rhusav is covered in dense boreal forest. Although temperature extremes are not as harsh as the continental forests of Kasuorvis' interior, the long freezing winters mean that this biome is dominated by tall conifers that can withstand the cold. Little else can grow here, and the forests are still, eerily silent places. This area has historically been known as the Rhuswood.
Life here is tied closely to the seasons. Long winters and heavy snowfall contrast with a fleeting summer where plants and animals alike rush to grow and breed. This is a very dangerous environment, not only for its harsh weather but for the variety of creatures that inhabit the woods, including karvites and blue taxraks. Worse still, anomalies connected to the Cold are said to be common in the deepest portions of the wood, ready to lead unwary travellers astray.
Rhesna ExpanseThe city of Rhesna was once the northernmost terminal of the south road, the trail that winds through much of eastern Rhusav and northern Toxilivital on its way to Sia Marhu. It was the largest centre of population in eastern Rhusav and perhaps its only city, a rare thing in the harsh forests.
The circumstances of Rhesna's destruction are unknown. Only when surrounding villages noticed that there had been no signs of life to and from the city for close to a month did they investigate. It was some fifty years into the Manifestation, and everyone expected ruins. Instead they found nothing more than a smooth expanse of pale paving stones, laid flat over the area the city had once occupied. There were no traces of buildings or any of the city's inhabitants.
The Rhesna Expanse has not changed since then. A few interested parties have banded together to explore it, whether to find the cause of the city's downfall or just to see if there's anything worth stealing. None of them stay for long. Visitors have reported that the paving stones are perfectly smooth and featureless, arranged in a regular pattern with no variation. Nothing grows here and animals, even monsters, avoid the tiles. There is nothing else but a steady, unrelenting wind that never seems to change direction or die away.
The last portions of the south road leading into Rhesna is overgrown, dwindling from an open road to a narrow trail and reclaimed forest, and it would take a good navigator to find the Expanse once more. Most agree that it's not worth the effort, not when you don't know what caused the incident, or whether it might strike again.