Akalani, the southern half of the continent of Dunali, is a lush tropical paradise, bounded by the Qunai Mountains to the north and the Sea of Vulta to the south. Akalani is covered in dense tropical rainforests. Its southern peninsula is not very high above sea level, and during the monsoon season, will completely flood. Thus, the fauna and flora there have adapted to large amounts of water. Some creatures there can not be found anywhere else on Tenov.
The northern border of Akalani is marked by the Qunai Mountains, the tallest mountains on Tenov. This majestic mountain range was formed by the convergence of the Akal and Duna tectonic plates thirty-five million years ago. This tectonic event still sends tremors through the area today; intense earthquakes are frequent in northern Akalani.
The Qunai Mountains is the birthplace of Akalani's four great rivers: the Svani, the Eranui, the Poluni, and the Akani. The Svani runs through the western forests of Akalani and empties into the Oten Ocean. It is the most rapid of the four great rivers, but floods little. The Eranui is the broadest of the four rivers, and twists through the central Yonei Valley, providing water for the Gurdu people. It empties into the Sea of Vulta at the Gulf of Rantu. The Poluni is different from the other four rivers in a significant way-- it flows underground. At the Mound of Pol, the great river rushes into an expansive cavern. The cavern has been enlarged for millennia as the Poluni has pounded at its walls on its journey under Akalani. Eventually, after twisting through a labyrinth of subterranean tunnels no on has fully explored, the Poluni empties into the Sea of Vulta fifty meters below sea level. The Akani is the shortest of the four great rivers, twisting through the eastern hills of Akalani. It empties into the Tanu Ocean.
The Yonei Valley is Akalani's central feature. Much larger than a real valley, the Yonei Valley is a large basin in the center of Akalani. The Yonei marks the Eranui watershed.
The Randani Peninsula, the southern most point of Akalani, is at most only twenty meters above sea level. The flat area is suspected to be much larger in the past, but rising seas have submerged much of its original land. If sea levels rise considerably in the future, the entire peninsula might sink below the waves.
Akalani has a plethora of plant species in its jungles, only a fraction of which have been recorded. Based on discovery rates on a twenty-five square kilometer area of land, it is predicted that one million tree species, five million flower species, and six million shrub species dwell in Akalani, half of those species endemic to their habitat.
There are two hundred identified trees in the Yonei Valley, most of them large. There is a current debate on whether the smaller trees should be considered trees or shrubs. If they are classified as trees, then the current amount of identified trees will double. Additionally, there is a possibility for several hundred more tree discoveries, as it should be noted that smaller trees are found in much greater number and diversity than large trees. Indeed, there are rumors of trees that grow on trees!
Aoni Tree Edit
The Aoni Tree could be considered the backbone of the Akalanese jungle. This massive tree is on average 120 meters tall and 20 meters wide at the base. Their thick branches grow at intervals along the trunk, dividing the forest canopy into easily identifiable layers. The Aoni produces a thick bitter sap that can be cooled to form a hard transparent substance. The Gurdu people have been using it as a substitute for glass for centuries. The Aoni lives in balance with the rest of the jungle. The death of one tree causes the destruction of hundreds, perhaps thousands of species' habitat.
The Budubudai is a tall, thin tree that is prized for its delicious and nutrient-rich fruit. The average height of a Budubudai is 40 meters, with a width of only 1.5 meters. The Budubudai grows quickly after germination, climbing 10 meters in a week. When storms come, the Budubudai is often blown over by strong winds. However, the flexible core of these trees allows it to right itself once conditions are more favorable.
The fruit of a Budubudai is a large orange globe, half a meter in diameter. A Budubudai can produce as many as fifty of these fruit in the spring, after the monsoons. However, these fruit are so heavy that they cause the tree to bend over. This allows animals to more easily reach the fruit and partake of its nutrients, and its many small seeds.
Fointi Tree Edit
The Fointi Tree is a tall tree that can reach 70 meters tall and 10 meters wide, making it one of the medium sized trees in Akalani's jungles. This tree is not very dense, making it not ideal for living on.
The main practical application was introduced by humans four hundred years before the present day, in the form of dugout canoes. The soft wood is perfect for both floating and carving. However, the Gurdu have little need to travel, preferring to stay in their villages.
There is an abundance of flowering plants in Akalani, growing everywhere possible. There is every color in the spectrum available, in every pattern, shape, and size.
The whoopingbell is a vine that inhabits the understory of the jungle. It has a blue-tipped violet-indigo flower with a cone shaped blossom. Whoopingbells will circle a tree trunk within its first year, making a leafy spiral. Then the plant will flower, blanketing the lower part of the tree with small vibrant blossoms. After flowering, the plant dies, leaving its stiff coils still around the tree.
The namni is a common flower of the treetops. The plant is deposited by birds flying overhead. The seed is globular and sticky, so when it hits the top of the tree, it holds fast. Once rains come, it germinates and within 2-3 days, produces a cup-like flower filled with sweet nectar. The flower has either red, orange, or yellow petals. Once pollinated, the flower becomes a round fruit encasing the seed, which is eaten by birds, who then repeat the process. Sometimes, other creatures eat the fruit, and the seed grows lower down the tree. The lack of abundant sunlight causes the flower to die.
As diverse the plantlife of Akalani is, its wildlife is even more interesting. All of these creatures have adapted to life in the canopy or among the thick bases of the forest's trees. Animals' mobile nature make them hard to study, and there are many more yet to be discovered.
The Jooyni is a small lithe mammal that stalks the ground below the trees. It walks on four legs and is a meter long from nose to tailtip. The Jooyni features a prehensile tail a third of its actual body length, which it uses to hang from low branches. The Jooyni is difficult to spot among the foliage because of its peculiar coat, which is a leafy green. This abnormal coloring is due to the presence of symbiotic mosses that live in its fur. Even with a trained eye, a Jooyni is difficult to spot among the underbrush. The Jooyni feeds on small birds and mammals that live in the understory, often climbing trees to catch prey. It is quite agile, and will not give up on a chase. Unfortunately, a number of Jooyni die each year due to a fungus that targets the moss in its fur. The fungus infect the animal as well, causing inflammation and open sores.
The vara is an elusive predator that stalks the thick branches of the canopy. It has six dexterous legs equipped with curved claws that allow it to grip the sides of trees as it hunts its prey. The vara has a reptilian, scaly body and a thick, whip-like tail that it uses for self defense. Males are larger than females, growing up to three meters in length. Females on average are only two meters long. Males have the ability to change the color of their scales by releasing pigments in little glands under their skin. This camouflage makes the vara a deadly predator. Females cannot change their color, and have a telltale blue stripe down their spines. A female vara can lay up to seven eggs during breeding season, and the incubation period is eight months. The vara preys on nesting birds and canopy monkeys, and when food is scarce, sometimes humans.
The sloth is a gentle creature that lives in the canopy of the jungle. It hangs from branches for most of its lifetime and sleeps for 80 percent of the day. It feeds on mosses, ferns and other epiphytes. Sloths live in social groups called tribes, where there is an elder sloth that leads the group. Members of the tribe are acutely aware of each other, and though they are not very well equipped to defend themselves, remaining together in a tribe wards of predators for some reason. The sloth is most impressive in its hidden ability, which has only been discovered by the Gurdu people. The elder sloth has a specific role in this, for when a new child is born among the Gurdu people, the elder sloth comes and inspects the infant. Then, in a way not yet known, the sloth blesses the child with a bond to another infant sloth. The two become linked in spirit, and the sloth can aid the child by giving it powers. The extent of powers available is unknown, but there are records of flight, extreme strength, invisibility, pyromancy, hydromancy, and shapeshifting.
Tanine, Canis LignumEdit
Canis Lignum or the Tanine as it is more commonly called is a small plant-beast belonging to the Floras Family. Vaguely resembeling a dog the Tanine is made up of hundreds of thousands of vines all interwoven and twisted together in such a way as to make it nearly impossible to tell the creature is not solid, in fact for 10 years after it's discovery it was not known that the Tanine was made of vines it was thought to be solid just like every other kind of animal. In the wild Tanine cannot consciuslly control these vines but they do react to their emotions. When a Tanine feels hostile or threatened it will disconect a few vines at one end raising them into the air and waving them about to appear larger, and when a Tanine feels content or happy it will gently thrum it's vines creating a dull hum similair to that of a cat's purr. Canis Lignum's reproduction system is to our knowledge unique and quiet a site to behold. Firstly Males congregate in certain areas that never change from year to year they will always meet at these spots which are always deep in the forest. The Males will then run off in pursuit of worthy prey those who bring back the most impressive kill will recieve the best mates. Once mated a Male and a Female will journey far from this proving ground into they are fairly isololated here they will begin to mate. The mating process has 3 stages the first is called Unraveling stage (or to commoners the Chaotic Ball of Yarn stage) in which the Male and Female will both unravel their vines turning them from carefully crafted plant-dogs into Chaotic Balls of Yarn (see above). Once this is accomplished Melding stage begins and the Male and Female will meld together grabbing eachothers vines with their own untill an onlooker cannot distinguish between the two. Next comes the Tree stage, this is by far the longest of the stages and can take as long as 3 months until it is complete, in this phase the Male and Female that have been melded together will slowly rise up into the shape of a large green tree perfect in every shapely aspect save color. Then over the course of the 3 months fruit will begin to grow and ripen on the trees branches once ripe they will fall to the ground splitting open to reveal a new Tanine. Once all fruit has been shed from it's branches the Tree will slowly diminish in size as it's children suck it's sap from it's roots. Eventually it dies and by this time it's young have grown strong on it's sap and are fully mature Tannine.
Medusa Tree, Vinae AnguisEdit
The Medusa Tree or Vinae Anguis is a plant-beast that has been so exaggerated by wandering travelers that there reputation has grown far beyond the truth. But not by much, the deadly Medusa Trees are truly fearsome enemies especially because of their rarity, you never know if they're sneaking up on you. The Medusa Tree itself is really just a hub a central point of a vast complex that can span dozens of miles and in one record case a Medusa Tree with a 103.2 radius was discovered. The hub is not so different looking from a regular tree save for a large face in the center of the tree. Similarly to how an aspen it can put up stems from it's root systems the Medusa tree can extend shoots from it's root systems but in the Medusa Tree's case these shoots are tinged with poisonous spines. Since the Medusa Tree can span such a large range whole forests have been declared off limits due to a Medusa Tree infestation. Those brave enough to get o the Medusa Tree's hub will be met with needle sharp branches and a ground writhing with roots that make the ground tremble. The Medusa Tree is also capable of 'corrupting' other trees while this is extremely difficult for it, it usually makes a point of doing this as all 'corrupted' trees act as the Tree's eyes and ears that are out of her direct line of sight (while most Medusa Trees are called 'she' this is not always the case). The Medusa Tree despite it's dangerous prospect has become the focus point of many groups, guilds and even cultures. Those involved in these groups in exchange for a few goats and cows gain the right to 'run the forest' the challenge behind this is to get to the central hub clearing without dying. An agreement set up with the Medusa Tree then allows the adventurer to venture out of her woods without fear of reprisal if they got to her. Those who succeed are viewed with a sense of elitism and they are given incredible respect.
Sapient Inhabitants Edit
Akalani's highest intelligent creature is the human, which live in the Yonei Valley. The human population is divided between two nations, the treedwelling Gurdu people and the Qune people of the foothills. Both of these nations live in relative isolation to each other, each reluctant to enter the other's realm. The humans are unmatched in Akalani in means of wit and intellect. They are adaptable and resourceful, the Gurdu in particular. Though neither nation has progressed very far technologically, the Qune people are mastering the art of bronzeworking, which they use to adorn their mountain temples.
The Gurdu Edit
The Gurdu people are resourceful humans of the jungle. They dwell in elevated villages in the branches of Aoni trees, and they scarcely touch the ground. The Gurdu people have noticeable physical differences from the Qune or other humans. They are shorter, with an average height of 132 centimeters, and a bronze complexion. The Gurdu are hunter-gatherers, albeit effective ones. The dense foliage and poor soil of the jungle makes it difficult to grow crops, and the Gurdu people's knowledge of the forest has accumulated from generations of learning.
A typical Gurdu village is centered around a single tree and can have as many as thirty huts and one treehouse. The treehouse is the focal point of the village and is built into the trunk of the tree, enlarging its interior. As many as two hundred people live in a single village, and there is an estimated three hundred fifteen Gurdu villages in the Yonei Valley.
The Gurdu have a quasi-religious relationship with sloths, as the sloth can grant its partner magical powers. Sloths are respected and cared for by the Gurdu, and often a sloth tribe will live among a Gurdu village.
Evertrees are the guardians of the deep woods. Wherever there is forest that is deep and dark and quiet you will find them there. These majestic wonders of the woods are vaguely manlike in shape standing tall on two study legs and using long branchlike arms. These plant-men patrol these deep portions of the woods driving out all those humans who would kill it's trees or animals. Those who dare enter a forest patrolled by these vicious guardians take care that he does not come near you. The Evertrees are unique among the entire Floras family as they have some slight sentience. Those who have managed to befriend these majestic plant-men have reported that they even have a religion that none of them are ever told but the knowledge is passed down generation to generation mind to mind. It centers aroud THE Evertree. The Evertree it is said was the first living thing on the world sprouting alone from the soul it grew taller then any tree had ever grown and will ever grow it's towering leaves brushed the stars in the heavens and stretched where they air grew thin riveling some mountains. The tree grew until it touched the sun, drawing the sun's enery from it the tree inhaled the power of life itself and so it awoke. That day when it partook of the sun's power it shook itself and looked about itself as the power of life flowed through it. It saw nothing but endless oceans of dirt and water with nothing to break the monotony and so it shared it's power spreading it out over the world like a blanket covering it in it's vibrant energy. Grass grew trees popped up and animals began for the first time to wander the earth. But this had a price the Evertree in giving up the life force that had sustained it died and shared it's final energy with her children the trees. Those endowed with the most power regained her old gift that of thought and movement. These were the first of the modern Evertrees who have taken their name from their first Mother. When it is time for them to die they send the life power that they had used in life to another tree young giving it to life and thought just like their first Mother and so the numbers of the Evertrees are set never to change except to diminish.