The Kingdom of Dasak – geography and climate

This week, I’m participating in a fun idea for a bloghop that Sharon Bayliss came up with: to blog every day about a different aspect of the worldbuilding you’ve done for a novel (or series of novels)!

The challenge for Day 1 is to describe the geography and climate of your world.  The world I’ve chosen to describe is the Kingdom of Dasak from my Dreams of Fire and Gods trilogy.

The Kingdom of Dasak is much like medieval Europe in terms of climate and the types of vegetation and animals one might find, though it is just a bit different, inhabited by creatures like the ghusat and the ten’nak (described below).  The trilogy takes place in late summer and early fall, so the nights are growing chilly, but it is still possible to camp outdoors without much hardship.  Winters in Dasak are moderate, but they do have snow.  The kingdom occupies the basin of a large valley, bordered by mountains to the north and uncharted forests to the south.  The capital is on the southwestern shore, beyond which lies a vast ocean.  To the extreme northeast of the valley lies a trade route to other kingdoms that few in Dasak have ever seen.

First, let’s take a look at the map:


The entire kingdom was united at one time, when the roads built by the Old Empire still provided relatively easy passage from east to west.  But two hundred years ago, the enormous bridge that spanned the chasm between Mat’zovya (a city founded upon the fishing industry of Lake Zovya) and the Dead Forest (the brownish area in the middle of the map) collapsed.  Now the East Kingdom is ruled by the emperor’s regent, known as the vek, while the emperor resides in zü-Khemed in the West Kingdom.  (More on the political structure tomorrow.)

There are many more cities and villages than those labeled on the map.  Those are simply the ones Sael, Koreh and Geilin come across in their travels.

A place best avoided:

Old Mat’zovya used to be Mat’zovya several centuries before the bridge collapsed.  But the accumulation of silt over time caused the lake to retreat from its boundaries, causing bogs to form on both the eastern and western sides.  In the east, the bogs are still there, causing the route from the lake to the forest to be treacherous.  A path through the bogs is marked by small stone obelisks, but they can be difficult to see in the mist that tends to settle there.  On the western side, the bogs eventually dried up and became fields.  So the city was relocated to remain near the shore of the lake.  The old town was allowed to fall into ruin and is now the home of wayfarers, thieves and cutthroats.

Harleh Plain:

The circular walled city of Harleh, which can be seen in the northeast, lies in the middle of a large flat plain called Harleh Plain.  This was once a great forest, but the Great War of the gods, a thousand years ago, laid waste to it and the ground was so tainted by foul magic that nothing would grow there for centuries.  Now it is miles of gently sloping hills covered in grass and shrubbery.  However, at the end of Dreams (the first book of the trilogy) this all changes, and the ancient forest returns once again, springing up almost in an instant and surrounding Harleh.

The Mountains:

The mountains are home to the gods known as the Stronni.  These are forbidden to humans and no one who wanders into them is ever heard from again.  It is best to avoid even straying into the foothills.

Some of the local flora and fauna:

In addition to harmless gamebirds, such as the speckled kikid, and pack animals such as the ghet and the donegh, there are more dangerous creatures one might encounter in Dasak, the result of magics unleashed by the gods thousands of years ago that poisoned the land and the waters:

The Dead Forest is a place entirely held together by magic.  Nothing lives there.  The trees are dead, the water is rank and stagnant, and there are no insects.  The only “animals” there are the wretched demen — walking corpses comprised of parts of animals that wandered into the forest and died there.  Occasionally one might kill a human and the next time someone reports seeing it, it may have a human arm or head attached.

Lake Zovya is home to a species of enormous aquatic serpent with a head bristling with horns, known to the locals as a ghusat.  They keep to the deep waters, so fishermen prefer to keep close to shore, unless it is necessary to cross the lake.  Fisherman will charge a considerable sum to transport someone across, because ghusats are known to destroy boats.

In the bogs on the eastern side of Lake Zovya, one might come across a ten’nak.  These are a species of plant which feed off the life force of passing animals or humans that drown in the bogs.  What makes them dangerous is their ability to affect the mind and make a man think he hears a voice calling from a certain direction, or that he sees a friend waiting for him.  Before he realizes, he may find that he’s strayed out onto the shifting “ground” of the bog, where he soon falls through to drown in the underlying muck.

The Eyes:

Dasak is looked over — literally — by the sun and its single moon.  According to legend, the Stronni goddess, Imen, plucked out the eye of her husband’s faithful manservant, Atnu, and threw it into the sky, where it became a ball of blazing light, watching over the land by day and reporting everything it sees to the gods.  It is called the Eye of Atnu.  She then plucked out the eye of her own servant, Druma, and this became a light in the night sky, spying on the land during the night.  But Druma is elderly and unable to keep her eyelid from drooping.  So once a month the Eye of Druma is fully open and once a month it is fully closed.  Anything touched by the light of the Eyes can be seen by Imen, so those who wish to remain hidden must keep to the shadows.

I hope that was an interesting look at the geography and environment of the kingdom.  Tomorrow, we’ll be looking at its history and political system!

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