The Isles Between 8 and 9
by Chris Wayan, 2006
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First-time orientation--strongly advised! Pegasia is weird.
This modest archipelago does not contain, as the map might suggest, 89 islands; the name on the map is just shorthand suggesting their location, and placeholder for a native name that depends on who discovers the place! The chain may be an important bridge between continents--hemispheres, in fact. It's over 900 km from Continent 8, and another 640 south to Continent 9; but it's about the best bridge between them. It may be the way intelligent fliers spread from the main continents of the Inner Hemisphere, to the north, via Continent 9 to the Outer Hemisphere (right half of world map).
It's almost as plausible that people will spread the other way, from Continent 9 to the north. Hard to say at this point. Unlike our Old World and the New, these Pegasian hemispheres aren't all that unequal in size or resources...
The only people known to have any presence in the archipelago so far are the maritime subspecies of frolcons from the Toecrook Islands to the northwest. There are no settlements with young yet; just explorers and fishers. There may never be many villages, or any; depends on what or who they find in these jungles, doesn't it? You tell me!
The islands aren't as small as they look. The largest is about 400 km long (250 mi). Their climate is warm and wet (they're only a few degrees south of the equator). Even the smallest islets are covered with luxuriant rainforest. Equally rich coral reefs surround the islands and extend hundreds of km southeast and west.
These aren't flat coral atolls, however; they're the exposed tops of the ridges flanking a mid-oceanic rift, where new crust is spreading. Land in the making! On Earth, few rift zones emerge onto land, and hot mineral springs and vulcanism happens miles down; but Pegasia's shallower seas often have island chains down the middle, the spreading process takes place under the sun.
Thus, many of the islands are quite rugged; nearly all have mineral springs, many have hot springs, and some have volcanoes, though hot mud and pillow lava are more common than violent eruptions. Because soils are new and replenish by ash, they're mineral-rich despite the high rainfall.
The islands, especially the rifts and vents, are home to some very strange species (send pictures! send descriptions!) adapted to hot water, mud, and brine that most would find toxic. Though adapted to may be misleading. Life on Earth may have evolved in undersea vents rich in energy sources (thus our propensity for trouble: our cells themselves long to be in hot water!) It's even more likely that Pegasian life began in these sunnier, surface vents. The vent dwellers are the originals; everything else has adapted to unnaturally cold, poor environments like coral reefs and rainforests! Poor things.
The gazetteer will have a full index of native placenames, with descriptions--once the contests's over and we have natives to name them.
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