The world Halcyon is a virtually tide-locked planet in the Hel system, home to at least ten different sentient humanoid species, among the naturally occuring are urmen (commonly First Men or derogatorily, nyx), aureans, centaurs, ebblin, seers, pyx, humans, skins, and kunkaar. Interspecies mating is possible between most species, resulting in many highbreeds, and since the inventions of Chimaestry and Automata, many modified species have been formed of the primaries, such as slavers and Kerbora.
The Hel system is a single star system with nine orbiting bodies. Being tide-locked, denizens of Halcyon's Dayside do not have a working knowledge of the cosmos apart from Hel, their sun, and so have not named Halcyon's sister planets. On the Nightlands, three moons are likewise tidally locked to Halcyon as it is to Hel. The Nightlands, or Underworld denizens refer to the moons collectively as the "Triplets" and individually as Kori, Charn, and Wicht, after the Dragons of the same names. Underworld myth had once named every constellation and star, but much of their traditions are now lost to extinction and time. Hellions neither recognize nor name any celestial bodies outside of Hel.
Bodies of water
The planet is 32% water, though only 8% liquid water, the remaining 24% frozen in ice form on the Nightlands, much of it concentrated at the South Equatorial Center. It has 4 seas: the White God, entirely frozen, by far the largest; followed by the Ocean of Ebb, Kori's Sea, Kunkaar Lake, and the Blood of Charn which is constantly melting into the River Cairn that flows through the Evening and evaporates in the Northern Wastes on the Dayside.
There are sparse active volcanoes, one in the uninhabitable Southern Equatorial Center, and another near Helios that, when it erupts, adds another layer of black lava to the Scorch Canyons that surround the once-island.
Though the planet seems tidally locked, there is evidence that Halcyon once rotated, or faced a different direction. Ruins built inland with no route to resources, structures of worship dedicated to apocryphal non-Hel stars, constructed beneath astronomical bodies not visible, water collecting structures where no water flows. Evidence of rivers and lakes in canyons, desert plateaus, and layers of smooth rock.
The Dayside has become entirely the Empire of Hel, spread so far that it has now broken into factions that disagree on interpretation of The Ratios, their holy text. There is much in-fighting and warring between factions, but all unite when conquering outsiders. It is a diverse in species, if not in thought, region.
On the border of Hel and the Evening lay the Dusklands, a brighter lit plain with less foliage. Here many of the townships have been made into minor Kingdoms.
The Evening is the strip of most habitable land stretching pole to pole between the Night and Daysides of Halcyon. Its internal temperatures vary the most of all the sides, dependent upon proximity to poles (where it gets as low as 50 degrees F) or to the equator (where it gets as high as 110 degrees F), and precipitation which is heaviest there. The sky in the evening is always red-yellow like autumn leaves, and the temperature on the ground remains temperate and cool in most places, thanks to the shade from plant life that most of the planet cannot grow. It is predominantly inhabited by humans, who settle into small, ideological, agricultural communities, and Evener tribes who wander it at all times. Its forests are frequented by the numina of almost any Dragon one can imagine.
The Nightlands, called the Underworld by Hellions, is primarily a frozen desert of mountainous glaciers, freezing waters, and ice covered landmasses. Closer to the Evening meridian, it is a frosty but bearable winter where dwell many of the last remaining urmen tribes. Atop and inside the glaciers of Kunkaar Lake, the surviving Kunkaari toil. Other than that, not much is known of life dwelling on the Nightlands, though Helianthas claimed it to be "rife with ice-born numina, so much as to call it its primary species of life."
Implied by the existence of the Dusklands is the Twilight, a hypothetical area at the back edge of the Hel. It is a forbidden area and all who venture there are hunted down by the most elite of the Inquisitors and exterminated. Still rumors of an all-devouring Darkness at the edge of the world persist, and that this is the Great Serpent Hiss slowly devouring Halcyon. This is why Hellions must convert the planet so that Hel may return and cradle us in the warmth of his embrace when he crushes the Serpent and devours the sky.
Astronomically rare conditions allow more than 8% of Halcyon's surface to remain inhabitable by life. A thick atmosphere and a planetary storm help to distribute heat from one side to another. The system's star, Hel, is a red dwarf, likewise lowering the intensity of heat on its Dayside. Glaciers on the edge of the Nightlands melt into various rivers that fall into day and evaporate before reaching the equator, which is uninhabitable on both sides and a nonstop storm in the Evening. This massive planetary storm is called Asterax. Asterax constantly redistributes heat, making the planet inhabitable if uncomfortable in many areas. In the Evening of the planet, rain is common as the evaporating Cairn River brings precipitation back to the Night. The planet is not tilted, and thus its seasons are entirely a matter of its elliptical orbit--at its close end is Hel's Eye Equinox, and at the far end, the Eye of Dawn. The Eye of Dawn is the closest thing to a Winter Solstice the Dayside experiences.
Halcyon's axis rotation takes approximately one Astrological Great Month, or 2160 Earth years, give or take. From the point of view of any inhabitants without a long clock, it is tidally locked. For this reason, with rare exceptions, the Halcyonic languages' terms for "day" and "equinox," all of which typically originate from Old High Uryan, are the same. The names of the Days, therefore are the names of their constellation Zodiac. Due to this, there are 13 equinoxes in what we might call their Great Week, closer to what we would call a geological age.
Hel has regular flares once every 455 quicks, and thusly many historical events are marked off in time by how many flares have happened since.
Short years the length of an Earth month (30 days) called ages are marked by weekly seasonal changes. Midwinter is the Eye of Dawn, Midsummer Dial is Hel's Eye. The ages are named for the elder numina of the Hel Empire's pantheon.
Every eight dials is a quick, the mental equivalent of an Earth day, though it is only 16 hours long.
"Hours" are meridians on the planet's surface, but Halcyon's Earth hour-equivalent is the dial which is approximately four Earth hours long. Time is told using quicksilver dials--with time told in increments using temperature-related language such as "Absolute (Zero)" or "Freeze Dial", "High Boil", "94 Degrees Dial," and so on--because the fluctuation cycle of temperatures on the Dayside every cycle due to heat redistribution are regular enough to predict each rain's location precisely and to almost literally set a watch by. The degrees are based around the freezing and boiling points of water on the planet.
Standardization across Hel
Because temperature patterns are location-dependent, the quicksilver dials, having been fetched to be synchronous across the Empire of Hel, are mostly temperature-inaccurate. They hail from a less populous time, and as the Empire grew larger, the clocks were standardized to split every four cycles evenly into 200 degrees (100 up, 100 down, 0 being the start and end, +/-100 being the middle, -99 directly following). There is only one place on Halcyon where an actual quicksilver dial tells time and temperature accurately due to its placement and distance--Solstice, a village in the Dusklands on the edge of Evening, and this only during the Eye of Dawn. For this reason that town celebrates this time, the Mercury Dawn, with great festivity.
- The Golden Ratios of Helianthas, Axis 5, Ratio 14
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