Tempest is a collection of islands in the eastern Hasbaren Sea. The islands are generally split into three regions: Outer Islands, Rim Islands, and Vortex. The rim and outer islands move constantly, rotating around Vortex at varying speeds and crossing ellipses with a subtle rhythm that can be learned, with sufficient effort. Vortex and the rim islands are covered at all times by a stable, slowly churning hurricane called the Gyre, blocking the sky and flashing with lighting and a shifting, multicolored radiance.
It is unknown exactly how many islands are in the archipelago, but it is known that each is slightly different from each other; and in fact, is has been noted by those who have spent enough time on one, that they seem to be getting gradually changed by the Gyre as well, so that each is actually slightly different than even itself a year before or after.
All of the islands, except Vortex, revolve around the eye of the Gyre. They move counter-clockwise, just like the Gyre itself. The islands closest to Vortex (by average distance) move the fastest, although each island seems to have a set speed and do not change velocity if their elliptic orbit brings them noticeably closer or farther from it. The islands also do not revolve on a set plane - some rise and fall during their orbits, with the most severe vanishing entirely below the waves and then rising up to become floating landmasses hundreds of feet above the sea. Combined with the fact that any compass brought into the area will point directly into the center of the storm, it is unknown how those who frequent the rim islands and Vortex manage to navigate through.
The waters of Tempest are claimed to be the roughest seas in the world, though the difficulty in reaching its worst areas have prevented proper study to compare it to other known dangerous waters. This fact, alone, is often viewed as sufficient evidence to prove the claim true. Again, the waters seem to get worse as one travels deeper into the islands. When all of these matters are taken into consideration, it has been proposed and argued for centuries that Vortex may not exist at all. On these grounds, it is argued that the pirates who are believed to frequent the inner waters of the region lied about the conditions there to encourage their pursuers to throw themselves into a fatal quest, to draw attention from the outer islands where they actually hide, and to increase their own fame by claiming to be able to navigate such a dangerous place.
The environment of Tempest is largely tropical, despite the fact that they are farther from the equator than any other jungle on Khadaka. Most of the known islands are covered in rainforest, with a few rare ones having a more desert climate. Most of the plant and animal life found here is composed of subspecies of that found in the jungles of Prindern. However, there are also completely distinct species unique to the islands, the most notable of which is the fae. See the full pages for each section on the specific life forms known to exist there.
It is notable, however, that plants under the Gyre do not practice photosynthesis. Since Sholis is not visible through the storm, the plants that grow on the islands use the essence of magic in place of sunlight. As such, they are referred to as practicing magisynthesis. Because magic infuses every island (see below), even plants that grow on the outer islands incorporate magisynthesis into their photosynthesis.
Tempest appears to be infused with magic, and this magic impacts everything that happens there. The islands are the only place on Khadaka that carry out magisynthesis, and it is noted by mages who visit that they can taste raw magical energy in the air. Because most affects of the Gyre do not seem to be felt on the islands, which rarely see rain from the storm and do not suffer heavy winds, it is suggested that the movement of the islands is a result of the magical energy rather than the storm itself. The churning nature of the sea, as well, is believed to be influenced by the flow of magic, as it is more violent than the slow turn of the islands can entirely explain.
However, it is a different kind of magic than that practiced by mages or Agnar mystics, and it rests in a very specific balance. Introducing alien magic to the environment regularly backfires, causing a host of side effects which can cause anything from minor changes to the intended spell to a massive burst of destructive energy. Likewise, attempts by humans to learn the magic of the islands, regularly known as fae magic, has yet to produce any success. It seems that, whatever it is that empowers the islands, it is something beyond what humans can fully grasp or use. However, the refined and consumable form of it, known as æther, is usable by humans, though admittedly it is a dangerous practice.
The islands of Tempest are generally divided into three categories, based on their relationship to the Gyre.
Outer Islands Edit
The outer islands are those beyond the edges of the Gyre. They have the slowest and most stable orbits, produce the weakest æther, have the weakest magical atmosphere and the least fae, and are surrounded by the calmest seas. These have been the subject of near-constant dispute ever since the time of the Erst Empire, with nearly every nation establishing colonies on the islands, and then fighting over them. Six islands have, in the modern day, gained independence from their home nation and are called the Free States, but most colonies have not sought any such freedom out of fear of their inability to defend themselves.
Rim Islands Edit
The rim islands are those under the clouds of the Gyre. While a few colonies exist on the fringes of this area, most of these islands are unclaimed and, possibly, unknown. It is claimed that there are those who live on these islands, mostly pirates, mages in hiding, escaped prisoners, and deserters from the colonies on the outer islands. As these grow closer to the eye of the Gyre, they become more alien and more dangerous to reach. As such, there is very little useful data on islands more than twenty miles into the storm.
Claimed to be the island directly under the eye of the Gyre, Vortex is a legendary place, a paradise of criminals and the most otherworldly place in the islands. Unfortunately, we have only the claims of those who are admittedly liars and thieves to build much knowledge on the island, should it exist at all.