Rumel: Byzantine Politics and Powerful Superstitions Shape Life In the Canopy
Anaugi: A Society of Socialist Crafter-Sorcerers, Shaping the Very Nature of Reality
In the tropics of an alien world, afloat upon a vast ocean, are the islands of Ogalepihcra. Ogalepihcra is a vast, but tightly-knit archipelago of islands. Some are what we traditionally think of as an island: a pile of rock and dirt, jutting up from the sea. But most are just a floating mass of plant matter, live and dead, and accumulated detritus. These floating islands start out as masses of seaweed that become so thick and intertwined that they trap dead and rotting plant matter, feathers and feces and food remains from sea birds, dead fish, sea-otter-deposited mussel shells, and other material, until they begin to form soil. Eventually, seeds from land plants start to take root, brought by the gullets of sea birds and the winds of the storms. Some of these masses are so entangled that they retain a cohesive form even if they rip loose from the sea bottom during a storm. These mats of of seaweed, dirt, detritus and driftwood, grasses and small plants, bird nests, and all their attendant animal life, both above the sea and in the waters beneath and around them, drift upon the ocean currents until they end up in the relative calm of Ogalepihcra. There they rest, relatively sheltered from the storms, and tossed much less by the waves. And there they accumulate more detritus, and eventually the seeds of the great Trees of Ogalepihcra manage to take hold. From these floating islands of dead and living seaweed, the largest plants of the oceans, slowly grow the largest plants of the land -- the great Barkwood Trees, called Nge ("the world", singular, collective, and plural) by the Rumel. These Trees tower thousands of feet into the air, and their vast spreading canopies intertwine, forming an almost solid mass. The Trees unite Ogalepihcra, tying the many islands, rocky and floating, into one united realm.
Above, in the sunlight and the storms, exists a lush land perched precariously on the boughs of these massive Trees. It is a land of brilliant colors, dense with life. Hundreds of different birds and arboreal mammals and thousands of insects and flowering plants form a complex ecosystem. At the top of this food chain are the djuru ("tree-wolves"), ruthless solitary predators that will eat anything that doesn't seem like too much trouble. Amid all this plenty dwell the Rumel, a society of sentient monkey-like beings with a society that revolves around Byzantine politics and esoteric beliefs, and is guided by their interactions (both real and imagined) with the spirit world.
Below, sheltered equally from the storms and the light, is a land of decay and rebirth. The only animals amid the Tree roots are scavengers and the only fish survive on whatever dead plants and animals fall into the water between the islands. The ground is one giant compost heap, damp and stench-ridden, and the only plants to be found are fungi and mushrooms of every kind. The animals are all small, and the fish all vicious. In this place, the society of the Anaugi flourishes. The Anaugi are an amphibious people who believe they spring from the ocean itself. Their society is an industrious one, thriving equally on craft and trade, and dominated by guilds. And infused with a subtle magic that not even they grasp the full extent of.
The islands of Ogalepihcra are vast as a whole, though each is fairly small. There are about 475 major islands that the Anaugi have charted, and countless thousands of lesser ones. Together, they provide about 50,000 square miles of "land", spread over nearly 100,000 square miles of ocean. The Anaugi mostly dwell on the shores and in the coastal waters, giving them perhaps a tenth of this area to live upon. Meanwhile, the Trees reinforce one another, sometimes even growing together, making it possible for them to reach far out across the water, so there are very few places where the islands are too far apart for the canopy to bridge. This means that, seen just as a flat surface, the canopy is well over a hundred thousand square miles, while its actual three-dimensional nature gives it a far vaster livable area, even for creatures as large as the Rumel.