C is for Canopy

CANOPY: The spreading islands of branches, twigs and leaves of the World Tree grow four main sections, corresponding roughly to points of the compass: north, west/central, south and east. If one were to take a cross-section of the Tree, the North Canopy would be the highest, growing slightly north and east of the heart of the Central Canopy but much higher, in altitudes locked for a great part of the year in frost and snow. The Eastern Canopy is only marginally smaller than the Central one, but the term reflects the mindset of the Argosian cartographers who changed the name from West to Central about five hundred years ago. The South Canopy grows as the name indicates to the south and about a mile lower than the Central Canopy.

Treeography and climate: Altitude plays a major role in the climate of the Tree. The North Canopy is frost-bound for most of the year and has lost most of its leaves. The Central Canopy enjoys good rainfall and a temperate climate with cold winters and warm summers. The South Canopy is semi-tropical, with fewer fluctuations in temperature and a humid climate.

The climate in the east has been the most changeable over time. Though the Eastern Canopy is now arid and leafless, this was not always the case: in the heyday of the Nurian empire, more than a thousand years ago, that side of the Tree was by all accounts blessed by a warm dry climate offset by shady leaf-forests and sufficient rainfall in winter. Gradually, however, that situation began to change. Whether through a natural process, through human over-exploitation of sap wells or by some combination of factors, the leaf-forests of the canopy began to wither away and its sap to run dry. Five hundred years after Saint Loa sailed west, the branches of the Eastern Canopy had become entirely leafless.

To make matters worse for the Nurians, levels of rainfall also began to lessen at about the same time. For a few centuries rain was sufficient to carry on the old vine-farming techniques. But two hundred years before the events in ‘Tymon’s Flight’ weather patterns changed, rainfall decreased dramatically¬†and the ancient Nurian irrigation system became useless. The inhabitants took to dew-farming, but the yield was pitiful and impossible to exploit on any large scale. This was the death-knell for the Nurian empire and the area quickly descended into chaos, splitting into several warring principalities which then lost their sovereignty to the rising power of the Argosian state.

Politics: The physical area of the Central Canopy defines the borders of the nation state of Argos. The duchy of Lantria extends over the whole South Canopy. The North Canopy is divided into several feudal ‘fifes’ and the Eastern Canopy is currently parceled up into Argosian and Lantrian colonies, as well as some remaining Nurian ‘freeholds’. A large part of the Eastern Canopy, specifically the Eastern Fringes, is gripped by drought and unfit for habitation.¬†


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