Xakarah (zak-ah-rah) is one of the most volatile places on Iiosia. The island was formed during the events of The Sundering, when violent earthquakes thrust it out of the sea in a volcanic eruption of rock and magma. Even today, it is still highly unstable and prone to earth quakes, landslides and volcanic eruptions. It is the home of the grellkin; a race of huge, humanoid creatures who are unflatteringly sometimes referred to as "trolls" by other races. They dwell within the subterranean caverns of Xakarah, forming vast cities within the tunnels formed when molten rock ran through the mountains. The grellkin are masters of metalwork and have learned to harness the power of steam to create marvels of engineering within their underground cities.
Most of Xakarah is made up of gorges and high peaks, dotted with geysers, volcanoes and hot springs. It is a hazardous place to travel across; even innocuous looking streams may be heated to boiling temperatures, and the ground itself is prone to letting off poisonous sulphurous gasses. The country is totally unsuitable for farming. What little flat land there is, is covered not by soil but by ash or igneous rocks, and what plant life does grow will likely be poisonous and/or bad to taste. Sea life does no better, for the waters around and especially within Xakarah’s inland sea is highly toxic and unable to support much life at all. The water has become highly acidic and is extremely harmful to all but the hardiest of lifeforms. Thus is has been dubbed The Putrid Sea. Xakarah’s high mountain ranges are nigh impassable for their entire length; the only plausible way through them into the inner sea is through a narrow water channel to the south. But traversing any reasonable distance overland is nigh impossible with the steep cliffs and hazardous terrain of the land. Thoroughfares can be found through caves within the mountains. Most of these are unmapped, and it is surmised that the vast majority of Xakarah has never been discovered or explored.
During quiet periods of volcanic activity, Xakarah has a relatively mild climate of cool summers and mild winters. Rainfall is common, and it is notoriously windy here with sea winds blowing in mostly from the sea to the south and east. However, the relatively frequent occurrence of volcanic eruptions mean that ash clouds and acidic rain falling here is not uncommon either.
One would have thought that with such a harsh and volatile environment you would be hard pressed to find life here, but it exists in a very large form indeed. Xakarah is inhabited by the grellkin, who are the dominant race of the land and Xakarah is regarded as the grellkin homeland. These towering, humanoid creatures have a natural resistance to heat, and their skin is as thick as elephant hide. They may not possess as keen an intellect as other civilised races, and the aspects of magic are largely beyond them, yet their rudimentary intelligence has enabled them to build a civilisation within the mountains, and they have established trade with the humans who are keen to barter for the keen weapons and thick armour of the grellkin. Large salamanders lurk in the deepest depths of the island and are almost as numerous as the grellkin. Salamanders possess only a rudimentary, bestial intelligence however, and lurk within the dark, warm caverns beneath the mountains of Xakarah. These huge lizards are both the main threat to grellkin, and also the grellkin's primary food source. Grellkin on the verge of adulthood are sent into the lower caverns in order to kill one of the beasts, and that provides their rite of passage to adulthood. Drakelins are small, agile lizards who are just at home on two legs as on four. They are far more intelligent than the salamanders and are able to master speech and some magical aspects. They are also far less hostile. They have become a part of grellkin society and are kept as a cross between pets, servants and messengers. It is said that drakelins are somehow related to dragons, and tended to their gigantic cousins while they roamed the skies. There is also a rumour, albeit an unfounded and very fanciful one, that Xakarah is one of the resting places of the dragons.
Rhudd (rud) is the major city of the grellkin. It is housed largely within a vast complex of caverns inside the mountains, and consists of multiple levels of metalworks, stores, and living quarters. A veritable fortess, Rhudd is nigh unassailable from any external attack. Its weakness lies upon the shores of the Putrid Sea, from where a great many great caves lead within the city. A few external structures have been erected along both the inner shoreline of the Putrid Sea and on the seaward side of the mountains also. The latter of these are known as The Rhudd Docklands The Rhudd Docklands are a series of crude but solid and serviceable jetties which serve as Xakarah's only port. It is here that trading takes place between the grellkin and other races who come to trade things which the grellkin can find little of on Xakarah, like soft furs and coloured fabrics, delicate meats, ales, wines, and fine jewelry.
The Sea Gate is a massive construct, made by the trolls to keep invaders out of The Putrid Sea and, by extension, stop them gaining access to Rhudd. They are the largest unnatural construction in the world, standing a full fifty feet out of the water and worked by giant hinges and steam driven hydraulics which open and close them as needed. In times of high seas, they must be opened, but when the tides are normal they can be closed; the water able to pass through many underwater holes within the gates below the waterline.
The Putrid Sea, named not by the trolls but called so by the visitors to the island, primarily refers to Xakarah’s inland sea but can also be said of its outer coastline also. Xakarah’s waters are full of poisonous gasses from the volcanoes in and around the island, making it smell like something rotting, and seeing shoals of dead fish who have been unwise enough to swim too close floating dead on the waters is not a rare occurrence.