Xiantha:

The Xianthes

The planet name comes from two geographical features situated almost exactly at the North Pole. Collision with some other body many aeons ago created a huge crater here.  The Xiantha were formed by the up-throwing of molten metals at the point of impact.  Traces of instellite were left along Lost Valley.

There are two Xianthes – the Light Xianthe and the Dark Xianthe.  These are so called because the Light Xianthe is perpetually in the sun, even though the North Pole does tip slightly with the seasons.  The Dark Xianthe is very close to the boundary, and is in full sunlight during the summer, full darkness during the winter, and a variation between the two in spring and autumn.

The view from the Xianthes might be something like this, but MUCH, MUCH more:

the view from the xianthes 

There is very strong magnetism around the two Xianthes, even more than the strong dipole on the whole of the planet.  The metallic Xianthes have contributed to this, and the whole of the Lost Valley (between the two Xianthes).

Because of the metallic nature of the Xianthes, and the difference in temperature always applicable in the area, there are always tremendous electrical storms around both Xianthes.  The Light Xianthe, being always in daylight, makes these difficult to see, but the Dark Xianthe, especially in winter, is ideal for visitors.  A complex system has been built for the few tourists who come to the planet, and for local visitors.  It consists in a series of cages which travel right over the top of the Dark Xianthe, each taking up to ten people at a time.  There are six cages, and five stops of ten minutes, plus the entry/exit stop.  The time between stops is just half an hour, so the whole journey takes four hours.  The stops are called, in order of arrival; the Long View, Blue Ray Alley, the Summit, Lightning Corner, and the Lost Valley, plus the Ticket office, at the base of the rides.  The cages are made of metal, so as to act as Faraday cages, but are lined with transparent rexelene, and each stop is built like a large travelling cage, except that they are about twice the size, and equipped with a small rest room and kitchen.  Xiantha is not a particularly technologically advanced planet, and the failsafe devices are crude at best, and non-existent at worst.  The most impressive sights to see from the cages on the Dark Xianthe are the blue rays, the hanging elves, the sprites and the lightning, which starts just before Blue Ray Alley, but is very much stronger on the Lost Valley side, where the rays of lightning can reach 2 billion volts, and could fry a person instantly.  The static you can feel when you are at Lightning Corner makes your hair stand on end, and your skin tingles so much that some people require medication.

Lightning corner might look like this, but a thousandfold:

the view from lightning corner

Geography

Xiantha is divided into two parts; the lowlands and the highlands.  The lowlands comprise most of the south of the planet, where the people are rougher, and travel between outposts is much more difficult.  The residents here are famous for their rough but vibrant paintings, mostly of the landscape, which are for sale in quantity at the village of Gennai in the south, but also  the spaceport in the north.  The lowlands are series upon series of low hills, with large areas covered by sea, the best known of which is known as the Black Sea.
The northern part is known as the highlands, where the terrain is much drier, a steppe of red particulate sand.  This is known as the Great Plain on Xiantha.  It is a semi-desert area with small shrubs and bushes but no large trees.  The Xianthes themselves tower above this section of the planet, reaching over 40 kilometres up in the sky, and the Lost Valley plunges another 120 kilometres down, making an unforgettable sight in the sky.
As all the Cian planets, Xiantha is subjected to intense flares from Almagest, which has left nearly all the population infertile.  For this reason, they are one of the two main clients for the donor program on Valhai.  The safest place on the whole planet is considered to be Eletheia, about 100 km to the south of the Dark Xianthe, where the canth farm is situated.  This part of the country is particularly sheltered, due to the higher magnetic fields in the whole area and the shelter of the Xianthes.

Magsleds and Canths


Most travel on the planet is by vaniven cart, but there are two other methods.   Those who have government authority may use what is locally known as the magsleds.  These do use the strong magnetic field, but the name is misleading for the main use of the magnetism is for steering rather than for levitation.  The magnetic dipole on Xiantha is many, many times stronger than on Earth, but still is insufficient to produce levitation in any large animal or machine.  However, the direction of the field lines, and the increase in the field due to the Xianthes does mean that magnetic levitation can be harnessed to these magsleds, making them lighter, and very maneuverable.  These sleds contain helium chambers which make them even lighter, and also sport a hover skirt which can be switched on when necessary.  Any travel away from the Xianthe area will need the hover capabilities.
The canths are equines, rather larger than the Earth horses, which have one particularity.  They are very highly considered, and have the peculiarity that when they adopt a rider their lifetime becomes entangled with their riders, which means that each canth will die exactly at the same time as his rider, wherever that rider may be.  The black canths have never adopted anybody – to date.  Riders must pay a large sum of money to open themselves to possible canth adoption, so canths are really rather elitist.  The canths must always be returned to the canth farm, where they can breed safely, since they are still a rare species.  Legend has it that they are the descendents of the lost animas of Xiantha, semi-ethereal beings which local legend has as existing after the collision of the planets.  Some of the locals think that the reason that they are such a comfortable ride is that they use a mythical substance, called excanthite, to help them achieve some degree of partial levitation, to some extent ‘surfing’ the strong magnetic lines around the Xianthes.  There is no scientific evidence for this, but it is commonly accepted amongst the Xianthans.

The colour system


The Xianthans have a complex system of colour, which is sacred to their way of life.  They aim to achieve the most colour possible in their lifetime, moving from monochrome at birth to the most number of colours possible for them. Monochrome, bichrome, trichrome, .. up to nonachrome and decachrome, then multichrome, plurichrome, and finally panchrome. Those who attain panchromatic status become the rulers of the planet.  Since about 1 in 10,000 people achieve panchrome status, at any one time there can be around 500 panchromes all over the planet, in contact by tridiscreens supplied by the Sellites. They also change their names throughout their lives, and are generally known by the thing which most defines them at that particular moment. So a Xianthan may introduce himself first by his job title, and then by his current name.  This may or may not be linked to his job, but will always reflect things that he is most proud of.

Population and details


The whole population of the planet is down to 5 million people now, so Xiantha is a sparsely populated planet, where most of the dwellings are wooden-built bungalows, each set in a small area that their owners tend exclusively.  There is no private land on the planet, but residents are very respectful of their neighbours’ areas and would never dream of arguing about boundaries because this would lose colour. 
The most heavily populated area is around Eletheia, where the donor headquarters is situated.  Eletheia has a population of over 5000, which on Xianthan terms is huge.  It boasts an auditorium, which is where all of the major meetings on the planet are held.  Although all panchromes are equal, by tradition those closest to Eletheia are the ones who deal with other planets. The donor HQ, with its small adjacent hospital, is only 30 kilometres to the south of the town, and the canth farm about 10 kilometres to the north.  The spaceport which services all of Xiantha is close too – around 15 miles to the east.  There are no roads on all Xiantha. For this reason there are only vaniven carts at the spaceport, although the government sends magsleds for the most important visitors, and there is a mag-sled inclusive package for those visiting the Dark Xianthe.
There are no peace-keeping forces on Xiantha, and no prison system.  Thieves are punished by no longer ‘seeing’ them. 
Xiantha is the only place in the system where ‘shops’ have flourished.  These provide the colourful Xianthan robes which indicate the level of colour their owners have reached.  Others purvey the famous paintings of the southern highlanders.  These shops are mostly to be found around the spaceport area, although all major towns will boast one or two.  There are also things called ‘restaurants’ on the planet.  These are very few and far between, the most famous being that of the Emerald Lake, which is considered to be one of the eight magnificents.

The Eight Magnificents

One of the eight things all Xianthans should try to visit before they die.  One is the Restaurant on the Emerald Lake. The others are:  the dark Xianthe, the bottomless pool in the lost valley, the light Xianthe, the Black Sea (home of the legendary ten-legged decipus) in the lowlands, the Village of Gennaia, also in the South – famous for its painters, Mount Kalatheia, and the lost animas.  Of course, no-one has seen an anima for generations, which is why they are classified as lost, so it became impossible to complete the eight magnificent many generations ago.  No loss in colour is involved now if the devout successfully visit seven of these, and any sighting of a canth, being a highly protected species, is accepted.  The lowlanders, who live in the southern continent, are expected to make at least one pilgrimage in their lifetimes to give themselves the chance of seeing the magnificents in the north, and the northern Xianthans make the journey south to visit the Black Sea, and try to spot a ten-legged decipus.  Just as the canths are considered an acceptable substitute for the lost animas, the Black Sea is considered to be acceptable instead of the ten-legged decipus, which can still be spotted, but is very hard to see.  The largest Southern city is known as Kalathelassa, and many of the lowlanders sell their paintings or their garments in small shops there.  Others offer special trips onto the Black Sea in search of the decipus.   Some low colour Xianthans may try to convince visitors to the south that they can take them to see the famous sabre-toothed tiger, but in reality these have been extinct for many centuries.