Beneath the vast grasslands stretching away from Lake Chonia is a hive of underground rivers and aquifers that once fed the Grekian Sea upon which Old Grekia was built, known now to the Chonians as the Great Sea Beneath the Grass. When these hidden springs are all discovered and opened, the Chonians believe their combined flow will flood the arid savannah and rebirth the Great Sea, restoring life across the continent.
The Chonian tribes roam from Lake Chonia beyond the Stygian Weald into the savanna east of the mountains and into the riverlands of Pradjna. Each tribe lives in balance with a zevra herd. The herd and the Chonians travel as one, remaining in one place only long enough to draw forth an oasis from the Great Grass Sea. Once life is restored in a small region, the tribe moves on to leave nature to pursue its cycle.
An oasis on the open plains is a welcome sight for all life: flamingos, antelope, mudfrogs, legions of insects and the myriad critters to prey upon them. It is for the larger predators that it becomes safter to urge the zevra herd onto the arid steppe, away from the new oasis, before life erupts in the region. As the herd travels the Great Grass Sea, the zevra’s sensitive hooves feel for the next oasis beneath the grass dunes. Along the way, the Chonians survey the stars to better mark their path and improve their maps. When at last the zevra dance, the tribe knows to begin anew the task of encouraging an oasis.
Chonian Spring Camps
Although the Chonians are a nomadic people, they also have perennial settlements that support and are supported by the trade of the nomadic tribes. Known as Spring Camps, each one is a secret oasis found in the foothills and riverlands at the borders of the savannah, places where a tribe can corral the herd near a source of water.
Those who dwell in a Spring Camp are not of any one tribe, but rather of all tribes. The news a nomadic tribes brings is of extended family, the trade gifts from friends. A tribe will stay a week or more with a Spring Camp to update star maps, trade goods, train animals, gossip, and rest. A tribe may visit three to five Spring Camps in a year, and each tribe may lose or gain a few members with each visit. Combined and mapped the Spring Camps and the oasis markers define the shores of the Great Sea Beneath the Grass, known as the True Shore.
Lake Chonia, the Lake of Ghosts
The site known as Lake Chonia is all that remains of the once vast Grekian Sea. Lake Chonia is where the city-state known as Grekia once sat upon the Grekian Sea. Today, the murky waters of the lake are dotted with the ruined foundations of the ancient city.
Lake Chonia is treacherous to sail or swim, for the ruins that dot the still waters are known to collapse at the slightest provocation. Despite the inherent risks, treasure hunters and adventurers travel from as far away as Mohkba to brave the waters in search of Grekian artifacts.
The shores of Lake Chonia ebb and flow with the tide and seasons, but in general the lake is receding toward the center of the ruins at the base of the mountains on the lake’s northwestern shore. At the eastern end of the lake, amongst foundations that have been cleared of rubble, the Chonian people have built a Spring Camp to better monitor the lake’s decline. This camp is possibly the only one of its kind that does not lie along the True Shore.
The True Shore of the Great Sea Beneath the Grass
The path that Chonian tribes take through the savannah and the secret locations of their Spring Camps and oases mark the outline of what they term the True Shore. The True Shore is all that remains of the vast Grekian Sea that was. But to the Chonian people, True Shore is more than markings on a map. Without the great sea, all the lands are out of balance. With each oasis spawned, with each Spring Camp founded, the sea is one step closer to rebirth, the land one step closer to balance.
Each tribe marks the True Shore by tracking the locations of stable and unstable oases, Spring Camps, other shore settlements that have survived since ancient times, and ruins of settlements that did not. They compare and update their maps through astrological charts. A Chonian savannah-star map is as valued a treasure as any Grekian artifact.
The intact buildings that remain of Old Grekia are few and far between. However, at the heart of the ruins on Lake Chonia, the last remnants of Old Grekia still stand, known to treasure hunters and adventurous archeologists only as the Plaza.
In the shadow beneath the Plaza’s foundation, the stones are slick with algae. Those who dare climb the walls to the lowest cellar levels soon find themselves in a ruined city courtyard. The still intact streets wind away from the Plaza for several city blocks, before ending in open air drop offs that were once water-filled canals. Whether the Plaza was once a city center, marketplace, temple, or residential district, none now know. Even in their ruined and crumbling state, the buildings and architecture speak of a grandeur not seen in Aventyr since.
The Hidden Grotto
In the ancient past, this grotto on the northwestern shores of the Grekian Sea was a temple to Vasi the water goddess. Pilgrims from across Aventyr traveled to the grotto to seek Vasi’s wisdom and healing grace. The waterfall that spills from the grotto is today the last vestige of Old Grekia, and the last source of water for Lake Chonia.
The grotto is protected by Mother May’al and her coterie of followers. Though legends of the grotto abound amongst Vasi’s faithful, it is protected from discovery by May’al’s ancient magic.