Vulcan (planet)/Provinces of Na'nam
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Na'nam, like its sister continent of Han-shir, is divided into provinces: Gol, Khomi, Kir, Raal, Xial, Shi'al, and Tat'sahr. Long ago, in the Age of Antiquity before the Awakening, these were independent kingdoms ruled by warlords. These tyrants spent much of their time battling over their boundaries, occasionally assisted by the mindlords of psionic monasteries or research communities. The warlords and mindlords often possessed deadly mental powers and energy weapons that amplified them. These political divisions have continued on in a somewhat more aggregated form throughout history, though today the provincial designations are primarily administrative in nature, governing matters like the voting for Vulcan Council seats, the distribution of emergency services to disaster areas, or the allocation of placements into the Vulcan Science Academy or - in the unlikely event of war - Vulcan's national militia.
The province of Gol is located in the southwest corner of Na'nam, below Raal and Xial. It is bordered to the west by the Straits of Ha'zen, a shallow channel of water between Na'nam and the island continent of Xir'tan whose waters are considered extremely difficult to navigate due to the almost constant shifting of the tectonic plates beneath them.
Although a few small settlements and thin strips of arable farmland dot this coastline, most of the province consists of untamed desert wates like no other on Vulcan. Whether because of its proximity to Xir'tan or its own unsettled seismology, the deserts of Gol are greatly affected by the solar flare activity of 40 Eridani A, experienceing massive, lightning-suffused sandstorms that can last for weeks. Desert settlements are therefore limited to a few scattered caravanserai located in spots offering natural protection, such as nearby underground caves.
Though planetary satellites confirm that valuable mineral deposits (especially of trillium) hide well below the surface of Gol, Vulcan scientists have not yet determined a means of extracting these minerals without unsatisfactory risk of personnel and equipment. Thus, the area remains the most economically backward on the continent, and a Vulcan seeking to make his fortune would do well to move elsewhere to achieve it. However, Gol does draw its share of visitors who come in search of ancient knowledge - whether it be Vulcans who have come to study and perhaps commit themselves fully to the way of Kolinahr, or the mixture of Vulcans and offworlders who travel to the village of Xen'tal to enroll in the Vulcan Institute of Defensive Arts.
Places and Persons of Note in Gol
The Kolinahru Monastery rests in a high cleft on Mount Kolinahr, the highest peak in Gol. In ancient times, the Kolinahru ranked among the most powerful and cruel adepts on the face of the planet. Their mindlords were capable of killing an enemy by making his blood literally boil in his veins through pyrokenesis. Their wanton acts of individual or mass mind control spawned dark legends that still live today.
During the Time of Awakening, however, the High Master of the Kolinahru became an adherent of Surak, and turned the studies of the order away from war to the practice of total mind control. Sanshiin, as he then called himself, carved the new Kolinahru retreat out of the bedrock of the desert to render it a safe haven from the sandstorms and intense heat. He then forbade the further use of any manner of advanced technology within its walls.
Today, the acolytes and adepts of Kolinahru have adopted an ascetic and simple lifestyle, using oil lamps and quill pens instead of electricity and computers; raising simple hand-tended crops on a small, sandy plot of communal land; and bathing in the natural hot springs that lie beneath the lower level of the monastery. Guests - Vulcan and offworlder alike - are welcome here at any time to rest and meditate in privacy. However, they must leave their vehicles in a shelter about a kilometer and a half from the complex, and leave any hand-held items of personal technology (including computers, PADDs, and even sonic shavers) behind in the front reception area until they depart.
There is one portion of the monastery which is not open to the general public, however. The Hall of Ancient Thought, a subterranean chamber eternally guarded by members of the order, contains the vre-katra of the former High Masters of the Order. If some of these ancient funereal vessels indeed contain the katra of Kolinahr's previous High Masters, as the legends claim, then those dating back to before the Time of Awakening would be none too pleased if they were somehow awakened and shown their current surroundings, or learned the philosophy their order now practices.
Plateau of Tai-la
The final ritual to purge a Kolinahri acolyte of all emotion takes place at this desolate plateau outside the Kolinahru monastery. The ceremony follows a ten-day period of leavetaking, in which the acolyte is allowed to leave the monastery and meet with as many of his lifetime friends as possible to bring closure to their memories. He then travels alone into the desert, carrying only the robe on his back and a waterskin, and enters a deep meditative trance, casting out all remaining emotion into the surrounding sands.
The ritual can take days or even weeks to complete, and ends only when the High Master, who telepathically monitors the progress of the ceremony throughout, either determines that the cleansing of the new adept's mind has been completed, or that the acolyte's life is in danger. Some adherents have gone through the ceremony several separate times without ever successfully breaking free of the bonds of emotion.
Vulcan Institute of Defensive Arts
The VIDA occupies a complex of unassuming low stone buildings and amphitheatres in the tiny village of Xen'tal in southeastern Gol. Indeed, the entire village contains little more than the Institute, a small shuttle port and transporter center, and an inn that houses short-term students and visiting instructors. At the Institute, one can obtain training in Vulcan martial arts techniques like ponn-ifla or kareel-ifla, or in ancient weapons like the lirpa or the ahn-woon, along with a collection of bruises, sprains, and even the occasional broken bone (all of which can be treated by the healers in residence if they become serious).
Of course, since even the most expert practitioner of the lirpa can do little against a capacble foe with a ranged energy weapon like a phaser, much of this training has no practical application except for ceremonial exhibitions. However, the real value of the stringent VIDA regimen is the manner in which it disciplines the body in the same way that the practice of logic disciplines the mind.
Although past students of the Institute include such prominent Federation personages as Captain Hikaru Sulu, the VIDA may soon play a much different role in Vulcan affairs. VIDA's weapons masters have a natural affinity for the ancient tales of the exiled sons of Vulcan who became the wellspring of the Romulan race. They have thrown in their lot with Ambassador Spock's attempts to negotiate some sort of reunification with the Romulans. To that end, the Institute complex presently houses two young Romulan warriors, Rual and Khazan, who have been brought to Vulcan in secret to learn more of the ancient ways. It is Ambassador Spock's hope eventually to sponsor these young men for admission into the Vulcan Science Academy at ShirKahr, if they can successfully stay out of trouble.
Bordering Shi'al on the south is the small province of Khomi. Except for the Llangon Mountains, Khomi primarily consists of flat and barren hardpan, cracked and canyoned by the strongest tectonic activity of any region on Na'nam. While the earthquakes make it difficult to live there, the large mineral deposits thrusting up through the mantle in this barren region do make it worthwhile to work there.
Currently Khomi has the largest active mining operations on Vulcan; massive drilling machines do most of the mining. Once the ores have been mined, they are transported up to various orbital facilities to be processed. The mining process is slow, and somewhat expensive, but by mining this way the risk of losing lives is greatly reduced. Vulcans dwelling in this region live in underground complexes built inside the mountains. Since the mountains are somewhat more geologically stable than the flatlands, these subterranean habitats are also substantially safer.
The Llangon Mountains, especially the area bordering on Shi'al, holds many monasteries such as the Tinsha Monastery of Hakihr and the Pakro adepts. The mountains may conceal even more isolated monastic communities. Except for some very old records in ShirKahr, which speak of several groups that left ShirKahr and other Vulcan cities to live in Khomi, not much is currently known about them. The records state that not all the groups that left Vulcan's main cities did so because they opposed the teachings of Surak.
Places and Persons of Note in Khomi
Translating roughly as "Place of the Fallen," this large complex in the Llangon foothills is a research center set up by the government and Sarek's family to study the ways of treating Bendii Syndrome, and of giving those elderly Vulcans suffering from it a chance to live, and eventually die, with dignity. The facility came into existence mainly because Sarek's third wife Perrin, after seeing Sarek lose his very selfhood with no assistance or even acknowledgement from his government, was determined that it would not happen to other Vulcans afflicted with the disease.
At first the government simply tried to ignore her, but that only made her more determined. When it became clear that a public debate was beginning to form about what many considered a private matter, the government relented, and agreed to help fund the research center. The center is not only trying to find a cure for Bendii Syndrome, but provides aides for those who have the disease, so that they can maintain mind control for as long as possible. A number of these aides are human volunteers, since Vulcans still largely prefer to avoid contact with Bendii sufferers.
Kir occupies the eastern equatorial area of Na'nam, directly east of Shi'al, and then extends southwest to the borders of Khomi. It contains a varied ecology with temperate lowlands along the coast of the Thanor Sea, arid grasslands beyond, and broken volcanic plains radiating out to the north and west of Mount Tarhana, Vulcan's best known active peak.
Indeed, Kir is in many ways wholly typical of average daily life on Vulcan. It holds within its boundaries the estates of several Great Houses and well-connected political personages, including those of the late Federation Ambassador Sarek. It contains a number of small villages and towns, and one fairly large city, also known as Kir (pop. 140,000), which was traditionally ruled by Clan K'vek, one of the leading merchant families in Vulcan's spacefaring history.
In short, an offworlder could observe Vulcan in microcosm by spending a few months here; but with few tourist attractions or religious pilgrimage sites to draw attention, only a small number of short-term visitors will ever see more of Kir than the view from the day-shuttle to the Tarhana Observation Tower.
Places and Persons of Note in Kir
Monastery of Ulann
An order of silent monks occupy this monastery, whose grounds occupy a hillside along the Thanor coast. The sect of Ulann emphasizes the power of deeds over words, and encourages its adherents to participate in performing useful works along with their studies. In ancient times, the monks operated a lighthouse that adjoined the property to aid seafarers in need.
Today, the lower floor of the monastery is set up as a printing plant and computer datanode, employed to disseminate both the teachings of Surak and those of the sect of Ulann. The Vulcan holiday of Kal Rekk, a day of atonement and silence, derives from the reachings of these monks. Many Vulcans will not speak on Kal Rekk for any reason.
The Tarhana volcano lies almost 483 kilometers to the east of the capital city of ShirKahr, and is readily visible throughout the city. Although the volcano remains active, regularly belching out steam and fiery lava onto the plains below, thus far its eruptions have never threatened the safety of ShirKahr. Nonetheless, the sight of Tarhana in action seems to strike a common chord in all Vulcans, reminding them of how fragile their control over the planet's hostile environment can be - and by analogy, how fragile their control over their own emotional natures can be.
Tarhana's peak has been forever immortalized in art, poetry, and even cheap souvenirs wholesaled on a hundred different worlds (including the Old Quarter of ShirKahr), by Ferengi entrepreneurs. Unlike Mt. Fuji in Japan, however, Tarhana is recognized but not worshipped, storied but no longer mythologized.
The privacy of the personal residences of public officials, like all privacy, is sacred to Vulcans. As such, access to an estate like Sarek's is by invitation only, and invitations are not loosely given. The houses of similarly influential diplomatic personnel (from old families) will be comparable. Like Sarek, such officials will have a country estate as well as a town house in ShirKahr.
Sarek's estate centers on a low, sprawling villa with thick, protective walls, set upon a nountain hillside with a panoramic view. The interior of the building is decorated in typical Vulcan fashion - austerely, with only the most essential furnishings. All items, from the chairs and desk to the muted wall hangings, are carefully selected to give each room an overall sense of harmony. Yet the feature that gives the estate its most unique character is its outdoor gardens, tended lovingly for almost 150 years by Sarek's two human wives, Amanda and Perrin. The gardens include a small climate-controlled greenhouse where the only roses and tomatoes on Vulcan are grown. Well away from the house, in a shallow volcanic declivity (possibly a long-dormant crater), lies the family ceremonial site where Sarek underwent his marriages, and where Spock annulled his first (T'Pring) and celebrated his more successful second one (Saavik).
Sarek's library contains several hundred volumes, and among them they manage to summarize much of the great teachings of both Vulcan and Earth. However, the estate's computer system, reprogrammed over the years by the genius of both Sarek and Spock, is a marvel which in the proper hands could be used to gain virtually unlimited access to any Vulcan, Earth, or Federation database, no matter how classified. Sarek's estate has its own scrambled subspace uplink, which is decidedly rare, even among Vulcan diplomatic families.
The province of Raal occupies the western edge of Na'nam, and includes most of the navigable coastline along the Voroth Sea. Raal is one of Vulcan's most geologically stable regions, and as a result contains a number of its oldest settlements. Almost half of the province consists of temperate coastlands, which lie along the Voroth and the Na'ree River Valley, whose namesake watercourse is navigable by small boats for two to three months each year. As a result, although the city of Vulcana Regar is Raal's largest population center, there are at least a dozen smaller cities and towns in the province with populations ranging from 10,000 to 80,000 residents.
The Vulcana Regar spaceport is one of the three main points of entry for visitors to Vulcan. While those with diplomatic missions or spiritual quests to fulfill tend to beam down to ShirKahr, those who come to Vulcan for trade purposes use Vulcana Regar as their base of operations. Also a popular tourist destination, Raal offers guided expeditions through the spectacular wonders of the Fire Plains (except during solar flare season, when only the brave and foolish journey there at their own risk), and even pleasure cruises across the Voroth to Kwil'inor on solar-assisted sailing ships.
Places and Persons of Note in Raal
Covering over 2 million hectares of land 644 kilometers to the northeast of Vulcana Regar, the Fire Plains lie at the base of a triangle of three active volcanoes - T'raan to the north, T'riall to the southeast, and T'regar to the southwest. The Plains would be of scientific interest for this reason alone, as barely a decade has passed without an eruption from at least one of the triple peaks. What makes the Fire Plains renowned throughout the galaxy, however, are the multicolored crystalline formations which grow throughout this superheated environment, providing an ever-changing explosion of kaleidoscopic panoramas - a feast for the eye or the soul.
Finally, Vulcana Regar is also the headquarters of the V'Shar, the Vulcan bureau of internal security. For most of the past two centuries, the V'Shar had become little more than a glorified spaceport police, checking manifests and apprehending offworlder pickpockets, and making ceremonial appearances at meetings of the Vulcan Council. Even its traditional technical information-gathering role had slipped to the Science Academy. As the activities of the Vulcan Isolationist Movement (VIM) have increased in intensity over the past several years, however, the presence of the V'Shar grows steadily more visible and important.
A heavy-set, olive-skinned man of almost 150 years, Director Satok has been head of the V'Shar for almost forty years. He has a deep, sonorous voice and a regal bearing, and always prefers if possible to reflect upon a situation before choosing a course of action. A graduate of both the Science Academy (in molecular chemistry) and the Vulcan Institute of Defensive Arts (VIDA), Satok has never been off-world. There are those who allege that Satok holds a degree of sympathy for some of the political agendas of the VIM, and may have moved slowly to infiltrate their ranks as a result. Now that the VIM has stepped up its activities to include treasonous plots such as the recent attempt to locate and reassemble the Stone of Gol, Satok has dedicated the V'Shar to rooting out its members and bringing them to justice.
A lithe young Vulcan woman with black hair and hazel eyes, T'shanik enrolled in the V'Shar upon returning to Vulcan in 2366, after just failing (as runner-up to Wesley Crusher) to qualify for admission to Starfleet Academy. Although a strict adherent to the ways of Surak, T'shanik seems to possess an unusually high degree of curiosity about the customs and ways of offworlders, and she has been employed on several occsions as a liaison when the V'Shar is called upon to interact with other non-Vulcan Federation personnel.
The single largest city on Vulcan had a population of 860,000 as of the 2360 census. The city contains offices for the factors of Vulcan's primary mercantile families, vast warehouses for the storage of all manner of cargoes, the central office of the Vulcan House of Merchants, and the Regar Currency Exchange. Given the legendary honesty of Vulcans, illegal activities such as smuggling or hijacking are virtually unheard of here, and anyone caught even shading the tariff laws in their favor is quickly invited to leave the planet. Despite this, the Ferengi consulate on Vulcan is located here. For those seeking to sell their cargoes for a fair price, however, few markets can match the wealth of Vulcana Regar.
Unlike Tat'sahr, the province of Shi'al is often called a province of contrasts. Being on the equator, it is known for several different types of climate. On its northern border with Tat'sahr, harsh deserts make up Shi'al's part of the Cheleb-khor. To the east, the terrain turns to rolling hills, which run down to the Thanor Sea. Here many different types of plants and animals seen in few other places on Vulcan live. Going south leads to the oasis at ShirKahr, where some of the oldest trees on the planet somehow survive.
Beyond the capital at ShirKahr lie the Shival Flats, a large open desert area that reminds visiting Terrans of the Bonneville Salt Flats on the North American continent. Unlike the flats of Earth, the Shival flats offer people a chance to watch the solar flare activity of Vulcan's star 40 Eridani A safely. The shows are considered spectacular, but can only be viewed during Vulcan's winter months, since during the summer the flares create deadly lightning storms in the ionosphere that scour the flats clean.
Shi'al, being one of the most tectonically stable areas on Vulcan, has one of the largest populations of Vulcans on the planet. After the Awakening, the province turned from an area constantly wracked by war into the cultural center of all Vulcan. But the scars of the past still remain in some ways, just as the lava flows from Mount Tarhana still steam just over the horizon from ShirKahr's suburbs.
Places and People of Note in Shi'al
Caves of Kulvir
Located on the southern side of the Cheleb-khor, these former vents of a now inactive volcano have become a place that day hikers or those who want to do some light exploring come to visit. There are several caverns that have unusual rock formations, as well as the remains of a former temple partially destroyed by lava. The tours always have a guide, and at least two people equipped with stunners, as the tunnels have sometimes been known to be used as dens by various desert creatures.
Its name translates to "City of Shadows" in Standard, and while individuals can visit the ruins, it's not a subject many Vulcans like to talk about. It's left as a reminder of what happens when life comes to mean nothing, and the horrible consquences that often result.
Da'kum'Ulcha used to be called Devlarm, and was a city that had a population of just over one million. According to legend, it was also where the first ship capable of space flight was built, and for that reason the city was destroyed. Being the first to reach space was seen by many of the warlords as the ultimate way to gain status and advantage over the others. When his rivals learned that Warlord Dvir's technicians were close to completing a ship, all the neighboring lords from as far as Xial jockeyed for influence and power either by sabotage or negotiation. While the other houses attempted to negotiate with Dvir, the warlord Nu'val decided to stop the project at all costs. So without warning Nu'val's sky force leveled Devlarm - archaeologists theorize that Nu'val used an overwhelming strike of neutron warheads. Within a matter of seconds, nearly ninety percent of the population of Devlarm was vaporized along with the launch facility, although the city remained surprisingly intact. The historical records for the area break off abruptly at that point. Some of the people that have visited the city swear they have heard the sounds of the dying in the howling winds.
Followers of T'Shan
This small commune is devoted to teaching the ways of healing and preserving life, such as the Path of Shan. Located about ten kilometers east of ShirKahr, it is one of the few monateries that accepts outsiders - even non-Vulcans. Many visit the commune for its combination of peacefulness and accessibility, and some even learn different healing techniques. The commune also teaches several methods of meditation and trance-inducing techniques.
The use of biofeedback to strengthen the mesiofrontal cortex is a common teaching here, although some orthodox followers of Tu-Surak say that using mental disciplines to interfere physically with emotion cheapens the effort involved and endangers the practitioner should he suffer trauma to that area. Small credit donations are requested in exchange for instruction and for staying at the commune. These are more symbolic than economic in modern times; the amount (in Vulcan rials) has famously remained unchanged since (according to legend) Surak himself carved the suggested donation into the obsidian wall of the reception area.
For information on Vulcan's capital city, see the entry here.
The northernmost province on the Na'nam continent, the climate in the northern area near the pole is a bit cooler (roughly 40º) than the southernmost areas of the province near Xial. The terrain in central and southern Tat'sahr consists mostly of hills and mountains. What flat areas there are have been used for some of the hydroponic farming that supports the Vulcan population. Several large farms take advantage of the slightly cooler temperature and the relative tectonic stability.
While the region is stable now, it was not always so. During ancient times the mountains contained several active volcanoes, which made the area highly prized by the warlords of that era. Because most of the metal deposits in Vulcan are locked deep within its mantle, the warlords came to see active volcanoes as important sources of metals. Despite the dangers, warlords often built entire communities near active volcanoes to mine and smelt the various ores brought up in the lava. Since many of the warlords considered having metals as important as having water, control of active volcanoes became one of the many resources fought over during the Age of Antiquity. Today, most of these volcanoes are dormant. Only the volcanoes in a place called the Womb of Fire, in the southern part of Tat'sahr, are still active. Indeed, minerals are still mined from the lava that comes to the surface.
Because of the near constant conflict between the warlords in Tat'sahr, many ruins can be found in the mountains from the "time of the beginning." While most of the ruins near the settled areas have been mostly picked through, many deeper in the mountains remain untouched. Vulcan scientists are interested in several of these sites, and tourists journey to the area - Vulcans for the climate, and offworlders for the seeming romance of Vulcan's warrior past.
Places and People of Note in Tat'sahr
Except for the oasis at ShirKahr, no other area on the Na'nam continent has seen so much war. For over five thousand years before the Awakening, Aba'kur defended the entrance to a small valley named Nal'shin. This valley was cool enough that small amounts of food could be grown there. The valley was also located close to two active volcanoes. Being able to produce food, metals, and even a small amount of water made Nal'shin a prime target for the competing forces of that time. Throughout the Age of Antiquity many battles were fought by the warlords for control of Nal'shin. Academy archaeologists believe that many kinds of artifacts and information from different periods in pre-Awakening history may be found here.
This small, secret monastery appears in old manuscripts as one devoted to training those Vulcans who had the psionic ability of pyrokenesis. From this comes its name, which translates from old Vulcan as "Brothers of Fire." Scientists are not quite sure what might be found here, but most likely expect lost knowledge or training techniques. Regardless, both the Academy and the Vulcan government will politely request to see anything brought back from any expedition to the area. They will also want to control any information that might be found, considering the past activities of organizations like the VIM.
Shrine of S'vec
One of the first adepts to be taught by Surak, S'vec cam to Tat'sahr to try to bring peace to the province. For a time, he was successful, and the warlords stopped fighting. But the warlord Xi'rev saw the peace as a chance to obtain assets he had wanted for a long time, so he launched a surprise attack against his rival, Lhai. Lhai was not completely unprepared for the attack, but suffered heavy losses repelling Xi'rev's army.
Lhai, who also did not believe in Surak or his teachings, used the incident to discredit publicly both Surak and his movement. Not wanting to lose the progress that had been made in Tat'sahr, S'vec went to the court of Lhai to talk peace. Instead, Lhai accused S'vec of spying for his enemies, and publicly executed him. S'vec's acolytes decided to follow him into the center of Lhai's domain to preach logic and peace or die.
According to tradition, the acolytes died but converted the sons of both Lhai and Xi'rev by their example. Before leaving, S'vec's followers sealed up their former home and erected a shrine in S'vec's honor. Historians believe that the shrine was destroyed, but that the sealed commune might still be intact. If this is true, items from early in the Logical movement, possibly even including additional writings by Surak himself, could be found there.
This city is the cultural and economic center of the Tat'sahr province. While only about a quarter the size of ShirKahr, it is a much older city. Located in the center of the Viltan flats, some of its original construction dates back tens of millennia before the Awakening. Currently the city, which has the province's only shuttle port, serves as Tat'sahr's main trading center and has 250,000 people living in and around its ancient walls. In different forms, Ta'vistar has existed for nearly 25,000 years. Different areas of the city include:
This section of the city is being used by the Vulcan Science Academy. Originally the Academy wanted to use the area only to collect and study items found in various ruins. At first the old buildings were strengthened or rebuilt, but as the Academy's needs expanded, it constructed new buildings. Today the quarter is a mix of modern and ancient architecture; it is also the part of the city that has the most public parks and gardens. Currently this is the area of the city where individuals go to get permission to explore ruins or conduct research. This is also where the main link to the Vulcan Planetary Network and the city's medical facilities are located.
This is where most of the city's merchants can be found, as the main shuttle port is located here, and merchants were allowed to set up shop around the port. Unlike pther parts of Ta'vistar, the market quarter has been completely redesigned with new construction. The port is quite busy, as most of the minerals and food produced in the province pass through it. Most of the manufactured and consumer goods that the province imports come through here as well. The port does not handle warp-capable ships, but it can unload up to ten large cargo or passenger shuttles at one time. Individuals interested in equipment or supplies can find most things here, but hte selection is smaller than in ShirKahr.
Lodging and entertainment establishments are spread through this area. This is the oldest part of the city, and some of its construction goes several meters underground. The streets are very narrow, so one can only get around the area on foot. Currently there are no major hotels in the quarter, but there are several quality inns that cater to both marchants and visiting professors. There are also several good restaurants, which serve only Vulcan food, to the occasional discomfiture of the rare offworld archaeologist.
On the southern most edge of Tat'sahr, bordering on the province of Shi'al, is the harsh area of desert known as Cheleb-khor. Named for Ket-cheleb, the Vulcan god of anger, the region consists of several hundred kilometers of some of the harshest desert on Vulcan. While there is nothing of note about the region itself, except that it can be quite dangerous for unwary travelers, it is the place in which Vulcan children have traditionally tested their adulthood.
The ritual is known as kahs-wan, and it requires young Vulcans to cross the section of the Cheleb-khor commonly known as Vulcan's Forge. The journey takes about ten days (from east to west), during which each child being tested can neither help nor even talk to any other child he sees. Those who pass the test are acknowledged as adults by their families in a ceremony that takes place at the family's sacred ground or at a major temple such as Mount Seleya.
Kahs-wan is a very old tradition, now observed only in the oldest and most traditionally conservative families. Vulcan's Cheleb-khor is not the only place on the planet for kahs-wan, of course, any more than Las Vegas and Paris are the only places on Earth for honeymooners. However, the tradition is strongest here, and a number of kahs-wan hostels along the borders of the Cheleb-khor maintain facilities for young people from all over Vulcan.
Xial is the only completely land-locked province in Na'nam, and consists primarily of equatorial desert. Despite this fact, and because of its strategic location between the great cities of Vulcana Regar and ShirKahr, extensive solar-powered hydroponic farming complexes dot the flat, rolling landscape. This, ironically, makes Xial famous as the "breadbasket of Vulcan." Under the Vulcan night, farmers load freshly harvested fruits, grains, and vegetable on hundreds of gravbarges for shipment to the two cities and beyond. The constant trail of flashing lights passing across the desert night sky is vividly etched in the memory of any Xial native, though not all remember it fondly.
Although the headquarters of the Vulcan Subministry of Agriculture is located in Chi-ree, a quiet town of about 80,000 (15,000 of whom work or study at the Subministry) in north-central Xial, there is generally little reason for offworld visitors to Vulcan to enter the province. Conversely, Xial plays a key role in the lives of native Vulcans who follow the traditional rituals, for Mount Seleya, the holiest site on Vulcan, lies in the southeast corner of the province.
Places and Persons of Note in Xial
For canon information on Mount Seleya, please see the Memory Alpha article.
On a planet rife with hundreds of monasteries, temples, shrines, and ruins to the many sets and even gods which have held sway upon various regions of Vulcan, no place of worship is more important to the modern Vulcan way of like than Mount Seleya. The 7,000 meter peak is kilometers from any other settlement, surrounded to the north and west by a range of hills that eventually turns west and becomes the Mountains of Gol.
Mount Seleya's only contact with civilization is a small shuttleport landing strip several kilometers to the east. Pilgrims can approach the mountain's base only from this direction, across a sandy plain which narrows gradually as you progress, ending at a narrow bridge without railings over a yawning chasm seemingly torn from the earth by a giant hand - as legend holds it was in the famous Battle of Seleya, when the tyrant Sulen laid seige to capture the daughter of his rival T'Vhet of ShirKahr. Everywhere you look, the mountain gives evidence of its fortress heritage, even though since the Time of Awakening it has been the chief temple of disciplines of peace set down by Surak.
The temple complex at the summit of Mount Seleya stands at the top of a winding staircase containing well over a thousand steps. The thick stone walls and battlements offer further testament to its heritage of violence, though the balustrades now serve as balconies for the mediations of the adepts. The most powerful High Priestess of the Temple was T'Pau, an imperious matron who virtually ruled mid-23rd-century Vulcan through her coldly logical mind, prodigious intellect, and vast personal magnetism. She turned down election to the Federation Council, preferring to remain on Vulcan and on Mount Seleya. She was succeeded upon her death in 2279 by T'Lar of Gol, the former First Adept.
Although both monks and laymen use the Temple for study and mediation, many traditional ceremonies conducted at Mount Seleya occur at the base of the mountain within a sacred grove of spindly old-growth trees ringed by stone monoliths. The grove opens at one end into a natural amphitheatre that has been hollowed out of the very face of the mountain, and ends at a raised dais with an altar of blood-red stone. At the appointed time of a ritual, a priestess (the High Priestess for important families) is carried down from the mountaintop on a litter, accompanied by a procession of acolytes carrying chimes or frameworks of miniature bells.
Ceremonies known to be conducted here include the koon-ut-la, the mind-melding of chosen bond-mates at age seven that causes the adult awakening of pon farr; the coming of age ceremony for Vulcan teenagers who have successfully passed through the rite of passage known as kahs-wan, and are confirmed as adult members of their Houses; and the koon-ut-kal-if-fee. All of these ceremonies are intensely private, and none are normally open to the public. Other families, especially old or influential ones, have their own sacred groves on their ancestral lands. For sufficiently important (or devout) families, the High Priestess fo Seleya performs ceremonies on those lands as well.
T'Lar of Gol
For canon information on T'Lar, please see the Memory Alpha article.
The current High Priestess of the Temple at Mount Seleya is a tall and slender silver-haired woman whose stately beauty has remained and perhaps even intensified as she has aged. Now in her 170's, she shows no signs of ill health, nor any intention of slowing down and naming a First Adept as her eventual successor.
Ner original training was that of a Vulcan healer, and her skills with mind-melding techniques are unparalleled. She then spent years at the monastery of Kolinahru, further harnessing her mental powers of insight, before being called to Mount Seleya by T'Pau to serve as First Adept. It was she who successfully completed the ancient historical ceremony of fal-tor-pan, restoring Spock's katra into the physical vessel created by the Genesis planet.
T'Lar regularly consults with the medical school of the Vulcan Science Academy on difficult cases of mental illness, and on the rehabilitation of those who have been institutionalized for violent thought-forms. Her current patients include Tallera, the VIM agent who successfully engineered the recovery of the Stone of Gol to bring about the return of the awesome powers of the mindlords.
Whereas T'Pau was recognized galaxywide as a voice to be reckoned with in Vulcan's intersetellar affairs, T'Lar does not occupy nearly as high a public profile. Her influence behind the scenes is quite substantial, however, as she is spiritual advisor to the leaders of many Great Houses. In conversation, T'Lar speaks frankly and without hesitation about her objectives with no pretense of diplomacy, perhaps a byproducts of her years among the emotionless monks of Kolinahru; nonetheless, her decisions often seem tinged with a deep sense of compassion for others, both Vulcan and non-Vulcan.
Subministry of Agriculture
Normally, edifices of higher learning in backwater towns wehre agronomists, entomologists, and botanists earnestly debate methods of preventing insect infestations of grain do not makes one's list of interesting locales. However, V'Shar intelligence reports seem to suggest that the Agriculture division of Vulcan's establishment may be a growing hotbed of VIM support, which could pose quite a threat to Vulcan given the inviting terrorist target that these vitally important food supplies could pose.
The majority of this information has been taken from The Way of Kolinahr Sourcebook, with modifications from other sources.