Kahuna Kaiaka (Halfling for ‘secret of the shadowed sea’) is the name of a little known volcanic island chain in the middle of the Dark Ocean.
The Dark Ocean is the most violent sea on Orithia and few ships survive its crossing. The rumours of Kahuna Kaiaka as being a oceanic paradise of sunny beaches, bountiful jungles and striking mountains are often dismissed as sailor’s tall tales while others believe it is in fact the central reason for the Dark Ocean’s temperament, a ship graveyard populated by sirens, sea monsters and dragons.
The Kahuna Kaiaka are rumoured to be home to tribes of jungle-dwelling humanoids (in particular Halfings or Pygmies) but these claims have not been verified despite many expeditions to determine the precise location of the island chain.
The Kahuna Kaiaka islands were initially formed after hundreds of years of volcanic eruptions. The Kahuna Kaiaka is a broad archipelago of beautiful white sand beaches, with tropical rainforests and lush exotic fauna. The flora and fauna of the region differ vastly from the rest of the Darkfell continent due to the nature of the islands’ creation. In the years since the formation of Kahuna Kaiaka animals and plants carried from across Orithia by wind, waves and wings have created a unique and dynamic ecosystem.
The reason for Kahuna Kaiaka’s undiscovered shores is partly the violent oceans and rocky shallows which surround these islands. Combined with the purely physical barriers many sailors avoid the Dark Ocean, often going miles out of their way to do so. This is due to the fearsome storms common to this ocean and the sailor’s belief in great sea creatures such as Giant Squid, Sirens, Krakens, Sea Hags and Coral Golems to name a few. Some sea shanties go as far as to describe the legendary islands as a vicious and ancient land where raptors hurtle through the undergrowth and pterodactyls rule the skies.
Although many of the legends surrounding the small island chain are more accurate than most could ever begin to imagine, a small Halfling tribe has made this dangerous yet exclusive place its home. At the centre of the archipelago a large island, Kahuna, surrounds a huge active volcano. The island itself begins in the North as a long horseshoe shaped white beach which quickly falls back into deep vegetation. The volcano is nestled within this great jungle and creates an almost impassable barrier to exploration from the North. Should Kahuna be approached from the South, a great white cliff stretches the length of the island, lowering towards both the west and the east creating a distinctive wedge shape. It is atop this cliff that the very top of a vast glass dome can be seen and beneath that a royal palace built of white stone.
This is the Royal Palace of the Halfling City Ailana Hoku. The City itself is small but pristine. Within the city walls all the buildings are built of the same white stone. The streets are filled with the hush of busy scholars and the priests and astrologers who dwell in the palace. Immediately beyond the city walls a vast expanse of light, wooden beach huts with palm leaf roofs stretch out from the city wall to the edge of another great cliff overlooking the thick jungle canopy of Kahuna. The atmosphere atop this cliff is very different, barbeques cook huge fresh fish in the open and everyone in sight has a smile on their face and a drink in their hands. The Halfling way of life on this side of the city walls is free spirited and relaxed, with little interest in dusty tomes or ancient teachings. Several huts are dedicated bars, with pretty Halfling women with vibrant flowers in their uncut and equally vibrant hair carrying trays of clay bottles and mugs for thirsty patrons. All the alcoholic beverages served have a base in a bitter orange native to the island which can be fermented and the peel saved for drying out and flavouring many other local foods.
Within the City itself the focal points remain the great Royal Palace, central to the small city, with the great temple immediately in front, arching the length of the Palace itself. The rear is surrounded by another large dome, the observatory and orrery, with a huge library the entire length of the building.
The Temple has a great carved archway leading in, with no doors, signifying that all that dwell on the island are welcome. At the centre of the great Nave is a bubbling spring, which travels the length of the Temple splitting the East from the West. This spring represents the ever flowing life of the island and flows out of the main gates and over the cliff’s edge into a deep ravine. There is no altar only a lectern upon which a huge tome lays, an almanac to some merely superstitious teachings of the stars, to others a sacred text. The Temple is a dome in shape with a small open skylight which emphasises the mossy stones which houses the spring. On either side large doors lead to the crypts on the right, and the vestry on the left.
To most, Aliana Hoku appears an idyllic and peaceful, with Halfling males fishing or surfing, and the Halfling women all expert courtesans, behind the scenes almost half the population struggle tirelessly for the clan’s future. There are the Orchard Keepers, one of the biggest families in the clan, who are one with the trees and the earth beneath. There are the City Guard, master combatants with slings and spiked chains. But the highest of all the families are the Koa Moku, masters in unarmed combat, bright coloured decorative war robes are worn at all times along with tribal body paints. It is their ancient duty to guard the King and the Polu Koko (royal line). They also hunt the great beasts of the Jungles and have protected the City from any outsiders since Aliana Hoku was founded.
The current Polu Koko consists of a widowed King and his twin children. King Antares Castor has ruled for 30 years, taking the throne aged 20. His twin children Alzirr and Alhena Castor, aged 19, are his only remaining heirs since the passing of their older brother, Zaniah Castor.