Gehennum archipelago

Gehennum is an archipelago about the size of the Philippines, which is to say that it consists thousands of islands in a chain a fifteen hundred kilometres long and four hundred wide. The islands are mostly rugged and volcanic, being situated over an active subduction zone, and are fringed with coral reefs. The seas around them and to their north are shallow (no more than fifty fathoms) and no strong currents flow through them, while to the south is a pelagic trench. Understandably, there are thousands of coral atolls.

Gehennum is in a vast oceanic eddy. Sea-grass abounds, eels and sea-dragons come to breed. And flotsam accumulates, eventually to wash up on the shores. In popular speech, everything comes eventually to Gehennum: in the legends of other lands all lost things are to be found there.

As it is situated on the equator, because of the slight obliquity of the ecliptic, and because of the lack of ocean currents in its shallow seas, Gehennum is perpetually in the intertropical wind convergence. Away from the coastal onshore and offshore breezes, only light, unreliable winds blow at sea, and there are sudden local storms.

Owing to these peculiarities of winds and currents, Gehennum is easy to sail to, and notoriously difficult to sail away from. Travellers and foreign traders accumulate in Gehennum’s ports, having blown into the convergence zone and drifted to Gehennum. In legends of distant lands Gehennum is a land of no return, and in some places “gone to Gehennum” is a euphemism for ‘dead’, ‘irretrievable’ or ‘irreparable’.

Copyright © 1991 by Brett Evill. All rights reserved.