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Pocalo Technology: Pharma

Pocalo Technology: Pharma published on

Valley of the Silk Sky - pharmaAs discussed in the article on medicine, pharmaceuticals form a major part of the Pocali economy.

Medicinals are generally available in two forms: prefabricated or compounded.

Prefabrication works best for widely used remedies that can be mass-produced on some level (not dependent on rare ingredients, and used for treating relatively common ailments). These will typically come in tubes, many labeled in Rovari script in addition to Pocali, particularly for medicines used by both Daraz and Humans.

The majority of medicines, though, are compounded: made to order from raw ingredients per the individual’s specific medical needs. Because several different types of raw medicinals might have the same or similar effects, and the rarity of various medicinals makes large scale consistency difficult to achieve, in many cases it’s just easier to make something on the spot based on whatever ingredients are available in the region.

An apothecarist’s egg is basically a portable mini-pharmacy. A typical egg will contain raw ingredients, tinctures, extracts, and tools for mixing medicines or forming tablets.

Pocalo Technology: Lights

Pocalo Technology: Lights published on

Valley of the Silk Sky - lightsPocalo doesn’t have electric lighting (or electric anything, for that matter).

Their interior lights are instead made of tiny ecosystems of bioluminescent fungi. The fungi have been domesticated to produce a brighter, whiter light than their wild counterparts.

The fungi survive by eating their own dead cells, so a well-balanced light can shine indefinitely. In practice, most lights don’t last forever: the glass gets cracked and throws the ecosystem off balance; the fungi reproduce too quickly (sometimes overgrowing to the point of bursting the glass); or they reproduce too slowly and die off. But a light made with a high level of craftsmanship may well last for hundreds of years.

There is no way to turn a particular light “on” or “off” (the fungi are either alive and glowing or dead and dark). In rooms where one wishes to achieve periodic darkness, like a bedroom, the lights will have some kind of hood which can be opened and closed.

A popular style of dimmable light is colloquially called an “eyelight,” as it has two adjustable lids which can allow for modulating both the intensity and the direction of the glow.

Pocalo Infrastructure: Smugglers’ Tunnels

Pocalo Infrastructure: Smugglers’ Tunnels published on

Valley of the Silk Sky - smugglers' tunnelsThe country that occupies the Valley, Pocalo, is divided into provinces, and each province is stacked on top of the other. The massive structure that houses all these provinces was built up slowly over the course of thousands of years. For most of that time, the only way to get from one province to another was to take a long trek up or down the mountains that anchor the structure.

The safest way to go was via mountain tunnels. These tunnels were dug and maintained by the Daraz, who build their cities inside the mountains. They leased the tunnels to the humans in exchange for various goods and services.

A scant couple hundred years ago, humans perfected the technology to move elevators between the provinces. The early elevators could only connect two provinces; later technological advances brought elevators that could connect 3 or 4 provinces. As elevator technology improved, the need for the tunnels waned in favor of the much faster vertical transportation.

The Daraz had little incentive to maintain the tunnels with no one using them much, and shifted to other forms of trade with the humans.

Getting on an elevator typically requires going through a checkpoint, though, and may require an official passport for boarding. What to do if you are perhaps interested in avoiding any sort of official scrutiny in the course of your travels? Like, say, maybe you deal in goods you might have obtained under less than legal circumstances?

Well, it’s certainly slower going, but here are all these old tunnels no one uses anymore, cough, ahem.

Yes, there have been many attempts to seal off the tunnels over the years, but somehow or other they always get unsealed, and the resources just aren’t there to guard them 24/7. Hence the tunnels tend to be left alone much of the time, should someone wish to slip from one province to the next while attracting minimal attention.

Pocalo Economy: Medicine

Pocalo Economy: Medicine published on

Valley of the Silk Sky - pharmaceutical lab

Probably the single biggest reason Pocalo is a cultural melting pot and a destination worth traveling the world to get to: their medical science is unparalleled.

People come to the Valley to seek cures for their own ailments, or to buy medicines to sell elsewhere in the global market, or to study the practice of medicine. No surprise, then, that researching and cultivating medicinal flora is a big industry.

Pocalo is home to a huge number of microclimates, which in turns means there are countless rare plants that only grow in specific (and sometimes dangerous or hard-to-reach) places.

Valley of the Silk Sky - medical research centerBotanists are always looking for species that can be domesticated and grown on demand to reduce production costs. Places like the Pharmaceutical Research Center in Uttara City typically have greenhouses that cultivate whatever useful species can be grown in the area. The modular nature of the building helps prevent unwanted cross-pollination of the plants being cultivated, or escape by potentially invasive species.

The Research Center forms the economic hub of the area, and specializes in plants found locally. The plants and medicines produced by the Research Center are traded to other regions in Pocalo, who in turn trade their own plants and medicinals to Uttara. This network of pharmaceutical centers across Pocalo defines the layout of intercity and interprovince trade routes.

Pharmaceutical scientists like Amihan, Beneke, and Rosse study newly-found species in hopes of discovering new medicines. Of course, not all species can be domesticated or cultivated, so runners like Chadsen go out to find them in the wild.

Daraz Society: Writing

Daraz Society: Writing published on

Valley of the Silk Sky - Daraz writing systems

The Daraz have a tactile written language, since their infrared vision can’t detect ink on paper or print in a book.

They have two main systems of writing:

1. Cord notation: This format is similar to quipu, though the actual implementation is a little different. Size and distribution of knots, as well as weave of the cords, is used to convey information.

2. Wax notation: Knotting and weaving is a slow process, so the corded language is more for information that needs to be archived. These cords are typically transcribed from a writing system that uses a stylus to deposit dots and dashes of hot wax that mimic the knots and weaves of the cords.

The pot of wax is kept warm and liquid by storing it in a rivulet diverted from a hot spring. While it is still warm the wax is visible to the Daraz, so as they write with the stylus they have a visual impression of what they’re writing.

Once the wax cools and is no longer visible, they read the raised parts via touch.

This system is also useful for written communication with humans – while humans are not physically capable of speaking Rovari, they can certainly read it. Objects that might need to be read by both Daraz and humans, like containers of shared medicinals, will often be labeled in both Pocali and Rovari.

Architecture: The Red Cities

Architecture: The Red Cities published on

Valley of the Silk Sky - red citiesThe Red Cities predate the giant web structure that houses the current provinces of Pocalo, but the people of the Red Cities were the ones who developed the technology to use cloud spider silk as a building material.

The earliest structures in the Red Cities were carved directly out of the mountainside rock. When the people needed to expand or repair the buildings, they initially used the cloud spider silk as a base for concrete or cement, mixing it with dust and gravel leftover from carving.

Later technological developments (domesticating and breeding the cloud spiders for different types and consistencies of silk) allowed them to build without the use of stone at all, thereby reducing the weight of the structures considerably.

The Valley is prone to earthquakes, so solid stone buildings are very susceptible to damage, whereas the flexibility of the web structures make them highly resistant to earthquakes.

The Red Cities were largely abandoned during the War of Light. Some have since been reclaimed (by bandit groups more often than not), while others were left to crumble. Although the Red Cities (both active and ruined) are technically governed by the laws of Pocalo, very few resources are actually spent enforcing those laws, giving the Red Cities a reputation as dangerous places to frequent.

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