This island is a rough-hewn Colronan Royalist military outpost (under another name) … or a recreational haven for the people of Sha-Ka-Ruq.

Depends on who you ask and where you are.

What the Island Is Like

Balestra, the Upper Island

This is a barren, rocky island with a heavy Cloud cover. While not much plant growth occurs here, water sources are still ample, so a well-stocked force can encamp there for months without needing resupply.

Though that's just the top-side, which the Colronans named Balestra.

Travelers' Comments on Balestra

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Cala-Hai, the Lower Island

The underside of the island is a different story. While Balestra is flat-ish and rocky with few hills and several lakes, the underside is very tall, like a series of jagged inverted mountains. While still enshrouded in the Island's Cloud, the underside's Cloud-layer is much thinner, and it gets infrequently pummeled by the detritus of the 7 Skies — rocks from the Sky of Stones, errant bluewood trees, etc. Over the centuries, this has rendered the underside almost like an anthill, full of small tunnels and vertical impact craters passing as caves, serving as hiding places for small tribes of rockmen, nesting spots for ruqs, pirate coves. And recreational spots for travelling Sha-Ku, who named the island Cala-Hai.

Nearly all cartographers, taking the side of the first "colonists," refer to the island on maps as "Cala-Hai." (The exception, of course, are Colronan Royalist map-makers, who call it "Balestra.") It has also been known as "the Doubled Island" and "the Split Island."

Travelers' Comments on Cala-Hai

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Cala-Hai-Ku History In Brief

When the Colronans landed on Cala-Hai and named it Balestra, they felt they'd found a solid military outpost positioned at the almost exact mid-point between Sha-Ka-Ruq and Colrona, but not a place worth colonizing. What they didn't realize was that "Balestra" was already the place called Cala-Hai, a popular inverted-Island getaway for the Sha-Ka-Ruq (and about as far towards Colrona as most of that nation had ever traveled).

Eventually the discovery was made, and a sort of truce (or what passes for one where the Sha-Ku are concerned) was established. The Colronans can make whatever use they care to of the topside, but the underside remains a "free port" for all travelers. While there are seldom altercations between Sha-Ku and Colronans, there are occasional skirmishes between Colronan forces and some of the more outlandish visitors to Cala-Hai when those visitors try to climb too high or some Colronan captain gets it into his fool head to go tunneling for gold again. Small groups of rockmen are a particular pain to both sides of the Island.

How Cala-Hai Is Ruled & What the Cala-Hai-Ku Are Like

The military colony of Balestra answers to Colronan Royalist rule.

Cala-Hai is a bit more interesting. While it sees plenty of Sha-Ku tourism, the residents and natives of Cala-Hai, called the Cala-Hai-Ku, hail from Sha-Ku roots — but are almost entirely descended from the kawa caste (the "nobodies" of Sha-Ku reknown-driven society). Over the years, this has resulted in a subtle but profound cultural shift: what happens on Cala-Hai stays on Cala-Hai, and no one's reputation from outside Cala-Hai is given much merit. There, even nobodies can be famous — and even the famous can be nobodies.

Inasmuch as there's any governance on the underside, it's never larger than each individual community — whether those communities are seen as a single family living in a well-appointed cave, or the sprawling rope-bridged town of Waypoint, where everyone is seen as a jury of peers, and the community's traditions are deeply ingrained … and to outsiders, somewhat byzantine.

Other Cala-Hai-relevant Entries

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