Great Rift Valley
The Great Rift Valley lies diagonally across the rough and abyssal territory of southern California. Tales tell how this land was, even in the time of the Ancients, a place of earthquakes and great catastrophes, and by the looks of it today it’s no wonder.
The Great Rift Valley is a region riddled with mighty gorges, ravines, and cracks that stretch from the desert plateau of Kingman Town in the southeast to the Frisco Bay area in the northwest part of the land. At its heart is a single continuous rift, a huge scar upon the land – its rocky, mesa-like cliffs falling anywhere from ten to almost fifty feet at various points along its miles-long length, sometimes even vanishing into the depths of the earth. The cliffs are notoriously unstable, the rift volcanic, and wanderers who’ve come too close have been said to sometimes fall to horrible deaths in burning lava below. Tremors are still reported to shake the land every few years or so; the glow of underground hotspots in the crack sometimes can be seen as far south as Calico.
The Great Rift represents a monumental barrier to the peoples of the Sierra Gehenna region, separating the lands of the civilized – the valley of the monastery-fortresses of the Foundation on one side, the desolate ruins of Bakersfield and the legendary mega-ruin of Necropolis on the other. Places like Kingman Town sit at strategic points along the Great Rift, were reliable passes down into the valley have been established. These mark important junctures on the trade routes that connect the lands of the east with the territories of the west.
The Great Rift, though largely a rocky dry desert, is not entirely empty. All manner of wildlife has come to populate this terrible region; I myself wandered this land a great deal during my service with the Foundation, and it ain’t a safe, hospitable place. Not only the odd band of savage raiders (as well as slavers from up north come looking for captives), but also giant “mole rats”, huge mutated scorpions, and the odd aberration spawned by the radiated atmosphere pervading the belt of devastated cities that ring the valley.
If you ever go to California, you’re sure to come to the Great Rift Valley at one point or another – one has to at least skirt it in order to get anywhere. If you ask me, stick to the established trade routes as much as possible. It’s a harsh and dangerous place, the Rift Valley.