Dagooldabad is a village on the planet Chooz. It is located in the Gogue desert, near Hiyat.
The desert stretches for a thousand miles in every direction. Most of it is dry sand in shades of grey and black and green, interrupted only by outcroppings of the rock from which the winds have, over the millennia, created the sand. Some of the rocks are just the right size to fit in the hand, as if they had been made for throwing; some are big enough to be called mountains, and most are somewhere in between. Besides the rocks, two features dot the otherwise monotonous landscape of shifting sand: the oases that foster life and the volcanoes that take it away.
The oases aren't, for the most part, bountiful springs of water that make the land green with the lushness of luxuriant vegetation. They are modest underground aquifers, rather close to the surface, making possible the growth of cacti and scrub grasses that in turn support a modest number of animals.
The volcanoes, also, aren't like the great cinder cones found in other places. They are neither tall nor steep nor round, and never once, in all of recorded history, has even one erupted in that exploding-mountain way that volcanoes are known for.
And they never will, either, say the geologists, because they can't. Only magma rich in silica can build up pressure for huge explosions, because silica makes the magma thick and gloppy, trapping the volcanic gases and holding in the pressure, saving it up for sometimes hundreds of years until one day it reaches its limit, puts on a breathtaking show and causes horrible devastation. The magma under the Gogue desert, though, is made mostly of pyroxenite and olivine, very low in silica and therefore very liquid when melted. Gases escape easily through cracks in the overlying bedrock, and occasionally lava gushes out, too, and forms glowing red rivers which eventually cool into solid black and green rock.
Long ago, the experts say, the Gogue desert was the Gogue rainforest.
Dagooldabad is a place where an oasis and a volcano are uneasy neighbors, the volcano slowly stealing land from the oasis and turning its precious water into steam.
The village is very old, a hundred centuries old, some archeologists say, while others disagree and said it is two hundred or even five hundred centuries old. What they all do seem to agree on is that, whatever era it was when it was first settled, it lay in a lush tropical environment, in a fertile valley, perhaps even on the banks of some ancient river. The vast hot desert that dictates so much of the villagers' lives in this millennium did not exist yet in that one, and the lake of boiling rock that bubbled and sputtered beyond the cliffs at the edge of the village in modern times still lay under miles of bedrock, although the bedrock may have already been beginning to crack.
According to one theory, there had already been small fissures in the bedrock, and the hot volcanic gases had escaped upward through these fissures, and the frequent jungle rains had trickled downward through these same fissures, and when they'd met they'd created steam, and it was this steam that had first attracted some of the area's semi-nomadic primitives to settle here.
In time, lava had followed the steam through the fissures and flowed down the valley, perhaps meeting the river and turning its water suddenly to vapor in a loud, popping, hissing collision. Eventually, the thin crust of rock on the surface was worn away too much to bear its own weight, and it collapsed and melted and became part of the lake of lava it had sheltered. Now, east and north of the village are great dark cliffs ,and beyond those cliffs lay a plain of rock, rippled and cracked, mostly black and sometimes red, sometimes dark and sometimes erupting with fountains of scarlet that lit up the night.
The village has an odd name, because of its age. Almost without exception, villages, towns and cities have names that sound like the names of people. From the faraway bustling metropolis of Zoke to the little city of Hiyat where most of the villagers work and shop and find their connection with the world, municipalities are called by simple one-syllable names, a vowel or two or at the most three, closed on both ends by consonants. But the village, named in ancient times by speakers of a long-forgotten language, is called Dagooldabad.
There have been movements, over the centuries, to bring Dagooldabad into the modern era by truncating its name. Dag was proposed once, and Bad about a decade later. The last Zirode from Hiyat, the one before the present one, had tried to force the name Gool on the village over the objections of its citizens. But he had lost and they had won, and the village had remained Dagooldabad.
Modern Dagooldabad had about two hundred residents, who by reason of being wedged between the unforgiving desert and the punishing volcano, tend to watch out for one another and be, perhaps, more united, more of a real village in the old sense, than most.
Notable Residents Include:Edit
- Gebb the magistrate
- Kapp Vaigg