Edged beauty defines the volcanic continent of Akoum more than any other concept—the crystalline fields shimmer in every imaginable color beneath the sun, but the deceptively sharp edges of even the most mundane surface stones will slice through leather and flesh if an unwary traveler should slip and fall. The surface can reach incredible temperature extremes, as the omnipresent silicate stone reflects the sun's glaring light and will cook an unprepared traveler during the day just as quickly as that cold stone will freeze one at night.
Akoum is primarily aligned with red mana, as befits such a heavily volcanic region, but the crystal fields on the surface and the spires of semi-reflective rock help provide a white mana tie to the region as well. Beneath the surface is an impossibly old world, and many layers beneath the surface lay trapped pockets from ages past. From time to time a volcanic burst will bring gases and earth trapped for centuries up onto the surface. For a time, the surface of Akoum will burst into beautiful and often-times bizarre flora. The elvish pilgrims that tend these regions refer to the event as a "Life Bloom," but don't tell that to anyone who gets trapped within the volcanic event, or who gets eaten by one of the carnivorous plants that often take root in its aftermath. These regions provide intense links to green mana, but these Blooms tend to survive only a year or two at the most.
At the center of the sprawling region is a massive supervolcano—not precisely dormant, but in the last millennial cycle, there have been few major eruptions. Instead, because of Zendikar's dynamic force known as the Roil, the whole region is plagued by a constant low-level instability. Whereas the Roil on the continent of Tazeem seems to affect the land from above, the Roil seems to affect Akoum from below. Magma flows constantly flood and clear tunnels, gases from deep within the earth are thrust to the surface, and seismic activity can bring down a rain of crystal shards, more deadly than any volley of arrows. In short, Akoum is not ideal real estate for a sentient being looking to make a home. The mineral lava is liquid at extreme temperatures, but as it cools, it quickly crystallizes. Cooling Akoum lava will produce large jagged outcroppings of crystalline rock, the crystal lattices visibly emerging from the glowing-hot liquid stone.
Despite the barrenness of much of the Akoum landscape, life does tend to find a way to thrive in the cracks. Aggressive silver and blue grasses take root in volcanic stone and spread rapidly, providing meager fare for the larger fauna of the region. Creatures that can survive the jagged land tend to be as tough and dangerous as their home—no mammals, other than the ubiquitous rodents, have managed much of a foothold. Instead, most creatures are either insectile outright, or have some insect-like features; carapace or shells are essentially required survival traits, as the jagged volcanic crystal has weeded out species that lacked such defenses.
Other than the sporadic Blooms, plant life is sporadic throughout Akoum. Conditions of temperature and moisture change so rapidly that larger plant life can rarely adapt. Often a life bloom will end when a lava flow erupts nearby. From time to time, a particularly fast-moving flow will leave behind what's known as an igneous glen; the plant life is essentially "flash fossilized", leaving behind a region of statues of the plants and animals that once lived there. While the wandering kor and humans see these regions as beautiful and a sign of good luck, the elves will often destroy them when found, feeling that no matter how aesthetically appealing, a monument to the destruction of life should not stand.
The coasts of Akoum are a deathtrap to travelers. Seismic activity and spires of volcanic glass make landing a ship onto the mainland a near impossibility. The eastern shores are safest, but never safe. After braving a journey filled with krakens and storms, it is not uncommon for a ship to meet its end within sight of the Akoum shores, the hull torn apart on jagged underwater crystals, essentially invisible to a lookout's eye. There are no permanent ports. The coastline changes significantly every year to volcanic eruptions, above and below water, and seismic activity that sends coastal shelves into the ocean itself. Still, upon hearing that a ship has been sighted, people from nearby settlements will do all they can to help bring a ship in—that ship that might carry valuable supplies impossible to glean on the continental mainland.
Rainfall comes to Akoum in violent torrents during the winter season, and the spring will often see the surface transformed, lakes atop crystal beds will form overnight, and water will cascade across the rock spires—a beautiful sight, and fleeting as anything else within Akoum. These pools and rivers last days or months before the next tremor causes the water to drain away beneath the surface. The kor and humans who sparsely populate the region send waterscouts—part architect, part explorer, part engineer—to respond to these flows, and try to direct the water into cisterns that serve as a supply for the year to come. With very few static sources of water to draw from, water is a precious commodity.
The northern reaches of Akoum become more mountainous. The Teeth of Akoum are a series of mountain ranges that are essentially impassable without some means of flight or a very experienced and clever guide.
Civilization clings tenaciously to the Teeth of Akoum, which try to shake it off from time to time. Sentient residents of the Teeth include the humanoid races of Zendikar, the occasional sphinx, and even a golem that went rogue from its original function of ruin defense, for causes unknown.
"Only the foolhardy would venture into the Akoum Mountains without a lullmage to tame the raging rocks and living fires." -Sachir, Akoum Expeditionary House (Molten Ravager)
"There was clearly a scream. I'm not sure if there was a mouth." -Sachir, Akoum Expeditionary House (Heat Ray)
"You never know what's going to be in goblin tunnels. Even in the best case, there will still be goblins." -Sachir, Akoum Expeditionary House (Goblin Tunneler)
"If you're in Akoum and you glimpse a shadow overhead, the worst thing you can do is duck." -Chadir the Navigator (Akoum Boulderfoot)
"Even if the sphinxes do know the location of every relic, getting one to talk is harder than just searching yourself." -Sachir, Akoum Expeditionary House (Sphinx of Jwar Isle)
"If you climb Skyfang Peak, avoid the pass. Generations of apes made that trail, and they don't tolerate trespassers." -Sachir, Akoum Expeditionary House (Summit Apes)
Geographical Features in Akoum