Naya is a glorious jungle empire where huge behemoths roam and are worshiped by the inhabitants. As a tropical jungle-plane peopled with perfect specimens of the human, elvish, and leonin races, Naya seems like a paradise. But don't let its exuberant cultures fool you; Naya tremors with peril. Behemoths taller than buildings lumber through Naya's rainforests, crushing acres of vegetation—or civilization—casually underfoot. Yet somehow, Naya's sentient races revere these gargantuans, relegating them to the pinnacle of their religious beliefs and ascribing to them a sacred ineffability.
Life, passion, community, and the wild—these are what flourish without the influence of black or blue mana. In this lush land, life is celebrated. Instinct triumphs over machination. Here titanic predators are shown respect, while humans, elves, and catfolk called leonin seek to revere and respect nature. On Naya, ambition and treachery are scarce, hunted nearly to extinction by the awe owed to terrestrial gods.
In the lower elevations, the jungle is the undisputed king. With heavy, intermittent rainfall as the lifeblood of the jungle, the rampant vegetation is in a constant race, always clawing upwards in the competition for sunshine. The canopy of leaves is laced together by massive lianas—thick, woody vines that connect the trees together and can grow up to five feet in diameter. Animals, humans and elves use these lianas as highways to travel across the jungle . . . Amid the massive buttress roots are termites, fungi, and oversized logger-ants who hunt by scent using coordinated movements and can easily take down an unsuspecting human or elf.
Whatever lives on the jungle floor must survive on what falls from or through the canopy. When a tree falls it creates an opening in the canopy, and thousands of seeds fight for the chance to grow in the rare shaft of sunlight. The jungle is constantly trying to outgrow itself: whatever can get the highest has the best chance of survival.
Humans inhabit the forest floor—the most dangerous place in Naya. Some of Naya's creatures, known as gargantuans, have grown to enormous size. A gargantuan can easily kill a tribe of humans or crush and entire settlement with one misplaced footstep. While many humans still live in primitive dwellings carved out of the trees, more and more humans are building permanent villages and clearing land for agriculture. Using domesticated pip fawns and trained gargantuans called plow beasts, the humans wage a constant war against the rampant jungle growth in their quest for open space. Despite the constant threat of predators, the humans have developed ingenious ways to survive in the jungle.
In the dim world under the canopy, among the massive buttress roots of the towering trees, the humans are intent on making the most of their existence. For the humans, it's all about pleasure: the pleasure of the hunt; the pleasure of the body; the pleasure of celebration; the pleasure of competition.
The nomadic elves live in the tree canopy and gather around dewcups, pools of water that form in the canopy's giant ferns. There are many of these oasis-like gathering places in the canopy, and it is here that the elves camp. Led by Mayael the Anima, the elves worship the gargantuans of the plane. They carefully monitor their movements and offer sacrifices to keep them placated. The elves believe that the behemoths' actions are signs from Progenitus, an enormous five-headed hydra who sleeps under the ground in the Valley of the Ancient.
The elves are expanding their territory in Naya and have surpassed the Nacatl as the dominant race on the plane. There is more hostility between the elves and the Nacatl now that the Wild Nacatl are moving down from the mountains into the lowland jungles.
The elves are territorial, but in a convoluted sense. There are shifting allegiances, complicated untraceable boundaries . . . There's an elven saying about leaving their handprint in the air. It's the idea that by living somewhere for a time, they then claim a fleeting ownership over that area of the canopy.
The Cloud Nacatl still have a few strongholds left in mountains, such as the city of Qasal. In these cities, the Nacatl still retain allegiance to the Coil, a complicated system of laws that were once recorded on a massive stone wall. By the time the empire fell, the Coil had become so convoluted that most Nacatl couldn't understand it or follow it even if they wanted to. The Coil was enforced at first by societal pressure. Eventually the Pride of Judges, an elite group of Nacatl, threatened the citizens with physical harm unless they followed the letter of the law. Soon there was open warfare in the streets as the Claws of Marisi and the Pride of Judges fought for dominance. In the end, Marisi's revolutionaries triumphed and the Coil was broken.
During the destruction of the city, the wall was defaced and in some parts destroyed. For the members of the Claw, it was a symbolic breaking of the strictures of society that kept them down and subjugated their true nature.
Many Wild Nacatl make their homes in the overgrown ruins of the Cloud Empire. It is not unusual to see a pride of Nacatl basking in the sun under a crumbling aqueduct or on the cracked remnants of a marble plaza.
Naya is a plane overrun with lush, tropical jungle that boasts the most varied forms of life of all the shards. A permanent, pale mist known as the Whitecover hangs over the rainforest, punctured by ranges of steeply sloped mountains. Naya is Alara's cradle of life, a world so fertile and abundant that the process of living is barely even a challenge—the overwhelming biodiversity of the jungle provides everything a human or elf or pip fawn could need. There are certainly dangers on Naya, but by and large, life's good here. To many planeswalkers, it's a paradise without peer.
Humans enjoy a much better life on Naya than those poor, extinction-threatened wretches on Grixis. Human life here is about pleasure—pleasure of the hunt, pleasure of the body, pleasure of celebration, pleasure of competition. Drumhunters hunt in packs, using the sonic properties of the jungles' buttressing roots to communicate over long distances. Exuberants are humans who celebrate life in all its forms, caring little and usually wearing even less, spending their days in their sandstone ziggurats and jungle cities. Some humans compete at a wrestling game called matca, the rules of which involve grappling one's opponent until submission. Wide-open matca arenas draw huge crowds of exuberants, who are happy to eat, watch sport, and participate in any number of other activities under the warm sun.
Humans sometimes fall victim to the huge beasts of this realm, as the beasts give as much thought to humanity as humanity gives to insects. But when a gargantuan or thoctar pummels one of their vine-covered ziggurats into sand, or smushes a hapless party of drumhunters on their way back from an expedition, the good-natured exuberants of Naya simply shrug, give solemn respect to the jungle, and move on with their lives. They rebuild in the footsteps of behemoths, content to tolerate the overwhelming natural forces that they have no hope of changing.
The elves are Naya's spiritual center. Gathered around dewcups where the morning mist collects in huge leaves in the jungle canopy, the elves drink deep of arboreal existence. They call themselves the Cylian elves after the beautiful Cylia, the first elvish high priest, who they believe witnessed something known as the "breaking of the world," which some planeswalkers know as the Sundering of Alara into its five shards. Each generation of elves since Cylia's time has been overseen by a female elf high priest called the Anima, the spiritual and prophetic heart of elf society. Mayael, the elves' current Anima, reads the signs of the forest as prophecy, believing that the ancient hydra god Progenitus slumbers below Naya and delivers symbolic, omen-laden visions to her people. When she sees into the mists of divination, her eyes go white, a phenomenon known as the Whitecover Gaze.
The huge beasts who lumber throughout the plane of Naya, called behemoths or gargantuans, occupy a special place in the culture of the Cylian elves. The elves believe the gargantuans are sacred creatures, pure manifestations of the carnivorous ferocity of the jungle, and worship them as gods. Elves known as godtrackers keep tabs on the movements of these massive mammals, making sure that elf travelers stay out of their way, and reading their movements as signs of what is to come.
The nacatl of Naya are ferocious jungle warriors, grouped into prides who dwell in dens set into the high reaches of the mountains. The Nacatl don't revere the gargantuans as the elves do, although they respect the huge beasts' power. The main influence on Nacatl culture over the last few generations has been the Breaking of the Coil.
The Nacatl were once one great empire, a civilized culture guided by a set of laws and strictures called the Coil. The laws of the Coil were inscribed in a great wall of white stone and governed their enlightened civilization for centuries.
But some believed the Nacatl culture had grown stagnant. A revolutionary Nacatl named Marisi called upon his fellow leonin to revolt against the strictures of the Coil, and a great civil war broke out. The white wall that housed the Coil was broken, and the race split in two. The prides who followed Marisi's beliefs, calling themselves the Wild Nacatl, broke free from that structured civilization and celebrated their animal natures, marching down out of the cloudy mountain peaks and into the jungle once more.
The division between the Wild Nacatl and the so-called Cloud Nacatl persists to this day, which creates friction and fierce battles between prides. The leader of the revolution, Marisi, is believed to be long dead, but Wild Nacatl prides still celebrate his contribution to the race with a yearly festival.
If the humans, elves, and Nacatl are the lifeblood of Naya, the beastly behemoths of Naya are its pounding heart. The mana-nourished ecosystem of Naya's jungles so overflows with life energy that the plane supports carnivores and herbivores of outrageous size. The fearsome thoctars, rakeclaws, cerodons, spearbreakers, mosstodons, almighty godsires, and other humongous world-shakers of the shard inspire reactions from awe to reverence, from trepidation to grudging respect, from the hunter's longing to the shaman's immediate and overwhelming urge to retreat. The gargantuans are the embodiment of Naya's natural laws, the avatars of its soul. In an earnest world with almost no guile or power-lust, pure size rules the day.