The Kaldara is a seemingly endless expanse of desert, whose hot, dry sands have been the death of many who have become lost or stranded there. A stark contrast to the fertile region of the Plains of Gold to its north, the Kaldara has long been viewed as a place where Turelion Province can send those things or people that it want to forget, where they are certain that most will get lost or die once exiled there. Despite this, to those that know how to navigate it, principally the hardy Ma’Jalis people who call the Kaldara home, the desert is full of life and potential, but all Ma’Jalis know that it can take away any abundance found there in the blink of an eye.
The area of the Kaldara forms a peninsula that stretches from the main part of Turelion Province to the north, down into the area of the Sea of Idylls It is surrounded on its eastern, western and southern sides by water, with the western seaboard being connected to the Serpent Strait that separates the Kaldara from the sands of the Jem’Hal desert on the continent of Austal. The Kaldara itself is an enormous expanse of sand, which is constantly shifting and being buffeted into sand dunes by the winds that come down from the Heavenspire Mountains from the north. To those in the know this does mean that an easy way to try and navigate through the Kaldara is to look at the dunes, for most will be angled to the south. The whole region has an arid climate and it can experience incredibly high temperatures at all times of the year. Most of the expanse of the Kaldara is too hot and dry for things to grow, but the shifting of the sands means that underground reservoirs or water or natural springs are either brought close enough to the surface or are completely uncovered to allow an oasis to form.
Fauna & Flora
On the face of it, the Kaldara appears to be a lifeless void, but those that know the desert intimately are keenly aware of where to look for life amongst the desert sands. Wherever springs break the surface of the sand, or wherever underground reservoirs of water get close to the surface, life springs up. Seeds can lie dormant amongst the sand for centuries waiting for water and they will grow vigorously whenever the conditions are right. Most of the plant life found in and around the Kaldara’s oases are predominantly date palms, spiny grasses and acacia trees. There is as well animal life that survives in the Kaldara. Insect life, rodents and snakes form their own lower food chain whose dramas play out unbeknownst to most creatures, but larger animals such as sand goats, camels, antelope and lions also exit amongst the sands. One marker of how much life is hidden in the Kaldara is the fact that large predators, Desert Samaban along with the humanoid population of the Ma’Jalis are able to survive in the region. Whilst there are not thought to be too many Samaban, as the species is long lived but does not reproduce frequently, thousands of people are thought to make up the Ma’Jalis population, with the harsh climate of the desert meaning that they must subsist through hunter gatherer activities, which requires a certain level of other animals and plants in the food chain to sustain it.
The Kaldara has no deposits of natural resources to speak of that have captured the attention of the Empire of Turelion enough to establish bases within the desert to harvest them. Though there are deposits of metals and outcrops of hard decorative stone, primarily granite and marble all of these resources can be gathered with much less hassle elsewhere in Kelbonnar. For the Ma’Jalis people who dwell in the Kaldara however, it is a different story. Their knowledge of the desert means that they are able to harvest the resource deposits that the Empire deems to be meagre to survive. They gather iron to make tools and weapons, create wild gardens of date palms and hardy, heat resistant vegetables around oases and hunt the other resilient animals of the desert for food, or shepherd herds of camels and sand goats for their milk, meat and pelts. The most precious resource for the Ma’Jalis people however, is Sapphire Water. Rare and precious wellsprings of this liquid can be found deep beneath the sands of the Kaldara and Sapphire Water, as well as having much greater fortifying properties than normal water, is regarded as a sacred material by the Ma’Jalis, who use it in their religious rituals.