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The Great Desert

West of the shattered peaks stretches hundreds of miles of sandy wasteland known simply as The Great Desert. Very little of the expanse of rock, dust, and oppressive heat has been charted, and it is generally avoided at all costs.

For centuries, the Desert has been a frustrating and deadly obstacle for traders and warmongers alike. However, new, promising developments in airship technology may see it finally conquered.

Geography

"Out there, water turns to steam before it touches your lips."

It isn't called the Wastes for no reason. The majority of the Desert is flat, dusty scrublands. The scenery gradually becomes more rocky approaching the mountains, featuring some admirable arch formations.

The center of the Desert is known as The Scorch. It is a swath of towering, golden sand dunes--some reaching 400 yards in height. The Scorch is the hottest place on the planet. Travelling through it is suicide. Anyone trying to get from one side of the Desert to the other has no choice but to go around.

Watchers of The Scorch

Somewhere in the dunes, a monolith compound towers, half buried in sand. Accounts vary on its location and its description, as so few inviduals have ever journied so deep into The Scorch and returned.

It is said that the compound's spires are dark in color. Some claim them to be pitch black, others say that they were a rich, navy blue. All agree that they had blazing golden veins. Another key detail of the compound is that it is lopsided--the monoliths jut from the dunes at an angle.

The accounts do not agree on the number of monoliths or their formation. No exact location has been found, either. It is unclear if the compound really exists or if it is nothing more than a mirage.

History

The Desert has always been a formidable obstacle for Auzera's inhabitants. Countless souls have been lost to the heat and lack of water. Likewise, communication across it has always been difficult.

As a result, the cultures on the north, south, and west of the desert all developed in relative isolation to one another. With the mountains cutting off eastward travel, Auzera is left with four distinct cultural quadrants.

The west, north, and south quadrants have been attempting to find better ways around the Desert for centuries. Sometimes these efforts are to establish stronger trade routes. More often, they are to wage war against one another. The first settlers of Khetzala fled Azhavin in the aftermath of the Cipher Schism. They chose to cross The Scorch, despite knowing it was a death sentence. Miraculously, a pack of Savanna Plains Racers came to the refugees aid. They guided them through the Desert, bringing them food and leading them to water, until they reached what is now Khetzala. Those dragons' descendants became the famous Khetzali War Dragons.

"If it weren't for the dragons and the kindness of the Suns, our ancestors would have perished in the Scorch. Remember, your dragon is more than a steed, it is a partner. It is your personal, divine link to the Suns and their will. Remember, when you fly with the dragons, you fly with gods."
Dragon Riding Academy commencement address, given by a Khetzali priest

Ever since then, Khetzala and the Theocracy of Azhavin have hated each other. Each has attempted conquering the other multiple times, but the Desert has stifled their success. Until recently, they were neck and neck in the race to build large, long distance airships. Then, the war with Shef Razid crippled Khetzala's infrastructure and armies. At the same time, Azhavin's research and development stalled due to civil disputes. With the biggest players in the north and south quadrants busy with their own problems, the door is left open for smaller, more crafty organizations in the west to take the spotlight.

As for the Desert itself... the sands don't care what happens to the people bickering across them. Politics shift, alliances form, people die, and the suns beat down hot and unforgiving as ever.

Alternative Name(s)
The Auzeran Wastes
Type
Desert
Location under
Included Locations

Ecosystem

Stiff weeds and cacti are the only plants hardy enough for the Desert. Some species of insect, reptile, small mammal, and birds of prey round out the rest of the food chain. Almost all of these creatures are nocturnal to avoid the midday heat. They also have many specialised adaptations to help keep cool.


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Comments

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8 Jul, 2022 21:06

I love that this massive desert has generally existed and been un-mapped for so long, and I REALLY love the mystery of those monoliths within the Scorch. Perhaps with airships, people might finally get some confirmed sightings of the things :O


Cathedris, the world of God-husks and New Magic, welcomes you.
Master PrincessESH
Aster Blackwell
8 Jul, 2022 21:13

Perhaps so... only time will tell~

10 Jul, 2022 16:03

I read this as I was hiding in the basement because the upper level was over 80 degrees and I felt that last line in my *soul* - "the suns beat down hot and unforgiving as ever". It'd be cool to visit, but, y'know... with A/C of some sort

Dungeon Master. Storyteller. Arbiter of Chaos.
My Work: Chardovil | Estya
Master PrincessESH
Aster Blackwell
10 Jul, 2022 19:22

Ah I'm so sorry about your heat situation! And I assure you, if 80 degrees is too hot, I don't think you'd enjoy visiting the Wastes ;P