"Most of the Baroppan trade we receive sails down the Galan. Nobody in their right mind crosses the Marai if they don't have to." -Soros Avila, Captain-General of the Solathine GuardThe Marai Desert is a hot, inhospitable desert dominating most of the northeastern portion of the continent of Calina. Considered extremely dangerous and avoided by all but a few, it is considered something of a natural border between the Calinan Sea regions and the great unknown expanse of the rest of Calina to the south. It is notorious for its dangers and is avoided by many, having claimed many foolish travellers through heatstroke, dehydration, animal attack or exposure among other things.
The Marai is enormous, stretching nearly 2000 kilometres from its westernmost point to easternmost, and at least 1000 from north to south. It is bisected by the Galan River, which flows down from what are presumably mountains in central Calina to the delta in the Calinan Sea, and the lush floodplains that surround the Galan. The two regions are most commonly dubbed the Western Marai and Eastern Marai.
Western MaraiThe Western Marai is the largest segment of the desert, and is considered the harshest section of it, as well as the classical image that comes to mind when people think of the Marai. It is a region of seemingly endless dunes of sand stretching as far as the eye can see, only ending by gradually shifting into hard, sun-blasted rock. Water is extremely scarce in the Marai, usually only accessible through desert plants and succulents or extremely sparse oases and wellsprings. As the desert begins to stretch westwards to approach the midpoint of the Calinan continent, it gradually shifts to more fertile savannah.
Eastern MaraiThe Eastern Marai consists of all of the desert east of the Galan. Unlike the dunes and plains of the Western Marai, the Eastern Marai has many mountains and cliffs rising up from hard rock. The Eastern Marai runs the entire northeastern stretch of the continent until finally reaching the edge of the Sembarine Ocean in the extreme far east, forming stark cliffs on the ocean's edge.
The Marai is an arid desert, with wildly variant temperatures during the day and night. In its hottest periods, the Marai can get as hot as fifty degrees Celsius, although a typical day is closer to the high thirties to early forties. Conversely, in the evenings the temperatures quickly drop after the sun sets and the heat from the sands and rocks dissipate, sometimes passing below the freezing point. To contend with this, life forms in the Marai need to be able to tolerate both extremes.
Fauna & Flora
Plantlife in the Marai is generally quite hardy and particularly adapted for the extreme hot and cold. In the Western Marai, low shrubs and grasses growing in clusters are common sights, with most plants having adapted to need fairly low amounts of water and taking on a dried-out appearance. In the more rocky and mountainous parts of the Eastern Marai, olive trees are not uncommon. In both the Western and Eastern Marai trees, date trees, melons and gourds are ubiquitous. Oases are particularly diverse, with leafy palm trees and more traditional flowering plants, grasses and fruits. Animals in the Marai are known for their tenacity and adaptability, and despite the Marai's harsh conditions, there is a surprisingly diverse range of fauna present. The hyba is the most ubiquitous animal of the Marai, but monitor lizards, scorpions, antelope, wild dogs and jackals, hare, vultures and even cheetahs are among some of the most commonly seen animals.
Human SettlementHuman settlement in the Marai is extremely sparse. Due to the extreme heat and lack of arable land and drinking water, it is nearly impossible for settlements to flourish. Settlers from Arikanda quickly dismissed the Marai as not being worth their time and avoid it wherever possible, keeping their settlements to the more fertile coastal regions. Even the Kalriv Sunburst Legion, who currently work for the Duchy of Solathi, will not enter unless absolutely necessary. However, it is not entirely unoccupied. A hardy group of Calinani known as the Dhar, who have lived in the region from time immemorial, survive here, both in temporary camps and more permanent below-ground settlements. The Dhar are somewhat reclusive and insular and will avoid outlanders.
Dates, melons and other fruits are abundant in the Marai and are often exported to the northern cities; and of course, the hyba are prized for their various applications. Many mineral resources can also be found in the mountains of the Eastern Marai; copper and gold is mined extensively in the northeast. One of Annyrion's largest caches of various gemstones can be found further up the Galan River, including lapis lazuli, emeralds and rubies. The Duchy of Solathi have set up an outpost in the town of Lygon to transport these.
Related Tradition (Primary)