Friday, March 15, 2013

[Olden Land Gazetteer Preview] Scarlet Wastes of Deshret

SCARLET WASTES
The Scarlet Wastes are a vast region of dry, parched soil, cracked salt flats, gravelly rocky desert, vast ergs, and great seas of shifting red sands. The portion of the wastes on the map cover more than 600,000 square miles; the entirety of the wastes extend for more than 3,000,000 square miles to the south, southwest, and west. Arms extend into the Purple Plains to the north, while sands flow east through the Gate of Kings, the plain between the Ormakh Mountains and the Black Asp Peaks into Kryx. Along the coast, the sands and packed earth can reach as far as the waters of Crimson Bay, though generally there is a fertile strip up to a mile wide separating the wastes from the waters.

The Scarlet Wastes and the river lands that meander through it are the home of the Deshreti, a race of red-skinned men, who long ages ago built a great empire in these lands. There were more rivers then, and the land was much more fertile, the worst of the deserts depredations found only to the south. But the climate changed, the rivers shifted their courses or dried up altogether, and since then, long before the arrival of the Elysians, the Deshreti have been merely living in the world their ancestors built.

The nomads of the wastes retain their ancient culture, but the peoples of the rivers and coast are mixed, from long centuries of wars and migrations, mostly with the blood of the Kartaghans of the Purple Plains, to a lesser extent with the Elysians who came by the sea, and too, with the Manday from the south, both via conquest through the Gate of Kings and by trade and raid from the south, for the Iteru runs deep into Mandayan, and far to the south it is black kingdoms that rule the banks of the river.

The waste is split into four major divisions by the three great rivers of Deshret, the Kizilu or Red River in the north and west, the Iteru or White River in the south and east, and the Kemtu or Black River, a tributary of the Iteru.

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To the north and west of the Kizilu the desert is known as the Rubiye Tündlün, and is mostly deep maroon to scarlet hard-pan, with undulating waves of red, maroon, and purple sand dunes that sweep into the Purple Plains. The small range of mountains at the heart of the waste, known as the Khirmizdagh, consists of tall, round, flat-topped tors of purple-black basalt. The Tündlün and the Khirmizdagh are home to manticores and griffons.

To the south and east of the Iteru and south of the Kemtu, east to the verge of the Ormakh Mountains and far to the south, the waste is known as the Rubiye Qirbh, and consists of expanses of highland salt flats covered in dunes of white salt, large patches of midland blackened earths covered in black sands, and hard, parched red lowland clays covered in red sands. The low, flat mountains in the western portion of the Qirbh, the Üshaddimagh, reflect the overall pattern, having white caps, black midranges, and scarlet red bases.

The Qirbh is broken up into long series of wide, flat step ridges, running north-south parallel to the foothills of the Ormakh Mountains. Strange formations, including many natural monoliths, arches, hoodoos, columns, walls, steps, and mushroom rocks are found in profuse numbers along the demarcation lines of elevations. Crystals, primarily quartzes, naturally occur on the surface, and are very common in the caverns that can be found within the step ridges. The Qirbh is home to basilisks, while many chimeras make their lairs in the Üshaddimagh; the chimeras continually battle with the sphinxes of the Ormakh for hunting rights to the Qirbh.

To the south and west of the region where the two rivers come close to meeting, the waste is known as the Rubiye Haaliye, and consists of great highland of dry rugged hills, canyons, ergs, and ancient volcanic plugs and newer cones, interspersed with small seas and large lakes of the ubiquitous red sands. Hidden among the highland canyons is the Silver Gate, which leads under hills and wastes for many miles unto one reaches Naptera, City of Queens – the greatest stronghold of the Silver Queen in Deshret. The large, hidden valley of Naptera (in truth, a caldera) is rich and fertile, fed by many springs and protected not only by its isolation, but also by is army of warrior-priestesses. The Deshreti of the valley hearken back to the olden days, and are perhaps of the purest of their line, even moreso than the nomad tribes of the wastes around them.

Finally, the region north and east of the rivers is known as the Rubiye Deshretiye, and consists of bare brownish-red bedrock covered in red and brown gravel, the gravel covered in red sands. At the heart of the desert between the two great rivers stands a range of jagged red peaks, the Najahaghar. There, upon the west face of the highest peak, can be found Nakhada, the City of the Crimson God. Site of pilgrimage for all the devout (who may thereafter append the term “Nakhadji” to their names), the city is thoroughly dedicated to the decadent and depraved needs of its priests and pilgrims. Great cyclopean walls of blood-red stone (said to have been laid down by genies), protect the city from any attacks. Giant crimson snakes and scorpions wander the streets at will, the pets of the priests; woe unto him who does not accept his chosen fate, should one wish to dine or even merely play!

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