The Sea of Sand
The Sea of Sand
Once the seat of the Cantonite Empire (Can-ton-ite), the Sea of Sand is now largely a desolate wasteland. The Cantonite Empire was the dominant political force of Khalathor for over a thousand years. The standard calendar used in Khalathor is still that of the Cantonites, with the start of the calendar corresponding to the founding of the Empire. In 1368 the Empire began to crumble. When Khalif Omar Kumid Byr-al-Hazziz the Empire fell into a state of civil war, with all four of the Khalif’s sons claiming parts of the Empire. At the time there was considerably more water to be found and the desert contained a number of oases. Magic was employed to evaporate water supplies in vast quantities. A great exodus from the desert ensued, with many of the common folk fleeing to the Cantonite’s major rival, the Empire of Galdarin to the east. Some fled to the borderland areas of what are now Scintar, Krullland, and Yardolan, with others settling in the Bwollowland area. Many died in the battles between the four brothers, and powerful magic helped destroy many cities. Ultimately, the Empire was torn apart by the war. Two of the brothers were killed in the war, and in the end the other two disappeared. There are conflicting stories about exactly how the war ended and what happened to the last two brothers, and scholars have debated the details of the final years of the Empire for centuries. What is clear is what happened in the aftermath. The water tables never fully recovered, and any rains that would have replenished them were sucked up by the unquenchable sands. Erosion was further accelerated by the great die-off of plant life in the former oases, the result of both the lack of water and their being harvested for use by the armies.
The desert was mostly abandoned for a considerable length of time, but it has been slowly repopulated in the last two centuries. Some people stayed in the ruins of the former great cities, scavenging what they could and clinging to life. Others took to the sands, living the life of perpetual vagabonds. As Scintar and the lands of the west grew in power, trade routes were again established with the Empire of Galdarin to the east. The most direct route cuts across the desert, and a number of enterprising merchants suffer the trip on a regular basis. Besides the lack of water, bandits, and corrupt viziers who control the settlements along the way, the desert route is the safest and most profitable one there is. A number of settlements now stand on the ruins of the Cantonite cities, but there is no unified political force whatsoever. In some cases the old houses and walls sprawl out around the currently inhabited areas and are frequently occupied by anyone passing through without regulation of any sort. The ‘city guards’ of these settlements are really just mercenaries hired by the self-appointed leaders, which inevitably is the one with the most money (and thus the most guards). Crossing the desert often involves a number of bribes, and most caravans travel well-armed to discourage both bandits and settlement officials alike. A great many ruins have been swallowed by the sands over time. The sands shift on a regular basis, making the whole desert quite alluring for treasure-seekers, especially those with an eye for history to help guide their efforts.