Curse Of The Lost Sands

It is said in the conversation of the common folk that the Great Desert is cursed. Many scholars and sages might scoff at such a puerile and superstitious adjective, but those who undertake to study the mysterious phenomena of this hostile region cannot help but begin to agree.

Lying as it does between the Sartii Central Borderlands and the southern coastal regions, and bordered on the east and west by impassable mountains, the Great Desert is a natural obstacle to trade and national intercourse. Its terrible parching heat and lack of free water would be more than sufficient to give the casual traveler pause, but there is a greater mystery to be plumbed here.

No matter how well equipped one may be, no matter what devices of reckoning - compasses, astrolabes, scrying spells, or magical devices - a traveler may bring, the Great Desert refuses to yield its paths. Those who return from its depths often report walking for days in a single direction, yet never reaching an edge or boundary. Yet, seemingly at random, a man may stumble across a sparkling oasis, surrounded by the ruins of an ancient civilization and playing host to a struggling town. Seemingly by chance, mountainous foothills appear on the horizon, leading to cavernous regions both above and below the earth. And those lucky few who do manage to travel from one border to the other can never properly describe what path they took to get there.

There is only one group of people who seem to have attained any mastery over the Great Desert. These Sandwalkers, as they call themselves, roam freely across the dunes, carrying the tools of their survival and nothing more, appearing and disappearing without warning, but never once losing their way. Are they blessed by the god of travelers, Fharlaghn, whom they are said to worship? Do they carry a secret that might unlock the mysterious paths of the sands? Despite all means of persuasion, they maintain an impenetrable silence. Great rewards might come to the sage who uncovers the truth.

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