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Danger: Normal, Hazardous in the past
Sub zones: Buried palace, Sea of sinking sand
Inhabitants: cactus dryads, sand walkers, desert razias, time sharks, beasts of the past, rock harpies, sand mermaids, sandfishes, earth mouths, tunneler worms, sand elementals, solar serpents, antillons, temporal herons, sunas, kuras, sand whales, shimmerlings
This strange white desert sprawls west of the Great rocky fields and covers a vast expanse of the western part of the continent. It's an arid land covered in sand dunes as far as the eye can see, baked under a scorching sky. There are some mountainous regions here and there and numerous oases. The greatest danger here is not thirst, as one might first think, but the magical sand!
Very long ago, when Ur-Sagol had not yet been founded, the whole zone was covered by a strange shimmering dome of chaotic and wild energies, constantly shifting and twisting. This was a magnificent but dangerous sight as anyone attempting to approach this dome would be struck by colorful lightning, and those who entered it were never seen again. Thus, the zone was a huge blank space on Felaryan maps and the bane of cartographers. Nobody knew just what was under this dome, at least until the arrival of Alek Akaptor, an extremely powerful and famous warlock. Akaptor vowed to reveal what was under the dome, and so walked in to it, like countless others before him. Yet a few weeks after his departure, the dome suddenly vanished, giving way to the current desert. Akaptor was never seen again but the desert he unveiled was named in his honor. Much to their dismay however, people quickly realized that the zone was still impassable as anyone trying to set foot in this mysterious desert vanished forever! This was a very long time ago, though. Nowadays the effect of the sands of Akaptor are understood and are common knowledge, allowing travelers to cross the desert.
Mirages of the past
When you travel across the Akaptor desert, you will sometimes see ghostly mirages of gigantic, reptilian creatures slowly wandering around, and even passing through you, without affecting you in the slightest (aside from scaring the hell out of you if you've never seen them before). These are actually images from the past, of creatures that lived in this land millennia ago. They are utterly harmless to you as long as you are not touching the sand. As you get closer and closer to the sand, the visions become more vivid, more lifelike. Should you actually touch the sand, you are instantly ripped from the current flow of time and placed far into the past, hence why people in the past who attempted to explore the desert on foot vanished.
The is why travelers of Akaptor use stilts or ride sand walkers. Falling from your perch is ill-advised, but if you do fall you should quickly leave the ground and get back on your stilts (which will bring you back to the present) before you get devoured by one of these ancient behemoths, and before you attract the attention of some powerful beings such as time sharks that lurk between the layers of time. According to mages and scientists, if you managed to survive for long enough in the past it is not impossible that you could actually go past the desert and explore a younger Felarya, maybe uncovering some of the secrets of the world! Several people and groups have tried this, but none have ever returned. The longest period of time someone has ever survived in past-Akaptor was two weeks, and the great neko warrior who did this swore never to try it again.
The time effects are clearly fading, and whole parts of the desert are now just regular sand. Flying over the Akaptor desert to cross it may sound tempting, but avian predators and clouds of explosive sageras spores can make that trip hazardous as well. Other strange phenomenons also occur such as warp Sandstorms. They are said to be created by wind elementals. They roam the desert at random, and living beings or objects caught in them are randomly warped to somewhere else in the desert, sometimes very far away. It should be noted that some creatures have learned to use warp sandstorms to their advantage.
The buried palace is an ancient structure submerged within the sands of Akaptor desert. The only known way to enter the palace is through the highest tower’s window which only barely pierces the desert floor, and even that is sometimes hidden by the dunes. It is a highly fabled place, often being misjudged as some other random ruin amongst the desert from the uninspiring appearance of such a small piece of it. Within however is a completely different sight to behold.
As one descends the tower they find a strange and bizarre place hidden from the rest of the world. Within the palace lie many incredible wonders and no one is quite certain how large the palace truly is, it being hidden from sight. Moving through the palace is a very disorienting experience, as the floor is slightly tilted, and the palace itself seems to change its own age as one walks beyond a certain threshold. A beautifully decorated grand ballroom may suddenly become ancient and wrecked, a shadow of it once was... and there could be a new pitfall trap waiting for you on your very next step! The derelict rooms often have the infamous sand of the desert trickling in from above the ceiling and some of the rooms in the worst conditioned are nearly flooded with the sand. All manner of strange voracious creatures roam the palace now, but are more strongly concentrated within the ruined sections of the palace. These all pose a great threat to explorers among the wild mazes and bizarre traps. One such trap are cursed hallways that stretch forever, trapping the person in a time loop!
The ancient buried palace is always ever sought out, as adventurers are always willing to foolishly explore its halls for the fabulous treasure said to still exist there from its previous owner. Rare treasures and artifacts believed to have been lost from time itself are said to exist here as well, with worth beyond value. Legend also speaks of a library somewhere within the palace, holding tomes of knowledge that could very well date to the age of the Sagolian empire and possibly before that.
Sea of Sinking Sand
The dangerous Sea of sinking sand is located in the northern part of the Akaptor Desert. It looks like, for the most part, a flat and endless expanse of orange sand, dotted with curious flattened and polished rocks of various size, with some dunes rising here and there from the monotonous landscape. However, the presence of a very large pocket of water underneath the surface has actually turned the ground into a succession of countless treacherous quicksand pools. As soon as an unwary traveler steps in, they are sucked down and slowly engulfed in that natural trap, never to be heard from again. Some speculate the region was a swamp long ago.
Thus, it's easy to imagine why the region remains largely unexplored. If somebody used flight to travel further into the area, they would notice that the sand starts moving and churning slowly in certain zones, especially close to the center, with little sandwaves and swirls, and a current, like some extremely slow flowing river. Some think it's due to some strange geologic phenomenon occurring underneath, some believe massive creatures lurking into the sand depths are causing the stir.
- Credit to Nksrocks for the base idea of the Buried palace and to Asuroth for writing the description, to Archmage Bael for helping writing the Sea of sinking sand description, and to Shady-Knight, Daejinen, Pendragon and Icalasari for the warp storms.