The Light in the Forest
Neighboring Lands - The Dar'Hashran Principalities
From the Notes of The Venerable Bart of Bohommon, High Scholar & Indisputable Documentarian of the Entire World.
The Dar’Hashran Principalities – General Notes
Dar’Hashran, Elven for “The Burning Place”, borders the Vargerlands to the west. Dar’Hashran is a vast, hot, sandy desert, marked as much by the inhospitability of its environment as it is by the resilience of its inhabitants. In the Common tongue, the desert is known as The Glimmering Sea. Its vast tracts of white, sun bleached sands create a haze during the day that makes the ground sparkle in the distance, creating the constant and fatal illusion of water being just upon the horizon. The reality is The Glimmering Sea is actually bordered on three sides by The Suncast Seas (which are, mind you, actually a body of water), but the desert is of such immense size and slow to travel for the unfamiliar that it can take months to traverse its expanse. Many of the unfamiliar who enter its interior die before ever seeing the actual sea again.
The hot, dry air that blows in from the west seems to meet with the cold air that comes in from the east directly at the Pallisade Range, creating the unique clash of climates in these lands.
Dar’Hashran is home to a resilient culture of desert dwelling elves, uniquely darker skinned and harsher in temperament than their forest dwelling cousins, their culture is surprisingly advanced. However, like the environment in which they live, it offers little room for failure. My experiences with them have taught me that they are quick to capitalize on error and slow to forget, and also quit of wit and intellect. They boast a skilled and swift warrior class, having plenty of natural enemies to contend with within the unforgiving sands of their homeland. Not nearly the least of these enemies are the voracious and lightning fast Sand Wyrms, an altogether unpleasant breed of their species. The elves place a substantial emphasis on the value of warriors capable of slaying a Wyrm.
Their political structure centers around a collection of Elven city-states and nomadic tribes, linked by trade and mutual defense pacts between the city Princes and tribal Chieftains. The most powerful of these figures rule the great cities of Sunsiege, Dust House and Mirage.
There is no “King” in these lands. There are only the local princes, the underlying noble families, tribal heads and the occasional over-wealthy merchant or renowned warrior that manages to claw their way up into the nobility and secure some position of power – be it temporary or otherwise.
Sunsiege, situated on the northern coast, east of the Sandskulls Mountains, is a glimmering city of circular sandstone and ivory towers adorned with myriad colorful shells and other seastones. The jewel of the Principalities, and also the most populace city, Sunsiege is the cultural heart of Dar’Hashran as well as a military and diplomatic powerhouse.
Dust House lies at the foot of the Inner Crags, just north of the Outter Reach. It is a dry and windy place of sand-choked air that turns the sky a dreary gray. But it is also home to clean underground springs that filter through the mountains and pool in the Dancing Oasis. This, in combination with vast underground mineral wealth, has turned Dust House into a labyrinthine city of tarp covered homes, roads, and tunnels that reach deep into the mountainside. To judge Dust House only by the portion of it that is visible from outside would be folly, as the city is easily thrice that size beneath the mountains.
Mirage is built on a long escarpment beside the Wandering Flow, this city of sunstone houses, towers and walled streets looks like a barren, rocky mound in the distance. In truth, Mirage is a powerful trading bastion and fortification in the Dar’Hashran, and an academic center of excellence for engineers, alchemists, and magi alike. Centuries ago, before the rise of the Bolder dynasty, the Vargers once attempted to siege Mirage. When more than half their number died within a few days just from drinking the water, they decided it wasn’t worth it then simply packed up and went home.