Sands of Time
Ammut’s Womb is the name of the delta marking where the Sanjin empties into the Western Sea. The trees grow to towering sizes there, and there are several layers of eco-system exist. Monstrous versions of animals are also found here – some of which can threaten nearby ships on the coast - along with a number of varieties of carnivorous vegetation. No modern Hykarian would willingly live there, but there are rumours of tribes of primitives living deep within, not to mention those who wish to evade scrutiny or the law.
The tomb of the Black Pharaoh, He Who is Not Named, towers above the Blood Waste, dominating the horizon for miles. Mortared with the blood and bones of the Hykarian slaves, the edifice is thousands of years old. The top of the of the pyramid appears to be flat, with what looks like a piece of solid obsidian acting as a capstone. The Old Hykarians venerated the Black Pharaoh until their fall, possibly worshipping him too, but no history of the Pharaoh exists. Perhaps for a very good reason.
The red coloured stones of the desert where once believed to be the blood of the slaves that toiled in the once verdant land of Old Hykaria. Now it is a barren wasteland, where savage creatures live and the desert nomads cross at great risk. The nomads are a hardy bunch, savage and unforgiving – some are rumoured to be cannibals – and anyone crossing the desert is fair game. It is believed that they were cast out from the Forbidden City for some transgression, doomed to wander the Blood Waste for eternity. Nonetheless, they have adapted and nare
Chasm of N’gai
The black rift cuts across the landscape. The crevasse floor never sees the daylight sun, and tunnels worm their way through the rock. There are obvious signs that these tunnels were constructed but their purpose and their builders remain unknown. The deepest cavern floors are littered with strange blue crystals, and local nomads consider it a rite of passage to venture there and retrieve one. Some return, others do not. Even then, sometimes the young nomad will babble of “living darkness” and beg for death.
City of Nitocris, the City of the Dead
Named for the Queen who built the first tomb, this necropolis is vast. Used by the Old Hykarians to honour their dead, it is largely shunned in modern times. Most of the tombs have been picked clean by grave robbers, but the sands regularly reveal new wonders – and horrors. The Hykarian dead do not sleep quietly and many would-be thieves seeking easy pickings do not return.
Mountains of the Moon
The central mountain range of Hykaria is the ancestral home of the nomads and is believed to house the Forbidden City. It was from here that the nomads were driven out 2,000 years ago and is now taboo. The terrain is inhospitable, steep-sided valleys and narrow passes confusing even the most dedicated cartographer. It is believed that there is only one path to the Forbidden City: many have tried to find it, but few return.
Plain of Bones
In old Hykaria, slaves that were no longer of viable use (as workers or raw material), or who somehow displeased their masters, were sent to the Plain of Bones to die. Their legs were broken and the merciless sun allowed to take its toll. Their bones litter the desert, along with those of larger beasts from Ammut’s Womb that have fallen foul of magical wards set long ago by Old Hykaria.
The capital of Hykaria, Sarnac is really two cities: the relatively modern Western bank of the river is ruled by the Council of Thirteen, rich lords who control much of the trade and income, and the Eastern bank, the Dead city (see below). The city is at the mercy of the Crimson Sha'in, an occult sandstorm of magic that requires the city to employ magical wards to repel. Some have whispered that the storm is the spirits of the Old Hykarians, and talk of “voices on the wind”. Much of the city is a tent bazaar but bigger structures of up to five storeys exist.
Once “blessed” by the Old Hykarians with the blood of 12 virgins every flood time, the reddish tint of the Sanjin is all evident. The water itself is rich in minerals and most of the Hykarian foodstuffs are grown on its banks. It floods every year when the first Monsoon rains land on Nilambur, but a complicated irrigation structure allows for this.
The Dead City
Technically Old Sarnac, the Dead City is very much Old Hykaria. Buried by the sands a hundred years ago, the fate of the cruel Hykarian sorcerer-nobility remains unknown, but their legacy remains. The City ruins are awash with wealth and occult knowledge, but there are significant risks: some are still guarded, and Hykarian wards are as efficient now as they were a century ago. The Council of Thirteen constantly send expeditions here, to either seize a site or to stymie their rivals. Notably, there are a large number of obsidian obelisks scattered around the city. Called the Silent Sentinels, these markers are covered in a similar script to the Black Pyramid, and it is rumoured that, at certain times of the year, looking within will show images of Old Hykaria.