“Bootstrutter’s Guide to the Desert of Ro,” by Hasten Bootstrutter. Edited by Jergo Wheybringer. This book describes the changes to the old Desert of Ro to give travellers fair warning of what to expect in these hostile lands.
Introduction: The Desert of Ro was previously mapped as three distinct sections: the Northern Desert of Ro, the Oasis of Marr and the Southern Desert of Ro. The impact of the Shattering and the Rending on these areas has rendered them virtually unrecognizable, though there are several key areas that remain. This trail guide addresses some of these areas, though your best travel guide is always common sense.
Many consider deserts to be vast, empty wastelands of dust and sand. Taking a little extra time to be mindful of one’s surroundings, one will begin to see the full range of color and beauty that only a desert can offer. The gentle coloration of the natural flora and fauna is soothing, with pale grey-green sages flowing into the soft golden sands. Bursts of color, such as the Oasis of Marr, can seem almost blinding after the simple desert palatte (sic).
The Oasis of Marr: Previously situated between the Northern and Southern Deserts of Ro, the Oasis is a burst of vibrant color now located near the docks at which the Guppy II made landfall. And though the Oasis is a respite from the heat of the desert, it is by no means a safe haven. The shifting lands have brought old dangers closer by removing the natural barrier of the desert sands.
Orc Highway: Several portions of this major north-south route still exist. It remains a dangerous area for non-orcs to traverse and is best avoided by those travelling alone. Parts of the Highway lead between overhanging cliffs that are sure to provide cover and concealment to the orcs that still call this region home.
The Brigand’s Boneyard: The former Deserts of Ro are not empty. Aside from the various crocodiles, caimans and sand giants, there are also a variety of small camp sites. Some of these are occupied at all seasons, while others seem to be intended for travellers. One would be wise to refrain from assuming that an empty camp is an abandoned one. The presence of various camps can be beneficial, as some of their residents are traders, willing to exchange goods for coin.
Sunken Spire: Though desert winds can reshape the lands with impressive speed, not all traces of ancient times are easily destroyed. After a particularly heavy windstorm, several spires appeared at various locations throughout the Desert of Ro. As soon as they became visible, however, a second storm quickly reburied many of them, though there are one or two that remained above the shifting sands and are still visible to this day.
The Chimney: At a distance, one can only see the dunes of a desert, stretching forever toward the horizon. Close up, as we have learned, there are places of deadly beauty as well as relative calm. While admiring the vista is useful for identifying one’s surroundings, one must also be wary of what may lie directly beneath one’s feet. Insect life abounds in the arid climate, with many of the world’s deadliest spiders and scorpions found only in the Desert of Ro.
The Eye of Anuk: The shifted lands have created underground caverns so deep that the light of day barely touches them. Within one of these deep caves, one will find a door to the past–a past so dark that I cannot imagine what lies behind it. Something waits beyond in a palpably brooding silence.
The Croc Caves: Several chimney spires in the sea attract one’s attention with their distinctive columnar shapes. At the base of one set of spires, several crocodiles lay still in the water, their eyes following every movement. Several boulders near the entry appear clawed and scratched, as though something large had moved them at some point while passing through. Could Lockjaw still be alive after all these years? While no direct evidence of his presence was seen, it is said that crocodiles are extremely long-lived.
The Twin Tears: The Oasis of Marr is not the only source of fresh water in the Sinking Sands, as this area is now called. Two large pools separated by a ridge of sand are rings of greenery on the desert plateau. Avoid the dry bone skeletons which inhabit the area and climb this ridge. The views are marvelous, looking toward the surrouding sea and the Pillars of Flame. If you chance upon the carpet merchant before coming to this spot, you will find your purchase quite useful.
Maj’Dul: The city is spectacular, rising high above the desert floor. There are various factions in the city that make it difficult to traverse with any safety. For my part, I have apparently offended the Court of Coin and needed to retreat to my ship. The Maj’Dulians are unyielding in their code of law, no matter how obscure such laws are to outsiders, or “barrashar,” such as myself. Still this is a beautiful place in its own way and I look forward to returning to the serpentine Port of Tears someday.