The Chronicles of Oa
Irambar is a place that will make any member of the Unified Kingdoms feel at disquiet ease. It is beautiful, of that no one may gainsay without sounding like an extraordinarily bad liar. Look only to the rolling white sands of Irambar proper, the shocking greenness and foliage around Ir-Gult, the sharp and sweet softness of a hidden cenote, or even the alien strangeness of the crystal bismouth caves in the deep desert. These beauties are self-evident, like the massive nose on Mordecai Lasher’s face. Less self-evident are the ephemeral beauties of a warm and inviting people— the spirefolk and their rigid, clockwork lifestyle, the nomadic Hianlu tribes with their quiet rituals of hospitality. Hardshelled they may be at first, but as a Hianlu will tell you when cracking a hardshelled desert tortoise ’there’s good eating in there’.
All the same, Irambar is a place so vastly unlike the provinces of Taen the Conqueror that even someone as well-traveled as I found disquiet. The sand-shepherds—massive, stilt-legged beasts with trailing frond-like appendages—sing haunting melodies into the wind, at night. The Hianlu’s tales are dark and morbid, yet told with frightening certainty and no apparent fear. The spirefolk’s veneration of—according to them—an ancient and immortal cannibal will chill the blood of an faithful Ondarinist. And the Worms.
Ah, the Worms.
Yes, rest assured that to venture into the sandy wasteland of Irambar is to venture immeasurably past the usual borders of comfort. To travel there is to invite change on a fundamental level. Bone-deep, as the Hianlu proverb goes, which is the only deep that matters.