Far to the north of Tide’s End, across the Blackwell Sound to the north rise the vast and stretching plains of Anakhatha. Once home to a pair of thriving civilizations, most of this continent’s rich history is lost to time and conflict. Large swathes of arid plains separate the few islands of solace provided by natural springs. Two caravan routes string these verdant copses like pearls across the northern and eastern traverse, and those who know better cling to those well-worn routes, lest they join the legions lost to the wind-scoured stone of the Ghoravi wastes.
In stark contrast to the eastern half of the Anakhathan continent, the western side of the Sentinel Range is dominated by grasslands surrounding a freshwater sea. Scholars believe that this grassy sea was the ancestral homeland of the Khollajan people, yet their investigations have been stymied by the widespread superstition surrounding the place, and the mysterious disappearances of all that have braved the deceptively placid shores of the Khollamere.
There is one bastion of ancient Anakhatha left to scholars, heritage seekers, and the curious, in the form of Great Khan Gorai. The art and architecture of the so-called “Jewel of the Desert” contains more concentrated Anakhathan lore than even the Brauggine library of Skypass. If only there were left a scholar of the northern people with enough grasp of the ancient Ghoravi culture to translate it. Until then, the city remains a metropolis built upon a mystery.
The Anakhathan Continent
Despite the brilliant sun and calm, gentle breezes that stir the tall native grasses of Khollaja, these plains are the subject of countless tales of mystery, loss, and hauntings alternately wrathful and forlorn. Only the sketchiest of maps catalog the wide expanses, and most accounts of travel on the western portion of the continent are dubious at best, fraught with ambiguity and inconsistency.
Ghoravi legends suggest the Khollajan people preceded them on the continent, and that at one time, the empire of Khollaja encompassed the mountains, the grasslands, and the freshwater sea between them, but that a schism between the nomadic Ghoravi, and the pastoral Khollajans led to a devastating war which shattered the Ghoravi traditions irrevocably, and drove the Khollajan people to extinction.
Lost Khollajah is now a lonely stretch of lush green grass and rain-smoothed ruins, haunted by echoes of a long-forgotten people. Long stretches of the Khollamere shores are strewn with shards of pottery and fragments of tools, intermingled with the bones of those who held them so long ago. Despite this trove of archaeological evidence, few artifacts have been recovered from these shores as those items that have been brought to Greyshore from that bedeviled continent are infamously cursed.
Most common descriptions of the Ghoravi Plains speak of the blazing sun, the cracked expanses of sun-bleached stone, and the deadly aridity. These simple words belie the hidden history of the place, lying sometimes mere inches beneath the drifting alkali dust.
In times long past, these plains were home to a plenitude of tribal Ghoravi peoples. The mostly nomadic groups moved amongst a set of ancestral sites on a schedule determined by the heavens. The Ghoravi were intensely spiritual, and did not segregate their worship or veneration from simple daily living. Their gods walked among them, at times moving within them individually. As they kept no written records, all that is known of the rich culture of the Ghoravi tribes are the few scattered observations of outsiders, committed in languages born far from Anakhathan shores. Though little is known of the full cycle of the Ghoravi year today, signs of countless passages can be found in many places across the plains. Wheel ruts and smoothed paths connect ruin sites thousands of years destroyed, all of which eventually wend their way back to Khan Gorai.
Travelers of the Ghoravi Plains are wise to stick to the known routes that hew near to the few permanent oases on the dusty reach, as those that do not are often found years later, sun-bleached and picked over by the mysterious nomads who still call the Reach home.
At the base of the redstone upthrust of Khollajah’s Crown sprawl the sandstone terraces of Khan Gorai. This timeless edifice was cut from the arms of the low mountains that ring the northward edges of the Anakhathan landmass by the forbearers of the Anakhathan people in the time before the fall. A deep artesian spring feeds an expansive network of gutters, planter beds, and reflecting pools throughout the city. These carry water through walls, over spillways, and into cisterns and ponds before cascading from spouts carved from the ancient outer walls to fall in a spray into the turbid waters of a shallow algae-choked lagoon spreading from the base of the city into the parched Ghoravi Reach.
Khan Gorai is renowned for the diversity of its people and their practices. Under the brilliant Anakhathan sun can be found examples of every color, faith, and lifestyle. High walls divide the great city into wards and cells, each home to another variation on a cultural theme. The Jewel of the Desert is a heady crossroads of ideas and the people that trade in them, and is as ever-changing as a wheel of fortune. Here, a plaza teeming with ascetic prophets during the day could transform with the sunset into a lurid labyrinth of silk tents, playground for the senses. In Khan Gorai, anything that can be imagined can be found, on the right day, and for the right price.