Dying of the Light
The Southern Highlands
East from the Bounty River basin and all the way south towards the volcanic peaks of the southern Spine-Below the arid Highlands stretch like a sandy, barren wasteland. Plagued by terrible thunderstorms, tornadoes and hurricanes, home to some of the deadliest animals out there and full of deep obsidian ravines, the Highlands are almost designed to kill men. And yet thousands of men venture through the highlands each year, braving bandits, savages and poisonous creatures in the search for profit. For the highlands are a necessary link in the great East Way, the caravan route that climbs the high Kelther pass and leads to Prayer and the wide east. With the South sea a haven for pirates, the Splintered bay even more so and no maritime power but the Itinerant Fleet ironically it is this desert wasteland that provides the safest route for the starmetal, cattle and spices of the south and the silks, crafts and superior tools of the east.
The Highlands can be divided roughly into two halves, partially divided by a branch of the Spine-below called the Fangs. THe first half is called the Climb and gently rises from the sea level of the Bounty River basin to several thousand feet quite fast. The terrain becomes gradually more arid in the climb but the soil is great for olive groves and vineyards, the main two products of Karavan, an essential stop on the South-East route. The Kara people dominate the large hilly area of the Climb while the rockier bottleneck, where the jagged land is caught between the Fangs and the long sea called the Stretch is fiercefully independent and clannish. The brown skinned tribesmen who live here are not as nomadic as their steppe kin, nor as dark in colour but they are just as dangerous if riled and better equipped.
The second half of the Highlands is called the Black Waste. Unbearably hot, desertified and full of black dust this massive wasteland is full of thieves, robber-kings and greedy Well-warders who charge exorbitant amounts for water and protection. The Black Waste is also said to be home to many eerie, unnatural beasts in addition to poisonous staples like snakes, scorpions, centipedes and manticores. The caravan roads wind up through the Spine foothills and sidle up the Karani gorge, a place notorious for bandit ambushes, now made mostly safe by a group of former prayer knights who have set up their own march far, far away from home. The Karani gorge leads into the treacherous Kelther pass, some twenty thousand feet up from sea level and from there across the mountains and into the east.