The Dreaming Sea
The Dreaming Sea
The lands beyond the Summer Mountains mingle the fertility of the East with the riches of the South. This is a realm of tangled trees and wild beasts, girded by ape-ruled jungles and savannas lorded over by lions. Civilization seethes furiously around the cauldron of the Dreaming Sea—an ocean extending from the edge of the world, its depths teeming with fish, elementals, and things of the Wyld.
Empires burgeon across the Southeast, absorbing dozens of formerly independent city-states. Meanwhile, puissant gods spread their cults and influence, while Fair Folk reavers in ships of glass and iridescent chitin carry mortals by the hundreds to their courts on island citadels or beneath the waters of the Dreaming Sea.
Where brightly burning empires give way to the embers of ancient civilizations are found such places as the sea-canyon city of Haven, whose tangle of crisscrossing bridges leads to halls and chambers carved into the walls over the course of ten thousand years; the
calcareous island fortress of Shinjok, where the prehuman Backbenders warp human thralls into their own image through gruesome spinal surgery; and the ominous basalt towers of Dis, home to a primordial race of flesh-eating gigantes who enslave men and beasts alike with sorcery and soulgems. But age is no defense against ambition, and soon the young empires of the Southeast will cross blades with these elder powers.
The city Kamthahar, capital of the empire of Prasad, is starkly divided by caste and clan. Each clan maintains its own walled compound within the city. Untouchables and other low-caste clans dwell in squalor at city’s edge. Closer to the center, the manors of high-caste clans tower amid encircling gardens, their façades engraved with elaborate imagery. At Kamthahar’s heart rise the palatial compounds of the Dragon Caste, dominated by the twin fortresses of Clans Burano and Ophris. There the city’s Dragon- Blooded princes dwell in splendor, lounging in silken finery or accoutering themselves for war with dragon helms and daiklaves of jade. This is the farthest-flung of the Realm’s satrapies, and in many ways the most glorious. And yet most of these Dynasts have never set foot upon the Blessed Isle.
The Immaculate Philosophy has grown askew in this foreign soil and the Dragonblooded of Prasad dabble in heresies that provoke challenge from monks in the rest of the Empire.
Merchants across the Dreaming Sea seek profit in Champoor, the Nighted City. But their eagerness to visit the ancient port is mixed with trepidation, for a thousand dangers haunt Champoor’s shadowy teashops, hushed bazaars and maze¬like streets dangers to profit, life, and soul.
High in the Chalcedon Mountains, Ysyr was built upon the ruins of the First Age city of Pinnacle, sculpted by Solar artifice from the living rock. Years after the Contagion slew all within, the seafaring Ys people found the city and made it their own. But without the science of the Solars to regulate sorcerous engines beneath the city, Essence emanations warped the Ys, twisting their bodies and minds and, through chance, attuning them to the power of sorcery.
But only a handful of Ysyr’s people can master the sorcerous arts. These few form the ruling class, identified not merely by their elaborate finery, but also by their sorcerously endowed physical perfection. The rest of the city’s people forever bear the marks of lesser mutation—marks of servitude, for in Ysyr, all who are not sorcerers are slaves.
Amid the isles linking Ysyr to the mainland stands the city of Palanquin. Four colossal inhuman statues, their fea-tures long since weathered away, hold a stony, edifice-en¬crusted landmass far above the sea—titans lifting an island from the waves. Webs of pier and quay stretch out from their feet through mats of merchant ships, fishing junks, and houseboats inhabited by the poor and by excommunicates seeking re-entry into the city above. Switchback stairs climb past entire neighborhoods carved into the bodies of the statues or clinging to cantilevered platforms.
The Solars of the First Age carved the city Volivat out of the sea. Standing off the shore of the Doorstone Peninsula, the floor of the city rests a hundred fathoms below sea level, kept dry by an encircling dam and system of still-functioning pumps. Enormous spires rise above the dam, visible from the shoreline miles away, where Volivat’s alchemists stimulate farms and orchards to unnatural verdancy.