The Great Salt Desert

The Great Salt Desert is wide and lonely but not empty, though the life that has found a place there is wizened and strange. Rare it is to find an oasis without a dervish or ruin without a hermit, and the road that runs inland from Albion on the winedark sea to the edge of the Tangled Western Woods is faint but well-traveled. Gold and salt, hemlock and sage, all pass back and forth across that bitter expanse.

Once, there was a sea here, a wide primordial ocean teeming with life strange and vast, their great awkward corpses embedded in the sand and now a refuge for lizards and scorpions and nervous desert hares. Many a trader has brought back stories of coming across a skull as big as a market with teeth the length of a man and been rewarded with no more than mocking laughter—but those who live deep within the desert know the truth and remember.

There is a flat place within the desert (so I have heard, and believe it so) where, on a winter’s night, the stones unmoor themselves from the land and sail gently across the frozen salt, tugged by some long-vanished tide into an inscrutable order understood by no one, save perhaps the silent, stooped mystics who keep unending vigil from high atop their poles—and they no more speak than do the stones, the dunes, the ever-turning skies.