The Plains of Dust

Once, it is said, the Plains of Dust were lush and fertile - a veritable paradise. Capricious monkeys and brightly coloured birds flitted from branch to brunch in great and splendid jungles. They built magnificent cities - now lost and buried in sand - and wondrous edifices. Great pyramids rose from the fertile grasslands, sacred edifices to store the dead and honour their forgotten gods. No more.

Even amongst the wisest scholars, it is unknown what scorched the Plains of Dust. It was certainly more than 2,000 years before the present day. At those times, it is thought that all of humanity lived in the south of the continent - it was the scorching of the Plains of Dust that began an event known by the most erudite of historians as the Great Exodus. This is the event that split the people of Leng, and every human civilisation owes their existence to this cataclysm.

Those who left the Plains of Dust are many, and well known. The Altans, who did not flee far enough and built their ill-fated empire in the south reaches of Qolor. The Karpathi, the hardy and mystical barbarians who dwell in the Plains of Qolor and call that arid wasteland their home. And all of the many humans who fled further, into safer and more tractable lands - Lorknir, Vingaard, Arelon and all the others. But there were some who did not leave. These are the shalafi, the nomads of the desert. Their ways are strange, for the desert is a harsh and unforgiving place - those who adapt are the ones who survive in a place so dangerous that even the wind can turn the sand into daggers that strip flesh from bone.

Nor are the shalafi alone in the desert. They share it with many strange creatures - some of which are found nowhere else, such as the bird-people called aarakocra. Some believe that these unique desert species are somehow tied up with whatever disaster burned the land, but as the aarakocra are uncivilised and more likely to be thieves or bandits than anything else, whatever secrets they once may have held are long since gone.