From: Gary Welsh
Subject: The Road to Ulakand
This is a brief treatise on a merchant road that goes west out of Ket across the plains to Ulakand and thence across the steppes to the far east, to lands that are legendary in the Flanaess.
Ket is on a plateau of sorts, between the Yatil Mountains to the north and the Barrier Peaks to the south. It is a hilly land, heavily forested in the south and central parts (the Bramblewood), and bordered in the west by the Tusman Hills (separates it from Tusmit to the northwest) in the south by the Pen-Wilds, or Pennors (separates it from the Plains of the Paynims [Bayomens]). In the southeast, the hills around the Fals River, and Thornward, have often been the sites of skirmishes and clashes between Bakluni west and the rest of the Flanaess in the east. The swords and spears of Bissel and Veluna have always been pointed against Ket. But there has also been much profitable trade in Ket as -- this place is the crossroads between two vastly different cultures. Caravans go from Lopolla [Hlupallu] in all directions.
To the northeast, a road goes to Molvar, and thence over the mountain road all the way to Krestible in Perrenland. To the east, a road goes around the Bramblewood and down to the river valley to Thornward, in Bissel, and thence east to Veluna, or south to Gran March. To the west, traffic flows down the Tuflik River to Ceshra and Sufmur, and eventually out to the Drawmij Ocean and the coastal cities of Ekbir and Zeif. Also to the west is the wide and dusty Ulakand Road, which fords the Tuflik River and strikes off aay from the Pen-Wilds, with brown and purple mountains in the distance to the south (left hand side) and eventually flatness everywhere. After hundreds of miles of flat, dry plains, the road heads into the trade center of Ulakand [Yolakand], once the capital of a great Paynim Khan.
From Ulakand, one can go south across the lands of Ull, to the settlements in the Ulsprue Mountains in the west (known to be inhabited by cyclopes and cloud giants), or the the hill-town of Kester [Ghastoor] in the southern hills. Across those brown hills, one would pass into an even drier set of plains, the Dry Steppes, which is almost desertlike -- hundreds of miles more to the south, one would eventually come to the mud and brick city of Karnoosh, on Lake Karnoosh -- an ancient site holy to the Baklunish, rebuilt after the Invoked Devastation. This oasis is one of the few sites for hundreds of miles about that support a large population. Karnoosh has routens.s south to Tashbul and the Sulhaut Mountains, and also west, possibly to the mountain kingdom of Zufon (SoD, p. 154)... The Pass of the Clenched Fist is the only pass across the Sulhauts, into the Sea of Dust (SoD, p. 171). In Karnoosh, Paynims, Ullites, dark Jahindis, and even folk of Sa'han and Behow can be seen -- many drawn by the annual slave fair held here (SoD, p. 143).
"Turrets and domes dominated the brick city of Karnoosh. The walled portion of the place -- the actual city -- was relatively small; no more than seven or eight thousand souls were enclosed by the high barriers. All around the city, except on the side that abutted the sorte of the big lake, were ancillary villages and towns that quadrupled or quintupled the total population of the area. Most of these smaller places were liberally dotted with caravansaries and wine shops where traders and laboreres could find housing and amusement during their brief stay.
"Continual streams of merchants came to the city, for Karnoosh was a hub where purveyors from north, south, east and west could exchange commodities.
An open bazaar was always busy. Slaves, spices, animals, ivory, and a mulitude of other goods were sold and traded there. The brick casbah housed sufficient troops to encourage everyone to do business peacefully, but just in case auxiliary forthresses also stood on either flank of the city. The Shah of Karnoosh was very rich and very powerful. There were no strong states around his little realm, so for a century there had been no warfare troubling the place. Such peace and prosperity brought even more merchants to Karnoosh, and it was a thriving cosmopoilis by all measures of the whole of Oerik" (SoD, p. 150).
If one had turned west instead of south, way back at Ulakand, one would have continued along the great plains, skirting the north-reaching arm of the Ulsprues, and heading due west, where one road would branch off north to Antalotol, while another continued west across plains which no map in the Flanaess ever detailed... If you keep going west, you come to another coast, a wedge-like sea that comes in from the Dramidj Ocean, nearly as far south as the latitude Karnoosh is at (29 degrees lattitude, Karnoosh is at about 26 degrees). The road turns south and goes around the coast, where it goes past little port towns, and also inland to the mountains to the south (which are distantly connected to the Sulhauts further east). Here, one is truly in western or central Oerik.
This wedge-shaped sea that cuts southward from the Dramidj divides the Bakluni subcontinent from the rest of western Oerik. To the west and north are the so-called "khanates" and beyond that coast is the rocky, volcanic isle of Fireland.