SO YOU WANT TO SEE THE RUINS?
The Goddam Desert is that dry and sandy bit to the east of the Grand River Styx, but not quite all the way to Santa Pez.
It is the home of the Ashtrays.
There are sand and scrub and rocks and pocks and mountains.
In or near the center lies La(X)usset. The lake is fed by underground streams that run from the Oseen, carrying Slurry-Silt with them. Most of this is deposited in the vast and sometimes well-guarded (X)arst caverns along with minerals of all kinds. The (X)arst network is a wonderful place full of treasure and danger and perhaps we will talk about that later.
The Goddam Desert is a zone between the fertile developed Mainland and the quirky, idea-rich (but follow-through poor) realm of Santa Pez. The Aetheric energy here tends to be trapped in nuggets of potential (see the caverns) rather than as a readily-available flow. The Aether here is solid–not like the Oseen liquid, but as rocks and other hard crumbly bits. It’s difficult to tap into, but when released, it can provide a great deal of reality-bending power for an experienced Magixian. The type of power depends on which minerals/Aetheric compounds a deposit contains. There is always a risk–few deposits are completely pure. The purer, the more valuable.
To cross the Goddam Desert, one must bring a lot of supplies and survival gear and/or have a hell of a lot of personal magix. Everything that a physical body might need to live is trapped in the deposits: food, water, even air. If you can’t bring your own, create your own in your personal reality bubble, or extract what you need from the surrounding solid Aether (or unless you’re very lucky and find an oasis or get an Aetherstorm), the desert will solidify YOUR personal power (like hot air evaporating a puddle), turning you into one of the rocks, waiting to be mined and resuscitated. You can’t even escape mentally or spiritually to your private domain–it’s a state of complete suspended animation. All you’ve got is your Inner Sanctum. How long can you stay sane trapped in there by yourself?
Reality is as malleable as the energy of which it’s comprised. Experience depends on perspective, will, expectation (all of which are based on prior experience). It’s math and archetypes, true, but infused with the ebb and flow of forces from an endless variety of sources.
The Goddam Desert is a “dead zone” when it comes to ebb and flow. It was once a Consensual Node that grew so rigid that it ceased to change or move along the spiral. The people’s minds would not acknowledge anything other than the pre-ordained expectations, until even their dreams and art and fiction disappeared. They stopped reaching. They forgot that there had ever been anything to reach for, and then there wasn’t. When the past and future are not real, all you’ve got is the present, and suspension.
Despite this, there are a few beings who make the Desert their home. The best known of these are the Ashtrays.
You can still find reliques of the old race throughout the desert. The statues might be real people frozen in time and thought, trapped in an endless feedback loop of instant perception and expectation.
AND THIS IS WHY WE ARE CAREFUL WHEN WE GO INTO THE DESERT, AREN’T WE.
But! Despite the horrible effects of a Consensus gone berzerk, the potentiality of the Multiverse does persevere. Life and Art will find a way, and all that. Removed from the current, potential energy grew heavy, became solid, and formed compounds with ideas, concepts, other matter (normal stuff), &ct.
Including mathematics. The “Matholiths” (solid math) became living GEOLOGRAPHOGY : lines, planes, and 3-d shapes of varying complexities. It probably happened during a monsoon.