Desert of Desolation
At one time, when the River Athis flowed, trade between the cities of the north in Mulhorand and Semphar and those in Durpar passed through the great deserts of Raurin by following that great river. The River Athis sprang from a magical fountain in Terbakar, the rich and verdant capital of the Bakar, a jewel in the desert. Its pharaohs had ruled there for time out of mind, and though its libraries were noted in some circles, it was the Waters of Athis that were revered by the dwellers of the desert. The River Athis that sprang from Terbakar gave life to a long and sinuous corridor from there generally northward, passing by the garden city of Pazar, the sacred White Palm, the city of Carthag now called Phoenix, and beyond to the lands where the legendary Martek had his domain.
When the Pharaoh Amun-Re called down a curse on his people and the River Athis ceased to flow in response, the fertile river valley dried up. So, too, did the teeming life made possible by the flow dry up. With life in the desert nearly impossible, the trade routs that followed the River Athis became drifted over with sand. With the curse came universal dryness, and the area became known as the Desert of Desolation to reflect that. The cities of Durpar and the southern trade roads were cut off from Mulhorand and Semphar.
But while the Desert was dead, the rest of the world was not, and a barrier of sand could not last forever. If it was possible to cross the desert along the banks of the River Athis while life-giving water flowed there, it was still possible once those waters were lost to Amun-Re's curse. The rich and populous lands to the north virtually demanded trade to begin once again. That trade could have gone to the sea through the Golden Water and around to the Alambar Sea, but the voyage was long and dangerous. Better, reasoned the merchants, to find a way across the Desert of Desolation, the rest of Raurin, and the Plains of Purple Dust to the wealthy and ancient cities of Gheldaneth, Unthalas, Jhandyl, Phannaskul, and Phelzol.
At last, the pressure from the merchants was too great, and a caravan, one modest in size, well guarded and supplied, left the town of Bralizzar, once the staging point of the trade north. It crossed the intervening sand guided by a few Raurindi who only knew of the area, long desolate, from stories at the knees of their elders. The trek to the dry valley of the Athis was killing, and the tale these intrepid traders brought back was one of desolation and danger. But it could be done, and the pressure to trade had an outlet. Thus entered the Sandvoyagers Guild.