- The Desert (Dragon Prince)
"The Desert" is a fictional Princedom (or country) in
Melanie Rawn's fantasy novels of the Dragon Prince and Dragon Star trilogies. It is the primary setting of these trilogies.
"For as long as the sands spawn fire..."
The Desert is
Prince Rohan's princedom. It is the home or birthplace of most of the main Characters of Dragon Prince. The royal color of the Desert is blue; its banner is of a gold dragon on a blue field. It is a land rich in dragons, Fire, and sand. The Desert people are known for their rugged strength, loyalty, and fierceness.
Dragon Prince place| name = The Desert
bgcolor = blue
fgcolor = silver
colors = blue
banner = gold dragon with blue eyes and an emerald ring
seat = Stronghold
jewels = topaz
trade = glass ingots, horses, salt, silktrade
The Desert is an eastern princedom with only one seaport: Radzyn Keep. It is bordered by
Princemarch, Cunaxa, Meadowlord, and Syr. The Desert is the hottest, driest princedom and one of the largest. The Long Sand, through which there is no water and no shelter from the sweltering sun, stretches the length of princedom. To the West of the Long Sand there are some mountains and some vegetation, and Skybowl is nestled above a lake. Near Stronghold is Rivenrock, a valley where dragons breed and where the dragon eggs can be gathered for their gold. To the East is Radzyn and the sea, the Desert's sole port and main trade center.
To the inhabitants of the Desert, their Princedom is beautiful. The sun gleams over the vast sands and sends a
myriadof colors into the dawn and evening skies as a rainbow shimmers across the dunes. Night falls like a balm on the scorched land, and the clear sky allows the stars to twinkle brightly.
Every hundred years the Desert blooms. This is a miracle to the Desert-born, who finally see their beloved land covered in flowers and tall, green stalks. Winter rains soak into the sands and churn up soil that had been long buried. Seeds that had been brought on winds and dragon wings sprout, scrubs and cacti bloom vividly colored flowers. With the foliage came butterflies, other insects, and a plethora of singing birds.
Traditionally the people of the Desert have dark hair and tanned skin. (Rohan and
Polinherited their blond locks from Milar, who was from Catha Freehold not the Desert.) They are known for their strength and untamed spirit, both of which match their land. Until Prince Rohan, the Desert was ruled by warrior Princes, whose test of manhood included dragon hunting. Once Rohan became Prince he outlawed the slaying of dragons, but the warrior spirit of the Desertborn lived on in him and in the Desert people. In fact, the Desert has never been conquered (since the "Merida" were driven out in ancient times and the pact was made between Zehava's ancestors and the "Isulk'im").
Much of a Desert person's way of life is associated with dragons. Babies and children are often referred to as 'hatchlings,' and parents play dragon with their children; the parent wears a cape as wings and is a mighty dragon that has to be slain. Many Desertborn people can also 'feel' when dragons are near. They can sense the great beasts flying overhead before the dragons either are seen or heard. Throughout the series it was common for Rohan, Feylin, and the others to suddenly stop what they were doing and look to the sky; dragons were inevitably flying up above. Dragon hunting had been a glorious event and a test of manhood, but was outlawed by Rohan - his first official act as High Prince. The dragon became the symbol of the Desert as dragons possess all the traits the Desert and its people honor: strength, majesty, loyalty, fierceness, and intelligence (though this was discovered later). Rohan, who also held these qualities and whose love of dragons marked his reign, became known as "Azhrei", which means 'Dragon Prince' in the Old Tongue, or even just 'the Dragon.'
To the people of the Desert, their Prince is a living flame. His Fire burns from the Flametower of Stronghold as beacon over the land, a light of hope and prosperity. Each Prince of the Desert lights his Fire in the Flametower. It burns for the length of his life and the tower is never cleaned throughout it. When the Prince dies, his Fire from the Flametower is built to fill the entire tower room and is used to light his pyre. The Prince is burned so that his ashes are carried across the sands, making him one with the land. After the signal blaze from the tower, the Fire is finally extinguished. The new Prince's wife or closest female relatives must then cleanse the Flametower floor. When it is clean the new Prince lights his own Fire, so that it too will shine for his people.
The main trade of the Desert is in horses and horse breeding, though there are also mines, salt, and silk trades. Radzyn Keep breeds the best horses, and also exports silk. The "
Isulk'im", nomadic tribesmen, ride the sands and guard the White Crown. (The Princes of the Desert and the "Isulk'im" share a common ancestor; the White Crown symbolizes the Prince's right to rule the Desert.) They also 'borrow' Radzyn's horses for their own stock. The "Merida" jealously covet the Desert and its royal seat of Stronghold. They had once ruled the Desert and have sworn to reclaim it.
Dragon's gold is the secret wealth of the Desert. When hatchling dragons are still in their eggs they scorch the inside of their shells, melting the inner coating and turning it to gold. The egg shells are gathered from the hatcheries and brought to Skybowl, where the shells are smelted into gold bars and/or coins. Very few people are privvy to this secret, and the gold often used to help the people. For example the dragon gold enabled Rohan to purchase and distribute "
dranath", the only cure for the plague, to the entire Continent. The gold has also been used to rebuild and to lend aid, discretely, where needed.
"The Treaty of Linse gives the Desert to Zehava's family for as long as the sands spawn fire." (
Dragon Princepg. 18) Zehava's grandfather, Prince Zagroy wrested that treaty from the High Prince's ancestor after a war between the Desert and Princemarch. Through the treaty Zagory had begun building the princedom of the Desert for his line. Kirwan, Zehava's father, won land from the "Merida", and Zehava himself won even more land. He then strengthened what lands and Keeps he had. By the year 698 many of the Desert Keeps were prosperous in their trades, making the Desert the richest princedom of the Continent.
The "Isulk'im" are nomadic tribesmen, who live on the Long Sand. They are distantly related to the Princes of the Desert and hold the White Crown of the Desert, the "selej". Their culture and society is very different from the other Desertborn people as they more closely follow the old ways.
*Elktrap Manor: Northern manor held by Riyan and Ruala. Elktrap belonged to Princemarch before Riyan became its Lord through his marriage to Ruala. The colors are blue and green.
*Faolain Lowland: A southern Desert holding near the Faolain River. In the war between Princemarch and the Desert, this Keep was used as an early base of operations. Nearly all the food and goods the Keep had to offer were used to support Chay's army. Baisal, the holding's Lord, had approached Rohan in 698 for stone in order to upgrade his Keep; after the supposrt he gave to the Desert, Baisal received his stone.
*The Long Sand: The open expanse of desert sands that stretches across the Desert princedom. There is no water for miles, nor any shelter from the burning sun. The Long Sand is home to the "Isulk'im", whom roam the Desert.
*Radzyn Keep: The Desert's most prosperous Keep, its largest and safest port, and the home of the Battle Commander of the Desert,
Chaynal. Radzyn is also known for its horses. The importance of this Keep is such that Chaynal, Lord of Radzyn Keep, is the only "Athri" with a banner of his own: a silver sword emblazoned on red bordered by white, then bordered by blue.
Dragon Prince place| name = Remagev Keep
bgcolor = blue
fgcolor = white
colors = blue and white
princedom = The Desert
trade = sheep, glass ingots, and battle training
*Remagev: The last Keep in a line that once stretched to Surise Waters, Remagev was where Prince Zagroy made his last stand against the "Merida". Since his victory the Keep fell into disarray and was in danger of being swallowed by the Long Sand. At the gathering of 705, the Keep was given to Walvis, Rohan's first squire, for his devotion and leadership against the "Merida" in the Battle of Tiglath. Under Walvis' governance, Remagev became a strong, working Keep and a training ground for young Lords and Princes across the Continent. Training at Remagev under Walvis became not only the next step in a noble's battle training, but paved the way for younger sons to become "Medr'im", a type of police force that upheld the High Prince's Writ.
*Rivenrock Canyon: Breeding ground of the dragon's near Stronghold. It was here that Sioned and Rohan rescued
Maarkenand Jahni from a hatchling and discovered dragon's gold. After the plague the dragons left Rivenrock until Polcleansed the Desert with Fire during the sorcerer's duel with Ruval.
*Whitecliff Manor: The holding the Heir to Radzyn Keep opens upon his marriage. Once he becomes Lord of Radzyn, the Manor is closed once more. Whitecliff's colors are red and orange.
Dragon Prince place| name = Feruche Castle
bgcolor = blue
fgcolor = black
colors = blue and black
princedom = The Desert
trade = defense of trade route
"Feruche Castle" is an important tower Keep that has been coveted and fought over for generations. This Keep controls the trade route between
Princemarchand the Desert. It had been a "Merida" holding, but Zehava promised it to High Prince Roelstrain exchange for aid against them. Roelstra gave Feruche to his daughter, Ianthe, who used it as a prison for both Rohan and Sioned. The castle held nightmares for each of them as they had been tortured - Sioned held in a lightless cell and raped by many soldiers, Rohan drugged and fevered. It was also Pol's birthplace. Rohan refused to ever step foot inside the Keep agin, even years later after the tower had been destroyed by Sioned's SunrunnerFire and rebuilt by Sorin, who had received it at his knighting. After Sorin's death, Pol gave the Keep to Riyan, who holds it still.
The castle itself was built of rose colored stone. It rose high on the cliffs, overlooking a Desert garrison far below. It was the border tower between Princemarch and the Desert.
Dragon Prince place| name = Skybowl
bgcolor = blue
fgcolor = saddlebrown
colors = blue and brown
princedom = The Desert
trade = dragon gold
Skybowl holds the secret of dragon gold: the eggs of dragons are lined with gold. Since Zehava's rule the people of Skybowl 'mined' this gold and smelted it in the nearby, abandoned caves. The gold was added to special coffers in order to be used to aid the people of the Desert and the Continent itself. During the plague of 701, Rohan used this gold to buy "
dranath" and to distribute the drug as a cure for everyone. Skybowl also played an important role in the "Vellanti" War as it was where the final battle took place.
Skybowl gets its name from the almost perfectly round lake found just outside the Keep. The Keep sits on the slopes of the Vere Hills, built from the gray stones surrounding the crater lake, which used to be a volcano. The depth of the lake is unknown. The Keep itself has only one tower above which flies Skybowl's banner on a post topped with a golden dragon in flight. Inside the Keep are tables with benches, clear glass paned windows, and torches in bronze sconces; the dragon gold is not used for Skybowl's luxury.
Skybowl was used in the "
Vellanti" war as a decoy; it was given to the "Vellanti" High Warlord and was used to poison the "Vellanti" priests before the final battle.
Dragon Prince place| name = Stronghold
bgcolor = blue
fgcolor = silver
colors = blue
princedom = The Desert
trade = politics, seat of the Desert
"Stronghold" is the royal seat of the Desert from which the Prince's Fire always lights the land. It was the home of
Prince Rohanand his Sunrunnerwife, Sioned, and from 704 to 737 it also acted as the seat of the High Prince. This Keep was once just a strong, imposing monstrosity said to have been carved by dragons, built in a hollow through rocky cliffs, but Princess Milar, Zehava's wife and Rohan's mother, turned the fortress into a home. She added a beautiful garden with roses and running water, and also dressed the Keep with rich tapestries. Beneath the Keep lies a labyrinth of secret passages and tunnels. Only the royal family knows the secrets of the tunnels here and the tunnels of the other Desert Keeps. Mydral, Prince Zehava's rumored half-sister, held the secret of Stronghold's tunnels.
Stronghold was said to have never fallen before the "Vellanti" attack. After Rohan's death, Sioned set the Keep ablaze with Sunrunner's Fire. The Keep burned, making it impossible for the "Vellant'im" High Warlord to use the Keep as his base of operations. During the war, while Mydral lay dying, she told Chayla, Hollis, Tobren, and Betheyn the secrets of the Desert's tunnels, enabling the remaining Desert people to retreat to safety. After the war
Polused this knowledge and the memories of his grandmother's roses to start rebuilding Stronghold. He promised to rebuild the Keep and to burn his Fire in the Flametower as a beacon for his people and as the start of their new future.
Stronghold is a massive military Keep on the foot of the Vere Hills. The main entrance to the Keep is through a narrow valley, about four horse across, and is easily defended. The walls and Keep itself are made of thick stone. The Keep is five stories tall, has another level below ground, then the Flametower, which rises above the Keep to blaze the Fire of the Prince of the Desert for all to see. Some days the Flametower can be seen from the Sunrise Waters to the east.
There are a number of political chambers within Stronghold to accommodate Princes. A large, formal chamber off the main foyer is dedicated to assemblies and meetings with the
High Prince. The chairs in this room were uncushioned, the floor bare, and a tapestry of Stronghold emphasizes its rulers' strength. The Great Hall is filled and decorated with items from each of the princedoms. The tapestries and banners of resident Prince and Lords also hang there as appropriate. The Summer Room, so named by Lady Sionell of Remagev, is reserved for private audiences. The floor is carpeted, the chairs plump, bookcases line the walls, as do tapestries depicting the Desert in spring and summer, and a tapestry of the Continent and all the princedoms' borders.
The living quarters of the Keep are decorated in blues and greens. Tiles line the bathroom floors, surrounding a white, iron tub on a carved, wooden frame. The beds were large, carved wood, and covered in blue and green silk sheets. The windows of the keep were open, letting in as many breezes as they possibly could, with thin, silken drapes.
The garden Princess Milar planted contained a grotto, where trees surrounded a small pool. A waterfall filled the pool, running down from the Hills. Mosses and ferns grew around the pool, soaking in the rare wealth of water.
The tallest tower of Stronghold, which blazes with the Fire of the Prince of the Desert. This Fire is a beacon of strength and leadership for the people. Each Prince must light his own Fire after the previous one died and the tower room had been cleansed of the last Prince's ash and soot. The tower has pointed, arching windows, each open to the wind, and above each window is the carving of a dragon. It was in this tower that Rohan first saw Sioned's face in the Fire.
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