The Golden Wastes
Map of Paradise
This tattered parchment is nothing less than the physical manifestation of a man-made demiplane, the Islands of Paradise, and the rune covering the scroll is in fact a representation of the plane’s several island regions. To open the gate, one must unfurl the scroll and speak the names Sokotra, Swalibar, Iminazen, Dhalikshon, Khandelwal, Lakshemi, and Komoros, each time touching the section of the rune corresponding to the named island group. Then one can choose which island the wielder will appear within the Islands.
The history of the Islands and its Map go back many years. Genies once ruled the land, divided into many petty domains, and interacted with the races of man who built cities in the lingering oases and dying rivers of the region. The genies toyed with the races of men, enslaving them, rewarding them, and doing all manner of things depending on their whim. Genies married bedouins of the desert, ruled cities, conquered kingdoms, and taught magic.
It was not until the hero Shaddad, armed with the legendary weapon Cyclone forged by the power of four giant rune masters, that the power of the genies was broken, and they were banished to the wastes. The giant wizards bound many genies along with other elemental creatures, and compelled them to create the demiplane called the Islands of Paradise, and created a secret map for travelers to open portal to there. They gave it to Shaddad as a reward or his great heroism, and he in turn entrusted it to his friends who called themselves the Companions of the Phoenix. A millennia later, the Map became one of the treasures of the Phoenix Company, an order of mercenaries and freebooters dedicated to preserving lore for the upholders of Law.
Nestled deep in the demiplane is the Scarlet Spire, a palace and fortress where the Companions kept their most powerful artifacts and lore. Marusen was one of the heroes of the Companions, and he was interred in the Spire after a century of its creation. His tomb was created by enslaved genies and lies deep below the Spire. The phrase inscribed above the door handles to the Tomb reads “Dare not enter the tomb of Marusen, Castellan of the Scarlet Spire, beloved of fire.”
The Islands are unnatural, and the few legends about them indicate that time and space do not work there as usual. Each island is serviced by several self-propelled magical galleys that provide transport around the demiplane, ferrying passengers between specific waypoints. Each waypoint will have various charms so visitors can utilize one of the galleys. They assume various forms, but the most popular is a horn fashioned from a Golden Ram, one of the many fabulous beasts that populate the Islands.
The Islands were intended to be a reward for Shaddad, a place of rest, pleasure, and joy. Epic landscapes to hunt, to retire under the night sky, enjoy tropical breezes, and delicious fruits are all found there.