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Quoya Desert

The Quoya is a broad oval of territory separating Shou Lung from the endless waste steppe.

Reaching almost to the Chigidi Mountains in the north and the Katakoro Shan in the south, the Quoya forms a natural barrier between east and west. For centuries it has served to isolate the barbarians of the steppe from the influence of Shou Lung. Yet at the same time, its oases and trails have provided a highway for invaders to ride into the rich lands of the East. It is bleak and barren and yet filled with hidden pockets of life.

The Quoya is a land of temperature extremes. Far enough north that it is chilled by the icy blasts of winter, the Quoya has so little rain that it is baked by the sun in summer. Temperatures have ranged as low as -40 degrees in winter to 130 degrees on the hottest days of summer. Light snows that blanket the ground are the main source of moisture—virtually no rain falls in summer and fall.

While the Quoya is undoubtedly a desert, the sweeping sand dunes associated with deserts are rare here. The majority of the land is rock or hard-baked clay. Bluffs of crumbling limestone and steep-sided gullies gouge the landscape. There are many caves, hollows, and shelters in the soft stone. The gullies are dry watercourses, only becoming rushing streams during the short rainy season. The soil is gravelly, mixed with clay. Swirling wind kicks this into frequent dust storms, sending stinging particles of grit whirling through the skies. There are areas of dunes, undulating hills of yellow sand. Often these rise alongside large stretches of salt flats where little grows.

At the heart of the Quoya is the surprising Merket Oasis. This is a large, sunken valley, well below sea level, surrounded by steep mountains. Many of the temporary rivers drain into this hollow, providing a source of water for irrigation.