The vast desert of Khamsin is home to the resilient Qetari. Distributed across the sands, they've carved out four primary settlements, each ingeniously situated within hollowed-out desert mesas. Every settlement boasts just one monumental entrance - a massive tunnel, a testament to the architectural prowess of the Qetari and the might of the colossal sand worms they've learned to coexist with. The inner desert, or “Red Sands” is the natural home of the Sandwyrms. The millennia of wyrms has infused the sand in this region with temporal magic that blocks all scrying or teleporting in or out of the region.
Culture and Lifestyle The Qetari, shaped by the desert, are a perfect amalgamation of adaptability and tradition. Their garments reflect the climate they live in, with full-length protective clothing made from lightweight materials, and moisture collecting face masks providing a strange visage for passing travelers. Symbols of status and religious significance, like jewelry crafted from the enigmatic crimson crystal, are sometimes adorned.
Their practical wisdom shines in their subterranean engineering feats, where they safeguard their most precious resource—water. Deep chambers beneath each city cradle up to a hundred reservoirs, each capable of holding a staggering million gallons of water. Ownership of these reservoirs varies. While the prominent guilds might control several, smaller families might jointly oversee one.
Their society is structured, with clans and guilds forming its backbone. At the apex are the water reservoir owners and the esteemed Haliim guild. Those especially attuned to the crimson elixir serve as revered oracles or advisers, guiding the destiny of the Qetari.
Food is a testament to their resourcefulness. They rely on hardy crops, with possibly some domesticated desert creatures supplementing their diet. Sand worm meat, given its source, is considered a rare delicacy.
The Qetari calendar is marked with numerous festivals celebrating the sand worms and their life-giving water reservoirs. Rituals often mark significant life events, such as the first ingestion of the crimson elixir signaling passage into adulthood.
Artistically, the Qetari are a gifted people. Their cities bear testament to their skills in stone craftsmanship. Additionally, they might create intricate sand art, using the desert itself as a canvas.
Education of local nature and geography is highly valued, as well as architectural and planning skills. The elders and the Haliim guild members serve as custodians of knowledge, passing down essential skills and lore orally. Some even possess ancient scrolls or stone tablets detailing rituals, prophecies, and astronomical observations.
Trade, while not their primary focus, is essential. The Qetari have the services of their prophets of crimson that neighboring regions covet. Their understanding of the desert, and prophetic senses make them invaluable allies or guides for those brave enough to traverse the Khamsin.
Religion and Magic In Serqet, water isn't just a vital necessity; it's a symbol of power, faith, and wealth. The Qetari's reverence for water is mirrored in their religious practices. Arcane arts are practiced, but with caution and respect. Only members of the Haliim can wield these mystical powers, ensuring the sanctity of water is never compromised. Yet, even the Haliim tread carefully, avoiding spells that manipulate the sacred essence of water. Such acts are considered heretical, risking not only spiritual wrath but the fragile balance of their water-centric economy.
The formidable sand worms are integral to the Qetari way of life. These creatures produce a reactive blood, which when in contact with certain desert sands, yields a crimson crystal. This crystal, while stunning, is more than just a gem. It’s a naturally potent stimulant and enhancer.
The Haliim have, over centuries, perfected rituals to transform this substance into a powerful elixir, granting the user brief glimpses into future probabilities. The societal implications of this elixir are profound. The Qetari’s ruling class is selected based on their resonance with this substance. On rare occasions, expecting mothers, if deemed to have offspring with significant affinity to the elixir, consume it throughout pregnancy. While this brings the risk of great tragedy, survivors emerge with an intrinsic bond to the elixir and an uncanny precognitive ability.