The Nur-Dal is both the centre and the edge of the world. It shares its northern, western and southern borders with other states but its eastern border is the end of the known world – the Chukchi sea, named after the famous explorer who never returned, marks the periphery not just of the Nur Dal but of Bratsk itself.

The continent’s biggest freshwater lake sits in the middle of the Nur-Dal, and by many estimations it looks like the sea itself, so broad that the horizon melts into its waters seamlessly.

Marshland, sand dune, rolling grasslands, alpine forests and permanent mountain glaciers constitute the Nur Dal’s interior, and volcanoes too pepper the zone, their tremours often felt in cities as far apart as Ulaam and Numrug. There are few roads upon which to travel here, and fewer means of transport. Walking, hiking from village to village, is the main way that folk get about, and coming from the industrial north of Volchok or the cultivated cities of Tal’dor, the Nur-Dal’s interior feels worlds away. Stretching out into the south and beyond into Sakr, the Shivtsei sands spread out for what seems like an eternity, but even here, folk have made the desert their home. They live in the sand rocks of the desert, finding shelter in the day within, and shelter from the cold at night, spending a fraction of the day outside. Water here is hard to come by, but in recent times the Rurik government have embarked upon engineering miracles the likes of which only a few hundred years ago would have been unimaginable – pipelines extending from the capital and from the great rivers of the north run all the way south to this point, providing people with a stable supply of water and encouraging them to settle in this place. This has increased tension with Tal’dor, who claims that the technology to build such water systems was stolen from them by spies working for Blood Rurik.

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