One of the first to return unharmed from the great dead city at the head of the great dead river was a woman named Le Aaiun, and as a result of her account, many have taken to calling the city ‘Aaiun’s City’ or even simply ‘Aaiun.’

This is as fitting an appellation as any, as none who now live know–or are willing to speak–the name of this place.

At its most extreme end, the dead river occupies the bottom of a large canyon carved over millennia, with major parts of the city separated by a yawning chasm. Le, in her account, describes the difficulty in traversing this barrier, with a very short and abortive journey to the far side requiring two days’ march and consuming many of her valuable untainted provisions. She did note that the two shores were connected by ‘spiderwebs’ of rope so ancient and fragile that they crumbled at a touch.

Whatever the method used to bind the two sides of Aaiun’s City together once, it is clear that the north shore was quite different from the south. The south shore was residences, apartment blocks seemingly grown rather than built out of dream substrate. The north shore consisted of what Le described as ‘laboratories,’ with many seeming to be used for various sorts of research that the explorer herself was too traumatized to relay.

Le herself only writes: “What I saw in that blasted and cursed place convinced me not only that the knowledge gleaned there had been terrible and unforgivably vile but that it was now lost and should remain so. I have no proof, but I suspect that the great sandstorm that birthed the Dreamsand Sea and the poisonous and fuming condition of the Dead River can both be traced here.”

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