The desert in southeast Drachurst houses two cities and the ruins of a planned city. These cities all share a particular naming convention, beginning with the word Nia. In ancient times, settlers there spoke a different language.
NOTE: The Nia'a region merely refers to the exact triangle bounded by the three cities described here.
The city Nia Tsara'an, meaning "Gold of the Water", is situated on a lake. The presence of water makes this desert city cool and comfortable. It has grown in size from the oasis retreat it once was, and now is a very moderately developed city. It is home to a powerful group of shamans called the "Water Walkers", who specialize in potions and poisons, especially those created with ingredients gained from the desert creatures, beasts, and plants. Rumors say that their leader truly had the ability to walk on water, and tamed the lake - or the lake monster - by using her powers.
The city Nia Dara is difficult to translate. The word "Dara" can be noun, adjective, or verb depending on its placement in relation to the end of the sentence. Furthermore, it has multiple meanings: the name Nia Dara could mean "Blown/Blowing Gold", "Gold [of the] Heights", "Gold Air", or "Golden Ducks". The last translation is assumed to be an anomaly, as the city is notable for its constant wind. The wind is not a geographical feature, but a thing - or a being - summoned by the line of sorcerers that inhabits the central tower there.
The city Nia Athu'a, or "Gold of Burial" or "Gold of Stone", was planned to be built in the protection of walls of hardened stone in the valley north of the already then-existing cities. It hadn't finished construction yet when disaster struck. Nobody knows what happened, but the city was vacated with only half of the construction done - primitive scaffolding and pulleys were left on the hardened sand floor to weather away over the next several hundred/thousand years. Nobody knows how long it was left here, and the existence of the city is known to little more than the most fanatic historians. Scholars who visit the city tend not to return. Those who don't speculate that the elemental continuity behind the three cities - water, air, and stone - hints at the existence of a fourth city.
Such a fourth city may very well exist. There are rumors by those who travel in the desert at night of a chanting in the distance, which reveals itself to be a tribe dancing around a fire. As the travelers approach, the people disappear, leaving only scorched sand, the only sign they were ever there, to blow off or be buried under a dune.
The region was called Nia'a in ancient times, meaning "Of Gold" or "Made of Gold". In their culture, the word meaning "gold" also described the vivid color of the sands, which they treasured heavily. Alchemists today still treasure the sand, as it has properties not present in sands gathered elsewhere. These properties enhance the elemental effects of objects - water, air, earth, and fire. The searches for the mineral gold in this area by prospectors who learned of the translation have always proved fruitless.