- See also: Western Approach
Once these wastes were a land of plenty. Can you believe it? The rain came north over the Gamordan Peaks, turning the plains green and verdant for three months of the year. Eight hundred years ago, that changed. During the Second Blight, darkspawn spilled out of an enormous crack in the earth, corrupting it with their foul blood... and it never recovered, even after they were driven back underground. The Grey Wardens built Adamant Fortress to stand watch over that chasm, but eventually even they abandoned it to the wind and the biting sand.
What few of us eke out a living in this Maker-forsaken place do so knowing that any number of deaths await us: darkspawn raids, dragons, bandits—not to mention starvation from the lack of water and game. If we stay, it is because we know there are treasures buried in the bones of this place, ruins from the time when Tevinter ruled, and even earlier. We pass tales around our campfires of the things we have seen shrouded in the dust storms. My favorites are the ones about relics that could restore the Western Approach once more... but I don't believe them. Truth be told, on nights when the wind is calm, I can stand on a hilltop and see for miles in the moonlight over a stark beauty of which no other Orlesian can claim to know the equal. On those nights, I hope it will never change.
—From Lands of the Abyss by Magistrate Gilles de Sancriste