The Sea of Blades
Located in insert map location here, the map doesn’t yet exist, the Sea of Blades is a unique and entirely natural formation of crystals that poses an extreme threat to any traveler.
The Sea itself is created by a curious combination of weather patterns, as well as the composition of nearby mountain ranges that get eroded by the natural water cycle, and deposited into the seabed.
This, in combination with the tidal currents and influences, leads to the rapid crystallization of the seabed. But, due to the continuous effects of erosion, the crystals invariably form in jagged and sharp formations of surprising solidity.
All efforts to break and remove the jagged crystal formations have failed, as, due to the fact that they remain naturally occurring, they had a tendency on growing back about as quickly as they were removed.
In short, for hundreds of kilometers, the entire seabed is composed of razor sharp crystalline formations that can and often do slash through a wooden ship’s hull, dooming the crew into perhaps the most hostile waters of the world.
There is almost no native sealife in this area, the near totality of fishes and marine mammals end up sliced before reaching the interior of the sea. A few especially hardy species do exist, but they are often the result of magical tampering, not natural evolution.
It would be easy to simply ignore the Sea of Blades under ordinary circumstances, but it just so happens to be the only waterway connecting a number of major industrial cities that rely primarily on trade.
Therefore, a number of ships have been specially designed to handle navigation in these hostile waters. Ships with reinforced steel hulls were one of the first choices, but even in their case, the slow but continuous lacerations caused by the crystal formations has proven to slash even them. And their rudders had not survived the experience long before the hulls breached.
Ships started becoming lighter and lighter, in an effort to keep as little of the ship underwater, therefore exposing the ships to less and less of the crystal’s wrath, but that did not save the ships from those crystal that did reach all the way to the surface of the water. And most materials that made ships light also made them very vulnerable.
In the end, most Guilds gave up trying to ferry by water any quantities of goods, and ended up creating a network of cable-operated cabins, in an effort to steer clear and far above the hungry waters. This, for the better part, seemed to function, and still ended up cheaper than trying to maintain a fleet of cargo airships.
But somehow, no matter how many precautions the Guilds seem to take with their equipment, the very air of the Sea seems to corrode the equipment at an unsettling regularity, and woe betide any passenger inside a cabin whose cable fails, plunging them into the heart of the Sea of Blades.
Ironically, the Sea itself became an industry. The Crystals that naturally grow from the sea are enormously valuable on the market, as they possess qualities rarely found in even the best quality steel. They possess outstanding rigidity and can hold an incredibly sharp edge, making them prized material to build weapons, and cutting tools with.
The best gemcutting tools in the world, for example, from from the Sea of Blades’ extracted crystal materials.
Harvesting these crystals is an incredibly dangerous affair, of course, and the industries lose scores of workers every year to equipment failure, or mistakes made by the workers.
It’s a horrible death every time, but the Crystal material sells for so much, the Guilds can easily afford the enormously inflated salaries that keep the workforce replenished.