The Eastern Sea is an unofficial name given to the large body of water found east of the known mainland of Gielinor. The Eastern Sea is largely unexplored, but is known to be controlled primarily by pirates and other underworld criminals.
Because it is separated from the main human kingdoms by the vast Kharidian Desert, the untamed Wilderness, and the deadly swamplands of Morytania, the Eastern Sea is difficult to navigate, explore, or control. Because of its inaccessibility, it has become a haven for criminals and dealers in illegal trades. The sea is dotted with small, mostly tropical islands, many of which remain unknown to most modern scholars, explorers, and cartographers.
There may be dozens of islands in the Eastern Sea, but most have yet to be made common knowledge. Notable locations in the region include Mos Le'Harmless, Harmony Island, Braindeath Island, Dragontooth Island, the Cursed Archipelago, and both Luke's Reef and The Other 50% Reef.
The Eastern Sea is named so simply because it is found east of the known Gielinorian mainland, beyond the easternmost regions of the Kharidian Desert and Morytania. Because there are believed to be other continents beyond it, however, the Eastern Sea's name is somewhat inaccurate, and a more accurate name may exist but remains thus far unknown.
It is debatable where the Eastern Sea and Northern Sea can be separated. Some believe the body of water north of Morytania is part of the Eastern Sea, whilst others argue that it is part of the Northern Sea which encompasses the Fremennik islands and northern Wilderness. As the waters north of Morytania remain almost completely unexplored at this point, no clear decision can yet be made. Also of debatable nature is the border between the Southern and Eastern Seas, also an area yet to be fully mapped.
The Eastern Sea, today, possesses no central government and is not under the direct jurisdiction of any nation, although the kingdoms of Misthalin, Asgarnia, and Kandarin have in the past attempted to exercise some amount of control over the region. Ruins found on many of the region's islands, however, suggest that an advanced culture once thrived there.
The Eastern Sea has, since the Second Age some 8,000 years ago, been a key route of trade for civilisation. Although no records have survived to confirm so, the Menaphite nation of the Kharidian Desert and the Hallowed Lands of Morytania likely traded heavily during the Second Age. Both the South-eastern Kharid and the whole of Morytania were, at the time, heavily wooded. The Eastern Sea would have proved an ideal trade route between the Hallowed Land's capital of Hallowvale and the Kharidian metropolises of Uzer and Ullek on the Kharid's eastern coast.
The River Salve, which flows from modern-day Misthalin into the Eastern Sea, may also have been an important trade route during the early Second Age, allowing the primitive tribal races that inhabited the area to trade with the prosperous civilisations in the Kharid and Hallowed Lands. The southerly-flowing River Salve allowed for easy access to the nearby coastlines. The great crystal cities of The Myriad which covered southern Misthalin during the early Second Age may also have used the Eastern Sea's trade routes to influence culture in neighbouring civilisations, the Salve allowing for easy access to the Eastern Sea and its neighbours. This would have been made easier by the then-temperate climate of the area that is now Al Kharid.
Trade was further fuelled by the mysterious Eastern Lands, where exotic goods and culture flowed freely into the Hallowed Lands. However, as contact with the region has since been lost, little can now be determined about the details of the time.
When the regions that are now Misthalin, Asgarnia, and the Wilderness came under the god Zaros's control in the mid-Second Age, however, trade with the Misthalin region ground to a complete halt. The Myriad civilisation soon fell, and Zaros's military hostility towards other civilisations meant that the Hallowed Kingdom and the Menaphites had to avoid contact with the area at all costs. There was presumably a strong degree of intranational commerce amongst Zaros's people, however, with the region's capital city of Senntisten and many other important northern fortresses straddling the River Salve or the Eastern Sea itself.
Although the Eastern Sea was largely a means of transport to many cultures, there is evidence of a prosperous civilisation once thriving on many of the region's islands. This culture's primitive nature suggests that it likely surfaced in the Second Age, although it is possible that it did not come into existence until the Third or even Fourth Age.
Remains of this time are few. Apparently, there are structural remains on most of the islands in the region, although only a handful are common knowledge at this point. Most of the remains appear to be made of black igneous stone similar to obsidian, likely mined from the region's large volcanic rock deposits.
On Mos Le'Harmless, for instance, there is a large stone pillar standing amidst the pirate's port, its origins and purpose unknown. Also in the Mos Le'Harmless jungles is a black slab, depicting what appears to be the mask of a cave horror. The Mos Le'Harmless Caves also show evidence of past habitation, including tiles and other basic amenities. On Harmony Island, a large stone wall can be found on the island's eastern side, although whether it was designed as a military or tidal fortification is unknown.
The island civilisations effect on neighbouring cultures is largely unknown. The only evidence of possible interaction between the islands and their neighbours can be found in the Desert Slayer Dungeon, far to the South-west of Uzer. The cave, created some time during the Second or Third Age, is made primarily of black stone very atypical of the Kharidian Desert. The closest deposit of such rock is in the Eastern Sea, suggesting some type of trade between the two.
The culture died out at an undetermined point in the past, although efforts are now being made to further research the civilisation.
The Third Age
The Eastern Sea's role in the violent Third Age has been expanded upon very little. The Hallowed Lands, shortly after Zaros's defeat at Zamorak's hand, were overrun by Lord Lowerniel Vergidiyad Drakan's armies per his hand in the Zamorakian rebellion. Despite resistance, the region's Icyene Queen Efaritay and King Ascertes were overthrown and Hallowvale was converted to the blood-farming ghetto of Meiyerditch. Some time later, between the years 3,000 and 4,000, Ullek and Uzer fell at the hands of the demon lord Balfrug Kreeyath and the Elder-Demon Thammaron. Consequently, contact with the Eastern Lands was largely lost.
Many that sought to flee these regions found refuge in the Eastern Sea's islands, although these refugees were largely wiped out over time. There is little information regarding conflicts that occurred in the Eastern Sea at the time, although the Cursed Archipelago in the sea's southern waters is infected with dark magics reminiscent of these times. The denizens of Morytania are also known to have travelled a short distance across the sea to the northern Kharid, where they fought the Saradominists in the region.
Although nearly all of the sea's past trading nations were now in ruin, an important new trading capital emerged in the late Third Age, almost immediately after the fall of Ullek. Whilst conflict engulfed the northern and eastern Kharidian Desert, the southernmost reaches of the region remained relatively calm. Here, Menaphite refugees from Ullek and other, smaller settlements created the twin capital cities of Menaphos and Sophanem. These cities, despite minor conflict with the Zarosian bandits in the north, grew rapidly to become two of the Third Age's world powers. The port in Menaphos became the largest in the world, and, until recently, remained so.
During the last days of the Third Age, in roughly the Year 3740, Senntisten was finally overcome by Zamorakian forces. This victory was short-lived, however, with Saradominists taking the city for themselves by the Year 3804. Hoping to hide evidence of Zaros's existence, the Saradominsts completely destroyed Senntisten, building over it the glistening city of Saranthium.
A large island north of Morytania is said to have been largely untouched by the God Wars, and thus holds valuable historic information about the Second Age. The Varrock Museum is currently looking to lead an expedition to the island, but as of yet little information is widely known.
The return of commerce
The Eastern Sea would be relatively quiet during the early Fourth Age, the God Wars having drawn to an abrupt close and the Edicts of Guthix now in place. Although attempts to settle the tropical islands in the region were likely not uncommon, none seem to have been overly successful.
In the very early Fourth Age, Saranthium declined until eventually being destroyed or abandoned. This would clear the way for more nomadic settlers. In the year 700, the kingdom of Misthalin was established in the central mainland. Its capital, Varrock, grew exponentially in the years that followed, becoming a trading hub and one of the few central areas where humanity was relatively safe from many of the hostile races that still fought with them regularly. The hostile races that still inhabited the region greatly limited its growth initially, but Misthalin's influence would grow to the point that it was the largest human kingdom in the central continent. In order to trade by sea, the River Salve once more proved an important route, regaining some of its past commerce.
In the years 1100 to 1200, conflict with Morytania threatened to destroy Misthalin. After 100 years of war, the Seven Priestly Warriors blessed the Salve, effectively forcing the hostile Morytanians to remain in Morytania. To further protect the nation's borders, the Paterdomus temple was constructed near the ruins of the Zarosian fortress Kharyrll. The Salve, already isolated and now bordered on one side by the deadly swamplands, fell from use once more and remains so to this day.
In the Year 1777 of the Fourth Age, Misthalianian settlers believing the legends of Morytania to be a myth travelled into Morytania. Many settlements, amongst them Mort'ton, Canifis, and Port Phasmatys were established, mostly in northern Morytania where Drakan's influence was lessened. Port Phasmatys, established in the North-eastern most part of the kingdom, thrived for years, re-establishing contact with the Eastern Lands and islands in the Eastern Sea. The port became a focal point of trade, rivalling even the port of Menaphos at its height. However, in the late Fourth Age, Drakan launched a series of campaigns from the Sanguinesti region, destroying most of the region's commerce and settlers. Port Phasmatys was saved by the eastern priest Necrovarus, but his spells trapped the port's inhabitants and prevented them from passing on to the next world. Although trade continued, by the end of the Fourth Age, Port Phasmatys had greatly fallen from grace.
The rise of piracy
In the year 2000 of the Fourth Age, wizards rediscovered the rune essence mine and learnt how to craft runes once more. These runestones allowed the human race to prosper as never before, claiming nearly all of the central mainland as their own and establishing the nations of Kandarin and Asgarnia.
The Eastern Sea remained active during this period. Menaphos and Phasmatys remained important, while ports such as Port Lina, Port Sarim, and trading hubs on Karamja, Crandor, Entrana, and other such islands flourished and exchanged goods with the far eastern regions. The ability of governments to more easily extend their authority, however, meant that maritime law was more easily enforced. As navies grew in power and the Customs and Exise Office came into being, the illegal pirates that had once called the Southern Sea home found their business nearly impossible to maintain. Brimhaven, found in northern Karamja, was perhaps the only pirate port to survive this.
Seeking solitude, these pirates found refuge in the Eastern Sea, where there was little to no authority at the time. Establishing dozens of small ports and hideouts, amongst them the large pirate hub of Mos Le'Harmless, the pirates were able to largely avoid notice. The Customs office, for the most part, allowed the pirates to continue their habitation of the region, although tensions always remained high.
In what was approximately the Year 160 of the Fifth Age, a large-scale conflict erupted amongst the pirates in the region. Rabid Jack, a prominent but unofficial leader of Mos Le'Harmless, betrayed the trust of those on the island, rallying a powerful fleet in an effort to control the region. His fleet engaged the united pirates of the region in the Battle of Mos Le'Harmless, an attack that could only barely be fended off. This would mark the beginning of the Eastern Sea Civil War, a primarily sea-based war fought between Jack and virtually any other entity in the region. The Customs and Exise Office responded by beginning a massive anti-piracy campaign, which effectively froze both sides' trade entirely.
This tension eventually culminated in the Battle of the Archipelago, fought in the Cursed Archipelago in the southern reaches of the sea. Jack, along with his entire fleet, were destroyed by the united resistance of the region, marking the beginning of a relative peace amongst the pirates of the region. Customs loosened its opposition, although the Rock Island Prison constructed during the war remains in service to this day.
In the Year 169 of the Fifth Age, several notable events happened within the Eastern Sea. Not the least of these was the return of Rabid Jack, apparently revived as the undead. This conflict is featured heavily in the pirate quest series.
During Ghosts Ahoy, players fight to free Port Phasmatys from its spiritual fate. By deceiving Necrovarus, players manage to save Port Phasmatys, although it remains in service to this day.
In 169, the desert cities of Menaphos and Sophanem were quarantined due to a series of plagues in Sophanem. Amascut, the Kharidian goddess of destruction, caused a series of plagues to befall the city of Sophanem, amongst them locust, plagued frogs, and disease. Sophanem is eventually re-opened during the Contact! quest while Menaphos is re-opened during the The Jack of Spades quest.
Because the Eastern Sea borders nearly all of the eastern Gilienorian mainland, its climate varies greatly based on latitude. The southern reaches of the Eastern Sea are typical of tropical regions, especially being so close to Gielinor's theorised equator. These areas are very warm and humid, creating a biologically-rich environment.
The southern Eastern Sea is well-known for its violent and frequent hurricanes, which commonly create floods that have been known to render entire islands temporarily underwater. While some of these hurricanes have been known to reach the Kharidian Desert, the majority seem to be pushed back by the area's intense heat and dry air. The little rainfall the eastern Kharidian Desert receives is almost primarily received from storms that originate in the Eastern Sea.
Further north, near the marshes of Morytania, the Eastern Sea's climate changes dramatically. The tropical heat of the south vanishes, replaced with cool winds and more constant rain. Morytania is constantly affected by the Eastern Sea, its constant rains and tidal surges contributing to the area's waterlogged state. Before Drakan's dark magics affected the region, though, the Hallowed Lands were an agricultural paradise, its forests growing more and more coniferous and cool as its people travelled north. Remnants of this climate still exist near Morytania on small islands such as Dragontooth.