The seven seas
The Empire is sometimes known as the Catazarri Empire by foreign nations, referring to its position north of the Bay of Catazar. The Empire recently engaged in a large-scale project to map the Bay, but Imperial knowledge of the wider world is somewhat limited.
Imperial mariners generally speak of seven "seas" - large areas of open water that separate the various nations of the known world. While foreign sailors may use different names for their local waters, these names are generally recognised among all the seafaring nations the Empire has contact with.
Sea of Sighs
South of the Empire lies the Sea of Sighs. Its poetic name comes from the idea of sailors sailing out of it sigh with homesickness, and those sailing back into it sigh with relief that they are practically home provided they can make it past the Grendel. The Bay of Catazar is only the northernmost part of it, and it stretches down past the Iron Confederacy and the Grendel dominated lands of the Broken Shore.
Sea of Teeth
South of the Sea of Sighs is the Sea of Teeth. Where the Sea of Sighs is a great expanse of open water, the Sea of Teeth is populated by many little islands, wrapped in damp, warm fog that clings. The sea is said to have more than its fair share of ghosts and ghost ships; Imperial mariners claim this is because the waters are close to the Sarcophan Delves but this is largely superstition.
The sea takes its name both from the many shallows and unexpected rocks that will tear the bottom out of an unwary vessel, and because of the profusion of sharks that are native to its waters.
Sea of Storms
West of the Sea of Sighs and the Sea of Teeth is the Sea of Storms. The weather here is notoriously changeable, and the waters are some of the deepest in the known world. The sea is known to be home to a number of especially large sea-creatures referred to variously as leviathans, behemoths, monstrosities, or living islands. They are very rarely spotted, but ships that do encounter them rarely survive the experience.
The Sea of Storms is much larger than most of the other waters; it is a trackless waste of deep monster-haunted water that might be more correctly referred to as an ocean. Imperial vessels cross it at its narrowest point but it still represents a journey of several weeks to cross it.
Sea of Salt
Across the Sea of Storms is the Sea of Salt. The waters are known for large seaweed mats, haunted by particularly monstrous eels, and particularly vicious shape shifting monsters similar to rusalka, and for a species of massive albatross - Imperials call them either dire albatross or ocean kites - who sail high above the waves.
As with the Sea of Storms, the Sea of Salt is known for its changeable weather. In addition to the occasional monsoon or hurricane, however, Imperial mariners must be prepared for unexpected doldrums - when the wind drops to nothing and a ship that relies on its sails alone can no longer move. These doldrums can last for weeks, and in rare cases leave the ships caught in them empty of life as the sailors starve or go mad and leap over board.
On the northern side of the Sea of Salt is the Asavean Archipelago; on the south side is the Sumaah Republic. The waters are said to take their name from the tears and blood of the Sumaah and Asavean sailors who war over it.
Sea of Steel
East of the Sea of Sighs and the Sea of Teeth lies the Sea of Steel. As with the Sea of Storms, the Sea of Steel is much larger than most of the others, again verging on the oceanic. It takes its name from the large number of warships that cluster along its shores and ply its waves. The Commonwealth controls much of southern waters, while the Principalities of Jarm dominate the western shores. The two nations are not friends, and Imperial merchants crossing these waters must be careful not to get caught between them.
Sea of Snow
The cold Sea of Snow lies north of the Empire, and is named by the Winterfolk. It is known for chunks of ice and icebergs that can crush a ship. There are said to be all kinds of strange beasts in the Sea of Snow - massive cambion-whales with curling horns, and seahemoths with the upper bodies of mammoths and the lower bodies of black and white fish-beasts, and things like seals but the size of oxen with massive fangs. It stretches past Otkodov, and technically the Gullet is part of it.
Sea of Stars
The seventh sea is sometimes referred to as the Sea of Stars. it is both a rare phenomenon and a sailor's metaphor for unknown waters. On rare occasions when the night is especially clear, the water through which a ship sails can become mirror-smooth reflecting the stars above like an ocean of light and darkness. Mariners liken it to sailing in the sky itself - stars above and below - so clear that it seems one might reach up from the top of the mast and catch the moon.
On nights like this, sailors report an almost numinous sensation of something larger than themselves. This phenomenon can last for minutes or hours, but invariably leaves a crew with peculiar dreams. A few sensitive sailors who encounter the Sea of Stars are forever changed by it; they may leave the sea forever taking up new lives as far from the coast as possible or conversely find that they can never again find rest if they cannot hear the calling of gulls and the crashing of breakers.
Some captains believe this phenomenon is good luck, others see it as a dire portent, and it is most commonly reported on nights when the Wanderer is particularly bright.