Sand and Sorcery
Sand and Sorcery
“This land is cursed, most know this, though what is there to be done?”
Athas, the Tablelands, little food, and less water. The land is plagued with dangerous beasts, savage nomads, opportunistic slavers and defiling magics. Yet some survive, struggling to scratch out meager existences. The wastes are hardly hospitable, but many would prefer a difficult life free out here than in the City-States, forced to bend knee to the Sorcerer-Kings and their Templars.
Altaruk, a fortified town that sits atop the trade route which links Balic to Tyr, is probably the last outpost of civilization before the great Alluvial Sand Wastes. Roughly two thousand dune traders, mercenaries, thieves and the occasional permanent resident make up the population, whose numbers ebb and flow with each caravan. Traders stop for a much needed rest, stocking up on supply and catching the latest gossip. But the news last week is more mysterious and exciting than anyone could have imagined. A Caravan from Tyr brings word, the Sorcerer-King Kalak is slain, his head Templar Tithian has been crowned king, and his first act as ruler has been to outlaw slavery. Tyr is a free city!
It was last week, almost the moment the news broke, that the sandstorm came. A horrible storm, unlike anything that has been seen in Altaruk since some long forgotten age of myth. Whole caravans were ripped apart in the streets, whole houses decimated, the sand stripped men of their skin and flooded their lungs, leaving them husks. Only the strongest houses of the thickest brick and stone withstood the onslaught. There were whispers in the night, among those who huddled together in stone huts. Some say it was Kalak’s death rattle, and that all of Athas was feeling his rage. Others believe that the Primal Spirits of the world have felt a terrible unbalance. Whatever the cause, this storm was not natural.
On the 6th day, the storm subsided…