Athasian Adventure Post 20120107
Festival of the Soaring Sun, leading into Hoard of Sun Ascending in the year of Priest’s Defiance, the 10th year of the Free City of Tyr.
Athas, a broken world where the heroes of ages further back than memory or legend failed in their greatest quests. The Gods turned their backs… or were killed off. The primordials, so weakened that they are chained within their own realm, fuel the chaos that spawned them. The Seas were boiled away and the lands burned, while the peoples who could survive did so in isolation. The spirit of the land itself struck back at those who had so wounded it, causing many mutations and changes.
It is now the 10th year of the Free City of Tyr in the Table Lands, a brutal and uncaring place where life is bought and sold for a palm full of ceramic coin and one’s life blood isn’t worth the water it would take to clean it up. It is the only civilization that Athasians know. This is life, and they will fight to keep it.
The nights are ruled by the twin moons of Ral and Guthay. Ral, a mottled green is the closer of the two. Sages tell that it is covered in great green seas and mountain-islands of dizzying heights. Guthay, the smaller, is a golden orb mantled in steaming mists. Beneath which, it is said, lie scarlet jungles and marshy seas. An ever-changing river of stars, flowing in the vault of the sky, is the backdrop to the dance of the greater and lesser constellations. The steady movements of the cosmos appear to be the only reliable thing in Athasian existence. Each 45 years the Messenger-a comet that turns night to day-blazes through the sky, and marks great changes or portends ill in the coming years. The sun can be trusted to rise and set each day but even its reliability is called into question every 11 years, when it is swallowed up by the two moons. The eclipse lasts nearly the whole day, leaving only sunrise and sunset untouched. This is a foreboding experience and to be outside on this of all days is considered the unluckiest of outcomes.
Each day brings the blasting fury of the sun, long blistering days that test even the strongest of life to its limits. Blinding white salt flats, burning black stone plains and red-grassed savannahs leave little protection, with no place to run when one of the beasts stalks for prey. Heat sickness and dehydration, predation and scavengers, are all deadly. But the deadliest things upon Athas are the descendents of those who burned this world and darkened the sun… its people.
One day, much like any other upon Athas, a train of Kank, Mekillot, Crodlu and other beasts pull, carry, and drag people and goods alike. The trade caravans are the life-blood of the Table Lands, flowing to the various City-States. One such caravan is headed for the Free City, and three day’s travel from civilization, when the sky itself attacks the unknowing travelers. Obsidian shards rain from the sky, some the size of a melon, others the size of a Mekillot. Shattering at impact, sending shrapnel out in all directions. Cutting people and mounts to shreds, leaving a swath of destruction through a few miles of wasteland but only a few hundred feet wide.
These obsidian rains are rare on Athas and come with little warning, save for a low-pitched whistle just before they strike. Most who spend their lives among the wandering tribes or caravans are more likely to see an Eladrin than obsidian rain. But to have experienced it even once in one’s life and lived through the experience, that alone can set them apart from those who merely survive.
After one such rain, the survivors of the caravan crawl out from cover taken under cart and wagon. Kank carapace and Crodlu scale alike failed in protecting those who hid behind armor or mount. One litter, gilt in carved wood and bone and draped in crimson curtains with the emblem of Tyr upon them, lay broken. The Mul slave guards sliced neatly in two, and the occupant pierced through the breast with a shard, could not be saved by a fellow traveler. Supplies and the wounded are redistributed among the surviving pack animals and the caravan moves on. To endure is all that is asked of any.
The obsidian fields are scoured by nomads, caravans, raiders, Elven tribes and anyone else who wishes for a sharp piece of the volcanic glass. Hauled away by hand, basket and cart load, the field is stripped of all which might find use. What is left buried will be ground to dust by foot and hoof of the next train which will cross this expanse of dunes and wind. As with any catastrophic event, those who survive an obsidian rain will either grow weaker in mind or stronger in spirit because of it.
A pair of survivors, now traveling their own path, are led by a wounded Silk Wyrm back to its lair. They slay the creature and salvage many items of use, also finding the body of an Elf, long ago drained dry and mummified. Cleansed of the beast and debris, the small cave has enough room for a couple of people to live close but comfortably. It keeps cool in the day, comparatively. A dry cistern sits full of sand and dust, but usable. Throughout the cave lays a veritable graveyard of bones, and the silk, skin, and silk glands of the Wyrm are items of worth in the Elven Market. With a little fortification and precaution against raiders, this could be a bastion against the wasting world.
Each citizen and visitor to Tyr is provided with water to fill one hand carried container each. Additional water can be purchased from water mongers by the pitcher, or from merchant brokers by the barrel. The purchases of water and preserved foods consume most of the income of Tyr’s citizens and visitors. But the Free Peoples still think the system preferable to the tyranny of the water-hoarding leaders of other city-states.
Formerly the most feared of the Seven Cities, a seed of change has germinated in the blighted bed of the Free City of Tyr. Once the greatest oppressor of the Table Lands, now its only hope.