Dark*Sun: The Terrors Of Athas
For over a millennium, Tyr has stood.
During the past thousand years, the city has labored beneath the oppressive eye of Kalak, Tyrant of Tyr. Under the fearful shadow of his defiling magic, Tyr as festered from a small oasis settlement to a sprawling and corrupt metropolis. Renown for wealth, power, and a steady though meager production of iron, Tyr is perhaps the most decadant city in a decadent land. Here, where human life counts less than a drop of water, a person can buy anything and suffer any fate. All but the poorest Tyrians own slaves, and nobles tend vast plantations by the lash. Indeed, slaves outnumber freemen two-to-one within the brutal city of Tyr.
As you approach the city, you pass through verdant plantation-lands where crops receive more water than then unnumbered slaves who tend them. These fortress plantations belong to the city’s nobles and garner great wealth fro them by providing nearly all of Tyr’s food. Standing armies fiercely guard each plot of land.p.
Once within the gates of Tyr, the throng of odd caravans, tang of exotic foods, and heady rattle of strange dialects unsettles you: Every Athasian city state follows unique laws and customs. Those unfamiliar with the ways of Tyr may run afoul of its templars, or worse yet, Kalak himself.
King Kalak, Lord Kalak, Tyrant of Tyr – he goes by many names. Defiant Tyrians mock their lord (when shielded from his psionically-enhanced senses) with the title “Kalak the Diminutive,” for Kalak’s ancient body is horribly wizened – gaunt, emaciate, and puny. This dry husk of flesh, thoughm channels unimaginable power: Kalak holds Tyr in an iron grip. His mind is said to roam the city, dealing death for the slightest offense.
As in most Athasian cities, the sorcerer king leaves day-to-day business to timplars – his faitful. On the streets, the black cassocks and imperious manners of templars set them apart from other Tyrians. These men and women wield great power, checked only when their actions might offend Kalak, a superior templar, or a noble. Tyrians generally avoid templars, who, on the slightest whim, can imprison slaves and citizens alike. Of late, the templars of Tyr have been preoccupied, spending their careers upon Kalak’s massive public works.
Indeed, for the past 20 years, the templar’s lives have centered on a huge stack of stone – King Kalak’s ziggurat. Dominating the center of the city, the square-stepped tower rises in sharp-edged splendor over the neighboring slums. Only now, after 20 years of construction, does the ziggurat near completion. For two decades, lash-striped slaves have borne massive blocks into place and mortared them together with their own blood. Now the streets and markets of Tyr ring with rumors that King Kalak has commanded his templars to finish the tower – finish it before month’s end. No rumors tell why dread Kalak is building the ziggurat and dark looks dissuade those who may ask
From “Freedom” by Zeb Cook