The Burnt World of Athas

The official Dark Sun website

<Author’s note: I mistakenly missed an episode in-between Kalidinay and Southern End of the Forest Ridge. Here is that missing episode. Apologies. -neujack>

Greetings, my friends.

Some of you may have missed that I had neglected to tell you of my trip to Celik. I would like to say that this was due to my haste to tell you of my journey to the Forest Ridge, but the reason is much more… concerning. The problem, you see, was it seems I heard the voice again. And it is saying more… After many days I have decided I have no choice but to share this section of the journey with you, and ask for your opinions as to what it could mean.

And so, reluctantly, I bring you my latest news and a clairvoyant missive in the name of the Athasian Survey Project.

As the caravan and I passed Kalidnay on the way south into the Endless Dunes, I could not stop thinking of my recent dream visitation. I had spent many decades of my adventuring career tempting fate for one master’s agenda or another. Indeed, there are many who might argue that, given my recklessness upon leaving the Nexus, I had no right to have lasted as long as I had.

From my experiences interacting and negotiating with the powerful, I recognised the arch posturing of one who sees themselves as your master (no matter if their belief was based on an accurate or wishful assessment). What made this different was hearing similar words being repeated by two entirely different sources in different places.

We know…who you are…and whom…you serve…both now and later…

This…entity? Faction? They had been following me, and they wanted me to know this.

…The folly of man…forever locked in shadow…This must not happen…again…

But what did they want? I agreed with what they seemed to be saying, but I couldn’t help but feel like I wasn’t hearing the whole message.

You…will be useful…not ready yet, but…we will…see you soon…

They believed I had a part to play in whatever they were scheming. I would contact the Consortium regarding these messages, but what information could I actually tell them? I would likely find out what they wanted soon enough, and report it then.

As the walls of Celik appeared between the dunes, I could see why the merchant houses called it “the battleground of the dead”. Even from a distance I could tell which sections of the city were controlled by the undead and which had been reclaimed by House Maraneth. I could also see the fires and lights of active battle.

The fact that anyone could safely reside in Celik at all is a testament to the tenacity of the Tablelanders in clawing back the city from destruction and the undead. This was the reason why I had wished to see the city on my way down to the pterran lands.

The city had originally been built with a complex canal system, with bridges between the various city blocks; as the canals dried up, they left deep ravines between the districts. With the city now a battleground between undead infesting it and the living attempting to reclaim it, the bridges are strategically important choke points. Large portions of the city remain overrun with ravenous undead, driven to aggression by their close proximity to the living. The two sides seem to be fighting district by fortified district, taking advantage of the network of dry canals and bridges to maintain hard boundaries between the two sides.

As I passed through the tari shanty towns just outside the city walls (one of the largest known tari settlements in the region), I saw the entry gates into the city. House Maraneth seems to have the city under an aggressive lock down, with only those contractually (and psionically) bound to the House allowed into the city proper. Draconian as it may seem, this is only sensible, as Maraneth is essentially fielding an army inside an active war zone.

I couldn’t help but wonder, how did the city come to this? Much of the city’s history has been long lost, but what little information the Consortium has paints a picture of many years of siege during the Cleansing Wars and the extermination of the population by a mistake in the city’s own defences; it seems the city has always been its own worst enemy.

I did not stay in the city long. As soon as I had reconnected with my contact, we travelled out of the city and around the outskirts and made our way for the Forest Ridge.

…Now you know what I heard and saw. And I ask you, my friends at the Consortium, to help me understand what I am sensing? Who is talking to me, and why?

Until next time, may the moons guide you.

Ruins of Kalidnay
Kalidnay Ruins by Neujack
For anyone who can guess the source of this image from Earth, I have a leather scrap showing a tattoo indicating the owner of this skin was “property of Merchant House Maraneth”. Just don’t ask from what part of the human body the skin comes from… * Sources:
* City State of Celik manuscript
* Notes from Bob Dru’s Celik Gold Rush campaign
The City State of Celik netbook is a project available for work in the Pristine Tower’s project list. Talk to us if you’d like to play a part in finishing the manuscript for this incredible old location! -Neujack*>


Been playing Dungeons & Dragons and other RPGs since 1987. Been playing Dark Sun since it was released. Returned to Athas in 2020 for its expanded timeline and geography.