Written by Neujack, and first published on 2024-01-14
The Athasian Survey Project travels to Star Rock.
My friends, I’m pleased to provide you with another clairvoyant image in the name of the Athasian Survey Project.
It seems coming this close to the Kreen Empire has brought back memories of the last time I was here…
*I stepped through the kreen-sized doorway into the courtyard. The tall observatory’s facade was made with a filigree which took advantage of the z’ock’n resin’s translucent properties, casting colourful shadows of the zodiac upon the resin cobblestones. In spite of the relatively uniform choice of building material for the city, the kreen craftsmen’s understanding of surface finish meant their cities never felt like everything was made of the same substance.
*Looking out over the balcony, I watched the angry red sun set over Thaythilor’s skyline. I was here under the personal invitation of Adicios the Beloved and the local akdra’s own chief chakak trainer, and even after a month spent in residence, I was still struck by just how tall the kreen had built this city. For a supposedly minor edge-of-the-empire military settlement, this seemed nearly as well-developed and well fortified as any city-state.
*“Oh, do hurry up, Eshmel! We only have a few hours before my audience with the akdra.”
*There he is standing on the other end of the courtyard. As impossibly handsome a human man as I’d ever seen: tall, with a sinewy build but sturdier than that of an elf, golden skin and the dark curly hair of a Balican, and a chiselled, clean-shaven face.
*“Okay, Adicios. I’m here. But I must say, given how busy your schedule has been, I’m surprised you’ve managed to find any time this week.”
Adicios chuckled and waved his hand. “You know it’s nearly unheard of for the Empire to trust a preserver, but now that they have, their list of requested services seems to grow every day.”
*I frowned. “Considering how little of the details of your work you’ve been able to share, I’m wondering when they will ask me to leave for security reasons.”
*“Ah, nonsense.” Adicios retorted. “Our mutual friends have gone to great efforts to secure your tutelage for me. And surely the Kreen Empire’s leaders have managed to figure out why a powerful preserver would seek training from the best psionicist in the Tablelands.”
“Hah! Flattering the teacher won’t help you improve. Let us begin…”
…I haven’t thought about Adicios since… well, it has been many decades.
Once Odten and I had agreed on our plan of action, I was happy to trust his navigational instincts for the most part on our flight north. However, during my evening meditation and psionic correspondence, I was passed a tip for a point of interest which would be worth the extra time to see it - at the very least from the air. I then convinced my companion to indulge me in a detour north through the Hinterlands. This point of interest was Star Rock.
Star Rock is a mesa named for the enigmatic structure atop its surface. A few of the Consortium’s psionic scholars in the Broken Deep area have confirmed this feature had some major significance all the way back in the Blue Age (indeed!). Apparently, they say it was designed to study the movement of the stars.
As is visible from the air, the Star Rock structure is made up of four circular formations of stacked stone doorways. Evidently, Star Rock was shaped by a vanished species known as “trolls”, who used it as a holy site and kind of observatory, allowing them to see other worlds and futures. It is not known whether this power can be tapped again, but more than a few have been trying to do so.
The issue, however, is the area is not even remotely safe. The scholars have confirmed there is eldritch power radiating from this site, and even at this distance I can feel it myself, teasing the edges of my senses like gusts of cold air. I also spotted evidence of prowling nightmare beasts in the foothills. Even from this distance, I could see this is not a location to be approached lightly, and certainly not without sufficient preparation and reinforcements.
We will not be stopping here, but instead flying onwards to Sunnil. Until next time, may the moons guide you.
* Athas.org’s Dark Sun V3.5 rulebook V7
* The Athas Arena forum http://arena.athas.org/…/need-some-sage-help…/706/4)
* Thri-Kreen of Athas
*(To anyone who can guess the location of this image from Earth, I have a Blue Age relic I found on site. It is long, very sharp, and a semi-transparent blue-green. I cannot tell if it is a stone knife, or a petrified fingernail from a very large and quite unattractive bipedal creature…)