In the deserts of Athas, mirages are as uncommon as the travelers that witness them. Images that appear are often lures into greater danger, generated by malicious creatures or simply the byproduct of a ravaged world. Even so, it is rare for two people to have the same vision. The lone exception to this rule is the Ghost Caravan, which seems as though it could not be real . . . yet is a phenomenon that has been reported too many times to be dismissed as a mere trick of the mind.
The people of Gulg have been told a lie by their goddess: that the primal spirits of the natural world are evil, always seeking to destroy the city and its residents. This falsehood allows Lalali-Puy to control access to primal magic without worrying that a citizen might learn the truththat the primal spirits are oppressed by the sorcerer-king and her templars.
The long lost crown of Daskinor, mad sorcerer-king of Eldaarich, was a simple circlet made of a rare silvery metal, and imbued with a healthy dose the sorcerer-kings psionic power, not to mention all of his paranoia. Now the Crown of Whispers has found its way back into the world, and it seeks to return to brow of its former master.
Despite the best efforts of the sorcerer-kings to oppress their subjects, on rare occasions individuals gain enough power and prestige to become nuisances to those despots. Sometimes, however, those who rise in status independent of the sorcerer-kings are not rebellious freedom fighters or challengers of authority, but instead agents of chaos who lash out at targets both virtuous and vile. The Black Blade is one such individual, a powerful assassin in Raam who serves neither Abalach-Re nor any of the other power bases in the city.
In the dark days before the death of Kalak of Tyr, the Veiled Alliance hatched a desperate plan to craft weapons designed to destroy the sorcerer-kings. A council of Veiled Alliance leaders met in secret within the city, the first and only time in memory that such a risky gathering was attempted. The greatest arcane minds that the resistance had to offer compiled secret instructions for the creation of weapons that would defend their wielders against the most powerful of the defilers attacks, and undermine their greatest defenses.
As if the Sea of Silt were not dangerous enough, filled with fine powder that suffocates human-sized creatures, many frightening beasts call it home. Veteran sailors of the Sea of Silt tell tales of nightmarish monsters, such as the notorious silt horror. Such stories inspire terror in those both who ply the Silt Sea on skimmers and those who live on its shore. Among the horrific creatures that inhabit the silt, two of the most frightening are the azraloka and the oasis beast.
Teaching the Way, the art of manipulating psionic power, is forbidden in the city of Draj. By the sorcererkings decree, the only place to learn psionics is at his own academy, called the House of the Mind. There, Tectuktitlay personally oversees the training of future masters of the Way. Though none but Tectuktitlay can know his motivations, whispers spread throughout the city-states that the sorcerer-king is cultivating a private army of psionicists to unleash upon his enemies. Other rumors claim that Tectuktitlay is building a psionic priesthood to speed his transformation into a dragon and thus challenge the Dragon of Tyr.
The schools headmaster, an elderly human named Ixtabai, oversees a staff of lesser and greater masters of the Way, as well as a handful of templars who act as the schools instructors. All the masters at the school are former students who managed to graduate to advanced ability, and each is said to possess secret techniques that only he or she is privy to. Many of the students regard Ixtabai as a figurehead, but the rest of the staff obeys his instructions with good reason: Ixtabai has planted subtle psionic traps in the minds of his students, so that if one becomes problematic the aging mentor could simply trigger the trap, rendering the subject mindless.
By Rodney Thompson
Magic brought the world of Athas to ruin and transformed its gluttonous wielders in ways both great and terrible. The successful spellcasters among the power-mad gorged themselves on arcane lore and evolvedfirst into sorcerer-kings and then partly into dragons. Other dabblers in the arcane that succumbed to the temptation of easy power suffered more dire consequences. For these unenviable souls, defiling magic became a part of their being; far from raising them to new heights, it warped them physically and mentally into something debasedand ravenous.