Dark Sun: The Scorched World of Athas
Journal of Galek Sunstrider
A worn journal purchased by Jarvix for a large sum of money while in Altaruk after hearing a tale about Galek Sunstrider. This work supposedly contains first hand accounts regarding the Valley of Dust and Fire. Having been purchased from an Elf, the authenticity is uncertain, although there are some elements described that match with other accounts.
Who has not heard of the mystical city of the silt, the green and fair realm in the heart of the choking dust? Too many people have seen it for such a place to not exist; of that we can be certain. But what is it? How does life exist in the depths of the Sea of Silt? And why is it that none who have sought the wonderful city have ever returned?
I am Galek, who once on this ruined world would have been called mage. In these bitter times I am an outlaw and a renegade. I have dedicated my life to answering questions, leaving the wars and squabbles of slaves and sorcerer-kings for other men. Now I grow old, and the scant knowledge I have gathered must be recorded or lost again.
I know that this was once a green world, a world of seas and forests. I know that this cruel and tormented world in which we live was shaped by our own hands. Sorcery, dark and evil, made Athas what it is today.
But of all the things I have learned, of all the riddles I have answered, the greatest and darkest defies me still. I have seen the city in the Silt, that wonderful and magical place that dances before the eyes of men dying of thirst. I have been there.
And I tell you this: it is stark hell.
In the very center of the Sea of Silt is a valley, a wound in the very earth itself. A furnace wind screams endlessly through this devastated realm, carrying away the silt in an eternal pall of choking dust, scouring the earth to bare rock. I passed into this valley, and I found fire and death. The earth is warped and barren, devoid of life. The sun is hidden behind the endless clouds of blowing dust. And at the heart of this tortured place a ring of burning rock encircles a city so large my eye could not encompass it in one glance.
I could not pass beyond the sea of molten rock; my companions were dead, and I was at the end of my strength. But before I turned away I studied the city long and hard; though you may think me a madman to say it, I know that city was a hundred times greater than any I have ever seen-and I have visited every one of the cities of Tyr, from far Balic to ancient Raam.
It was at that nameless city in the sea of molten rock that I saw the Dragon.
It came as I turned to retrace my steps through that shattered land. I heard a horrid cry and saw the beast, flying away from the city, arrowing straight for me. Its scales glowed red with the heat of the naked magma, and the clouds gathered beneath its wings like a storm of fire. I threw myself to the hard ground, averting my eyes; my doom was at hand. Yet the creature missed me (or did not deign to trouble over one insignificant human), and I lived to tell this tale. The Dragon vanished in the winds and the dust, and I saw it no more.
To this day I do not know who built that terrible city or why. I cannot even say whether the place is still inhabited or simply the greatest of ruins; but it is there, in the center of the Sea of Silt, and so is the Dragon.
Is it his city, his kingdom? I cannot answer. I can only say it is true. I have seen it.
In the hellish inferno of that valley I would surely have perished, if it were not for the Clan of the Roc. Incredibly, people lived among the blasted hills and firestorm winds of that place within the Sea of Silt. When I was at the end of my strength and supplies, and death was mere hours away, the Clan of the Roc found me and saved my life.
It was not their way to spare strangers, or so they told me, but they were starved for news of the outer world. They were ka’ardani, which in their tongue means outlanders, or the exiled. Crude savages and fierce hunters, they preserved the memories of their great-great-grandfathers’ people who had lived within that mighty city in the lava sea. The daily horror of the clan’s existence in that hateful valley was beyond imagining; it testifies to the strength and the resilience of the human spirit that they accepted their lot in life and looked for no more than the next day’s food and shelter.