As the new year dawns, weather across the land of Athas takes a sudden harsh turn. The sky darkens with blasting sands, and worry rises as regular channels of communication and trade between city-states suddenly cease due to the deadly storms. Throughout the lands claimed by the sorcerer-kings, rumors slowly spread between isolated villages, traveling by foot and caravan and word of mouth, rumors that Kalak, the immortal ruler of Tyr, has fallen. None outside Tyr know how the sorcerer-king was defeated, but if it is true, everyone knows that war is coming. The powerful factions of Tyr and the surrounding regions will strike for control, oppressed peoples will rise up in rebellion, and dangers once held in check only by fear of the immortal king will bring doom to the world.
Those in power are preparing for the coming conflict, readying fervent armies, powerful weapons and subtle, deceptive plots, but two questions burn in their minds: who truly killed the immortal King Kalak; and what has become of the power that would let a man rule the world?
While once news reached the neutral fortified town of Altaruk by weekly courier, that channel has gone silent, and now what little news there is must travel by the old routes of rumor—lone travelers from the outside world. You might be one of those travelers, or a concerned native of the town, but you have heard the rumors.
King Kalak the Merciless, ruler of the city-state of Tyr which lies to the northwest of Altaruk, has been slain, or so the rumors say. Of course, it was also once said that Kalak was immortal. However, no one doubts the tales of Tyrian armies mustering with orders to secure the borders at this time of weakness and uncertainty. And in Urik, the powerful City of Lions to the north of Altaruk, it is said that its ruler Hamanu seeks to claim the vulnerable Tyr for his own glory.
And so Altaruk sits, alone in its mountain pass, one of the few strategic points between these two belligerent and antagonistic nations. For weeks the people of Altaruk have been saying war would inevitably come to them, and now the rumors are coming true…