Category Archives: Ro

Trinni’s Adventures Abroad

By Trinni Mellosius, student

So, in order to graduate, my teacher told me I had to spend a year someplace I hadn’t been to before. I ended up in the Pillars of Flame. Don’t make the same mistake!

When my classmates and I were picking where we wanted to go for our year abroad (that’s what the teacher said to call our trips), I’m the only one who showed so much imagination in planning my trip. That’s what half-elves have, you know: lots of imagination! Anyway, I said I would travel on a merchant ship and learn more about the ocean.

As you might guess, this didn’t turn out so well. I mean, it turned out okay; I’m still alive. But the ship got lost and drifted around a bit before landing at the Port of Tears at the edge of this HUGE desert. By then I was pretty sick of living on a boat and decided to dry out. Little did I know what this weather does to your HAIR!

The Port of Tears, which I thought was named for the old Ocean of Tears, is actually named for a couple of stinky ponds a little ways further inland. I guess when you live in the desert, fresh water is scarce. The residents were pretty upset when I took a bag of water and washed my hair, but I tell you what: I really needed it. The salty sea air gave me split ends!

I’m supposed to record my impressions of the locals and stuff. They are uptight. These Dervs are kind of like the Dervs that I seen in the Commonlands, only different. Some of them have really great tans! But they’re pretty jumpy. We went for a walk, this one guy Stergie and me, down the old Orc Highway. Every rock that tumbled down the canyon, he was ready to kill something.

I traveled with Stergie’s family for a bit. They made me stop washing my hair, though, which made it go all limp. Since my hair was already frizzled from the sea water, I now have this limp, frizzly hair. It’s pretty rank. I decided to head out on my own for a bit, maybe find my own well so I could get some regular maintenance going on and meet other people.

Stergie was pretty tore up. He kind of liked me, I guess. I gave him a firm handshake and a souvenir acorn from the Willow Wood and went on my way. My teacher said to take along some souvenirs to give out to folks. That’s a pretty lame idea if you’re like, spending your year abroad in the Feerrott. But it worked out pretty well for me, except acorns are heavy.

After a couple of days, I found myself in the Pillars of Flame, which is a really cool area other than all the deadly critters in it. There’s all these really high rocks that make a sort of maze to run through. At sunset, it’s like looking at a painting with all the colors on the rocks lit up and the sky so dark blue. I met some really great guys at the Ortallian camp.

The only thing with these Ortallians is that they just go on and on about Solusek Ro. “Solusek be praised!” and “Blessed be Solusek!” all day and night. It kind of gets on your nerves after a while. I’m a pretty tolerant individual and if these folks want to worship someone like that, great! But there’s a limit, you know what I mean? Dating an Ortallian is rough on a non-believer.

In the desert I ran into lots of folks who still worshipped Solusek Ro who was the god of the sun. I think. Anyway, I didn’t like to tell them that the gods all up and left us because they got pretty agitated the first time I hinted at it. The Ortallian guy I was hanging out with was so totally upset his ears turned all red. He was kind of cute, but so high maintenance.

I hung out with them for a couple of weeks. It was nice for me since there were a couple of half-elves and a wood elf in the camp at the time. We talked about the changes in the Qeynos area, since they hadn’t been there. I gave them some acorns. Captain Nyelash gave me a herbal remedy for my hair problems, too! I wish I could have stayed with them longer.

I picked up a job with the Swiftriders later. They operate as a sort of messenger service or something. The pay wasn’t bad. And they weren’t such Solusek Ro fanatics, which was a great relief. I kept thinking, “Trinni… you’d remember more about the Ro family if you’d paid attention in school!” Which is true, but not very helpful when you’re on the spot for details!

The Swiftriders deliver stuff to and from Maj’Dul. Kind of like the Far Seas Trading Company, only on land. I got to keep some hair clips that nobody wanted, which was another bonus! It’s a change of pace from the nomadic life. Camping is fine, until you wake up surrounded by searing scorpions! And I thought split ends were bad!

In the end, I decided to spend the rest of my time abroad inside the city of Maj’Dul. It’s much more civilized than the Pillars of Flame. Oh! Did I mention they had cyclops? Or is it cyclopses? Anyway, there were some of those out there too! Only I’m out of time and I have to turn my paper in. I hope I get a good grade this time.

Teacher’s Note: Miss Mellosius, this is one of the worst papers you have ever written. You were supposed to learn about the natives, not report about your hair and your boyfriends. What about their trade goods? Write another paper, this time with more factual information and less personal details.

Walking in the Sand: A Case Study in Desert Spiders

(This Journal has several entries within it, complete with illustrations and charts. It seems to focus on the study of large spiders within the Desert of Ro.)

The Desert Spiders
A Study in Large Therephosids
Oran M’zal, Erudin Academy

Desert Spiderling
Very small (about the size of a small dog).
Light Brown with darker brown spots on their legs.

There were the smallest of the theraphosids I was able to find. They are called “desert” spiderlings, but are actually found closer to the city, and within the small grassy patches found on the edge of the desert itself. They are terrestrial hunters, and feed on small snakes and animals. Not generally regarded as threatening creature, they largely keep to themselves.

Dune Spiderling
Small, although larger than the desert spiderlings. Brown, with darker brown stripes on their legs – can be easily mistaken for their smaller cousins at a distance.

These are larger than the desert spiderlings, and are considered more dangerous (debatable, but they are certainly more aggressive). They hunt many of the same prey, but are found mostly out in the deserts themselves, as opposed to being closer to the city. The “desert” and “dune” theraphosids are certainly different species, and the “spiderlings” appear to be immature versions of their order.

Desert Tarantula
Their body is approximately the size of a large dog. With their legs included, they are about the size of a larger sized dinner table. As with the spiderlings, they are light brown with dark brown stripes on their legs and abdomen. Eyes are more pronounces, and reflect a light red color.

Again, the “desert” moniker tends to be a bit misleading – they are found on the outskirts of the grassy areas near the desert more often then actually inside the desert itself (although there are members out there). These creatures feed on the larger snakes and coyotes that cross its path, but seems to ear infrequently – this would make sense, given how infrequently food can become available out here.

Dune Tarantula
Appearance: Very large. While still similar in appearance to the smaller theraphosids in the Desert of Ro, they are notable for being far larger.

Most often found in the deeper parts of Northern Desert of Ro, these creatures feed on most anything that is smaller than themselves. They are far more aggressive than the other theraphosids, and are considered a dangerous nuisance, since they will readily attack caravan pack animals making their way through the desert.

Unknown Creature
In my search for more theraphosids in the southern Desert of Ro, I’ve come across what looks like tracks in the sand. I am aghast at the size of the tracks, and if my measurements are correct, this would be a spider of massive size. Something I wouldn’t have conceived would even exist.

I’ve talked to some of the travelers who have come through this area, and they’ve told me a story of something called the “Terrorantula”. I believe this might be the creature they are speaking of.

Massive. It looks similar to the other theraphosids in this area, but many, many times larger.

I can’t begin to describe the size of this creature. I found it some days ago and have followed its movements, and I’m awed by how incredibly huge it is. I can’t be sure what its diet is, unless it is feeding off the other giants of the area. Many of us have heard stories of caravans that go missing in the desert and things of that nature… perhaps this beast has something to do with it.

I’ve found what I think might be this creature’s lair. I have not yet entered it, but I believe that it might go much further back than it initially appears. Although it might be risky, I am going to attempt to enter the cavern, and see how deep it might go. Surely a creature of this size couldn’t simply have sprung up from no where… perhaps there are more of these beasts. I must know…

The Tale of the Rujarkian Warrior

Long ago, the Rujarkian orcs established a foothold in the Desert of Ro and swiftly became a major force in the harsh environment.
When the Caliphs of Maj’Dul forced them to scale back their offense, many warriors chafed at doing menial chores. Some sought to escape the drudgery of their new existence.

When the sun was directly overhead, there was no place to hide. Relentless, merciless and strong, it beat down on the backs and shoulders of the those foolish enough to be out of doors.

“Sand,” spat Grengar. “We keep working like this, we’ll be bones and sand.” He shaded his eyes with the back of his work-roughened hand and cursing the sun. “Orcs should not be doing this work; where are the little ones when we need them?”

For many long seasons, the Rujarkian orcs had been able to take what they wanted, from wherever they wanted. However, the Dervs – the nasty, vicious sand dwellers – had been fighting back. The fury of their defense took the orcs by surprise and decimated their frontline troops. This left the orcs with fewer resources for the menial tasks such as hauling goods to and from their ships.

Grengar spat again before picking up the load of lumber and hoisting it unassisted onto his shoulder. There were few orcs with his size and strength. He had quickly gained notice amongst the Rujarkians’ leaders, but his temper kept him from being assigned to anything other than tasks requiring physical labor. It galled him, for Grengar wanted more. He wanted control.

Reaching the mill within the Clefts, Grengar dropped the load and stretched to his full height. “This work is for the inferior!” he bellowed impatiently, his voice echoing. “Why is a warrior sent to do the job of a thrall?”

“You are no warrior in their eyes,” said one of the woodcutters softly. He was one of the Dervin thralls, his ankles bound by chains to the table upon which he cut larger hunks of wood into smaller pieces. Grengar growled and lunged at him, but the Derv did not flinch. “Go ahead; killing me would make it easy. You wouldn’t have to listen to me then.”

“That’s why you serve as a mule for the Rujarkians?” said the Derv. His voice was low so that only Grengar could hear him. And though Grengar felt rage boiling within him, he knew that the Derv spoke what he had long felt in his heart – that the Rajurkian leaders were preventing him from reaching his fullest potential.

“You know nothing,” said Grengar. He too lowered his voice, his tone a mixture of anger, frustration and curiosity. “Who are you to speak to me? I am Grengar, scion of the Rujarkians and stronger than fifty terrorgores!” The Derv laughed quietly and said, “That explains why they use you as a beast of burden. My name is Ramakh. I am a leader in my tribe.”

Grengar’s eyes narrowed. “You seek release, Derv? You want your life to be traded for others of your kind? That is not our way. I should kill you for speaking to me uninvited.” He gestured as though to strike the Derv with a tightly curled fist, but let it fall heavily into the palm of his other hand instead. The Derv should know this already; that he still chose to speak with Grengar could only mean he had information to impart which could suit them both.

Pushing an oversized piece of wood to the ground, Ramakh indicated that Grengar should help him retrieve it so they could converse further without raising anyone’s suspicions. As they bent together to pick it up, Ramakh whispered, “I do not seek my own release, though that would obviously be attractive to me. I am seeking your release.”

“My release? What do you mean?” Grengar dropped the wood onto the table with a thud and scowled. “You’re right”, said Ramakh with a sigh, “You are being held back. I was not chosen leader of my tribe for my good looks alone; I have certain abilities and skills. I can read minds, even the minds of orcs.”

Ramakh gestured toward the table, which was littered with wooden curls and a variety of tools. “This is my physical skill: woodworking. However many dervs have more than one skill and my secondary happens to be mind reading. If you want to be free of the life of boredom… if you want to truly become the warrior you were meant to be… you should join with us. You would be a leader among the Dervs; you could put those who keep you in drudgery in their place.”

Suddenly, Grengar could see himself as he was meant to be: a warrior with a team at his command. The work of carrying wood to and fro was not for him. He nodded barely to Ramakh and grunted, “Hunh. What must I do?”

“Go into the Sinking Sands at dark. My tribe is to the west, look for the deep blue tents,” said Ramakh. Grengar shook his head. “If I go alone, they will slay me before I make myself known. You will go with me as a token. If you have lied to me, I will snap you like the back of a scorpion.”

As the sun set, streaking the sky above the cleft in blood red and orange, Grengar went to the thrall’s cramped quarter and grabbed Ramakh by the throat. “You! I have need of your service!” he barked, removing the shackles from Ramakh’s ankle and shoving him toward the door. Keeping his fingers at the back of Ramakh’s neck, Grengar hissed, “If you have lied to me, you will pay with your life: slowly and painfully.”

The unlikely pair walked quickly, purposefully toward the gate leading to Sinking Sands. Although the sun had finally set, the sands of the desert gave back the heat of the day. Ramakh led Grengar from dune to dune until they reached a narrow canyon and a small camp of Dervs. As they approached, a young woman ran forward, weapons drawn.

“Peace, Herra,” said Ramakh, throwing his arms around her and holding her close. “I am safe and with me is our new friend and warrior, Grengar. He has saved me and is worthy of our trust.” Herra glanced at the burly Rujarkian hesitantly, but then crossed her weapons and put them away. “I great the one who saved my husband,” she said before standing on her tiptoes and shyly kissing Grengar on the cheek.

Though it took time for the other Dervins to accept a former foe, Grengar proved himself time and again against the creatures of the wilds. And so, like other orcs before him, Grengar found himself amongst the Dervs who welcomed him as the mighty warrior he had always wanted to be.

The Tale of the Silent City

A local Dervin legend.
Many Dervins still tell this tale to discourage their children from wandering too far from their camps into the desert.

In the days of the great forest there was a city of beauty. The city was filled with rare flora and fauna not to be found anywhere else. And the people of this city was just as beautiful. Bright smiles and cheerful souls filled the streets. Songs of love and peace rang through the air. But this city of beauty was a secret that only a few people knew.

Some people dreamed of the secret city and looked for it, never to find it. But some people did find the secret city of beauty and were so enamored by it that they could not pull themselves back to their families and homes to tell the world of its beauty. So the city remained a secret.

In this secret city of beauty, there was a good king. The king loved children, but he had no wife and no children. He wanted to share the many toys in his palace with children. He opened the palace doors to children so they could visit him and enjoy the wondrous toys. The joy of the children brought even more beauty to the secret city.

One day, the gods heard of this city and the king’s wondrous toys. They became jealous. They wanted to see the city and the wondrous toys of the king, but the gods were to big to fit in the city. The gods became mad and burned the great forest that the secret city was in. The gods then buried the city with sand so that no one could ever find it again. The city of beauty became the Silent City, no longer filled with the laughter of children.

Many ages passed and the sand that buried the great forest and the secret city became the home for the tribes of Ro. And in the tribes of Ro there were the children of the tribes. The children played all day on the sand dunes and they danced all night.

Sometimes, the children of the tribes of Ro wandered too far from their campfires at night. Chasing each other beyond the safety of the tents the children would hear the sound of toy bells. The children crept closer to the bells and farther away from the safety of their mothers and fathers.

The children got closer and closer to the bells and just when they felt they were there… up from the sands came a hand that grabbed their ankles. The children screamed, but they were too far from their parents. No one could hear them. The hands pulled them beneath the sand never to see their mothers and fathers again.

The hands were the hands of the dead people of the secret city buried beneath the sand. The city was not beautiful any more and the people were now ugly and evil creatures of death. The good king of the city became twisted and tormented. His palace was silent. He missed the laughter of children.

The king of death commanded the dead creatures that were once his people to dig their way to the surface of the sand dunes. He commanded them to lure little children to their clutches. The children were pulled beneath the sand and dragged to his palace to live in the darkness.

Every now and again, a child can hear the toy bells if he wanders too far. Every now and again, a new child is dragged beneath the sand to the darkness of the palace of the king of death in the Silent City.

The Legend of Puab Closk: The Beginning

The Legend of Paub Closk: The Beginning
by Rao Lin, Tenth Keeper of Knowledge

It is said by those outside of the Ashen Order that Paub Closk was a visionary, a prophet born of the womb of Quellious, sent to save the world from the tyranny and viciousness of the Gods. Some claim he single-handedly restored order to the world during the Age of War.

These are exaggerations of course, but the truth is sometimes seen as far more outrageous than the myth. Grand Master Paub Closk did indeed help to save the humanity of the world, but he also made life far more dangerous. He gave the world its greatest weapon.

Unlike some of the more fancify stories suggest, Paub Closk was born in the cith of Freeport. He was the child of a hard working merchant family. When he was seven years old his parents and the members of their trade expedition between Freeport and Highhold Keep were slaughtered by orcs. Knowing the expedition would be dangerous, Paub’s parents made arrangements with the monks of the Ashen Order to take and teach Paub in case they were killed.

The monks came for him the day his parents were murdered.

The monks taught Paub about life and Quellious. As he grew older he found consolation in the The Tranquil and pledged himself fully to her. He began spending any free time meditating and reading. Slowly he began to gain true inner peace and understanding.

His teachers believed that he was on the edge of true enlightenment and encouraged him to take lone trips away from the city. Paub took their advice and went out on many excursions to he Desert of Ro. He felt more at home in the desert.

In one of his earlist journals he describes one such trip to the desert, “The brush of sand across my cheek and the cold of the desert’s night only encourage my journey. The wind whispers to me and in it I hear myself. I am the vast openness of the desert waiting for the day’s light to burn me clean.”

His connection to the dunes was obvious.

At the age of twenty-five he was the youngest ever to be granted the title of Sensei. He taught all of his students the ways of the desert and encouraged them to mold themselves into its likeness. Paub was the finest martial arts instructor to ever grace the halls of the Ashen Order.

Nearly everyone he taught became a Sensei in their own right and each of them gives credit to Paub. He gave his position to his protege after only ten years as Sensei.

He spent most of his time meditating and expanding on his martial knowledge. He traveled far and wide to learn new martial styles from all those he could. He refined and polished every style he learned and taught it to the entire Ashen Order.

Paub was well known for disappearing into the desert for weeks at a time without telling anyone when or where he was going.

One such journet came near the end of the Age of Turmoil. Paub disappeared into the desert for well over a season. It is said that the desert called to him and he answered her call, some say it was Quellious herself that called to him. So, that was where he went.

According to his students Paub walked and walked trying to find the voice that called to him. Late one night while meditating on the crest of a dune he heard the call clear. He turned around and saw a river rushing towards him followed by a great of whirlwind sand. It is said the store devoured him and spit him out atop a large red pillar.

All recounts of what happened next are the same. All the stories say that atop this pillar of stone he spoke with Quellious and she praised him for his search of enlightenment and the purity of his mind and self. She then gifted him with the greatest of martial styles, the Acanic Combat. It is said he spent many moons training atop the pillar with no food or drink. There he mastered the styles and brought them back to the Ashen Order.

The History of Poetry

By Sage Lerin Rahin

Throughout the ages, many poets have provided the inhabitants of the Deserts of Ro with literary delights.

Dervin poet Alyarrah Mahaat sometimes wrote her poetry by pouring different colors of sand onto a flat stone, letting the wind gradually erase the words. “Poetry is ephemeral,” she said when asked about this unusual practice. Alyarrah was originally a nomadic Dervin who was invited to be a Court Poet by Neriph, Caliph of the Court of Coin.

With works including ballads about the Dervin nomads, djinn-styled short form poetry and lyrical tales of love, Alyarrah’s poetry is considered as contemporary as it is timely. The world lost a great poet when Alyarrah died in an arena accident within a year of entering the Caliph’s Court. The position of Court Poet has gone unfilled since her death.

Before Alyarrah, Dervin poets were predominantly anonymous lyricists who chose to set fireside tales to parchment rather than lose their connections with the past. Storytellers often hold an exalted position within the Dervin community, although it is not an exclusive title or role. The nomadic Dervins who live outside Maj’Dul must provide many skills to their tribes.

When the Shattering occurred, many tribes were decimated and their oral storytelling traditions were lost. By setting the remaining tales down, current tribes hope to maintain the ancient lore and knowledge handed down through the generations. While some of the Dervin nomads are illiterate, there are scribes in Maj’Dul who are willing to transcribe their stories.

Prior to the Shattering, the work of Dervin poets is harder to obtain as much of it was never written down. Though many current volumes claim to contain exact transcriptions, it is impossible to be sure. And, of course, many poems survive in various forms, depending upon which tribe tells the tale. Generally, if an older poem is attributed to a specific elder poet, its source must be viewed with suspicion.

There are exceptions to this rule. Many of the poems by the Dervin poet Kish’Kah survived as they were primarily used in short messages between tribes. Marriage often intermingled different Dervin tribes, and whichever spouse moved to a new tribe would keep in touch with his or her former family by paying Kish’Kah to send a poetic greeting. His poems are no more than five lines, which makes them easy to identify.

Though not poetry in the strictest sense, some find the writings of the Alliz Raef Ew, or lizardmen, to be almost lyrical. Their storytelling style is distinctively archaic and often bloody. It cannot be denied, however, that they are capable of intense imagery. None of their tales are written in their original language. Only translations are available.

A typical lizardman poem includes an element of sacrifice, either an act by the protagonist or a victim of some horrific ritual. While such poems are not usually considered “art,” given the lifestyles of these scaled creatures, it is interesting that they would use any medium to immortalize such brutal acts. The market for Alliz Raef Ew poetry is miniscule, but enthusiastic.

While poetry has high value amongst the djinn, they generally do not record their own work. Instead, they rely on cast collections of poetry gleaned from other sources. Some of the volumes held by the djinn are said to date back to the Age of War, though there is no conclusive proof.

The djinn favor a short, three-line poem known as the “djinn short style.” These poems are amusing and often end with a subtle twist. The djinn will sometimes converse in this short form, evidently to amuse themselves. There are no celebrated poets in the short form for any published pieces are not credited to a particular djinn.

The Eye of the Night

A legend told by the Sandfury cyclops.
In the long ago, they worshipped the Eyes. Two Eyes were placed into the sky so that the cyclops’ would not have but one eye.

Instead, they could use the Eye of the Night and the Eye of the Day. The Eye of the Day, however, was cruel and would sometimes take the power of anyone who stared at it disrespectfully or for too long.

Therefore, the Eye of the Night was held in higher esteem.

There were the Seafuries and they lived on the lands of the Ocean of Tears, worshipping the Eye of the Day. Beneath its gaze, they harvested the bounty of the seas and fought off predators that landed on their shores.

Some lived in the secret places of Ro, where they hid from the Eye of the Day, calling themselves the Sandfury. They worshipped the Eye of Night, who benevolently provided them with water, food and shelter.

The Eye of the Day knew that they did not worship it and became harsh and bitter. It set out to destroy its rival.

The visionaries were concerned, for there were strange portents in the bones. By throwing fish bones onto the sand at high tide, the Seafuries would read the future.

The bones lay twisted and unreadable. Perplexed, they made offerings to the Eye of the Day, but the meanings shown by the bones were still clouded.

The Eye of the Day shrouded itself and hid from them.

In the desert lands, the Sandfuries did not use bones for divination. Bones were strewn about, remains of those who failed to fear the Eye of the Day; they meant nothing more than the swirling sands.

Instead, they looked to the Eye of the Night and chanted as they stared upward. One eye meeting the Eye and looking for answers to questions they did not have words to ask it.

“The Eye is in pain,” said one Seafury visionary in concern. “We must prepare to send it more offerings. The little ones with sticks and stones will do.”

And so the Seafuries prepared to take offerings rather than wait for the offerings to come to them on their vessels of wood and cloth and iron.

They kept the offerings penned on the beach beneath the shrouded skies.

The jealous eye of the Day sent long tendrils towards the Eye of the Night, hidden from the view of its worshippers.

It coiled the golden wisps around the Eye of the Night and began to squeeze, until the Eye of the Night, always the gentler of the two, cried and divided into two parts.

Then, the Eye of the Day released it from its grasp and coiled its tendrils around itself again, satisfied.

Far below, the Seafuries did not see a change. The portents were still confused and chaotic.

Even after the sacrifices were made, they were unsure how to appease the Eye of the Day. Danger, falling, pain.

Perhaps they had not sacrificed correctly. Perhaps the Eye of the Day hungered for the bodies of the disbelievers.

And so ships were prepared to transport the Seafuries from their island home. They would take and sacrifice those who worshipped the Eye of the Night.

Once only those who worshipped the Eye of the Day were left, then it would be appeased. The fish bones would be able to tell the future with accuracy and the Seafuries could return to their way of life.

Though the Sandfuries did not know their danger, they sensed a change in the Eye of the Night and watched it fearfully in the darkness.

Some sickness gnawed at it both from within and without. The Sandfuries did not make offering to the Eye. Instead, they told stories about her (for to them, she was as mother, goddess and lifemate) and chanted softly so that she would know they still believed.

In the day, the first stones fell. Though they could not see the Eye of the Night, the visionaries realized their mistake. Though they lived near the sea, they were not as skilled in managing ships as others.

They dodged what they could, but the rain of stones continued, sometimes burning only a hole through a ship, while at other times tearing it asunder.

The Eye of Day ignored their cries.

In the desert, the Sandfuries watched chunks of the Eye shining through the night skies.

“Oh, mother and maiden! We are your true children!” they cried, begging for her forgiveness. To show that she would always be their Eye, she caused a stone of magical power and beauty to land amongst the Sandfuries, leaving them unharmed.

And that is how the Seer Stone came to Ro.

Sinking Sands Creature Catalog

The region known as the Sinking Sands makes up the northeastern shores of the land known as Ro. Seen from ship it appears barren, bland, and inhospitable.
In reality it is teeming with life of all kinds. The lands of Ro are home to the Dervin Empire, that makes its presence known across the entire landscape.

This is especially true in the Sinking Sands, where ambassadors from each political alignment eagerly await new arrivals.

Arriving at the Port of Tears, newcomers will find several facilities set up to welcome and encourage participation in local events. Beyond the Port, however, other inhabitants make their homes.

Crocodiles and caimans share the remains of the Oasis of Marr with spectres and shade prowlers. Narrow pathways lead away from the Port toward the dunes which give the Sinking Sands their name.

Without screens of trees or many rock formations, one might feel that every danger is easily seen and avoided. This is simply not true.

Beyond the wall of rock the land opens up to dangers of all sorts. Water is sparse. The land is filled with wandering lunatics, orcs, undead and insects of all sizes.

The list does not stop there: lizardmen, giants, snakes (living AND undead), camels, goblins and gnolls all also inhabit the Sinking Sands.

The creatures themselves are daunting, but the fact that they’ve all evolved to live in this harsh climate makes them all the more frightful.

While the region is a desert, it is not merely dry and hot. The nearby ocean shifts the temperature throughout the day/night cycle and keeps the air more humid than one might expect (which, unfortunately, makes the heat that much more unbearable).

The occasional breezes that rise above the rock wall and travel over the region are a welcome relief.

The air from the Pillars of Flames to the west, however, is mean, dry and hot.

From the Sinking Sands one can venture into the Pillars of Flame to the west, or the Clefts of Rujark to the south.

High in the sky to the southwest one can see Maj’Dul. In the northwestern skies, what appears to be a city silently watches this land.

There is no doubt more to this land, but it is hard to distinguish rumor from fact. Tales exist of old, buried cities and civilizations, but the land holds its secrets well.

Rise of the Orcs – The Rejoining

“Rise of the Orcs – The Rejoining”
Second Edition

This book details how the orcs would organize into armies the likes of which had not been seen on Norrath for millennia.

The following historical account details what stories would describe as the main turning point in the rise of the orcs. No longer primal savages, the orcs would organize into armies the like that hadn’t been seen on Norrath for millenia. Several accounts of thus time period still exist in varying forms, which have been condensed together within this volume.

The Deathfist: Having defeated the Freeport Militia on several occassions, the Deathfist orcs would cause the city’s armies to rethink their strategies. During this time, the Emperor of the Deathfist orcs would be visited by a being of immense power. This visitor would cause the Deathfist to send out a call to all of the minor tribes that made up the entire empire.

The Snow Orcs: Efficiently using many ancient artifacts acquired from the Dragon Vox, the Snow Orcs would begin to push back against the barbarians. Eventually laying siege to Halas, they would signal the death-knell for the rugged barbarians. The Snow Orcs would immediately change direction, however, after meeting with a strange visitor. Leaving Halas behind, they began marching to the south with a determined pace.

The Crushbone: Not much is known about the Crushbone orcs during this time period. Having taken part in a great war that ravaged the continent of Faydwyr, these orcs would fade into obscurity. All that is known is that a small group of Crushbones would sail across the ocean on great ships they built, intent on joining up with the Deathfist on the main continent. They claim their motivation for doing so would be due to a directive given to them by a mysterious visitor.

Snow Orcs: Marching through the frozen tundra of Everfrost Peaks, the Snow Orcs would gather every tribe along their way, eventually forming into a great army. They would continue this march, annihilating everything in their path. Rather than raiding and capturing small villages along their way, they would simply kill everyone and raze the buildings to the ground. This march would eventually end when they reached the homeland of the gnolls, Blackburrow.

Having evidenced the wanton slaughter they had caused on their way to the gnolls home, one would expect the orcs to have done the same to the dog-men. Instead, however, the gnolls were waiting for them and invited the orcs inside their den. No battle took place that day, and the orcs passed into the winding caves without harm. Making camp at sites prepared for them, it become evident the orcs and the gnolls were working together.

The residents of the nearby Qeynos received word of the plight of Halas and would send forces to help the barbarians. None of their forces could reach the frozen tundra due to pact between the gnolls and the orcs, however. All that would be learned during this time was the orcs now residing within Blackburrow were no longer guests, but instead dominators. By now, the Snow Orcs of Blackburrow had enslaved every last gnoll and were using them to mine or for their war efforts.

Deathfist Orcs: Not long after their visit by the mysterious stranger, Emperor Gash would begin to mobilize every member of his tribe into a great army. Spanning from the southern Rujarkian orcs to the western Kithicorian orcs of the Deathfist Empire, they all were given orders to arm themselves and collapse their nomadic camps. The stranger’s message was then delivered to every orcish soldier – War.

Amassing their mighty armies within the Desert of Ro, their ancestral homeland, the orcs began to march south. Just like the Snow Orcs, they would decimate anyone and everything within their path. From gypsies to desert madmen, there was nothing left alive in the Desert of Ro after they had crossed it’s endless dunes. They would continue their march until they finally reached the southernmost Innothule swamp. This was where their forces were joined to an even larger army.

The Second Rallosian Empire, comprised of ogres who regained their long-lost intelligence, welcomed the orcs into their ranks. Joining together into one great army, the Deathfist orcs watched as their Emperor bowed one knee and swore fealty to the leader of this titanic army – The Avatar of War. When the Avatar stated that the Deathfist armies were larger than he had expected, Emperor Gash smiled enigmatically and told him, “If this is the case, then we have already won, your Divineness.”

Maj’Dul Inhabitants Catalog

By Jergo Wheybringer
The city of Maj’Dul brings frontier justice to the impressionable “barrashar” arriving from beyond its walls.

Barrashar means outsider and the term is applied to anyone who is not a native Dervin of the surrounding region, no matter how long that individual has claimed Maj’Dul as home.

Though a dangerous city, Maj’Dul has intrinsic beauty that cannot be denied.

High above the desert floor, Maj’Dul rises from atop a high plateau in a series of terraces. The lower terraces are mainly inhabited by the less fortunate of the city’s residents.

The highest point of the city is the Sultan’s Palace, an imposing structure that houses the city’s arena. The arena is an unusual feature that Maj’Dulians use to regulate changes in their laws.

Most of Maj’Dul’s residents are Dervins, descended from the Dervish Empire which once terrorized the deserts of Ro and environs.

City life has not reduced these citizens’ desire for mayhem and bloodshed. Using the arena allows the residents (and barrashar) to blow off some steam without attracting attention from the Sha’ir.

The Sha’ir use flying carpets to keep a watchful eye o the streets below.

The streets of Maj’Dul could do with quite a bit of watching. Roving thugs and street rats scurry through the many passages and narrow stairs that link the various terraces.

Additionally, one may find that some of the city’s three main Courts has taken offense to one’s actions, meaning that guards of various factions will attempt to even the score.

Banners hanging from the towers around the city announce which Court has the upper hand, but power fluctuates rapidly between them.

The climate of Maj’Dul is dry and hot with variable winds especially on the higher terraces.

The evenings are slightly cooler, though the heat of the day is retained by its many whitewashed buildings and cobbled streets.

Patches of greenery exist near a few structures, watered through a variety of cisterns and pipes that would do a gnome proud. In these areas, one may also find camels, elephants and the ubiquitous monkeys.