Lying in the center of the Tyr Region, the Ivory Triangle is a crossroads and a wasteland. Most of the area is desolate, home only to monsters and desert raiders, but it sits astride the trade routes from the cities of Raam and Draj in the north to rich Balic in the south. Every day, gigantic mekillot-drawn argosies and fleetfooted kank or crodlu pack trains make their way across the blistering salt flats. The rival city-states of Guig and Nibenay are found in the Ivory Triangle; they lie in a narrow verdant strip along its northern edge at either end of the Crescent Forest—one of the last lowland forests on Athas. The sorcerer-queen
Lalali-Puy rules as a goddess over the forest city of Guig, and the sorcerer-king Nibenay, also known as the Shadow King, holds dominion over the ancient metropolis that bears his name.
Forty miles east of Cromlin lies a ruin largely forgot ten by most ofAthas. Rumors in the Ivory Triangle speak of Giustenal, a crumbled city on the far side of the Black Spine Mountains. Silt skimmers passing by the Bay of Maray steer far out on the shoals and give the city a wide berth, seeking to pass by swiftly and in daylight. Brave souls who venture near find a maze of walls and broken ramparts encircling Giustenal, many winding down into the silt for hundreds of yards. Silt horrors thrive beneath the dust here. Within the maze, the city is half buried in silt. It appears deserted, and its ruins show evidence of a terrible sorcerous battle fought here long ago. Giustenal was destroyed swiftly but never sacked; the few looters who have raided the city claim that a great deal of treasure still lies in the ruins. No people are known to linger nearby, but dangerous beasts lair in the emains of the city.
Hot, thirsty and exhausted form their month’s trek across the waste only drawn by the pull of the Crown of Dust. It spoke to them in whispers, calling to them and became more and more agitated as the group approached the foremost ruins of Giustenal.
The scene shifts before you. Now the lay of the land looked more familiar, except where the Sea of Silt should have been there was a sea of sparkling water. The sandy wastes were covered with thick forests, and the land looked like the Forest Ridge for as far as you can see. You recognized the walls of Giustenal before you, though they were new and solid, not broken and crumbling like the ones you passed through only hours before. The city was full of people, though not one of them was a halfling. You see humans and elves and dwarves, along with a score of creatures you can’t identify. Some are small with brightly colored wings. Others look like thin dwarves. There are so many you can’t begin to absorb all of the details.
Since common Athasians are forbidden to read or write, few people know the annals of their world. They do know that Athas used to be lush and green, rich with water and thronged with cities and realms. This knowledge is no secret; any traveler can see the evidence of the former world crumbling in the deserts. Ancient bridges span empty watercourses, dilapidated castles sag on hilltops over deserted towns, shrines to vanished gods lie dusty and silent, and the ruins of great cities are filled with sand and monsters all remnants of the time known as the Green Age. Fleeting tales whisper of eras that pre
ceded the Green Age, leaving older and even more mysterious ruins, but no definite knowledge of such fantastically ancient days remains in the world unless the sorcerer-kings know more.
Over a crumbled wall they spied the crest of an ancient pyramid and a young beautiful woman running away from it. “Help, help she cried her bosom heaving, wearing a blood streaked cape and tussled hair, she ran into the strong arms of Illikan. My friends – they… I think they are all dead… oh my! You must come and help.” The men ogled her voluptuous body and stammered out their wishes to help the beautiful lass. Toox was not so easily impressed – she knew this ploy, in fact she used it often… this was a trap.
As the illusion of the young woman dissipated away leaving behind a horrid vistage of a semitransparent ghost with vampiric tentacles for hair.
A dark opening, partially hidden behind dunes, leads into the side of the pyramid. A shattered stone door sits in the opening. You hear barely perceptible moans emanating from the darkness ahead.
The corridor ahead angles away from the room and gradually slopes deeper into the earth so that the far end—which is dark—is several feet lower than the close end. The corridor levels out and widens into a small chamber. A strange symbol has been painted onto the floor. A portcullis blocks the way out on the other side of the room. Two animated corpses, frost emanating from their decaying forms, move toward you with malice in their undead eyes.
After ploughing down a few steps amidst more gnawed bones you see light ahead; not any mystic phosphorescence, but a filtered daylight from some fissure in the pyramid above. It is a twilit grotto of enormous height; a subterraneous world of limitless mystery and horrible suggestion. A ghoulish spectacle is presented in front of you by the general surface of the ground. For yards about the steps extend an insane tangle of human bones, or bones at least as human as those on the steps. Like a foamy sea they stretch, some fallen apart, but others wholly or partly articulated as skeletons; these latter invariably in postures of daemoniac frenzy, either fighting off some menace or clutching other forms with cannibal intent.
Stairs lead down to a four-way intersection. Heavy metal doors block the eastern and southern passages. An open archway to the north glows with firelight beyond. On the floor within the dark alcoves by each of the doors, you see sprawled bodies lying still and deathly quiet. This large room spreads out into darkness. To each side of the stairs stands a large brazier blazing with a crackling
fire. The fire sheds dim light down into the chamber, revealing a portion of the area. You see skeletal remains scattered here and there.
Tal Lorvas carries 500 gp and a magic orb +2. He has also uncovered part of the treasure
of the tomb, including five 100 gp gems and the empress’s crown, which still radiates with the
taint of the devil that was tied to Nemeia in life.