The frozen dawn is thawed by first glimmer of
And then, with a flash that races from one horizon to the other, shadows run,
Streaking across the land as that massive ball of fire emerges, night undone.
With staggering force, the heat roasts the world, and creatures are painfully stunned,
Then for burrows and caves they flee, before to baked flesh are turned.
Across the city, cool shade leaves in fear of
that stellar glare,
Those who can, for many live by cool evening, run inside, free from that burning giant's stare.
But in the brick pits, the light brings naught
but moans, for they live in slavery's lair,
Whips crack and flesh splits, as the templars take their own discomfort out on those in their care,
One poor soul, wrecked by years of unceasing work, to flee he dares!
But spoken word of templar guard, and the slave
falls down hard, as mystic power in his flesh flares,
And then two half-giants, bronzed behemoths of unquestioned might, hold the escaper, as whips his bones bare,
Across the sunken enclosure, the dying screams of man made into beast of burden blare.
Flickering resentment as they see another of their kind, the half-giants pull, and his limbs from body tear.
The folk of the city of Tyr live in hunched,
side-glancing, cowering fear,
Terrified least into templar they stumble, then into dungeon cells broken tumble, losing all that's dear,
Ordinary folk are filled with hate from frightened, impotent rage, and let none to their hearts near.
In the Shadow Square, tall desert elves, vagabonds,
raiders and rogues, sell illicit gear,
Aphrodisiac potions, poisons for spouses, weapons of iron rare, into bargains fools they steer,
Mystic parts to the abhorred wizards they deal, and clothes the blood from which is now clear.
Dwarven masons, before work on King Kalak's ziggurat,
which towers multi-coloured o'er the town, drink some bitter beer,
Focused on their work, unlike the others, they don't scream in lust at naked dancer, nor leer,
In this shady tavern, two thri-kreen, insect men, make trade, swivelling eyes behind to check their rear,
In their minds this is a hunt, as they try to buy the loyalty of skilled charioteer.
The Arena, where the charioteer races, tries
his skills, has two tiers,
And the sand is dark red, choked with blood from a thousand years of kills,
As infernal heat builds, into the stands ten thousand folk it soon fills,
Lounging in bottom tier, the nobles and templars are eager, but jaded of the thrills,
On upper terrace, bitter argument fuelled by heat, one man thrown over like meat, over those below his brains spill,
And as the announcer calls, so the games begin, and people die to fill the butcher's bill.
For a jest, tiny halfling fights the titanic reptile, beast destruction, the Rampager, the So-Ut! She is mangled as if by grinding mill,
Then best of all, five muls fight for three hours, the half-dwarves against them all, bringing place to standstill,
But then the brave comrades, each other is made to fight, forced to do so by a templar's will!
Templars, agents of the Sorcerer-King, ancient
Kalak, and so their minds with power he fills,
Not just by whips do they rule, but by arcane strength, and mental might that into minds can easy drill,
For thoughts of treason, crime or just for pleasure, citizen's souls they can grill,
Men they can make a dagger take, thrust it in, and their own hearts still,
But in the blasted lands of Athas, many are those who with mind others can chill....
Down in quiet corner of the roaring gathering, one man through a templar's thoughts swiftly tills,
And erases this and that, and so King Kalak's guard important crimes later misfiles,
Though Sorcerer-Kings, those mighty wizards who use life for their magic fuel, rule the land, those with guile,
Have formed a Veiled Alliance, to defy tyranny, to bring death to those whom nature defile,
It is a battle fought for many, many weary years, those who "wear the veil", think the struggle not futile,
Though Kalak hunts them down. and destroys his enemies in ways unbelievably vile,
Seething resentment and a small spark of hope makes a small but potent few, dangerously volatile.
So why not leave the city? Well, beyond lies the desert, of dangers it has every mile,
Perhaps it seems barren, but the struggle to live of this place horrors makes fertile,
Giant ants, thri-kreen, centipedes the size of caravans, many a beast insectile,
No, this is no place for any to stay but a short while!
But out there lies the dream of freedom, and some it does beguile......