The sun is starting to loom high, and the chill of the desert night is well and truly gone. I will need to camp soon, to wait out the worst of the heat. It will be several days’ travel to the next settlement, so I need to pace myself.
Fortunately, I had spotted a ruin on the horizon. I can rest in its shadow. The city looms large ahead of me: a triumphant construction, the effort of ten thousand hands or more. Once, it must have been the capital of an empire, bustling with activity. Now it lies in the sand, decayed and sun-bleached and as dead as the people who built it. Ruins like this are common sights in the desert; tombs, monuments, and even entire cities of once-great civilizations. Empires live and die, just as people do. Rivers shift, fertile land dries up, and a city becomes a tomb.
My own empire held on to life longer than most. It was our iron; the finest in the world. We had survived for generations on trade alone. When trade turned as dry as the riverbed, shortly before I was born, we forged swords, and turned to conquering smaller settlements to survive. That only delayed the inevitable. In time, people starved, revolted, tore the capital apart from within. Many died. I escaped.
I pass under the shadow of an obelisk. It will provide some relief from the sun, for a few hours at least. Before I can sit, however, I hear a voice. “You’re Alaran, aren’t you?” My blade is drawn almost before I can think to do it. I don’t know what they’re planning to avenge. I might even deserve it; we were cruel conquerors in our dying days. But I intend to fight to the end.
“That sword certainly is,” she says. Her voice is a raspy whisper. She herself is deep in the shadow, indistinct. “A good weapon. They say Alara’s ironwork was actually magic. Enhanced the bearer’s ability. Never needed sharpening. Glowed in the presence of true evil.”
“Superior training and craftsmanship. A technique that’s been lost with the rest of Alara. It doesn’t glow. Are you planning to attack me? Because if so, you will get to experience my weapon firsthand.”
She chuckles. It’s a dry, joyless sound. “Kill you? Oh no. I’ve been looking for a proper warrior. Great skill and little to lose. Have you heard of Bura Gore?”
I raise an eyebrow, but I don’t lower my sword. “The so-called first civilization. They say their sorcerers had mastery over life itself. But Bura Gore, if it ever existed, is lost.”
She walks a few steps closer, staying within the shadow of the obelisk. But as she approaches, to my alarm, my sword does begin to glow. It’s putrid, the color of corruption. A color I have seen only rarely, on journeys deep into tomb-cities. It glows brighter than I’ve seen before, and lights up her face: ancient, putrescent, and clearly long dead. Her eye sockets are empty, but I can still feel her staring at me. “I’d like to hire you to find it.”
“Well,” I say to the walking corpse. “Where should I start looking?”
I sheathe my sword.
character sheet and backstory by Ed Turner
art by Eric Quigley
Name: Kashta, of the Fallen Empire of Alara
High Concept: Soldier of a Fallen Empire
Trouble: “Alara made many enemies in our final days.”
Other Aspects: A Fine Swordsman with a Finer Blade, Familiar with the Dangers of Old Ruins, A Competent Blacksmith.
Great (+4): Physique
Good (+3): Athletics, Fight
Fair (+2): Lore, Notice, Will
Average (+1): Craft, Empathy, Shoot, Stealth
My Blade is Already in my Hand: It may be sorcery, skill, or some measure of the two that allows Kashta to move his sword so quickly. Kashta may use Fight to defend against ranged attacks by knocking projectiles aside with his blade, so long as he is aware that the attack is coming.
Fearless in the Face of Death: The horrors that dwell in ancient tombs are no match for the memories of battle. Kashta gets a +2 to Will when defending against effects intended to frighten or intimidate him.
A Guiding Light: A little-known property of Alaran blades is that they prefer to be under the sky. Once per session, if he is indoors or underground, Kashta may seize his blade and instantly know where the nearest exit is and the quickest (though not necessarily the safest) route there.
Kashta and the Fallen Empire of Alara are open for your gaming enjoyment. Feel free to create new locations and characters. Use the Legacy of Bura Gore in your own game, or make an entire World of Adventure for him to live in. Send me an email with your creations and/or thoughts.