Mythical City Found in Bedouin Desert

                While Freebirths and long-time newbies may be used to the sudden and unexplained appearance of many strange things, the sudden arrival of an entire city is astonishing even to the most experienced Valhallan.  Indeed, there has been no similar recorded event since the Gorgonian mother ship appeared over three hundred years ago.

                The first known siting came from a group of Bedouin spice traders.  According to the two survivors, the band became lost after an unusually long and harsh sand storm.  They wandered for days before crossing a high mountain range that they had never seen before.  On the far side of the range they saw a small gated city.  They approached with the hope of finding food and water, but were shocked by what they found.

                “The walls of the city were one hundred feet high and as black as night,” claims Amaad Hajjar.  “They were made of stone, but with no seams where they joined.  It was a solid slab of rock stretching to the sky and wide enough for a man to walk a thousand, thousand paces, and never reach the other side.  When we came to the city gates we found them open, yet there was no one about.  I could feel the presence of eyes upon me, but we never saw another living thing.  The buildings inside the dark walls were of made of brass and constructed like no other building I have ever seen.”

                Apparently most of the group decided to enter the city while Amaad and several others refused, deciding instead to watch the camels until the other group returned.  They would wait three long days before they saw any of their companions again.

                “When Hassam returned, he was not the same.  He had aged as if he had been in the city for four decades rather than four days.  He was blind and babbling nonsense.  That night he shook uncontrollably – – crying and screaming, muttering like a madman.  There was not much I could understand.  ‘Kush.’  ‘Shaddad.’  ‘Al-Dimiryat.’  Hassam died in the night.  At dawn we fled into the desert.”

                The group’s woes did not end there, though.  They spent several more weeks in the desert, where several members of the group and all of the camels died of exposure.  Finally, the survivors came upon a friendly village.  Their story awed the villagers and word soon spread.  Eventually several adventurers approached Amaad and asked him to lead them to the city.

                “At first I refused,” he continued.  “They offered much gold though, and I had lost my fortune in the desert.  Even more than that, I felt that I had to return.  My brother had gone into those walls.  I had to return for my brother.”

                Amaad would return from the desert two months later . . . alone.

                “We found the city a second time and the fools went in.  I waited there for five days, as we agreed, but they never came out.  The city is cursed and all who enter are doomed.  I will never go there again.”

                While some might dispute these claims as a fabrication, he came back with proof.  Before disappearing into the city, one of the adventurers was able to snap a photograph of the city.  He left the image with Amaad as proof of their find. 

                The tale of these horrors has done nothing to dissuade others from seeking the city.  “People ask me to guide them all the time,” Amaad laments.  “Though I try to stay on the move, people seek me out.  They all want to find the legendary lost City of Brass.  They want fame and fortune, but I tell them that only death awaits them there.  They offer gold and jewels but I want none of it.  No!  The city is death.  I will not send others to that end.”

New Life in the Sogarian Waste

                At the end of the Great War, the Arch-Mage Sogar the Great devastated the Technophile army with a single, destructive spell so powerful a hundred square mile plot of land, and everything in it, was wiped out.  It is said that the earth shook for days after, and that a cloud of dust engulfed the planet for thirty days.  It is said that even a nuclear warhead could not house the energy that brought down the Newman Combine.

                Over two hundred years after that glorious day, the Sogarian Waste still stands as a stark monument to the power of magic and the folly of men.  Long thought to be uninhabitable, a team of scientists have found evidence of new life in this desolate sea of shifting sand.  They have just published their findings in the trade journal “Flora and Fauna.” 

              “Despite the commonly held belief that the desert is completely devoid of life,” says Professor Charles Ludwig of Washington University, “the Sogarian Waste is rapidly becoming a haven for new and fascinating creatures.”

              Along with hundreds of plants, Dr. Ludwig and his associates managed to catalogue thirty species of animals, some of which are new to science.  Others are common creatures that have grown to monstrous proportions.  The most impressive of these is undoubtedly a scorpion that weighs in at over two hundred pounds and measures over ten feet from pincer to tail. 

              Dr. Ludwig, however, dismisses the stir this discovery has caused.  “Yes, it is easy to get sidetracked by such things, but beasts of unusual size are certainly not unheard of in Valhalla.  What really interests me are some of the new species we have found.”  His eyes glitter with schoolboy excitement as he pulls out a small glass paperweight from his briefcase.  Inside is a barely visible spec that is not much bigger than a piece of sand. 

              “This little beauty is the Sogarian Tiger Flea.  It appears similar to your common flea, but its bite causes radiation burns on its victims,” he says giggling with excitement.  “We lost three guards and two scientists before we figured out what was going on.  It was quite exciting!”

              Dr. Ludwig claims to have enough raw data to keep him busy for years.  “My most important task is to determine if these creatures evolved within the waste itself or if they were brought here as Newbies.  Are these creatures alien in nature?  Mythical?  Something else?”

               The discovery has sparked huge interest among the scientific community.  A number of sojourns into the Waste have already been planned and the Adventurer’s Guild is rife with advertisements.  When asked about this, Dr. Ludwig replied, “We only spent a month in the Waste.  I am excited to learn what else is there!”