This is a guest post written by my patron & friend Saevrick, as part of his fantastic “The Wanderer’s Journal” series. He is a huge fan of DarkSun and Planescape, and there will be more from him about these subjects in the future. Enjoy folks! You can find Saevrick on twitter by clicking his name. If you have questions about Athas he is the man to ask.
Deep within the darkened recesses of the earth, away from the scorching hammer of the crimson sun, a body stirred upon the boundaries of life and death. Fostered by the chanting of one devote, stalwart ally, life began to return to the mangled body of the sorcerer-king. Emerald waves of negative energy crawled up the torn flesh, knitting through bone and hide, gathering at the face and lingering as a ghostly mask. Then the body lurched up from the ground, the waves flooding the eye sockets and throat, and a great roar thundered forth, shaking the walls loose of stones and earth. The rotted mass of flesh dug its fingers into the stone, sending pinpricks of sparks flashing like steel against flint. Its visage lowered to the Templar before it, bathing him in a haunting, pale verdant hue from the waves of deathly energy gushing forth.
“Abalach-Re will pay. They shall all… pay.”
The Fall of the Dragon King
We find ourselves following the years of the imprisonment of Rajaat and the ascension of Borys to dragonhood in the sprawling city of Guistenal. Its master, the Sorcerer-King Dregoth, was unlike the rest of the champions, in both mindset and power. The walls of his city were adorned in draconic imagery, celebrating the growing strength of their ruler. Dregoth was on the cusp of reaching that which Borys had obtained through the power of the dark lens, however, Dregoth was doing so on his own accord. His mastery of the will and of magic was immense, and he was but a breath away from joining Borys as a dragon.
Unfortunately for Dregoth, the rest of the Champions knew this as well.
Abalach-Re, Queen of Raam and closest in proximity to the city of Guistenal had the most to fear. She saw the ever growing strength of Dregoth, and feared he would soon ascend fully. With the continued rampaging of Borys in her mind, Abalach-Re reached out to the other Champions and divulged her fears and concerns. As they met, they devised a plan to strike at the very heart of Guistenal and usurp the Dregoth upon his ivory throne, and deprive him of both city and life.
They came all at once, stealing into the palace, and laid siege to the powerful king. The lush gardens and trees of Guistenal turned to ash as the Dread King fought back against the onslaught, and hundreds of his loyal followers and subjects fell to their knees as the remaining champions stole forth their life to fuel power arcane might upon the infant Dragon King.
It was in the ruins of his majestic city, upon the stones of his palace floor, flanked by the corpses of his Templars and the ashes of his ruin that Dregoth, Ravager of Giants, Champion of Rajaat, and the Dread King of Guistenal died.
At least, for the time being.
Rise of the Dead King
Dregoth during his years had become obsessed with the idea of true godhood. Unsatisfied with the power that Rajaat had given him as his Champion, The Dread King had searched for a path to become more powerful than any entity on Athas. Through his experiments, Dregoth had uncovered a way to magically prolong his life beyond the boundaries of death itself.
After the scourge that laid waste to his city and stole him of life, Dregoth did not spend long broken in the tomb of his city. As the magical bonds took hold onto his form, he would gather what was left of his Templars and subjects and retreat fair beneath the city. There he would build New Guistenal, and plot bloody revenge.
Not only would he build a seat of power, but he would also build a people worthy of his presence. Following years of twisted experimentation, Dregoth would finally perfect a spell of metamorphosis. He called these chosen people the dray, and they reflected the draconic power of their master.
The Outer Planes and Godhood
Deep within the ancient ruins that New Guistenal would be built, the Dread King had discovered an artifact of immense power and bewilderment. The Planar Gate, a psionically imbued artifact from the Green Age of Athas, offered a view to the king unlike he had ever scene. It was a portal into the Outer Planes, and Dregoth would spend centuries travelling the numerous planes of existence.
On his travels he witnessed many new ideas and creatures of power beyond his own. Dregoth bore witness to true gods, and it only further enriched the ideas that the Dread King had searched for during his living years. He made a declaration to himself that he would be Athas’ one and only true god king, and learned all he could about the doctrines and faiths of the worlds beyond the dark sun.
Returning to Athas, Dregoth began to unfurl his plan. Understanding that gods were given sovereignty by their worshippers, and the greater their belief and number gave rise to increased power, he was satisfied that his “chosen people” would grant him the strength he needed. After seeing their king rise from the dead as it were, Dregoth had no worry that his worshippers would be a firm foundation.
Next would be sacrifice, and the dray preached the doctrine in every imaginable way. From labor, time, wealth, to the lives of animals and demi humans, the followers of Dregoth would go forth and practice his will. They would erect symbols of power in his name in their temples and streets, and bathe them with blood in his honor.
For their sacrifice, Dregoth gave them a solemn promise of prophecy entitled the Coruscation. The Dread King promised his followers they would be led from the dark and into the light of the crimson sun, and would lay siege to the city of Raam. In one final sacrifice, from the blood of thousands of Raamites flooding the streets crimson, their faith would empower the sun, lighting it anew, and bring forth the return of the Blue Age.
All Dregoth needed now was a symbol of power, a vestige and holy relic worthy of his prominence. He would find it among the Outer Planes, returning with a huge dragon skull from a creature that walked another world. Into the sloping forehead, a crimson sun trapped in a dragon’s claw was etched into the bone, and its eye sockets were filled by orbs of blackest obsidian. Dregoth believed that bathing it in the blood of the Coruscation would be the final step in empowering the relic, and ultimately, be the final step in channeling divinity from the dray.
Then, he would be a god.
* * * *
In the city of New Guistenal, Dregoth would continue to unfurl his plan. He had revenge, bloody and dark to plot upon the Champions who laid waste to his beloved city and his life, and he would not be denied this revenge. He vowed to rob them of life as he had been, but their people would have the choice to lie down in reverence to their new god king, or else join them in the afterlife.
Will Dregoth become the deity of Athas and see his revenge through? It is unknown whether the chosen people of New Guistenal will one day be the first divine worshippers of the world and bow down before the Dread King, for such stories have not been written. It is believed that the conduits that funnel powers from his devote people simply do not exist on Athas, and that while Dregoth may exact his revenge, he may never see his dream of godhood come to fruition.
But it is here where we, the story tellers of Athas, have to make that determination. New Guistenal, the City by the Silt Sea, may harbor a power beyond that of even Rajaat. Will we keep our Athas godless, or shall we see the birth of the Dread God in our time?
One thing is for certain: Rajaat is ever looming, as is Borys of Ebe, the Dragon of Tyr.
Or are they? Do you remember last time we spoke, that a rag tag group of adventurers would turn the world on its head? Well, it may be time to tell their tale. In the city-state of Tyr, under the shadow of a grand ziggurat and Kalak, the Tyrant of Tyr, the Champions of Rajaat would see their world begin to change, as a people would rise to challenge their might.
But we shall save this story for another time.
* * * *
Next time, we will take a look into the Prism Pentad, a series of novels that would change the entire scope of Dark Sun forever. Join me for “Beyond the Prism Pentad: The Verdant Passage”.
I hope you have enjoyed the tale of Dregoth, Ravager of Giants, Third Champion of Rajaat and Betrayer of Rajaat, the Dread King of Guistenal. If you’ve any suggestions for future writings, feel free to lurk in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading, and all hail the Dread God!