Dark Sun: The Tyrant of Tyr
The town of Altaruk sits atop an important juncture along the Balic-Tyr trade route. Other routes branching from Altaruk extend toward the northern city-states and into the eastern Tablelands. Altaruk lies near the head of the Estuary of the Forked Tongue, a silt channel dotted with small islands that pours into the great Sea of Silt.
Powerful Balican merchant houses sponsor the heavily fortified town. A 15-foot wall encircles Altaruk, and a well-trained mercenary army drives off raiders. The army’s frequent patrols flush out bandits and predatory creatures within a half-day’s ride. Only a sizable offensive might crack the mercenaries’ defenses. Lately, the army’s commanders have been casting a wary eye toward the Estuary as rumors swirl that the giants are planning to again move against the town. Arisphistaneles, a Balican noble, governs the town. He is well known as a pragmatic man who holds citizens and traders equally accountable to Altaruk’s laws. Arisphistaneles also has a secret. He heads the town’s Veiled Alliance cell and can be counted on to provide shelter, information, and supplies to Alliance members who can prove their dedication to the cabal.
As a tip to travelers visiting Altaruk who arrive by beast; there are usually brambleweed corrals, constructed along the trade routes outside of town, by elves who charge a nominal fee for boarding. They “guarantee” that a mount will be waiting for you when you return (although it may not be the one you arrived with).
The town itself contains a Merchant Quarter with a small Elven Market on the outskirts of the quarter near the town gates, and an arena called Bloodsand Arena. Altaruk’s businesses stay open long into the night, when each booth is lit by lanterns. Altaruk’s business is business, so no opportunities are missed. With a recently arrived caravan from Gulg, the shops stay open until midnight. The Veiled Alliance is strong in Altaruk, and have contributed much to the town’s well-being, especially with Arisphistaneles in charge of everything. Therefore, there is little if any bias against mages-assuming they are preservers. Defilers have no place here, and are turned out (or killed, if they provoke anyone). Altaruk is a client village of the Balic-based merchant houses of Wavir, Rees, and Tomblador.
All caravans not belonging to one of the above three houses must pay 100 gold ceramics per caravan mount-an exorbitant price. Individual travelers pay one gold ceramic piece visitors’ tax.
Reactions to Demi-humans
Altaruk has a chronic problem with giants who regularly raid and raze the town. Half-giants, while not scorned outright, nevertheless have a few extra guards watching their outdoor movements. Outright suspicion and sometimes rudeness and hostility is common against elven merchants. The elven reputation precedes such characters.