Dark Sun: The Tyrant of Tyr
Tyr lies in a small valley among the foothills of the Ringing Mountains. Although not the largest city of the Tablelands, it is considered one of the most important due to its political clout, location, and great (by Athasian standards) reserves of Iron ore in the nearby mountains. A single caravan trading route connects Tyr to the network of roads that link the major cities of the Tablelands. This is not to imply that elven traders do not use other routes of their own devising, but there is only a single navigable pass for the larger caravans.
Roughly 15,000 within the city walls, and about as many in the noble estates and villages of the Tyr Valley. Humans are the majority, constituting two-thirds of the population. Dwarves, elves, goliaths, and muls make up most of the rest.
The architecture of Tyr reflects the attitudes of its citizens. The buildings are austere, designed for functionality with spartan ornamentation. Wide doorways permit the rare breezes to enter. Window glass is rare, but large band windows inset high on the walls allow the dry wind in. Buildings are adobe (dried-mud bricks) squares built against adjoining structures for support. Two-story dwellings and establishments are not uncommon. Tiled, sand-packed bricks, or hardened dirt floors are the norm.
The minimal furnishings of most dwellings are hard and square, not soft or rounded. Stone tables and benches are often inset into the interior walls of a building. Seats made from the chitinous exoskeletons of kanks, wrapped in erdlu hide or cushioned by jankx pelts, are common.
Buildings are lit by torches mounted in sconces high on the walls. Torch vents are frequently cut into the walls to let the smoke and heat escape the room. Candles made of boiled tembo fat are also used. Rare scented oils are burned for illumination in nobles residences and the more costly houses of pleasure.
Water is life on Tyr. Cool well water is served throughout the city at little or no cost. Broy is another favourite. This intoxicating beverage, derived from fermented kank nectar, sells for a couple bits per mug, either spiced or unspiced. Cheap, heavy ales are served warm and are as plentiful as erdlu dung (some with similar flavour). One of the best is blue cactus ale made from the grall cactus. Local silver scuppernong and dark blue-purple bulis wines are favored by the working class are very cheap. The nobility part with good coin for the tart, dry, golden Asticles wine.
Meat is the staple diet of Tyrians. Baazrag, erdlu, jankz, kip, and ztal skewers served with a stack of unleavened bread is daily fare. Mekillot steaks or inix tail make excellent dining for those rich enough to afford more for a single meal. Exotic meats such as chathrang or cloud ray are mouth-watering, but rare and expensive. Erdlu eggs, kank nectar, and filtered jalath’gak-blood nectar are readily available at most eateries for several coins each. The fields outside the gates produce a variety of vegetables and succulents that are consumed alone or in combination with the foods mentioned above.
Travelers are free to camp beyond the fields outside the gates. There is no protection from bandits, raiders, or night creatures here, so only the destitute choose to stay there. The Warrens are the cheapest place to sleep inside the city. An abandoned building (of which there are many) will provide adequate housing as long as guards are posted. The Warrens also house the least expensive inns in the city. For as little as a few copper ceramic bits per night, a traveller is welcome to share the floor with the local vermin.
Robbery and murder in these inns are the rule rather than the exception. Adjoining the Warrens, Shadow Square and the trade districts offer better accommodations. A few coins— per night rents a small sleeping room. Security is questionable, and no one ever leaves anything of any importance in the rooms. The trade and merchant districts provide decent lodgings at a fair price for travelling artisans and craftsmen.
Indoor pens constructed near the city gates oversee travellers creatures while their masters are in the city on business. Small pens for riding and pack creatures are available for a small price. Heavy crodlu and inix require more space and feeding, and cost considerably more. Most stables will not handle mekillots or other giant creatures since special handlers are needed, which is much more expensive.
In the Athasian heat, the less worn the better. Modesty is not an issue, but some form of clothing is always worn in public. Most residents wear a loose-fitting cotton tunic gathered by a belt at the waist. Others wear loincloths and vests. Experienced travelers know of the importance to shield ones skin from the blistering sun. Light gauze or silks are ofttimes draped over heads and across ones arms. Turbans or other light headgear are worn. Nobles tend to remain inside during the day, their finery only seen at dusk.
The emblem for the city of Tyr is a golden star on a purple background.
A wide, shallow valley surrounds Tyr like a sinkhole in the mountains. Through the heat shimmer, a traveler can just glimpse the great ziggurat and Golden Tower of Tyr rising above the city walls.
To the north and east of the great city are the sprawling estates of Tyr’s nobles and higher-ranking templars. Fields of faro and gray cotton stand in regimented rows along the fertile (by Athasian standards) bottom of the valley. Other plantations provide gladiatorial training grounds and holding areas for vicious animals or monsters captured for the arena. Private soldiers patrol the nobles’ lands to ward off raiders and dangerous beasts while laborers toil beneath the burning sun to bring the crops to harvest. Several paths and small roads run between and around the various estates, converging in a common road that leads to the stadium gate. Sweeping west, the fields give way to isolated patches of rockstem and stunted cactus.
The area west of Tyr is largely unsettled. A hedge of scrub plants encircles the perimeter of the lower node of the walled city (that area that houses the templars’ quarters). The hedge, known as ¨the barrier,¨ flanks the area near the Grand Gate, through which valuable iron shipments pass from the mine. A 20-foot buffer exists between the barrier and the road approaching the grand gate. Farther out, where the valley’s walls rise in knotted ridges to meet the Ringing Mountains, a scrub plain covers several miles of landscape. Herdsmen sometimes forage among the sandy-root trees there, but not overly so. Druids of the scrub plain watch the area and kill those who damage the local environment. Grazing is permitted provided it doesn’t outstrip the land’s ability to regenerate the foliage lost. Predators prowl the thickets, though, and losses are high to animals and herdsmen both!
The herdsmen of the Tyr valley primarily drive herds of erdlus and z’tal. A nearby plantation raises large numbers of kips as well. The owner supplements their foraging with regular shipments of garbage from Tyr.
The road curves southwest from the grand gate, skirting the foothills for eight or nine miles through the southern Tyr valley. The ground grows steeper then, the road becoming more twisted as it weaves its way through boulder fields to end at the Tyrian iron mines. Here, that most precious metal, iron, is wrested from the bowels of Athas at great cost, both in terms of gold and of men.