Dust / the Wasting Place
by Elias Crackbone, Amateur Planar Scholar and Tiefling Drinking Champion

Several centuries ago, in a Prime land known as Zakhara, there lived a sorcerer named Avojim. Little is known of him, save what can be inferred from the legacy he left behind. Though he was ostensibly a student of elemental earth and fire, Avojim was evidently also a kindred spirit of the Doomguard. He was obsessed with understanding and harnessing the forces of entropy, and eventually became as comfortable with the undead as he was among elementals.

Despair eventually eroded Avojim’s sanity, and he hatched a truly barmy plan. He laboured to open up a direct portal to the Negative Energy Plane on his world, which he hoped would devour everything in an entropic maelstrom. Perhaps fortunately for the residents of his world, Avojim’s methods were flawed, and his enchantments failed. Apparently, the portal collapsed as soon as it was formed, and somehow drew his citadel into the Quasiplane of Dust. Instead of being disintegrated by the plane, however, the citadel brought a bit of the Prime’s stability with it, and it stands near the border of the Wasting Place to this day.

The Quasiplane of Dust being such a hostile place, Inner Planar travellers quickly stumbled on the abandoned citadel and transformed it into a proper little burg. Nowadays folks call it Sirocco. The swirling motes of the plane can’t seem to penetrate past the citadel’s walls, and every greybeard who’s laid eyes on the place is at a loss to explain exactly how such a thing can be so. The whole structure radiates magic, but whatever enchantments have enabled it to resist Dust’s touch apparently can’t be altered or affected in any way. Some say that Avojim’s elemental earth magic “tainted” the Negative Energy portal just as it imploded, and somehow crystallised the reality on the Prime side for all time. Most sages laugh at such a prospect — how can Negative Energy be tainted?

The whole burg is located inside the structure of the enormous citadel. The place resembles a cross between a castle and a sandstorm, bust despite this, the interior of the place is relatively calm—only the sound of howling winds to remind visitors of the maelstrom outside. With no portals of its own, Sirocco’s definitely a remote location. Still, folks somehow manage to find it in the endless choking winds of Dust. The berks who keep their kip here are mostly humanoid planars, although there is a healthy population of elemental beings and an unhealthy one of undead. The place is an alternative gathering point to Citadel Alluvius, and it isn’t a coincidence that the bashers who turn up here usually aren’t cosy with the Doomguard.

For all its alien atmosphere, most of the goods and services offered in Sirocco are fairly mundane. The town has its compliment of smithies, tailors, dry goods stores, apothecaries and the like. Elemental planewalkers enjoy the hospitality of the Wailing Chasm, a surprisingly neat little inn run by an outcast dao. There are a few fabulous items to be had in Sirocco’s darker corridors. Elemental homunculi for travelling in Dust are sold in several shops for outrageous prices. It’s rumoured that a cabal of Dustmen in Sirocco will teach a mysterious and unorthodox version of necromancy to willing students, provided they can offer something in return and they can find the Dead in the first place.

There’s no real authority in Sirocco, but the citizens respect the wisdom of two powerful residents. One is a scholarly lich known as Tariq min Hiyal, who supposedly hails from Avojim’s homeworld. The other is an inexplicably lawful dust quasielemental known simply as Sift. The unlikely pair are usually civil towards one another, and their word is regarded as final in most local matters of justice. Periods of tension sweep through the burg when the two happen to disagree. For the most part, however, Sirocco is a peaceful place, if a bit sinister for most folks. Still, if a berk’s trapped in Dust and not on good terms with the Doomguard, he doesn’t have many options.

Strangely, the greatest mystery behind Sirocco is not the burg’s existence, but the whereabouts of its original owner. Avojim himself has never been located. Some berks say that he still lurks around Sirocco somewhere, watching carefully from the shadows. Another popular story has it that the deranged sorcerer popped out into the Ethereal Plane instead of Dust, where he floats to this day.

Source: Andrew Wyatt

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