Athas. A scorched world forsaken by the Gods.

Life as you know it could not end soon enough. Many days you wish this was the tale of your death. Instead, this is the sad tale of your life … or what is left of it.

Servitude. Tyranny and torment now have new meaning to you. You have come to understand the appreciation of pain. A flogging to your backside no longer forces the same screams of agony. It is only when your open wounds mix with the dust of the salt mine that you are again reminded of what true pain feels like.

Whatever life you had before this hellish prison is irrelevant and has long since been forgotten. The scalding heat of the wastes puts your thoughts elsewhere and causes your mind to drift. You bring your focus back to your work and to hope that the guard will see your mouth as he passes by with the daily water. Men and women die around you each week. Still, you think to yourself that maybe you can make it one more day. “Just one more day,” you think to yourself.

Your worth as a slave brings you to a new place, Camp Rikal. The Iron Lords have kept you alive this far. Your crate reeks of person who died here last but you are accustomed to that stench. Here you mine for the rare and precious ore, iron. A week of your hard labor yields about a shovel full you think…

Still, you maintain your spirit somehow. At nightfall, when you put your pick down and no minerals can be seen, you run your hands through the coarse sand. The warm sand in the cool breeze is relaxing to your overworked muscles and takes your mind off from the labor of the day. Raising your head from the dust you gaze far into the far horizon and see a soft green glow that provides you with a small comfort just as you fall asleep.

Morning comes all too quickly. The Bendi have come by the camp this day and speak to the taskmaster. They will trade for goods and organize games here again it seems. Games of death. They will first look to those who volunteer and force others who do not.

Little did you know that today would be the first day of your afterlife…

The Verdant Passage