Shifty Sands of Athas (Dust in the Win)
Altaruk: A Primer
At the head of the Big Fork of the Estuary is the merchant village of Altaruk. Operated by all three merchant Houses of Balic, this is a major trade village for all caravans passing through the region and has seen enormous growth over the past few decades. A per beast-of-burden toll is charged for caravans that would like to enter to trade with the Balic merchants and thus gain extra protection from the dangers of the wastes. Small merchant outfits may forego the toll and trade with the less reputable elven merchants that operate in the Mechant’s Quarter. The Merchant’s Quarter lies outside the western walls of the trade fortress and contains a lively mix of residential and commercial space. This area boasts an Elven Market and the Bloodsand Arena.
Law & Order: Arisphistaneles manages the town for the Balican Houses. Arisphistaneles has a reputation as a fair manager, and deals harshly with those that would disrupt the town in his charge. Law and order are enforced stringently, and this fact has thusfar helped maintain a profitable lifestyle in Altaruk.
Defenses: Most of the giants that previously plagued this area were pushed south during the Greatling Wars that took place several decades ago. Despite this fact, the occasional giant attack is still a danger that Altaruk faces. For that reason – and the ever-present bandits that roam the desert – a mercenary force of more than 500, along with the village’s twenty foot walls, protect the settlement. A section of the wall has been recently rebuilt after a landslide from an adjacent mountain buried a corner of the village.
Accommodations: Visitors can stay at one of the two inns. The Four Bits lies within the fortress and is known among wealthier merchant circles as a safe and very “friendly” establishment. The Traveler’s Rest is not of outstanding quality, and does not perform all the “services” of The Four Bits, but is still relatively safe and reasonably priced. The Fortress’ well charges a bead per bucket of fresh clear water. The Merchant’s Quarter’s well only costs 3 bits to use. This well’s water is slightly brown, but tastes fine.