It appeared that at least some of the Void Cult’s doomsaying was based on a truth uncovered by the cult’s founder. The Destroyer could still break through into the material plane in certain circumstances. And approximately two years ago, events were put into motion that would bring about those conditions and free the Destroyer to continue its world-ending work.
Here in the small city of Colam Isti, there is not a soul still alive from that time who doesn’t remember the terrible night when the world was changed. A peal of thunder called everyone’s attention to the sky above, where the stars disappeared, the moon dimmed to a copper-orange, and a baleful red glow stretched from one horizon to the other. In the southeast, a point of white light appeared with misty grey clouds spiraling in toward it. The point of light hung in the night sky for hours while fear crept into the hears of everyone, until finally the light began to dim to nothing and the clouds dispersed. Even so, few could manage sleep and some people wailed in the night.
In the morning, things were already beginning to change. The leaves on the trees were turning brown and falling off, even though autumn was months away. Hunters returning from the forest claimed to have heard frightening calls from the shadows. Within a week, the crops began to whither in the fields and the river started to dry up, while reports began to come in of horrible creatures stalking the countryside. When a small band of marauding orcs appeared, the city gates had to be shut while the townguard drove them off.
The city, previously ruled democratically, elected an Emergency Council with five members who immediately began enacting decrees to ensure the survival of everyone. The ancient city walls were repaired and every person with a home outside the walls was given the choice of coming inside or being left to their fate. Food was to be collected and stored with the grain already in the town silos, and everything would be rationed. A curfew and the conscription of soldiers were also among the Council’s many increasingly totalitarian edicts.
Two years later, the landscape outside the city walls has become an arid wasteland, all but a desert, with the river reduced to all but a trickle. Inside the city walls, things are not much better. The Emergency Council (each member now followed by a retinue of lictors, or bodyguards) has announced that the granaries are nearly empty, and so rations, already scant, are to be further reduced to near-starvation level. This, despite the fact that many have noticed the Councilmen do not seem to be losing much weight.
Some have been driven to flee the city, climbing over the walls at night; a few have returned, begging sanctuary, but most have not been heard from again. With those who have died since the Cataclysm, the population of the city has been significantly reduced, from well over eleven thousand before to barely over seven thousand now. Besides those conscripted into the town’s defense force or others assigned to tend to the sick and starving, many are employed tending the bedraggled gardens or digging ever deeper wells to find enough water for everyone. Houses are falling into disrepair, and garbage clutters the streets. The houses that were outside the city walls are now ruined, some collapsed and others infested with vermin or monsters.
Contact with other communities has been all but nonexistent. Even Estea, previously a small farming hamlet of about two thousand people and merely a half-day’s walk away, has not been heard from in over a year. Most news of the outside world comes from wanderers from the wasteland. Although the Council has decreed that they are to be turned away at the gate, most are surreptitiously let in and given water and a loaf of bread in exchange for their story before being sent on their way.
According to the wanderers, the land outside the Tilna Basin is not an arid wasteland, but is no less dangerous. The basin stretches to the east, becoming more a desert with each mile. Feral, bloodthirsty orcs rule the mountains to the north, while the steep mountain passes to the west are controlled by bandits.