The world is littered with routes known as Talon Trails. They have been there for an untold amount of time and have been used through recent memory. The importance of these trails lies in the nature of their magical properties. These certain paths allowed one to travel, instantly and safely, up to and over 20 extra miles a day, depending on the set of trails. One moment one was deep along a small trail, the next he would find himself 20 or more miles farther down the path without any obvious indications. These paths have always been stable and predictable and were named the Talon Trails after the ranger who first discovered them. Those that were magically attuned could exactly predict when the transition through the magic would take place by a slight discomfort.
Once such trail crossed the Altupra Desert in the province of Trondas, from the Bay of Ozea to the Thorondrim Mountains. About 70 years ago, the trail stopped working. A set of ancient, overgrown paths now fill the void that was once skipped. These paths simply ended a short way into the desert.
Travellers were forced to either brave the dangerous sands or circumnavigate the desert entirely. Many people were lost to the desert, but eventually some made it through. With them, came reports of a great abandoned city that rose from the sands before their very eyes. Many linked it to the ancient mythical Old City of Abdyos. Many a brave and foolhardy adventurer headed off into the desert seeking fame and fortune over the years, never to return. It existed as little more than an urban legend until little more than a decade ago, when Khufu Baquet managed to accurately map the location of the city, and the circumstances for its appearance. This map came into the possession of an opportunistic low-life called Djadao Ptubastis.
The first trickle of tomb robbers and treasure hunters began to filter into the desert. Djadao made a good profit from the adventurers and saw in the necropolis a valuable investment opportunity. He built a combination inn and general store and began paying those who got tired of waiting for the Old City’s return to spread rumors of the fabulous treasures they had found.
Seventeen days after the new year, as soon as the sun rose, the Old City revealed itself once more, but this time a small troupe of desecrators were armed and waiting. Thirty-eight ventured into the city and seven returned. Those who died would rise with the city next year as cursed undead to mindlessly prey on new adventurers. Those who survived had either had knowledge of what they were facing or had gotten lucky at small less well-guarded shrines. With them they brought golden idols, small jewels, and old coins. Djadao was amazed by this wealth and immediately set to work making a profit. He hired on many of the original raiders as body guards; set up a regularly scheduled supply caravan with goods, food, and water; and began writing out a system of licenses for looting.
Over the following years a small community of prospective robbers developed, as people came to wait for the Old Citys return. Djadao was well established as the ruler of this community. He had gained control of all goods moving into and out of the settlement, but he allowed room for new merchants to take root as long as they paid him a percentage of their profits. These new merchants included both artefact buyers who had contacts in other cities, and also entertainment business that catered to those who got lucky in the necropolis. With the aid of his guards Djadao made sure that everyone who ventured into the Old City was required to have a license. If they returned from the necropolis without the proper papers their treasures would be forcefully taken from them.
Today Abdyos is a squalid and corrupt town. It is built of mud brick buildings surrounded by an acacia studded wall that protects both against the harsh winds that roll off the deep desert and also raiding desert nomads. Murders and drug addiction are rampant. For most of the year over half the town lies as empty as the Old City, serving merely as a small trading post and respite for those traversing the desert. For the last two months of the year, leading up to the Old Citys return, Abdyos becomes a buzzing hive of trade and activity. Many come simply to spectate and place bets on who will return from the Old City.
The vicious cycle continues endlessly. The Old City rises every year giving hope and fleeting happiness to a few, but drawing many others to their fate. The wealth and stories that flow out of the tombs bring more fools to Abdyos, where they are entangled in poverty and crime.