The God-Kings of Atlantis rule the sea, as they have for untold centuries. The crimson-clad sorcerer-priests of the island kingdom, with their mastery of the amazing element orichalc, create great floating fortresses that rain lightning and death upon anyone who would stand against them. The God-Kings themselves rule the west from on high, in a great silver-gilt tower that gives them vantage over the world -- and in the name of their dark sea-god, they rule with an iron fist.
Atlantis is in an endless stalemate with the great eastern empire of Acheron, which broods somberly amidst its mighty indigo-painted ziggurats. Acheron is an empire of albino giants who call themselves the Nephilim, and claim to be descendants of angels -- although their enemies and subjugants are more likely to say they are descendant of devils. By sheer overwhelming power, Acheron rules the lands of the east, while Atlantis controls the seas of the west.
Freedom can only be found in the wilderness, in untamed lands or unclaimed border kingdoms where neither empire holds sway. To these outlands come the dangerous and the dispossessed, or just anyone who seeks to make their fortune away from Atlantis' confining castes, or Acheron's tyrannical heel. It is to one such place you have made your way.
Xhabalta is a small coastal city in the hot southern latitudes; although established as a colony of Atlantis, their presence extends only to a corrupt governor and a small militia of red-plumed guards. Far from either empire -- or indeed any other "civilized" land, Xhabalta was established to be a launching point for raids into the hostile southern jungles. These jungles grew up over the ruins of an antique prehuman culture, leaving only strangely-engraved step-pyramids of peculiar green stone slab, inhabited by the savage draconians, vicious lizard-like brutes who haunt the ancient cities in a bloodstained echo of the civilization they displaced. Tales hold that untold wealth can be found among the ruins, including the fabled Goddess of the Black Flame, a legendary statue supposedly of such unearthly beauty that men have wasted away staring at it -- and others have been driven mad when forcibly taken from its presence. Some of this wealth is guarded jealously by the draconians, who have come to regard it as their birthright rather than the plunder it was to their ancestors ... the rest is in monster-ridden vaults and deep caverns under the earth.
The bits of loot recovered from the jungle by adventurers, while feeble compared to the claims of legend, are more than enough to fuel the dreams of desperate people, and in twenty short years, Xhabalta has grown from little more than a military camp into a full-fledged (if small) city, populated by prospectors and merchants, exiles and adventurers, escaped slaves, outlaws on the run, and hard-bitten mercenaries. The mad Atlantean wizard Ariadoc lives within a half-day's ride, in a black-walled tower rumored to have been raised in a single night by means of sorcery, and often sponsors forays into the jungle to recover some artifact or clue of forgotten lore.
All this you have heard, and for reasons of your own you have made the long sea voyage to Xhabalta. Whether Atlantean, Acheronean, or outlander ... mercenary, rogue, or mystic, you have shared the past two months on board the Eye of Ishtar, a merchant galley built on fighting lines. You've fought for your life alongside the crew when waylaid by pirates and weathered fearsome southern storms, looking ahead to your landing at Xhabalta eagerly or fearfully. But on the morning the Eye of Ishtar is due to reach port, the lookout calls out in alarm -- a great black plume of smoke rises over the horizon. Xhabalta is burning. Whether it's raiders, pirates, or calamity, you cannot know ... but the town must be saved, or you will be stranded leagues from civilization, with supplies all but gone and nothing but monster-infested jungles or merciless sea in all directions...
Whattya think so far?