The four cairns . . . are 400 to 500 years old. Each is the burial site of a Suloise wizard.
Although they are termed cairns, each burial site is a complex dungeon in itself. The four sites shown have all been plundered, although by no means completely; interdicted chambers, myriad secret doors, and traps have kept some secrets from tomb robbers in the succeeding centuries. Sympathetic magic attracts monsters to the area (50% more likely for an encounter within six miles of each cairn). The dungeons are known to hold undead, oozes and jellies, and even derro in one instance.
Fiends are said to stalk the dungeons, seeking clues to the whereabouts of the reputed fifth cairn that would complete a star pattern if located. The fifth Star Cairn has never been found; old legends tell that a magical teleporting system would operate between the sites, and beyond, if the last cairn were discovered and a control system therein activated (Sargent, pg. 36)
In 167 CY [Common Year], a copy of the Tome of the Scarlet Sign was delivered to Murtaree, a court wizard of the Malachite Throne of the Great Kingdom. The tome was a treasure of the fallen Suloise Empire, and the wonders of that lost realm struck a chord within th dark heart of the Suel-born wizard. The man was fascinated by the tales and information about his ancestors, and was especially intrigued by the depth of hatred his people felt for their enemies, the Bakluni. The tales of ancient and terrible feuds kindled in him the fires of hatred, and he resolved to bring back to life the ancient war and destroy the Baklunish people. Counsulting his peers - other wizards of Suel heritage, working as advisers to various members of the Aerdi court - he found that there were others who felt similarly, and he easily talked them into joining his personal crusade.Seeking a quiet place where he and his cohorts could study and grow strong enough for such a venture, he was lucky enough to find two great veins of magic rock in the western arm of the Abbor-Alz. These veins enhanced different sorts of magic in ways that suited his purposes, and so the wizard hired dwarves and men to dig out lairs in these places, first breaking ground in 169 CY. When the hidden tunnels were completed, Murtaree cast a great forget spell on the workers to preserve the secret of their location. There were five locations in all - arranged on the crossing ley-lines like an enormous victory-rune (its apex in the lower Abbor Alz and its nadir in the Bright Desert), which the mage though was most appropriate. The ambitious magic-users got to work creating items and spells of great power to use against their racial enemy.Although Murtaree died in 174 CY when his transformation into a lich failed, his first students continued to work, teaching their ideals to new students. Great works were made in these dungeons. More importantly a powerful destructive artifact of unknown origin was kept here for safekeeping, divided into three pieces, each stored in a different cairn for greater security.A great ball of fire appeared over the Oljatt Sea in 198 CY, passed over the southern Great Kingdom, and vanished beyond the Sea of Gearnat . . . Selvor the Younger, an Aerdi astronomer, extrapolated its path back to its celestial origin and declared the fireball to be an omen of "wealth, strife, and a living death." This pronouncement caused a panic in Rauxes and throughout the Great Kingdom, where it was interpreted to mean the end of the world. The subsequent incidents and unrest foreshortened the Age of Great Sorrow to come, in 213 CY.Unknown to the people of the Great Kingdom, the shooting star struck the ground in eastern Abbor-Alz. The impact was felt several hundred miles away in Murtaree's southernmost site, momentarily distracting the attention of the mages working there. Mysteriously, the site vanished a few seconds later -- with it, three well-known wizards of the Great Kingdom. Even worse, one of the pieces of the ancient weapon had been stored in the lost site. The remaining wizards abandoned for a time their plans of Bakluni destruction to deal with the troubles in the east, and fled the laboratories, some taking the time to activate magical and mundane defense to protect their research.Eventually, the wizards who knew the true purpose of the dungeons were scattered to the winds or dead; the items found inside sparked their own legends, leading people to believe that he ruins were merely burial sites for great mages. They came to be called the Star Cairns, after the star-shaped entrances, and the belief that they were mausoleums. Monsters and other undesirables began using the cairns as lairs, the great plans of the Suel wizards forgotten . . . (Reynolds, pg. 2)
|The Bright Lands Map from Wizards of the Coast|