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Kushk

Also known as the Deserted City of Kushk or Purple Kushk, this magnificent ruin rests at the base of Mount Kus on the western brink of the Jumpa River Gorge where the Old Iron Road crosses the chasm. Once the route was connected by the Great Chain Bridge that spanned the gorge, but this was broken for many years, an has only recently been repaired.

Kushk was an outpost of Ra-Khati, the most important trading city of that land. Its design reflects the obsessive paranoia of its builders, who fear contact with the outside world. Kushk was built in a way that kept the Ra-Khatians isolated while still allowing them to deal with foreign merchants.

The city was divided into three sections. Only the side closest the Jumpa River was for Ra-Khati merchants. They entered Kushk through a small gate on the eastern side. Entering through the larger, western gate were the foreign caravans. These merchants stayed in the second section of the city. Living in the third section were the “unclean” priests of Bimasara, the Padhrasattva of Barter. They lived in buildings nestled at the base of Mount Kus.

Each section of the city was enclosed by its own walls with further walls surrounding the entire city. In addition, the two merchant sectors were divided by a special arcade. This arcade, occupied by the priests, ensured the isolation of the traders. To trade goods in and out of Ra-Khati, the merchant presented his wares to the priests manning the stalls on his side of the arcade. The priests, acting as agents of the seller, took the goods to the other side of the arcade and sold them to the merchants of the other sector. This way the citizens of Ra-Khaki were spared contact with the outside world. Only the priests met with both natives and foreigners.

As cumbersome as this system was, it worked well enough for the caravan trade. The priests, since they did nothing but buy and sell, quickly became skillful negotiators. The temple of Bimasara became quite wealthy since it claimed a small percentage of every sale. With this money, the priests built and maintained the fourth part of Kushk, the Holy Mountain of Kus, the temple of their faith. They bored a series of twelve tunnels into the mountain. These spiralled upward, finally emerging about halfway up the slope. From six of these tunnels continue six roads which spiral to the summit. At the top the roads meet at the Tower of Harmony, a simple structure of red stone.

The Tower of Harmony was the abode of the high lama of Bimasara, the place of perfect enlightenment. To reach the tower, a priest had to undergo a series of dangerous tests in the tunnels of the mountain. Only those wise in the ways of the temple were supposed to reach the top. Furthermore, each road led to a different floor of the Tower. A priest could only reach the high lama by correctly mastering all the tests of the Holy Mountain. Kushk and the Holy Mountain have been abandoned for many years. The city was destroyed by the armies of Solon during the War of the Purple Dragon. Kushk was laid waste by Gaumahavi, the Purple Dragon. Now the city is empty, slowly crumbling into ruins under a thick layer of purple dust.

Kushk may be abandoned but it is not uninhabited. Evil creatures, gaki (see the Monstrous Compendium Oriental Adventures Appendix), have diligently tunneled beneath the city and mountain. These ravenous creatures have given rise to many recent stories about Kushk, particularly stories of how an army of evil creatures is reclaiming it.

During the early part of the Horde invasions, a small contingent of the barbarian army was sent toward Kushk and Ra-Khati to scout out and possibly conquer these lands. While investigating Kushk, many scouting patrols came to horrible ends at the hands, of the gaki. Ultimately the Horde forces bypassed Kushk in favor of less dangerous and richer lands to the north.

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