Nobody’s sure what happened; the texts are filled with wild speculation and the sages are silent. It’s true that for almost a thousand years the city of Aura had been gripped by a change in the local climate. It had been a chilly if fertile land when the settlers had first arrived, refugees from the collapsing Empire, but the climate had steadily worsened. By the time of the incident, no one could remember a time when the city wasn’t artificially heated and trading its expertise in weaving the subtle threads of magic for foodstuffs from the south.

Chroniclers describe Aura as a city of great learning and even greater hubris, where the normal and customary laws regarding moderation in the use of non-scientific powers was ignored or mocked. It had streetlamps before any other city in the former Empire, albeit ones lit by will o’ the wisps rather than electricity or gas. Citizens never bought any of the furs traded by other settlements in what had become a cold and unforgiving northland; their magics kept the city at such a tropical temperature that scholars from the distant, steamy Hegemony often lived there comfortably.

It may have been that overuse, that flaunting, of power that was Aura’s undoing. Or perhaps it was merely the vengeful spirit of a northland that had been too long defied. Either way, all communication with the city stopped abruptly one day. After a worrying end to the regular trade caravans that plied the route between Aura and Kynemeguta, scouts were dispatched.

They returned with tales of desolation. The town was dark and cold, with ice and snow choking every avenue. The people were frozen where they had stood, some with their hands thrown up as if to resist some terrible threat. They and their city remain there to this day, a prime destination for adventure seekers…and a warning.

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