Yet before the Shasu people had come to the oasis, a great ravine had cut through the land, separating Sarkada, the city, from the coast. Inside of it, purple crystals sparkling with energy and sharp as a knife flooded the canyon. Only when the city was settled, did the people begin investigating this odd formation with any effort.

A young mage journeyed towards the ravine one day and started to study the crystals. What he found didn’t blow the world apart, but it did hint at what would come. And before long, another had joined him, then another, and another on top of that. Soon, an entire guild formed around the study of these amazing crystals, it named itself the Academy of Wonders, the wizards within banded together to probe and prod at whatever secrets they could find.

Discovery after discovery came from their study. Refrigeration of food and cooling of buildings, irrigation of the vast farms was simplified, even sanitation of the streets and sewers were now in the grasp of the mages.. The discoveries were so wondrous that the side effects took time to notice. The first mutation is thought to be an old miner, his name lost to the public, who grew an extra tail. Something minor, something peculiar, and nothing that was significant until an origin for what was to come was sought.

What was to come was much greater than an extra tail. Mutations and transformations became more common, twists in who and what people were, in their minds and their bodies both. Soon knowledge of this strange twisting plague was near universal.

The city and the royal guard tried to downplay and hide these corruptive properties, but before long everyone knew about the afflicted. The effects were varied and wide—some turned into half beast, half people, others lost their sanity entirely, still others became the shape shifting legends of lore, werewolves. There were even vampires, mythology springing up around them and becoming commonplace. Powers beyond the comprehension and ability of monster mortal men.

Not all of the afflicted were fearsome, some were benevolent, a blessed heart, halos and wings, they came to be known as the Blessed rather than the afflicted. These beings radiate calm and care around them, and they’ve become paragons of the city’s way of life, and many sought to join their number and too, ascend beyond mortality.

Still others had little to nothing to show at all. An extra finger, something an odd pattern on their skin or fur, a slightly changed scent. Things that perhaps marked them as different, but not dangerous or remarkable in any major way.

More than just the people were affected, the land too seemed to suffer. In the desert, the cool southernly oceanic winds seemed to be replaced by hot desert gales. In the jungles, monsoon season seemed somehow even harsher, bringing terrible storms and torrential downpours, and in the mountains, the creeping cold seemed even more harsh. The only area seemingly unaffected was that directly around the great rift.

Stranger still, some who arrived seemed confused or lost. Unsure how their ship arrived at this port, how they could have washed up on these shores, confused that the alley they cut through seemed to bring them to a street they had never seen before. While many more rational sorts believe it simply became a common excuse for hiding one’s background by making up a fantastical tale, others believed the crystals seemed to convolute the flow of time and space.