An incredibly hot day, Year Unknown
A wiry drunk of a rogue, a burly fighter, a swarthy, sea-faring paladin, and a curious half-gnomish bard awaken hungover in a decrepit tavern, surrounded by dust and rot. The very walls of the building are falling apart from disuse, and sunlight streams through the many cracks between the boards. Each remembers little of the past several weeks, but each has had a curious dream. Coming to their senses, each realizes they are surrounded by strangers, and a tense standoff ensues.
Slowly, through tentative questioning, they learn they are all in the same situation, and they reach a fragile truce. Searching the room, they discover little of value beyond a couple bottles of rum tucked away behind the bar, and a curious coin in a dust-free box. The coin depicts a regal dragon on one side, and an hourglass on the other, and has a tiny hole bored through it’s breadth, from edge to edge.
The group ventures outside into a sweltering heat, and learns that the entire area around them is baked earth and crumbling buildings. Nothing grows, and nothing, aside from the dust, moves. Judging from the sun, it is early in the morning, but it is already too hot to remain in anything but the most basic clothing.
Amidst the tumble of ruins, they spot a slightly less deteriorated building and approach its front steps. A cracked and crumbling sign stands out front, but it is illegible. The steps crumble under the paladin’s feet, and they each cringe at the sharp crack of wood echoing through the deserted town.
Suddenly, the rogue hisses at the others to be silent. A deep beating sound can just be detected, and it grows louder with each drub. Looking about, the group spots a speck on the horizon, drawing nearer. Within moments, they realize with horror what they are hearing: the heavy beating of a massive pair of wings. The dragon that is barreling toward them is easily a hundred feet from wingtip to wingtip, and twice that from snout to tail.
They take refuge in the abandoned building, cringing behind it’s splintered and cracking walls, as the beast flies overhead. In seconds, the beast is beyond the town, and disappears on the horizon. Breathing a sigh of panicked relief, the group relaxes a bit, only to be assaulted by an intense screeching sound that penetrates to their very cores. Clamping their hands over their ears, trying desperately to retain their sanity, they are forced to their knees, and they see, through the missing roof, black streaks of lightning crisscrossing the blue sky before they squeeze their eyes shut, sure they will be dead in moments from the endless, piercing shriek.
All at once, the shrieking stops, and all is silent. Slowly opening their eyes, and carefully uncovering their ears, the group finds themselves in the middle of a nicely appointed, if slightly dated, welcome center, with an elderly man and woman gawking at them. The room is lit by gentle sunlight streaming through the windows, and not a mote of dust lingers in the air.