The Summer Heroes
Toma the Sandlord
For their entire history, the desert tribes and bandit gangs were a disparate and unruly lot. Organizing so few people across such vast and barren distances simply required a force of will far more powerful than a tribal network of enmity and rivalries could muster. Until recently, at least.
Separating the Legend of Toma the Sandlord from his true history is almost impossible, but this much is known: he was already the ruler of a small bandit gang when Soren was sacked, and in the decade it took for Sorian forces to withdraw behind the Iron River he consolidated dozens of tribes and gangs under his rule. His power has only increased since then, and all but a few (mostly gnomish) tribes have either united under him or been destroyed. Today, Toma effectively controls the entire Aljudha Desert from his caravan metropolis, and crossing the sand without fighting or paying him is almost impossible.
Given the length of his reign, it is widely assumed that he is either an elf or a mage of great power, and the variety of physical descriptions available for him would seem to indicate the latter. It is said that the terrible beasts that live beneath the sand obey his command, and few historians are willing to spend enough time thinking of these creatures to object to such tales. His cruelty is notorious—and his rise has traditionally been credited to it—but incidents of particular violence have largely subsided in recent years. This is, no doubt, a consequence of having essentially finished the job; there are few forces remaining for Toma to fight, and his control over the desert trade routes is complete. There simply are not many people for him to massacre any more.