Sand was everywhere in the lands claimed by the Sphinx Shifters. The cats were very territorial and they didn't let anyone else in their lands. They were prideful because of their status as being one of the oldest tribes. They made their home in one of the oldest cities in the world. Most of the Shifter Tribes left the ruins alone. The great sphinxes left most of the ruins alone, but not the ones in the Oasis.
The Oasis was the center of the desert. All the buildings were three stories tall. Each story could fit two shifters standing on top of each other's shoulders. The walls were like adobe but harder than anything the modern sphinxes could make. The doors way were wide and unblocked. The streets were narrow and shaded by large trees, which in turn were shaded by the tall buildings. The city was cool in the day and retained heat when it got dark.
The Oasis boasted three public bathing baths. They were canopied by tile roof and trailing plants. The waters were fed from underground springs. In addition there was also a small canal that ran water to all the homes in the city. The canal also fed fountains, both public and private. All in all it was hardly the city one would expect to find in the middle of a desert. It was green, dark, and wet. The cats loved it.
Outside of Oasis was the great desert. Ruins dotted the desert for miles around. Legend had it that once there hadn't been a desert here and the city was so vast with Shifters it spread for miles. But that was a long time ago. Now little remained of the once great cities that hadn't been swallowed by the desert.
For a long time Oasis was a source of tranquility. The Sphinx tribe had defended their homeland from invaders who wished to take their wealth and city. However in recent years there grew discord. Not just in Oasis, but in other lands. Shifters were mysteriously falling dead. It started slowly. One or two shifters might fall asleep and never wake. In a few days they would just die.
At first the tribes tried to quarantine those they believed were infected. However it was soon apparent the sleeping plague wasn't spread by any means the shamen of the tribes could discern. It wasn't physical contact. It wasn't in the water. It was spread through the air. Anyone could get infected at anytime. Then it got worse. More and more shifters were falling asleep and dying.
The Tribes decided to call a truce while the plague infected across borders and tribes. Since they couldn't stop it separately, perhaps together they could find a way. A meeting was issued by the Sphinx council of five. Shifters from every tribe made the long journey to Oasis. Today, the fifth day of the twelfth moon marked the first meeting.
Only one shifter in Oasis wasn't allowed to be in witness. Ivan Farace. The crippled cat. The asthma to all shifter. The only shifter who could not change into his true form. He was an exile in all but name. He was told to not be in the city when the leaders and shamen from the other tribes arrive. Ivan, being smart and not stupid, complied. But he wasn't happy about it.
Ivan made himself scarce when the other Tribes began gathering. However Ivan was still a cat, and he was curious. Everyone lived in fear of the plague, including him. No one wanted to die. He wanted to know what was being done at the meeting. When everyone gathered together at the center of Oasis in the great bowl he tried to get in close, but was rebuffed.
Ivan tried a few more times over the course of the week, but to no avail. He became disheartened when whispers started that to rise. They said the council and the other tribes had not found a cure yet. Shifters were beginning to get restless.