Dalath

Size: Town

Population: 600+ (Human-Mulan) plus 5,000+ slaves (80% Human – various, 14% Dwarves, 6% Other).

As with all settlements in Unther,  only Mulan humans are considered citizens,  and even then only those related to the god-kings have any rights in Unther. All demi-humans are considered slaves by their mere existence and can expect to be assailed and enslave as soon as they set foot within Dalath.

Humans that are not obviously Mulan will be enslaved if they break any of Unther’s laws (usually offending the An’Ulae families that run this town), or if there is a shortage of slaves, or if they happen to encounter Teu-Mmanudar

Ruler: Teu-Mmanudar (Evil Human-Mulan Warrior 6th level)

 

Overview

Dalath is a settlement long in decline, with its continued lawlessness and rebelliousness being the primary factors, but the supposed reduction in productivity of the mines is also causing much hardship in the town and in Unther as well.

Built among the foothills of the Smoking Mountains, Dalath is spread across a crest of steep hills which provide it with adequate protection (one reason for the lack of walls and other defences) but have also limited its growth.

Dalath’s buildings are made primarily of hard stone (mostly granite), built during a former age when Dalath was a jewel in the glittering empire of Unther, but that time is long past and the vast majority of the buildings around the outer edge of Dalath lie abandoned and in a poor state of repair.

The town is constantly on the verge of rebellion that never seems to take hold, and requires the presence of large numbers of mercenaries to supplement the standing army to keep the slaves in line but is never able to discover who keeps arming the slaves.

Dalath’s titular ruler is absent for much of the year (at court in Unthalass) but returns regularly to personally crush the rebellions, which has earned him the moniker “Bloodletter”.

 

Life and Society

In Dalath there is no life outside of work, it is a town run by the freeholder houses who buy in large numbers of slaves (and mercenaries to police them) and put them to work in the mines to gather as much of the precious gold, copper, iron, and lead, that they can to sell at Unthalass to enrich their coffers. There are no shops or amenities, the freeholder houses buy in all the luxuries (for themselves) and all the food and equipment (for the slaves) that is needed.

Those that do not work are put to death (usually by marching them north to the Smoking Mountains and letting them go. Adventurers who arrive in the town are expected to fend for themselves, if they do not ingratiate themselves to the freehold houses quickly they are likely to find difficulties in sourcing the supplies they need (although they can always find shelter in one of the abandoned buildings on the outskirts of town).

The An’Ulae (and Teu-Mmanudar when he is in town) live in absolute luxury in large houses of the sunken courtyard design common in Unther known as a Luut. The slave miners are housed inside a walled ghetto inside the town in whatever buildings they can claim. In the outskirts of the town are abandoned buildings that are home to escaped slaves, criminals, monsters, and other potential dangers.

The town is home to a number of secret groups including an organized group of slaves that constantly strive to free their fellow slaves from the freeholders’ rule, a cabal comprising of the freeholder elders and a number of selected individuals that work toward destabilizing Unther and removing Gil-Geamesq from power.

 

Politics

The ruler of Dalath is Teu-Mmanudar (Evil Human-Mulan Warrior 6th level), but like most settlements in Unther,  the Lords of Unther spend much of their time at court currying favour with the god-king Gil-Geamesq.

Teu-Mmanudar’s only interest in Dalath is in the meagre flow of taxes that he levies on the minor merchant/noble houses as a tithe on weight of all the ore mined here. He also shows a personal interest in the town when uprisings occur and the flow of taxes ceases,  and on these occasions he hires mercenary companies to slaughter the rebels and restore order,  taking pride that he has never taken a captive yet in 32 years of lordship.

Who Really Rules: The real rulers of Dalath are the minor noble families of Ram-Ahir-Esh and Kalm-Arak (noble families formed from the bastard scions of existing houses that pay for the privileges they are allowed to keep and as a result are known as freeholders). These freeholders have purchased writs to the best mines and are granted the right to collect the god-king’s coin and enforce the god-king’s will. The two freeholder families cooperate closely and are in control of everything that happens in Dalath,  although the heads of each family are canny enough to play the part of feuding, drunken sots that feign friendship with Teu-Mmanudar and appear to vie constantly for his patronage.

It is the Ram-Ahir-Esh and Kalm-Arak families that secretly fund all slave uprisings to keep Teu-Mmanudar’s attention occupied at crucial moments, but otherwise the two households ensure taxes are collected and delivered.

Behind the freeholders is an ancient blue dragon; Maladraedior who dwells beneath Dalath in a secret prison designed by the god-king Gir-Ubil. Maladraedior advises the elders in his secret plan to destabilise Unther and destroy the rule of the god-kings.

Nobility: Dalath is home to no resident nobility,  its backwater, rough reputation has put off any of the An’Ular families from living in the squalor that Dalath now represents. The An’Ulae (Freeholders) maintain a presence in the settlement in the form of two apparently rival families; Ram-Ahir-Esh and Kalm-Arak,  who have purchased writs to run the settlement for the An’Ular house of Teu

To all outward appearances the rival families are in competition,  running their own mines (while sabotaging their rivals),  and sending approved Isriku (Collectors of the god-king’s coin) and hired Gud (pronounced good – meaning warriors) to enforce the god-king’s will. It is not uncommon for newcomers to be forced to pay taxes to Isriku from both families (if they are unlucky enough to cross into the territories of both families),  locals know to pick sides and have usually allied themselves with one family which means they are protected from the other (although this is by no means guaranteed and family turfs change regularly).

The whole situation is of course a sham. Those who work for Ram-Ahir-Esh and Kalm-Arak are not aware of it,  and nor are the younger members of the families,  but the elders are on good terms and orchestrate their actions so that no family gains or loses ground permanently in the long run and all proceeds are split equally over the year. All communication between the elders are through bronze coins etched with draconic letters and numbers that are linked via passages in ancient scrolls provided by Maladraedior to the elders on a regular basis (these occasions are the only times the two elders meet beneath the settlement of Dalath).

Such conspiracies between rival An’Ulae families has been the norm in Dalath for over a millennia,  as Maladraedior compels the elders to conform to his desires (by eating those who do not obey),  and when families die out new ones are drawn to Dalath by the finding of rich new lodes in abandoned mines.

 

Defence

Dalath’s primary defence is the steep, volcanic hill crest upon which it rests. Dalath otherwise appears lightly defended with nearly 200 Gud (pronounced g-ooh-d,  meaning warriors) to enforce “the god-king’s will”, as the freeholders are not An-Ular they cannot call their soldiers masate (that is reserved for the glorious soldiers of Unther, not some hired mercenaries).

The Gud are almost equally split between the two freehold houses (small variations depending upon which household has control of more mines in Dalath), 10 remain within the Luut of each house to guard its wealth while the keep the slaves in line or escort the Isriku.

There are a number of masate present in Dalath (about 17 in total) who are armed and trained in a similar fashion to Gud), but these are Teu-Mmanudar’s personal soldiers and do not leave his estate unless ordered to by the Bloodletter.

Dalath has no wall protecting the town, its location atop a crest of steep hills, and the proximity of the volcanic smoking mountains (which has strewn sharp jagged stone that hampers most in the Old Empires – often wearing thin sandals or no footwear). The outskirts of the town are abandoned but the inhabited part of town is surrounded by an earth embankment that keeps the slaves penned in during the night and offers some protection to the defenders.

Dalath Gud (Neutral Human – Mulan Warrior 1):Typically armed with a bronze stabbing sword (known as eshadak), a bronze javelin (known as hitir), and dressed in cloth covered with plates of bronze (the equivalent of splint mail and known as pederu).

Beneath the official defences are nearly 4,000 slaves who are hardened by years of working in the mines, organised into gangs and armed, armoured, and trained to various degrees.

Should any outside trouble threaten Dalath then it is the slave gangs that will prove the most dangerous opponent. However, the greatest defender of Dalath is a secret known only to a handful of people (the elders of the freeholder families, and select other agents); the ancient blue dragon Maladraedior. While Maladraedior is chained beneath the Smoking Mountains, the chain is long enough to allow him to surface in places as far away as Dalath.

 

Trade

The primary product of Dalath is the metals and gems mined in the depths of the Smoking Mountains. Initially Dalath was the pride of Unther,  producing gems enough to encrust the palaces and gardens of the capital of Unthalass,  and metals in abundance to armour the “Gurmasate” (meaning army or armies) of Unther in suits of burnished bronze that were the envy of other human lands.

Nowadays the yield of gems and metals has slowed to a trickle,  with successive freeholder families claiming that the lodes are playing out,  and demonstrating the proof to inspectors sent by Gil-Geamesq.

The only caravans that travel to and from Dalath are those belonging to the Ram-Ahir-Esh and Kalm-Arak families. They take ore and gemstone shipments to Unthalass, Messemprar, and sometimes beyond, and bring back food, equipment, and luxuries for their masters. Few others bother to travel to this backwater town as the freeholder families have monopolized all the trade opportunities.

 

Magic

Like the rest of Unther,  magic use and users are punished with draconian measures unless they are members of the Church of the Sky Father.

The only magic users in Dalath are Maladraedior and his students (always the elders of the Freeholder families or his select other agents). The existence of these magic users is a closely guarded secret and they only dare practice this magic when in Shrine of the Fire Smith or if their life is in mortal peril.

 

Religion

In the distant past, before Gil-Geamesq became ruler of Unther,  Dalath was home to a large temple complex to Gir-Ubil the Forgemaster. Following Gir-Ubil’s death in the Orcgate Wars,  his following became a breeding ground for elemental worshippers (specifically fire elementalists) and assassins that eventually became radical elements in Unther and were ultimately driven from that land (fleeing to other planes and far off lands). As part of this chain of events,  the Temple of the High Forge fell into ruin as it’s funds and following dried up,  and was then flattened by the Gurmasate of Unther when it became home to the Brotherhood of the Black Flame.

Dalath’s decline in fortune along with Gil-Geamesq’s restriction of religious practices means that Dalath is shunned by the major religions of Unther (only Gil-Geamesq, Ram-Manu, and Ish-Tarri’s worship are allowed in modern Unther). In the absence of organized religion, Dalath has become home to the worship of outcast and long absent gods.

Cult of the Old Gods: The Cult of the Old Gods worships the long abandoned and outlawed religions of Unther (such as E-Nlil, Amar-Duuk, Ass-Uraqn, Da-Mmusqi, Gir-Ubil, Ina-Ninaki, Shu-Mmatq, Teu-Nasabu). The worship of these gods is mostly half remembered myth and old childhood stories, but all worshippers agree that Gil-Geamesq’s rule must be brought to an end.

Cult of the Queen of Chaos: The Cult of the Queen of Chaos has a scant but growing following among the slave miners of Dalath. Every year it gains in strength until a rebellion arises which results in almost the entire slave population of Dalath being slain (along with all its devotees) and the cult having to reinfiltrate the settlement once again. The Cult of the Queen of Chaos desires to acquire contacts among the fabled organization known as the Fire Drakes (which it believes to have common ground with as potential dragon worshippers), but after a century of infiltration it is still unable to get more than a whisper of the organization and its membership.

 

Important NPCs

Amazzan (Neutral, Human – Mulan, Magic User 4): Amazzan is the clan elder of the An-Ulae house of Kalm-Arak. He is much younger than Ungorer, at only 39 years of age and although he respects the man’s skill at politics, he would prefer a younger rival he can relate to (he also finds Ungorer’s lack of trust in magic disturbing).

Ganafar (Neutral, Human – Mulan, Magic User 4): Ganafar truly believes Maladraedior is a god in the manner of the godkings of the Mulan (he is not a student of history and so is not aware of the longstanding enmity between Unther and dragons). He is constantly seeking an audience with Maladraedior and has erected a temple in the tunnels beneath Dalath in the hopes of attracting Maladraedior to it so he can worship him. He hopes to convert likeminded people to worship Maladraedior as the embodiment of magic, but so far has only found interest from other dragon cultists who also happen to be members of the Cult of the Queen of Chaos.

Halmashir (Neutral, Human – Mulan, Warrior 5): Halmashir is the best warrior in the Eternal Claws, he often provides basic training to any newly hired guards to ensure they have skills enough to survive. He is fearsome in battle but otherwise possesses no head for tactics, preferring just to attack the nearest foes until none are left. Halmashir is known for his favourite sword (of western design, a longsword) which can be hurled at a foe and returns to his hand. He is often found in the tunnel complex beneath Dalath guarding Ganafar during the construction of a makeshift temple to the Millennium Wyrm.

Om (Good, Human – Chondathan, Warrior 2): Om (meaning one) has spent almost his entire life as a slave. He is huge and well built, but also naïve and trusting, and spends most of his time hiding in the outskirts of Dalath, helping organize slave escapes and raids on caravans. Om receives information and supplies (from the Millennium Wyrm and his agents) left in caches around the settlement.

Samanaki (Neutral, Human, Mulan, Warrior 3): A grizzled, veteran caravan master of 13 years experience who was recently appointed to be one of the senior Points of The Eternal Claws. He is confident and capable in battle and has been appointed specifically for his combat knowledge in order to help with the rebellion of Messemprar (it was his idea to ship tainted ore to the Untheric army in the north and discard it for the rebels to find).

Teu-Mmanudar (Evil, Human-Mulan, Warrior 6): Teu-Mmanudar is the lord of Dalath, a brutal and sadistic who despises the settlement and tries to spend as long a time as possible in court in Unthalass. He returns to Dalath once a year to collect his tithes from the freeholders that rent power in his name, and whenever slave uprisings occur that threaten his position at court and require a bloodthirsty response which has earned him the moniker “Bloodletter”.

Ungorer (Neutral, Human – Mulan, Expert 3): Ungorer is the clan elder of the An-Ulae house of Ram-Ahir-Esh. He is a wizened man of some 53 years who is more than capable of the subterfuge and trickery required of one of the elders of Dalath. Ungorer is devoted to serving Maladraedior and ending the rule of Gil-Geamesq.

Zineqar (Evil, Human – Mulan, Expert 7): The most senior Point in The Eternal Claws has been a caravan master for nearly 4 decades. He is cunning, mistrustful, and ambitious, and is one of the few people to have met Maladraedior in person. Despite his selfish personality he recognizes that the Millennium Wyrm is his best chance for survival in Unther (because he is an escaped slave). When Gil-Geamesq and his rule is ended then, and only then, Zineqar may betray Maladraedior for another.

 

Important Sites

During the time of Unther’s first Empire, Dalath had many magnificent and ornate buildings made of marble, granite, or other stones from the nearby volcanic Smoking Mountains.

Nowadays, after centuries of neglect from the authorities in Unthalass, Dalath’s economy and environs have suffered. Many of the older, iconic, communal buildings have partly fallen into ruin or have collapsed and the stone repurposed for repairing other buildings or constructing slave hovels.

The Circle: The headquarters of The Eternal Claws, this building is notable for its circular shape (with the usual courtyard at its centre). It is guarded by a staff of 8, but otherwise remains empty until once a month when the senior Points meet to discuss the economic policy of the trading company.

Shrine of the Fire Smith: This secret shrine to Gir-Ubil lies somewhere beneath the western arm of the Smoking Mountains. It is accessible from a tunnel that runs beneath Dalath and connects the House of Kalm-Arak and Ram-Ahir-Esh (and used to connect to the Temple of the High Forge).

The Shrine is home to the ancient (even by draconic standards) blue dragon Maladraedior. This wyrm was imprisoned within the shrine by Gir-Ubil after he was bested by Amar-Du’uk during the dragon purges of Unther, and left to keep the volcanoes of the Smoking Mountains from erupting.

The shrine is home to a number of sacred treasures of Gir-Ubil, stored here by the god (and then his faithful following his death), including a gigantic bronze statue of the god of smiths, the chain of eternal servitude, and the pool of fiery vigour.

Temple of the High Forge: The Temple of the High Forge was once a major place of worship for the faithful of Gir-Ubil, and the Master of the Forge visited here many times to forge relics and items for his favourites.

Since Gir-Ubil’s death, the Temple of the High Forge gradually fell into ruin as the faithful declined and it became home to more radical elements in Untheric society. Eventually the Gil-Geamesq ordered the Brotherhood of the Black Flame be destroyed as he cracked down on magic users not under his control.

The Temple of the High Forge was burned to the ground and the ruins flattened in 249 DR. Today all that remains of the temple is a ring of darkened earth (almost unnoticeable in the dark, ash rich earth around the Smoking Mountains), and those slaves whose hovels now occupy the site often complain of the heat even on relatively cool days.

Secret: When the Temple was burned, several members of the Brotherhood of the Black Flame were hidden inside. As they were consumed by the flames, a number used powerful and ancient rituals to transform themselves into living flames. They now roam the secret undercellars of the Temple (a few of which connect to tunnels in the Smoking Mountains) seeking to avenge themselves upon any followers of Gil-Geamesq.

Temple of the Worm: Hidden beneath Dalath in tunnels that stretch under the Smoking Mountains is a complex of crudely carved chambers that form the basis of a newly founded religion led by the Wyrmpriest Ganafar and dedicated to the worship of Maladraedior as the god of magic.

There are currently less than a score of chambers arranged along the largest tunnel to the Smoking Mountains. There are currently 12 worshippers (most of them members of the Eternal Claw, although there are two outsiders who are secret members of the Cult of the Queen of Chaos and are here to infiltrate the new cult) who gather here whenever they are in town. Maladraedior does nothing to encourage the worship of himself, but often visits to converse with Ganafar (he is fully aware of the presence of cultists from the Cult of the Queen of Chaos, has them under a close watch, and will have them killed if they threaten his plans).

The Mines: The mines of Dalath litter the western arm of the Smoking Mountains. The mines are dug along a single trail of paved stone (each stone made perfectly square and smooth) that leads high into the tallest mountain. The oldest mines (rumoured to have existed before Dalath was founded) are furthest along the trail and are now filled with ash skinned giants and terrible monsters (and thus inaccessible to modern Dalath).

The newer mines are more ramshackle in appearance and closer to the town, have poorer yields and it is more difficult to access ore deep in the earth, but historical records show that the older mines are exhausted.

 

Important Organisations

The Fire Drakes: This organization is but a whisper on the lips of the slaves, and has been for many centuries. Supposedly the fire drakes are a group of eternal warriors (many believe survivors from the Temple of the High Forge) who watch over the slaves and will guide them to freedom. Most of the slaves believe the Fire Drakes organize and arm the continued rebellions in Dalath, and are willing to lay down their lives in continued support of these legendary beings.

The Fire Drakes do exist, but they are secret pawns of the An-Ulae households of Dalath and the Millennium Wyrm. The Fire Drakes are secretly armed, organized, and fed information by the caravan masters who transport goods to and from Dalath (who are themselves members of the Eternal Claws). The leadership of the Fire Drakes hides in the outskirts of Dalath in the abandoned buildings (and their secret cellars), when rebellion strikes most of the Fire Drakes are also slain and new members are picked from among the new slaves.

The Eternal Claws: This trading company was setup long ago by freehold houses to transport goods to and from Dalath. It is the only cooperative venture the freehold families of Dalath ever engage in and all freehold families of Dalath have a presence on the board that runs this company. The Eternal Claws is a front for agents that seek to destabilize Unther and remove Gil-Geamesq from power, they travel Unther and beyond gathering information and magic for their secret patron.

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