Kingdom of Mor-Denoch
The World Below
Capital: Descencore (320,000)
Population Breakdown: 25% Duregar, 25% Shen’ari, 25% Svirneblin, 15% ‘Dwellwer’, 10% other
Notable Settlements: Holar-Bar (6,000 approx), Lar-Eben (22,500), Shen’Tir (21,900), Gerashinnadel (24,000), Upton (4,500), Lastlight (9,460)
Ruler: The Elder Council: 6 individuals, identities unknown.
Government: Gerontocracy council.
Languages: Common, Undercommon, Dwarven, Elven and Gnome.
Religion: “The Twin Ladies”, some small worship of The Church of Twelve.
Technological Level: Medium
Mystical Level: Medium
One of the oldest and most established Kingdoms in the world, Mor-Denoch is also the largest. With labyrinthine tunnels that stretch beneath many of the other great nations – not to mention the once capital of the world: Rhakor – it is also the most sparsely populated by comparison. While the cities house many thousands and are often crowded or over-populated, the hundreds of miles of tunnels and cave systems linking one city to another are almost devoid of life. Actually an amalgamation of three powerful nations who were influential even in ancient times, the Gerontocracy of Mor-Denoch is shrouded in mystery and more than a little fear by the surface-dwelling people of the world, and their often alien ways of life ensure than their xenophobic lands are rarely trespassed upon. It has a reputation for being a dark and cut-throat place where betrayals are commonplace and life is cheap, and the Mor-Denochians do little to discourage this reputation.
Mor-Denoch is a very old Kingdom, stretching back to when the Elven Empire of Nimben’el ruled the surface and before the G’hun split into the Duregar and Dwarves, and the Nix into the Svirfneblin and the Gnomes. For a lot of the early life of the Kingdom civil wars and territorial disputes meant that the G’hun, Shen’ari and Nix were constantly fighting one another for superiority and where mostly oblivious to the new nations forming in the world above. For decades the sides besieged one another, forming into three distinct Kingdoms that were truly massive in size, yet sparsely populated. When the Elven Empire of Nimben’el collapsed Mor-Denoch barely noticed, so involved were they in defeating one another. At some point in the distant past rifts even appeared within the three factions themselves and half of the G’hun left for the surface and became the Dwarves, and a dispute between two major factions within the Nix meant that over half of those also left for the surface and became the Gnomes. The remaining G’hun became modern-day Duregar, whereas the Nix who remained behind became the Svirfneblin. The three races that endured entered a delicate truce, agreeing to accept each others borders and wishes, and by the time of the Mythic Age they had, between the three factions, an already well-established and powerful civilization. Caring nothing for the affairs of the “upsiders”, they each used magic to enhance their lands and create the vast “Three Cities” out of the underbelly of the world. The Duregar founded the fortress-city of Lar-Eben to the northwest, the Shen’ari shrouded their city of Shen’Tir in magical shadows in the northeast, and to the south the sprawling, multi-layered Svifneblin city of Gerashinnadel took shape.
When magic left the world the three magically-dependant races worked together like never before, using a deep belief in the Gods to give them strength. It was during this time that two Goddesses in particular: Ismus (of God and Shadows) and Talasa (of Chaos and Choice) gained considerable favour and even without magic to aid them, the Clerics of these two Goddesses helped the people through the difficult transition and the various magic-dependency emergencies that occurred due to the sudden severing of magical forces. With no true single leader the Clerics ‘helped’ guide the people and became known as The Clerics of The Twin Ladies. By the time of the Industrial Era the people of Mor-Denoch began shifting their attention from the divine to more scientific pursuits, and the Clerics – who had been used to being in power – changed their tactics to a more fear-based rule and soon became more like a secret police than a religious group. Before long however it became apparent that a single leader was needed and the first Emperor of Mor-Denoch was ordained by the Clerics. This combination of a single leader who sanctioned the actions of the Clerics worked for a time, ensuring that even as the people of Mor-Denoch moved more toward the technological, they still remained god-fearing and controllable. As the people prospered and achieved more, their territories grew and slowly the borders began to clash resulting in hostility and eventually all out civil-war in 585 BR. In 572 BR the current Mor-Denoch Emperor: Sharn Ar-Shae III was assassinated and the Empire was officially dissolved. To fill the vacuum a new order was established, with an elder from each of the three peoples – Duregar, Shan’ari and Svifneblin – to stand as a voice for each of the factions, and a delicate peace was formed. This lasted for over five hundred years, all the while the Clerics working with (though officially ‘for’) the new Elder Council. In 62 BR a second civil war broke out when hostilities between the Duregar and Shen’ari broke out into all-out war (not unlike the animosity the Nim’ari and the Dwarves) and the Svifneblin (as a people) refused to take a side, presuming that the victor would be weakened by the event. The Elder Council however foresaw it as a weakening of the realm as a whole and waited for the two factions to run low on resources before suggesting that each of the three factions add a second Elder to the Council so that more than one voice could represent each group. Doing so, the first edict of the new 6-member council was to give Clerics greater power of control over the populace and members of their order went about quashing any remaining insurgents. With The Reckoning in 0 BR / 0 AR the people of the subterranean Kingdom were not immediately sure what was happening, but many cave-ins and the re-emergence of magic was enough for them to close many of the way-gates to the surface, chief among them being the Rhakor-Gate. From that time Mor-Denoch more or less shut themselves off from the rest of the world except for a single instance in 10 AR when they reached out to the Dwarves, Gnomes and Nim’ari offering a peace, though only the Gnomes accepted their offer and some basic trade agreements were built between the two peoples. Still a secretive and dark place, Mor-Denoch is unwelcoming of strangers but seek the riches that Rhakor once held for themselves….
The government in Mor-Denoch is interesting and quite unlike most places in the world, save possibly Kajir. There are three primary races in the Kindom, and each once had their own Kingdom. The Duregar ran the northwestern section of Mor-Denoch, the Shen’ari the northeast and to the south the Svirfneblin held sway. Before an elected Emperor was established the clergy – known as The Clerics – ruled the people, but when this became too difficult without a figurehead an Emperor was ordaned and this worked for thousands of years before the last Emperor was assassinated almost six-hundred years before The Reckoning. From that point onward a Council of Elders took over, representing each of the three peoples of Mor-Denoch, and has remained in power (with some minor changes) ever since. The Cleric still hold considerable sway and are the closest Mor-Denoch has to a noble caste, working directly for The Elder Council as its enforcers and secret police. Mor-Denoch is also interesting in that it used to have three separate capital cities which have now been superseded by one large multi-cultural capital, but these three original are still huge cities in their own right. It is said that an Elder rules each of the Three Cities and that the second Elder for each faction remains in the Capital, and that all six only come together for matters of national importance.
Despite the technological advances made during the late Dark Era and right through the Industrial Era, the people of Mor-Denoch are still highly spiritual, god-fearing people thanks to thousands of years of conditioning from the Clerics of The Twin Ladies. Being the oldest realm still in existance and home to some of the longest-lived races the belief in the Goddesses Imusus and Talasa and the dangers of insufficient levels of worship are ingrained in their group psyche. The Clerics act with impunity and apart from the Elder Council themselves, hold the greatest places of power in the underground Kingdom. Feared more than they are hated, The Clerics are all the more powerful now they once again have magical powers on their side, but have proven in the past that they don’t need direct intervention from their Godesses to control the masses. Since Mor-Denoch entered trade agreements with the Gnomes in 10 AR they have been exposed to The Church of Twelve, though the following of such a religion in Mor-Denoch is outlawed and punishable by death. The current leader of the Clerics is known as Highmistress La’rahem, a particularly sadistic Shen’ari Cleric of Imusus.
Mor-Denoch is in and of itself quite a wealthy nation, though it is largely self-sufficient and does not trade much with outsiders so its wealth upon the world stage is subjective. With a large abundance in valuable natural minerals and metals, they have prospered greatly over the Industrial Era and have developed many labour and cost-saving inventions over they years such as the mono-rail lines that link the major settlements together through the tunnels and allow quick transportation of people, goods and resources. The main issue with Mor-Denoch’s economy is the despertion of wealth. The Three Cities are by far the richest, despite the capital city of Descencore being the largest, as it also has the largest overheads to keep running. Almost all other major settlements throughout the Kingdom are poor at best, destitute at worst. Though most of the population dream of living within one of the Three Cities, the best most can hope for it to survive in the crowded slums surrounding the capital or, if very lucky, inside the capital itself. About 40% of Mor-Denoch’s citizens are poor, 40% in abject squalor and the remaining 20% in opulent wealth. Valuable metals, poisons and exotic explosives are in abundance in Mor-Denoch and when items are exported it is usually these that make their way to the surface.
The actual standing army of Mor-Denoch is actually quite small compared to the other nations, as no one power (beside the Elder Council) warrant the need for a single army. Each of the Three Cities has its own highly-trained, well-equipped army, and the capital has the nearest thing to a “standing” army by way of a huge militia force made up of Clerics and their Paladin and Inquisitor enforcers. Should things come to war however it is possible that the four forces may combine, which could be more than a match for most other armies on Tulun.
The Stonewall Guardians of Lar-Eben are heavily-armoured defensive specialists and are made up entirely of Duregar. The Black Knives of Shen’Tir are Shen’ari stealth-assassins who use poisons and ambush tactics to despatch much greater numbers and the Glorious Armies of the Free Peoples of Gerashinnadel are Svifneblin magical and explosive artillery experts. Luckily for the rest of Tulun it is unlikely these forces will conjoin for much less than the defense of the entire of Mor-Denoch. Though the Elder Council has dominion over the entire of the Kingdom, each of these armies is led by a single general, four in all, each with a number of Cleric advisers. Being underground there is no naval force to speak of, and traditional cavalry units have no place in Mor-Denoch. Most mounted riders generally ride giant spiders who have the ability to traverse the varied terrain of the underground Kingdom, and although there are quite a few artillery and magical units the majority of the soldiers in the various Mor-Denoch armies make up melee-based infantry.
Mor-Denoch has made great technological advances since the time of the Industrial Era, especially with the logical and analytical minds of the Duregar and Svirfneblin working together. With the abundance of metals and other valuable materials most people can afford metal armour and homes are durable and built to a high standard; those that can afford to own a dwelling. The huge “Way-Gates” that lead to the surface are true feats of engineering with large locking doors standing well over forty feet in height. In between the large cities and smaller settlements runs a lattice of mono-rail systems which allow rapid and safe transport, and with the progression of many various types of poisons and toxins the alchemists of Mor-Denoch has also been able to make many discoveries in the medical sciences. For all their accomplishments however this wide range of enhancements rarely make it into the hands of the common folk of Mor-Denoch, not only because the classes of society are so uneven, but also because The Clerics have worked tirelessly to ensure the people of the underground Kingdom do not become too reliant – nor used to – technology over magic and religion. The wealthier parts of the Kingdom – namely the Three Cities and some parts of the capital – benefit from all the technological advancements made by the Mor-Denochians, which only add to the jealousy that living in such a place causes among the masses.
“Magic” is a bit of prickly subject in Mor-Denoch. If it can be controlled or regulated by The Clerics it is generally allowed (in the cases of Magus and Wizards actively encouraged), but those who are considered ‘wild cards’ and create spontaneous magics (such as Sorcerers or Oracles) cause a considerable problem for the ruling bodies. Summoners are rare in Mor-Denoch for some reason, Druids are generally ridiculed and Witches are believed to be stamped out, but for those who remain only Clerics, Inquisitors and Antipaladins are allowed to work without restriction, and Paladins are so rare that most meet with ‘accidents’ before they become much of a problem. Magic is highly regulated in the underground Kingdom and all magic users (even the above-mentioned divine casters) need a license to cast magic within Mor-Denoch, and those who do not possess them can be imprisoned, tortured or even put to death. In times of war Arcane casters are called upon to use their more destructive powers to eliminate enemies while divine casters bolster their allies or demoralize their foes.
RELATIONS WITH THE OTHER KINGDOMS:
Of all the nations of Tulun, Mor-Denoch is probably the most insular, even more so than the mysterious eastern Kingdom of Omishiru. Their interactions with other Kingdoms has been so minimal over the years that they have barely kept on top of what happens on the surface. Only recently has Mor-Denoch begun trading with “the upsiders” and even then only with their distant cousins, the Gnomes. Since discovering that the Human Kingdom has been razed has intrigued them however, as they had heard that Rhakor once held the best of the material wealth the surface Kingdoms once possessed. Venturing from beneath the earth for the first time in thousands of years, the nation of Mor-Denoch can no longer afford to remain completely isolated lest one of the other nations overtakes them and becomes a very real threat to their way of life.
Capital City of Descencore (Metropolis, pop: 320,000):
Pronounced “Dess-en-corr”, the capital city of Descencore was built to bring the three warring peoples of Mor-Denoch together. Heavily over-populated, it is a large walled city that inter-connects with many major settlements in the Kingdom via monorail and is found more or less in the geographical centre of the Kingdom. Surrounded by shanty-towns and slums, a good one-hundred and fifty thousand of the population live outside the city walls in considerable poverty. The city itself has its good and bad areas, with the vast majority of well-kept housing and its wealth situated in the very centre, where the Palace of The Elders and the Grand Cathedral of The Twins can be found. The levels of social status are polarised in the city and are a reflection of the Kingdom itself, with grand wealth in the hands of a few and the rest of the populace living in varying degrees of poverty. Despite housing half of the Council of Elders at any one time, the city is also the headquarters for The Clerics and as such the most visible control of the city belongs to them, and The Clerics make up the ruling class (the Elders are never seen, their identities unknown to only one another). Built in 570 BR the capital city of Descencore is actually the newest city in the entire Kingdom, barely over 600 years old, but is a testament to the combined achievements of the three factions. It houses a huge militia force that is larger than most standing armies, but they are not as regimented as those of the Three Cities. Ruled over by General Thraxir, a rather young Duregar of only one hundred years, it is never the less an impressively large force that can easily defend the walled city if needs be.
Palace of the Elders (Descencore):
This vast building counts as the political nexus of the entire Mor-Denoch Kingdom, its grandiose baroque-styled architecture unique within the city and, along with its size, make it easily recognizable and easy to find. Heavily guarded by not only militia forces but a very obvious presence of Stonewall Guardians, only the very foolish would assault the building. Three of the six Elder Council are always in residence, their identities hidden from the public. During important meetings the other three Elders will also be in residence. The building itself can be found in the northern district of the city takes up 6,000 square feet at its base and rises a dizzying forty floors, each slightly smaller than the last which gives it a pyramid or ziggurat-like look.
Grand Cathedral of The Twins (Descencore):
Considerably smaller than the Palace of the Elders but no less imposing, the Grand Cathedral of The Twins is a looming, gothic-styled building with a very deserving reputation of fear and dread attached to it. Seemingly completely unguarded, only The Clerics leave and enter the building freely, even the Antipaladins and Inquisitors cannot come and go as they please. Nobody is entirely sure what goes on inside the building but the rumours and conspiracies are almost boundless. The Clerics do nothing to confirm or deny any such rumours but it is common knowledge that anyone taken prisoner by The Clerics who ends up in the building is never seen of again. Found in the eastern district of the city, The Grand Cathedral of The Twins is also home to the leader of The Clerics, Highmistress La’rahem.
Descencore Central Station (Descencore):
Though there are several monorail stations throughout the Kingdom, none are as impressive, busy or frankly as large as the one developed as part of the construction of Descencore. The Desencore Central Station is a large web of interconnecting monorail tracks which connects all rails to Desencore and one can literally get to anywhere else in the Kingdom using the Central Station. Open throughout the day and night (not that day and night mean quite the same thing in Mor-Denoch due to lack of sunlight and moonlight..) the Central Station is also a hub of trade and many shop owners have stalls or more permanent establishments along the platforms, and though it is policed by Milita and the occasional Cleric, it is often one of the safest places in the Kingdom – if one stays in plain sight.
Lar-Eben (Large City, pop: 22,500):
Once the capital city of the Duergar, Lar-Eben (pronounced “LA-RAA-BEN”) does not have the population it once did, but is still a bustling fortress-city that can be found in the Northwest of the Kingdom. With its multi-layered walled design, Lar-Eben was the inspiration for The Palace of the Elders in Descencore. Home to Stonewall Guardians – the largest and most organised infantry force in Mor-Denoch, it is ideally suited to withstand attack from a sustained bombardment. Built in a ring design, each “tier” is a district all its own, constituting ten tiers in total (though the 10th tier is taken up entirely by The Gray Keep and the 4th tier is almost entirely The Nightforge). The ground tier houses most of the housing and is by far the largest, and although the tiers get smaller as they ascend, the tenth tier is still a little over ten thousand feet in circumference. An 11th, unlisted “tier” exists within the foundations of the city, housing the sewers and most of the cities poorest citizens. Along its base runs the River Eben, which snakes its way through the northwest of the Kingdom into the south, beyond Descencore and into Gerashinnadel.
The Gray Keep (Lar-Eben):
Found on the tenth tier of the city of Lar-Eben, the Gray Keep is a large minimalistic building carved in a dark grey steel. Designed to be the ultimate in function over style, it is the nerve centre of the Duergar city and the home to the Duergar representatives of the Elder Council. Casting a long shadow over the rest of the city, the Gray Keep is a constant reminder of the enduring power of the Duergar, and the fact that no force has ever reached it is a testament to the defensive capabilities of the city. A good 20% of all Stonewall Guardians are on guard duty around the building at any one time, not that any have ever needed to defend it directly.
The Stonewall Barracks (Lar-Eben):
Found on the third tier of the city (and taking up almost half of it), The Stonewall Barracks is actually a collection of buildings built around a large training courtyard. Housing armouries and residential quarters for the entire of The Stonewall Guardians, it could be considered a noisy area if not for the fact that The Nightforge is on the tier above. Though the Barracks take up much of the tier, the rest of the area is mainly merchants and warehouses, all of which help to provide the Barracks with metals, weapons and armour.
The Nightforge (Lar-Eben):
So named because it “ran night and day”, The Nightforge is not only the largest forge in the city of Lar-Eben, but is also the largest single forge in the Kingdom of Mor-Denoch. Taking up the entire 4th tier of the city, it is filled with countless massive forges and smelters that work continuously, using a rotation system to switch some forges offline for routine maintenance while others are on, then swap them around. Though not all Forges run at the same time as a safety precaution, The Nightforge itself is almost constantly producing goods out of the raw materials brought in from the surrounding areas. The constant hammering of anvils, smoke and heat make it an oppressive place to work, and an impossible place to live, so workers run on a constant rolling shift-pattern of ten hours on, fourteen off, except for each seventh day when they can only work five hours (between midnight and five in the morning) as the Forges close upon the seventh day.
Shen’Tir (Large City, pop: 21,900):
The once-capital for the Shen’ari people, the city of Shen’Tir (Pronounced “SHEN-TIER”) is a mysterious place which operates on fear and guile. Somewhat unsurprisingly seeing as it was the birthplace of The Clerics and still has a powerful Cleric presence there (despite their official headquarters moving to Descencore) and command the same respect they have always done. Whereas Descencore, Lar-Eben and Gerashinnadel all build upward toward the high roofs of the cavernous systems, Shen’Tir is unique in that in builds downwards, deeper into the earth. Kept lit by a combination of magical and technological lamps, these are sparsely dotted around the city making it one of the darkest areas in the Kingdom (not that it concerns the Shen’ari who can see perfectly well in low-light). It is said to be a cruel place where torture and violence is common, but also a place of great opportunity where the quick of body and wit can make their fortune. Shen’Tir is also a politically-charged place where many games of manipulation are played with the longevity only one of the long-lived races could muster, plans often going on for hundreds of years at a time. The city sits in the most north-easterly part of Mor-Denoch and has only a single monorail that goes to a station some three miles outside of the city.
The Citadel of Dusk (Shen’Tir):
Sitting in the very centre of the city of Shen’Tir is the dark, angular and intimidating looking “Citadel of Dusk” – the nerve-centre of what use to the be the entire Shen’ari forces in Mor-Denoch. Still the hub of operations for that faction, it has a reputation of dread comparable to that of the Grand Cathedral of The Twins in Desecencore, and it is probably no coincidence that Shen’ari Clerics are influential in both locations. The Dusk Citadel houses one of the two Shen’ari Elder Council members at any one time, and though their identities is a secret it is not difficult for them to transport to the capital or the other Council member to take their place at the Citadel when needed. All Cleric operations run from out of the Citadel as well, something which the common folk of Shen’Tir are all too aware of.
The Dread Labyrinth:
Part prison, part execution chamber and part training ground for The Dark Knives of Shen’Tir, The Dread Labyrinth is a huge area of twisting tunnels and dead ends which runs twelve miles from one end to the other and can be found approximately five miles outside the city of Shen’Tir. Used by the people of the city to dispose of criminals, they are led into the Labyrinth blindfolded and told if they can escape they can earn their freedom. Of course very few actually do, as it is the headquarters and training grounds for the military forces of Shen’Tir: The Dark Knives. Of those that escape approximately 80% join The Dark Knives themselves whereas the other 20% go free. This number is small however, about one person in every three-hundred actually gets out of the Labyrinth alive. Walls shift, dead-ends move and traps appear and vanish with startling regularity within the Labyrinth, all while The Dark Knives hunt, so only the very quick and the very smart survive.
Lastlight (Small City, pop: 9,640):
Probably the nearest thing to a “free city” in Mor-Denoch, Lastlight is a small but prosperous town found in the south-east of the Kingdom, on the borders between the Shallows and Mor-Denoch proper. So called because occasional wisps of sunlight or moonlight find their way into the city, it is a trading hub with no specific ruler. Minimal Cleric presence means that local laws are not so rigorously enforced which means generally happier people but also more crime and outbursts. Though not a rich city by any means, Lastlight survives primarily from trade (both Mor-Denochian trade and from the Shallows) and almost anything can be bought there with enough coin.
The Crystal Forest:
Located deep in the south-west of Mor-Denoch lies a cavernous system of very particular natural beauty known as “The Crystal Forest”. For reasons unclear, a vast cavern full of Stalagmites which branch out in all directions exists, which along their “branches” hang tiny rough sapphires. Illuminating the cavern in an eerie blue glow, it is deemed a protected site by order of The Clerics and people who steal the sapphires suffer a death penalty. This may be a moot point however, as the Crystal Forest is also a breeding ground for Giant Spiders, the type of which the Cavaliers of Mor-Denoch ride into battle. Protected by Rangers and often visited by Cavaliers who wish to gain the favour of their first spider mount, if somehow thieves somehow avoid being eaten alive, they get captured by Rangers of Cavaliers and given to The Clerics who execute them.
Gerashinnadel (Large City, pop: 24,000):
Very distinct in its architecture, the Svirneblin city of Gerashinnadel (pronounced GER-ASH-IN-A-DELL) was once the capital of the Svifneblin people before Descencore was constructed. Using magic more than technology, the vast majority of the main buildings were carved out of giant fungi that covered the cavernous floor that the ancient Nix first settled in. Using magic to forever alter those living-buildings, when magic left the world the life went out of the city, replacing the living buildings with shells stronger than most steel. The re-emergence of magic breathed life back into the city, but the buildings are still like large, ominous skeletal mushrooms. Probably the most open and accepting of the Three Cities (though that isn’t really saying much), Gerashinnadel caters a lot more to the individual than the institution, and considers hospitality and camaraderie important. Though technically the smallest of the Three Cities, due to the fact everything if Svifneblin-sized, Gerashinnadel is actually quite large and more heavily populated than either Lar-Eben or Shen’Tir. Home to the ‘Glorious Armies of the Free Peoples of Gerashinnadel’ who specialise in ranged explosive magical artillery, it is often the tactics of these unpredictable warrior-alchemists that can make or break a war waged on behalf of Mor-Denoch. Gerashinnadel is found in the very south of Mor-Denoch, and is the furthest of the Three Cities from the capital of Descencore.
The Great Abode (Gerashinnadel):
This large and welcoming-looking building is a mirror of their personalities; being similar to that of Gnomes where they appear hospitible and friendly to outsiders but do so because it allows them to understand more about someone who has dropped their guard than one who acts defensively. Housing the Svifneblin members of the Elder Council, the Great Abode is like a massive inn, catering to all kinds of pleasurable pursuits and leisure activities. Behind this façade however it is a place of misdirection and plots, both political and social. Svirfneblins love to play games of the mind, something which often catches an outsider out….usually fatally. Their Fae lineage means they can often be as mischievous as they are curious, and The Great Abode is like a personification of this mentality.
The Temporis is a massive seemingly empty cavern deep in the south-east of Mor-Denoch which suffers from a strange temporal abnormality. Appearing during the time of The Reckoning, the cave seems to be stuck in some kind of temporal flux, allow visitors to see and sometimes even visit and interact with moments in the past. Though it follows no pattern of behaviour, the windows into the past come and go at random, and anyone investigating the past when one of the windows closes simply finds themselves in an empty cavern once again. Nobody is entirely sure of the origin of The Temporis, and it can lay dormant for weeks at a time, but this curiosity makes it impossible to build anything lasting in this area and is a constant source of superstition for the people of the underground Kingdom.
The Monorail is the primary mode of mass transportation in Mor-Denoch, suspending carriages underneath a single steel rail that allows rapid transportation from one area to the next, where passengers can alight onto waiting platforms. Gas-lit or magically-powered lights shine along the ceiling above the carriages and the monorail, partly for decoration but also to allow for easy visibility checks for maintenance workers should repairs need to be done. Not only passengers, but goods and military personnel are also transported using the Monorail System and as such plenty of gold is sunk into maintaining and improving it by the Elder Council.
The World Pillar:
About one-hundred and eighty miles north of Descencore lies “The World Pillar”, a truly massive and awe-inspiring dormant volcano which reaches so high it almost goes to the surface. Dormant since before the Nix and G’hun first established Mor-Denoch in ancient times, it stands as a eerily silent guardian of natural wonder and is commonly visited by Druids and even Witches. Along its base some adventurous entrepreneurs have set up shop, but being so far from any settlements mean eking out a life is difficult. A Monorail Station was placed near The World Pillar some three years ago, though it is rarely used except by those who would come to the volcano anyway. Over the years steps have been carved into the exterior of the volcano allowing those willing to traverse “The Ten Thousand Steps” to reach the summit and stand upon the capped-off top of the volcano.
Holar-Bar, ‘The Drowned City’ (Small City, pop: 6,000 approx):
Once a prosperous trading city of some eleven-thousand residents, Holar-Bar (pronounced HOLA-BAR) was decimated nine years ago in 76 AR when a group of Kajiran Merfolk dug too deep into the ocean floor and broke through into the city, flooding it with sea-water. 2,782 residents lost their lives to the floods before the hole could be magically sealed, but the city was decimated and the remaining eight-thousand residents abandoned it. In the years that followed Dwellers and those with nowhere else left to go ended up in Holar-Bar, and it became a refuge for the dispossessed. Now many lost souls live among the ruins of the once prosperous city and call it home, though with the lack of any real natural resources, structural and flood damage and no real governing power, it is little more than a collection of refugees with a roof over their heads.
“The Shallows” refers to the areas between the surface and where one reaches “Mor-Denoch Proper”. Though considered part of the Kingdom, the Shallows is any territory that makes up the fifteen miles from the surface to the entry point to the Lower Tunnels. Connected at either end by massive “Way-Gates” (of which there are twelve in total, each leading to the surface of Tulun), the Shallows represents somewhere where non-Mor-Denochians are allowed to tread without reprisal. Of course, many do not any way, but it not an executable offence to be in the Shallows, whereas it is to be in Mor-Denoch Proper without paperwork or a guide.
Upton (Large Town, pop:4,500):
The most well-known and largest of the towns found in the Shallows, ‘Upton’ gets it name from the fact that the town has actually expanded onto the surface, and now exists part above-ground and part subterranean. Build around the North-East Surface Gate, Upton looks little more than a small frontier town on the surface, with a population barely reaching into three figures. Found in neutral territory between Enotia and Omishiru, the town welcomes visitors from both, but the largest part of the town (and the other four-thousand plus residents) can be found just beneath the surface, through the surface gate. Technically the furthest settlement from Mor-Denochian law, Upton pretty much looks after itself and acts without enforcement from The Clerics. It is allowed to do this due to the trade it does with the surface, which it ferries down to the likes of Lastlight.
Originally a large graveyard and mausoleum for the Duergar, The Bleakhollow stands about eight miles south of Lar-Eben and was used to house the remains of honoured ancestors. Covering a thirty-five mile area, it has expanded over the years and has also changed in its function. Once simply a graveyard and mausoleum, it now has the single and largest prison in Mor-Denoch housed next to it, a prison which shares its name. When people speak of The Bleakhollow they often refer to the two places simultaneously. The reason being that only those that The Clerics do not execute immediately get send to The Bleakhollow, and it is not somewhere people return from. Whether executed while inside of the prison or dying of old age while incarcerated, the bodies of the dead are simply moved next door to the massive graveyard. A true death sentence, most would rather resist arrest and suffer immediate execution than be damned to live out their life in the miserable hole in the earth that is called Bleakhollow.
The Whispering Shadow:
There is a malevolent force that stalks the tunnels of Mor-Denoch, taking the lives of those it encounters and, if rumours can be believed, returns the dead to unlife. Nobody is entirely sure what it is, where it is (or goes) or most importantly how to stop it, but this force – referred to as The Whispering Shadow – is a cloud-like entity which (thankfully) appears to avoid built up areas, preying on lone travellers or small groups. Even The Clerics seem wary of it, as more than one Inquisitor has been lost trying to discern its origin. The Whispering Shadow serves as the boogyman of Mor-Denoch, devouring pauper or prince with equal veracity and the rumours say it speaks words of terrible truth before claiming lives.