Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States - Week 15
Compiling week 15 of the project, comprised of an additional 7sites, this week giant-monster-oriented, of the Wastelands as shown below.
Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #99
April 9th, 2023
Name: The Mock Turtle Hive
Location: Along the shores of the Lost Coast of the Wastelands
Population (approx.): None
Brief: Centuries ago, the Churches of Earth and Water used a great ritual to scour the landscape of their enemies, creating the Lost Coast (#64). The Aether swept across the land, engulfing untold numbers of creatures, small and large, drowning most and depositing the rest in the hills miles inland to unknown fates. One such creature, a species of sea turtle, was in the middle of their yearly hatching at the time. Giant mother turtles swam offshore as tiny babies unearthed themselves from the sand and struggled to the sea. The waters ingested all of them, small and large, but somehow some number of mother turtles managed to summon their children to them, the small ones clambering onto their backs. The rituals of earth and water somehow merged the collective into a single turtle hive or colony. A dozen of these mega-creatures survived the ritual, prowling both land and sea for food. They gained the ability to spawn a horde of their children off their backs to surge forth and attack with destructive effect.
Geography: Since the ritual, the number of these creatures has slowly declined as the hives have either joined into a larger entity, perished naturally or died in battle with other aberrations of the Wastelands. One remains, approximately 50 meters across with 50-60 hivelings, each measuring 2-5 meters each, linked to its back, resting half-buried in the sands of the Lost Shore about 25 miles south of the border with the Church-State of Earth and Water (#29).
Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #100
April 10th, 2023
Name: One Part in Sixty
Location: A hillock between the Ulu Maug and the Saut River
Population (approx.): Varies but grows to several hundred at Joining Day
Brief: The Wastelands features dozens of battlefields scattered across the landscape. The tools and spells used tend to leave unusual remnants and residue after-effects. Once such spot is a hillock, mostly bare of flora, surrounded by debris, mostly weapons and bones but some of a decidedly mechanical nature. Once each year, perhaps on the anniversary of whatever battle raged across this hillside, faint blue lights rise from the ground at dawn. As they swirl around the ground, over the course of the day, pieces of some mechanical giant rise from the ground and drift to the top of the hill. The lights swirl faster, coalescing at the summit, as the pieces assemble themselves into a 20-meter-tall humanoid-shaped metal construct. The blue lights swirl in and about the joints and gaps in armor and disappear inside. As the sun sets, the entity shudders, blue lights flashing within, creaking and whirring noises abound and then, when it seems the giant is about to move, there is silence. Moments pass and there’s a great explosion of blue light that scatters the components across the hilltop with crashes and thuds. Silence returns until a year passes and the strange ritual begins anew.
Geography: The hillock, home to this ancient battlefield, is midway between the Ulu Maug range to the west and the Saut River to the east. This yearly phenomenon is known to the locals as “Joining Day.” There are some, whose ancestors were perhaps associated with the battlefield, who have moved to the area, living on the river, to worship the blue-lit giant as their “God in the Machine.” One worshipper, possessed of divine intuition, declared years ago that “One Part in Sixty” must be found or presented or delivered to the construct on Joining Day and their God would live again. Some are not sure finding this one last part is such a good idea and actively dissuade anyone from undertaking such a quest.
Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #101
April 11th, 2023
Name: The Rolling Green
Location: The grasslands between the Afale Maug and Ulu Maug ranges west of the Citadel
Population (approx.): 1?
Brief: There is a stretch of bright green grasslands between the hills of the Wastelands. It is unremarkable and mostly flat except for a single hillock about 5 m and 50 m across. Despite the peaceful appearance, the few locals, if you can convince them to speak to you, warn you to stay on the rough, rocky and patchy outskirts of the grasslands or if you must move through the center, do it quietly and quickly. Do not pause or tarry and never ever sleep there. The rumors tell of something few have seen and lived to relate, The Rolling Green. That singular hillock is never where it was last said to be for it, or more precisely some large something under it, moves with distressing speed across the meadows. Anything it encounters simply silently (but for the screaming) vanishes into the grassy surface of the hillock never to be seen again. Another rumor relates that if one digs through the turf, perhaps a meter below the surface, there is layer upon layer of bones, metal, scraps of wood and fabric, all crazed with markings like ceramic glaze. Some unknown ancient druid or flora-aspected animist was responsible for and perhaps the first victim of this singular aberration.
Geography: The Rolling Green is thought to prowl an area of plains about 50 miles north to south and 20-25 miles west to east between the Afale Maug and Ulu Maug mountains, about 60 miles north of west from the Citadel of the Five Passages of Night (#34). Locals, due to rumor, story or unfortunate real-life experience, keep to the foothills of both ranges, avoiding the verdant plains in between.
Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #102
April 12th, 2023
Name: Peacewalker Orphanage
Location: East of the Ulu Maug in the hills along the Danthas River
Population (approx.): 45 Kin + 1 special
Brief: 30 years ago, the last desperate invasion of Taodeas by the remains of Ta’arnan Legions marched up through the Bloodsoaked Valley (#18). The soldiers were poorly equipped, the magicians low on skill and spells and their constructs were haphazardly assembled and animated. One of their few Plainswalkers, a large legged construct animated by some form of spirit bound within, went rogue and vanished into the Ulu Maug mountains. Several years later, a small group of orphans lost in the woods between the hills and the river, stumbled into what they thought was a plant-covered house on vine-enrobed legs that spoke to them with the voice of a child. The children and the “child” became fast friends. As the years passed, the children grew, some leaving as adults, others remaining and caring for other orphans they encountered in the ruins of the Wasteland. The caretakers found the “child,” once cleared of entangling foliage and after some minor carpentry, could walk! The orphanage and the inhabitants slowly wander the hills of Ulu Maug, paralleling the river, but staying clear of towns and villages filled with sometimes troublesome adults.
Geography: The Peacewalker (a corruption of child-spirit's pronunciation of Plainswalker) Orphanage is a four-legged construct about 10m tall from feet to rooftop with a 12m wide base carrying a fighting platform converted into a multi-room dormitory. Smoke drifts from the chimney. Washing is hung to dry on lines from roof to railings about the base. Laughter rings from children at play. The Orphanage usually sits, legs folded underneath, in the woods, rope ladders from railings to the ground. Locals in Danthas Crossings (#70) to the east and south have heard rumor of the Peacewalker but have little interest in encountering it as a bard related a story of a grand stomping given to some bandits who attempted to take the vehicle for their own.
Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #103
April 13th, 2023
Name: The Waiting Stonefellow
Location: On a hillside along the southern border of the Church-State of Earth and Water
Population (approx.): 200 (settlement) + 1 special
Brief: Years ago, during the numerous battles of the fall of the Ta’arnan Empire, a summoner, in some duress perhaps, gave a simple command to his charge, “Wait here and only here until I return.” The summoned, a rather large solid 15-meter-tall creature composed mostly of stone, plopped on a hummock and, as commanded, waited. The summoner never returned (in fact his spirit is bound to Old Ghost Lake (#66) about 125 miles to the east) and the creature hence never returned whence it came. Later, refugees arriving in the region to join the nascent Church-State encountered the then-named “Stonefellow” and despite being initially afraid, they soon discovered it was harmless being rooted to the spot by ancient magics. Harmless, but not useless. A brave soul summoned the gumption to speak to the Stonefellow and found it had simple wants (sunshine but not rain, pebbles or gems to suck upon and to be scrubbed of moss and bugs) and in return had some skill with stone and metal (breaking and crushing, crudely shaping and bending, but no fine work). And, later, as it became part of the community forming about the Stonefellow, it could defend them by being able to throw large stones a goodly distance (up to 100 meters) with some accuracy.
Geography: The Waiting Stonefellow sits upon a hummock on the border of the Church-State of Earth and Water (#29) at the northernmost point of the Afale Maug range. A small settlement, Stonefellow, has grown about it over the past decades. A chapel to the Pala, God of Earth, is prominent, the Stonefellow seen as an unexpected blessing from Pala to the region. Most of the buildings are made of stone, quarried from the hills and trimmed by the Stonefellow. A modicum of religious tension has come to touch Stonefellow, as the creature intensely dislikes water and did throw several stones (fortunately missing) the last Priest of Water to visit the village.
Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #104
April 14th, 2023
Name: The Hedron Assembly
Location: Ruins of the City of Natroscha in the western Wastelands
Population (approx.): None
Brief: One of the largest cities of the Ta’arnan Empire was Natroscha on the western plains. About 800 years ago, as factions gathered strength to openly contest each other for control of the Empire, Natroscha was home to close relatives of the emperor. One day the opposition breached the city’s defenses and manifested a huge multifaceted hedron shape in the central plaza. The entity, a 20-meter-wide thing made of elsewhere, then manifested dozens of smaller versions of itself, in various sizes from 1 meter to 5 meters wide, throughout the city. Those shapes, formed of almost indestructible materials, roll and flew through town slashing, burning or crushing all they touched. Within hours Natroscha was empty but for the massive thing slowly rolling in circles about the plaza. Centuries later, the Assembly remains in the center of the ruined city. Its “children” only appear when creatures or foolhardy adventures cross the city limits.
Geography: The ruins of Natroscha can be found in the western Wastelands, a bit south of west from South Plains Tar (#68). Very few buildings remain standing so the Hedron Assembly can easily be seen from beyond the city limits. The multi-faceted sphere is colored silver and grey. When backlit by the sun, one can see numerous other shapes inside the entity. It appears to be, to date, unaffected by time or weather.
Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #105
April 15th, 2023
Name: Son of the Sun
Location: A box canyon along the eastern slopes of the Afale Maug range
Population (approx.): 80 (the tribe) and 1 (Güneşin Oğlu)
Brief: Years ago, the precise date or time is unknown and not notable, a young Sun (Light) Dragon, Güneşin Oğlu (“Son of the Sun”), came to the Wastelands for reasons unknown beyond the joy of making items and collecting the offerings of his followers. He made himself a home in a box canyon in the Afale Maug. The Dragon encountered a wandering cleric of the God of Light. That priest believed Oğlu to be a mask, angel or demigod of the Light and began to worship him. The man returned to his nomadic tribe and convinced their leader to bring his people, about 80 folk and numerous horses, dogs and other animals, to the hills. In return Oğlu created them a home and then forged items for the tribe – blades and arrowheads of dragonglass and orbs that glowed in the dark and warned of intruders to their camp. The Dragon, through the priest, commanded the horsemen to raid passing caravans for coin, supplies and resources.
Geography: A caravan trail runs southeastward through the gap between the Afale Maug to the south and Lanu Maug to the north, connecting the City-State of Earth and Water (#29) and the interior of the Wastelands. Midway along the road a faint trail runs west into the hills. A half-day of travel brings one to a small hill featuring a black glass orb on a square of basalt. It marks the Dragon’s domain and functions as a warning beacon (the horsemen disable it by touching dragonglass to the orb). Several hours beyond the orb is the new encampment of the tribe, a set of tents surrounding a single stone chapel. Further west, a day’s ride, is a basalt box canyon, home to Oğlu, dominated by 20-meter-tall basalt spire upon which the Dragon perches to survey his domain. Here the Dragon rests, forges items of dragonglass and collects his hoard.