Saturday, July 29, 2023

Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States - Week 30

Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States - Week 30

Compiling week 30 of the project, comprised of an additional 7 posts, this week's subject being a deep dive of a site of interest, the Ruined City of the Six Gods, Ulono Atu, in the Wastelands as shown below:


Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #204 

July 23rd, 2023 

  • Number: 204 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: Ulono Atu – City of Six Curses 

  • Location:  Central Wastelands west of the Ulu Maug range 

  • Population (approx.): Unknown 

  • Brief: At the height of the Empire of Ta’arna, the northern states were governed from the capital of Ulono Atu, the city of the Six Gods. The great metropolis covered a swath of the plains between the mountains to west and east, divided into six wards focused on a central cathedral of one of their gods. A great avenue encircled the city with six highways leading in six different directions to connect to the great temples of the gods (the temple of Air at The Lost Peak #30,  the temple of Night at The Citadel of the Five Passages of Night #34, the temple of Water now under South Plains Tar #68, the temple of Day at Heliostat Citadel #69, the temple of Fire now under The Rolling Green #101 and an unnamed temple of the Earth somewhere to the south) in the surrounding countryside.  

  • Centuries later the corruption of the Empire seeped into the hearts and souls of the congregations of Ulono Atu. A game of blame for the decay ensued. What was once a united pantheon was sundered into six feuding factions. Assassinations and dark alley assaults led to all out warfare which culminated dank evil rituals to unleash unspeakable curses on enemies, the survivors responding by enacting retributive curses of their own. The six wards of Ulono Atu were blanketed in all manner of destructive and horrific magicks driving the survivors into the surrounding hills, seeking shelter in their churches, if not previously destroyed in the collapse. 

  • Geography: The ruins of Ulono Atu can be found in the center of the Wastelands west of the Ulu Maug and southeast of the Afale Maug, about 250 miles south of the border with Taodeas. The city was roughly circular divided into six wards, each controlled by one of the Churches. The northernmost ward was that of Light, followed by (in clockwise order) Fire, Earth, Dark, Water and Air.  The parts of Ulono Atu that can be seen from the outside, the outer districts and surrounding avenues, are inevitably ruined, buildings burned or flattened. But due to the six curses, most of the city cannot be seen unless one is brave enough to step into the cursed wards and risk exposure to dangers therein. 

  • Next Article: The City of Six Curses – The First Curse 



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #205 

July 24th, 2023 

  • Number: 205 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: Ulono Atu – The Curse of a Million Suns 

  • Location:  Central Wastelands west of the Ulu Maug range 

  • Population (approx.): None within, 50 on the outskirts 

  • Brief: The City of Water and the Cathedral of Vai was a wondrous district criss-crossed with canals and channels connecting reflecting pool, sparkling fountains and quiet ponds, filled with water called from underground and the skies by the priests and clerics. Then something (whether real or concocted is lost to history) turned the fury of Church of Light against them, bring down the Curse of a Million Suns upon them. The light from above was magnified a thousand-fold in an instant. It could not be dispelled, and spells of Shadow and Dark from Water’s allies of Night were shredded apart. When the day ended, night fell, there was hope that the Curse had ended. But dawn came and a million suns rose. Canals and channels ran dry. Pools and ponds emptied, fish and flora broiling and browned. The underground springs stopped, and clouds would not form. The City of Water died a blazing dry death.  

  • Centuries ago, those who survived fled, some eventually forming a second home at the Church-State of Earth and Water (#29), whose capital, the City of Pools (#135), reflected but a small part of the City’s legendary beauty. Pilgrims regularly make the journey south to the City of Water to an encampment on the outskirts outside of the effects of the Curse.  

  • Reltrana, 30, a female Half-Elf, is a Pilgrim journeying to the City of Water. She is taller than most Humans and has dirty blonde hair and moonstone-colored eyes. She is covered with tattoos on the right side of her body that show her dedication to all things of Vai. Reltrana wears light blue robes with gold trim around the collar and sleeves. She uses a staff both as a walking stick and as a weapon. 

  • Reltrana's mother dedicated her to the deity of water at birth. Since then, she has made the pilgrimage to the city every five years. The Curse has caused countless suffering to many people. Reltrana hopes that her dedication and offerings will make life easier for those who live on the outskirts. 

  • Reltrana is newly married to Sandaran Mezan, 27, Human. Sandaran doesn't believe in any religion; but understands how important this journey is to Reltrana. While Reltrana visits the City, she sees several friends she has met on her trips from her hometown in the Church-State. They include Heledi, 142, an female Elven healer resident at the encampment, and her mentor. She is also friends with Tyadin Hotgort, 75, a male Dwarven carpenter who is a fervent water worshipper. All pray for the day when the Curse is broken, and they can bring water back to the channels and canals. 

  • Geography: The City of Water occupies the southwest district of Ulono Atu. After centuries under the blaze of the suns, the entire area is bleached white and dusty as bone. Many buildings have collapsed. No flora or fauna remains but for some hardy creatures that wander over from other districts at night and scurry away in the morning. A small permanent encampment can be found southwest of the encircling avenue about Ulono Atu. Dedicated clerics pray to Vai for relief. They regularly test the strength of the Curse and have noted that it has weakened over time (a feature common to all six curses). 

  • Next Article: The City of Six Curses – The Second Curse 



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #206 

July 25th, 2023 

  • Number: 206 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: Ulono Atu – The Curse of the Inexorable Cacophony 

  • Location:  Central Wastelands west of the Ulu Maug range 

  • Population (approx.): None within or outside 

  • Brief: The City of Night and the Cathedral of Poul were quiet and shuttered during daylight hours, but when the first phase of the night, dusk, arrived the city awoke with sound and activity. Blessed by the stars overhead, the faithful went about their business under the night sky until dawn arrived and with it a cruel wind channeled by some powerful incantation from the City of Air. The breeze brought noise, terrible, keen and ever-changing. The traditional sound-deadening blinds over windows were but paper to the sound. No device or spell could reduce or alter the cacophony.  Walls of earth or water could not block the inexorable curse. The populace could not sleep, could not think and fled the city with ears bleeding and heads pounded in fear of going mad. Windows, ceramics and other fragile things shattered and exploded about them as they ran away. All that remained were a few fortunately deaf persons and a city soon to be overgrown with flora. 

  • Those that survived made it northward to the mountains and The Citadel of the Five Passages of Night (#34). Fewer still lived beyond the battles around the Citadel during Ta’arna’s death throes. Centuries later, a small devout community remains protected by Poul’s shroud. 

  • Zia Uem, 24, female Human, is a devoted mother of two children, Sosar, 7, and Mei, 1. Zia has long dark hair and dim hazel eyes. The features of her face give her a drawn look. Zia is a sincere worshipper of the Church of the Night. She wears long robes inscribed with runes that she purchased from the local cleric that she hopes will add fervor to her prayers. 

  • Zia feels like she is at her wit's end as Mei was born a year ago with no ear lobes and was totally deaf. After going to the usual round of healers, herbalists, and a few charlatans, nothing seems to help Mei. Then she went to central chambers of Citadel of the Five Passages of Night, and the local cleric suggested she undertake a journey to the edge of the City of the Night. Once there, she should go to where the din of the noise can just be heard and bring an offering. Zia will place Mei where she can feel the vibrations of the noise and see if that helps.  

  • Zia is a single mother to both Sosar and Mei. Her former husband, Shiap, 27, male Human left as soon as he saw Mei. Zia is doing odd jobs and helping people for food. She has a small tent that the three of them live in. While Zia and Mei are on their journey, Sosar is back at the Cathedral of the Night, in the care of the priests. 

  • Geography: The City of Night occupies the south district of Ulono Atu. After centuries suffering unending noise, the entire area is devoid of all Kin and fauna. Many buildings have disappeared beneath years of growth, some collapsing bricks and stone weakened by continuous vibration. Observers have rarely seen movement in the city, possibly animals or beings unaffected by sound. An infrequently used campsite can be found south of the encircling avenue about Ulono Atu. Visiting pilgrims and clerics, usually from the Citadel, pray to Poul for relief. As with the Priests of Vai, they regularly test the strength of the Curse and have noted similar results. 

  • Next Article: The City of Six Curses – The Third Curse 



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #207 

July 26th, 2023 

  • Number: 207 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: Ulono Atu – The Curse of the Endless Deluge 

  • Location:  Central Wastelands west of the Ulu Maug range 

  • Population (approx.): 200-250 inside and outside 

  • Brief: The City of Earth, with the Cathedral of Pala in the center, was a solid mass of buildings reflecting all manner of construction techniques and materials from the mundane to the fantastic, from the miniscule details to the massive structures. The earth-priests and building-wardens had designed to handle most types of inclement weather until the deluge began. The skies darkened, lightning flashed, and the rain began to pour, and pour, and never stopped. The on-going conflict had turned Vai supported by Lagi versus Pala encasing the latter’s city in an unending storm. Streets, walkways, and any flat surface filled to the brim. Water poured into storm drains only to reappear in the clouds above. Lightning pummeled roofs and walls, punching holes and breaking windows to provide access for the unending cascades. The flooding and lightning strikes brought the City to a half and those who did not perish in the waters, were driven away. Centuries later a small band of dedicated magicians maintain a small number of tunnels from beyond the encircling avenue into the depths of the City, allowing access to a small number of vaults and chambers. 

  • Elmora Greatfinder, 54, female Dwarf, is a mage specializing in moving Earth. She is very short and has hints of a silver beard, even though her hair is bright copper. Elmora loves to wear flamboyant clothing with contrasting colors, robes, pants, and a blouse. She carries a pair of medium-sized hammers held to her back by a leather bandolier she had specially made. 

  • Elmora lives in the city of Earth and works for them. She uses her magic to move dirt around and create tunnels and bulwarks to control water flow from the Curse of the Endless Deluge. Elmore comes from a long line of earthmages working to maintain access to the City. She enjoys the daily challenges of protecting the few city occupants from harm. Her latest challenge is creating safe paths through the city for visitors with essential reasons for being there. 

  • Elmora is married to Bromdar Greatfinder, 57, Dwarf. They have a daughter, Solla, 3. They live in an underground house created by Elmora. It is on the city outskirts, just outside the encircling highway, and she has dug underground tunnels that lead from her home to several vital structures in town. 

  • Geography: The City of Earth covers the southeastern district of Ulono Atu. After centuries of constant rain, most surfaces are covered with several feet of standing water including interiors of buildings where either windows or doors have collapsed, or lightning strikes have punched holes in walls or roofs. The pools and ponds are home to all manner of aquatic flora and fauna, some unpleasant creatures introduced during the curses and other ordinary animals arriving by natural means. The Church of Pala maintains a small outpost outside the highway connected to the City by a network of tunnels continuously maintained by earthmages like Elmora and rockwardens. Water levels are monitored constantly and reveal the slow ebb of the deluge. 

  • Next Article: The City of Six Curses – The Fourth Curse 



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #208 

July 27th, 2023 

  • Number: 208 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: Ulono Atu – The Curse of Inescapable Lethargy 

  • Location:  Central Wastelands west of the Ulu Maug range 

  • Population (approx.): none inside, 30 outside 

  • Brief: The City of Fire, home to the Cathedral of Afi, was a bright, warm and energetic place full of excitement, color and activity. Streets were lined with bright lanterns with bonfires in every intersection. Everything was the color of fire and flames from bright yellows to deep reds, reflected in the color of materials or the dyes and paints used to transform them. Despite the battles across the countryside between Afi’s Firebrands and the forces of the other five Gods, morale was high, and the mood was firebrightUntil one night a pall fell across the district, every fire and flame snuffed all at once as if by a giant hand or a great wind. Those awake could not relight the city, whether by tool or magic, and found themselves in the grip of a terrible lethargy, slowed, some unable to move, walk or soon even talk. Many perished that night. The physically or magically strong saved who they could before they too were overcome. Centuries later the district is empty, but for the brief visits of uniquely powerful individuals. 

  • Inari Alderdew, 15, Elf is the daughter of Aero, 65, and Torna, 58. Inari is a beautiful child with shoulder-length silver hair and vibrant violet eyes. Her parents are so proud of her and her accomplishments. Inari loves to run fast and has helped deliver messages for Aero and Torna's information service, Let's Hear it Now!, in Blackstone Fortress (capital of Taodeas) for several years. 

  • One day, an elder Elf, Nolan Bronzedew, arrives at the store and requests that Inari make a trip to the City of Fire and retrieve an essential casket. It contains pieces of bark that are extremely important components for a potion to keep a family member alive. The casket is in a small crawl space under his ancestral family home in the city. A child is required to retrieve it, and he heard Inari is fast enough to resist the Curse of Inescapable Lethargy.  

  • Inari is eager to make the journey. Aero and Torna are not too sure. They have faith in Inari, and Nolan has promised a commensurately hefty payment for her help. They are concerned about the curse and Inari's size but feel that she has time and energy on her side. Nolan has offered a potion of speed, and Inari has all but decided to go. 

  • Geography: The City of Fire occupies the northeastern district of Ulono Atu. The centuries of the Curse have left it devoid of life and activity. Everything remains where it was left or dropped in the great rush to escape. All flora shriveled and turned to dust. Animals and people lay where they fell, their bodies mummified husks. Just east of the city is a small chapel where priests of Afi keep watch over their holy place. Experiments have revealed, like elsewhere, the Curse is weakening. Fast or powerful entities can make short trips into the district before being forced to retreat before succumbing to the drain.  

  • Next Article: The City of Six Curses – The Fifth Curse 


Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #209 

July 28th, 2023 

  • Number: 209 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: Ulono Atu – The Curse of the Inexorable Earthstorm 

  • Location:  Central Wastelands west of the Ulu Maug range 

  • Population (approx.): 100-200 inside, 20 outside 

  • Brief: The City of Light, dominated by the Cathedral of Malam, was a proud beacon, showcasing the wonder and beauty of the worship of the Six Gods. The district celebrated the day, buildings featured many windows and open rooftops to bathe the interiors with Malam’s blessing. The people were dignified and thought themselves upstanding, but many of the opposition found them haughty and arrogant. The conflict among the Six Churches turned into open warfare when Light’s priests brought down Malam’s vengeance upon the Water district (#205). In response, the ground of the district appeared to leap into the air and became a swirling mass that darkened the skies. The earthstorm roared through the streets and alleys; sand, dirt, stones and rocks smashed through doors and windows and poured into open roofs. People fled into their basements but found their homes slowly buried as the debris added to the strength of the storm. The Lightguard of Malam worked tirelessly to evacuate the city via tunnels hastily bored through the earth, as lesser structures collapsed above. Centuries have passed and the ruins join the rest of the six districts as a moment to hubris-driven conflict. 

  • Mermin Truehare,85, Halfling, is a tour guide for the underground under the ruins of the city of Light as well as other sites of Ulono Atu. He is of average height and has a slight potbelly. Mermin has spiky black hair with white dyes at the tips. He wears a yellow hard hat and carries a pair of daggers. He loves to talk and has a friendly disposition. 

  • Mermin has always been adventurous, even as a child. He explored the tunnels under the City of Light in his early twenties. There, he discovered a beautiful upside-down botanical garden, sealed off from the Earthstorm raging above, that lived on the ceiling. Mermin questioned some clerics of Light at Heliostat Citadel and wondered how these plants could grow upside down; they did not know. In his thirties, he started a business based on unusual locations around Ulono Atu; this is the highlight of his tours. 

  • Mermin is the guardian of two young girls, Yenjen, 8, and Kelni, 5. They are his nieces, and their mother died three years ago in a carriage accident. He loves them, and they have a nanny, Theyrula Truepot, 56, with whom he has begun a quiet relationship. They all live in a tent city about a day's journey from the City of Light to Heliostat Citadel. 

  • Geography: The City of Light occupies the northern district of Ulono Atu. The centuries of the Curse have left it buried in the constant blizzard of the Earthstorm. Only the strongest structures protrude through the dark dunes of dirt and stone. Nothing lives on the surface, but the tunnels and sublevels of the district continue to support life whether tunnelling creatures, visiting explorers like Mermin or cave dwellers. Just beyond the encircling highway there are some number of tunnel entrances to the undercity. Lightguards from Heliostat Citadel, camped where Mermin lives, keep watch on the openings to prevent less scrupulous explorers from attempting to scavenge the vaults and basements for treasures and sacred objects. Mermin has made a “donation” to Malam to allow his tours to continue. 

  • Next Article: The City of Six Curses – The Sixth Curse 



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #210 

July 29th, 2023 

  • Number: 210 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: Ulono Atu – The Curse of the Choking Pall 

  • Location:  Central Wastelands west of the Ulu Maug range 

  • Population (approx.): none inside, 450 in New Ulono Atu outside 

  • Brief: The City of Air was a wondrous construction of multi-layered structures connected by walkways and suspended bridges, supporting the Cathedral of Lagi rising above the center of the district. As the Curses spread across Ulono Atu, the Air priests and Windmages spread wards and protective spells about the borders of the district, but little did they realize the greatest threat was right beneath their feet. The ground rumbled and shook, cracks spreading across roads, paths and gardens alike. Faint red flickers could be seen in the depths for a moment before great burgundy and warm gray clouds, resistant to winds and spells, poured out of the earth to engulf the city. The choking sickly blinding gases chased all that were able, escorted the surviving clerics and wizards, to the border of the district and beyond.  

  • Grumem, 38, Half-Orc, is a Magician who works for the City of Air to help bring back pockets of usable space in the city. He is very tall, has a scraggly black beard, intelligent black eyes, and short, curly black hair. He wears tiny silver earrings with the infinity symbol that shows his philosophy: life goes on. Grumem wears long robes covered in runes which represent his Half-Orc heritage. 

  • Grumem is part of a group of mages attempting to retrieve books, scrolls and other relics from the libraries and vaults in the City of Air. The mages enter the city together and form a ring around part of a building. Then, using an age-old ritual, create a pocket of air that protects the librarians from the ash and heat that continues to coat the district. As one of the magicians, Grumem is subject to the atmosphere as the ritual is conducted. The church prefers using magic users that are naturally tough, as they don't require as many spells or devices for protection. 

  • Grumem lives with his brother in an inn in New Ulono Atu, a village founded outside the City of Air. The city pays the rent for his room, which is sized just right for a Half-Orc. Grumem's brother, Notur, 42, is a local guard. The two of them spend most of their evenings drinking at the inn. On the weekends, they explore the local area and have joined a local fight club. 

  • Geography: The City of Air occupies the northwest district of Ulono Atu. The centuries of the Curse have left the buildings and surfaces coated in layers of dirt and ash. The heat caused weaker buildings to burn or collapse. Nothing lives within the Curse except small areas where Lagi's spellcasters have managed to create permanent domes of breathable air. Realizing that perhaps they were luckier than the other districts, several years after the collapse, priests of Lagi returned and established a village, New Ulono Atu, along the encircling avenue. Most of the population worships Lagi or none of the Six, but followers of the other five Gods are returning to the area in greater numbers, passing through the village before their business takes them to the other districts. 


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