These ancient, crag filled mountains line the south-eastern coast
of the continent from the western
tip of Mal Tanor, south of the Otan plains, around to the Gulf of Conquest
and on up into the Southern Parthenian Empire. The mountains
rise highest above the Otan plains, dwindling to large craggy hills along
the corridor and rising again before the encroaching jungles to the north.
Giant, impassable cliffs rise above the southern shores above the Crimson
sea and around the Gulf of Conquest. A small cape, known as the Curvedtooth
is the only strectch of flat land on the eastern side of the mountains.
The Lazan Kingdom
The Lazan are a subterranean race of people who have adapted to their underground existence deep below the Kilan mountains. Through a network of farms and tunnels, they have build a thriving kingdom far below the earth.
The Lazan are a short people with pale white skin, large, bright
eyes, and red, black or white hair. Their canine teeth have developed into
long fangs but their most striking feature are their ears that rise above
their forehead in two pale triangular peaks.
The Lazan are the survivors of the Kilan race. During the third Anasar invasion they were pushed slowly south across the Otan plains to the mountains where they hid in the three fortress they had built in the foothills of the mountains. These fortresses had been built during the first invasion but had remained forgotten and unused until the Kilan, fleeing the encroching hordes returned to make their final stand. The Hordes followed and laid siege to the strongholds, crushing them one by one, slaughtering all they could find. Two of the strongholds were rebuilt by the conquerors; Stronghammer and Strongblade used as headquarters and prisons and began to conduct hideous tortures and experiments upon their captives.
But some of the Kilan had escaped into the mountains. Many more died
as winter set in and the survivors rapidly ran out of food, they desperately
searched for safe shelter. Their corpses were soon scattered across the
mountainsides. A few took to cannibalism to survive, feeding upon the meat
of the fallen. Others stumbled onto a cave that lead deep into a vast network
of underground passages and there they discovered the large, slug like
creatures known as Bloodworms. This tiny group soon discovered that the
blood of these docile creatures could be harvested without harming them
and the survivors soon gathered a small herd. Living off the bloodworms
and the few edible fungi and lichen they found in the caves, their numbers
slowly began to grow. They established a few small towns that grew quickly
as they prospered and rapidly adapted to the dark. One hundred years after
their discovery of the caves and bloodworms they elected their first King,
Lazan I and began construction on the City of Borgo.
Meanwhile on the surface, the remaining Kilan had also adapted to their environment, becoming feral and cannibalistic. They raided the Kilan underground villages and into Otan and Mal Tanor. Repulsed by the savagery of these attcks, both the Otan and Mal Tanor armies sent forces into the mountains in an effort to wipe out the cannibalistic raiders. These armies, not knowing the difference between civilized Kilan and the cannibals, slaughtered many Kilan villages close to the surface. King Lazan I, when he heard the reason for the massacres, lead his small army against the cannibals on the surface. After one year of savage conflict, nearly all of the cannibals were slaughtered but at the city of Borgo had been devastated and King Lazan had died in the fighting. His son Prince Haliun, renamed the people in his father's honor and rebuilt Borgo and proposed the building of Myiciura.
However, not all the cannibals were killed during the war. A few
survivors fled to the remote corners of the mountains were they degenerated
even further and became the submen known as the Devourers.
Customs of the Lazan
The Lazan have a culture that combines the old ways of the Kilan and those which developed during their long stay in the caves. They have become perfectly adapted to their underground environment. Their odd ears act as a radar catching the high pitched sounds they can produce in their throats, and provide an accurate three dimensional picture up to one hundred feet away. Their eyes are large and almost all pupil, but are still almost useless in the pitch black tunnels. If they venture onto the surface during daylight they must wear cloth or metal masks over their eyes. Pure sunlight can blind them, a condition they consider only a minor inconvenience.
The small villages revolve around the care and feeding of the bloodworms. These large, slug like creatures have been selectively bred over time so that they are now huge and nearly immobile. They produce large quantities of blood that is siphoned by the Lazan without harming the creatures. The harvested blood is shipped to the cities where it is sold as a staple foodstuff for the populace. Other, smaller villages lie nearer the surface and cultivate fruit trees and vegetable farms along the Curvetooth Cape were they are cultivated and harvested during the night.
Blood, being the staple of the Lazan, diet is drunk at every meal. However they use blood in many ways: bloodwine being a popular intoxicant and bloodwafers are biscuits made of congealed and clotted blood. Their diet is supplemented by a variety of fruits and vegetables. Over time, due to their mainly liquid diet, their systems will no longer tolerate solid foods and a piece of meat or hard bread would play havoc with their digestive system.
The two large cities are bustling metropolises of commerce and trade, Naejeeri, Doragon, Korsalish and Endazi merchants all travel to the underground markets to trade in the rare metals, gemstones, fungi and other riches of the earth. Lazan artisans are renowned for their skills at metalworking and weaponsmithing. The weapons, armor and other artifacts are in great demand throughout the continent, though few surface dwellers know where they come from.
The cities major resources are the many mines located deep in the mountains, producing gems and metals for the artisans. Borgo is located near a number of large tin and copper mines. A declaration by King Haliun II had much of the city covered in bronze plates and reliefs, causing the city to be coined the City of Bronze. Myiciura built near several large silver mines, continued the tradition and has become known as the City of Silver.
Not all the trading occurs below ground. One of the Kilan strongholds located on the edge of the Otan plains, Strongforge was not rebuilt by the Anasar hordes. It lay untouched for centuries until Lazan prospectors accidentally tunnelled into its basement storerooms. The ruins now hide a small trading post and inn for travellers who know that it is there.
All the villages and cities are linked by an expansive system of
tunnels and caverns. These natural tunnels have been expanded and occasionally
abandoned over time, some leading to abandoned villages and mines and there
is even evidence of an ancient link to the Underground Highway of Talislanta.
The expanded tunnels have allowed more wild animals to gain access to the
tunnels and some villages have had to spend a great deal of time erecting
defenses to guard against encroaching predators.
Lazan Government and Army
The Lazans have a highly developed system of government with close ties to its small but dedicated army. All citizens of Lazan are part of the Citizens' Assembly, a public forum where issues are debated and Demagogues are voted fore. Professional politicians, the Demagogues represent their discrict Assembly in the governing Prytany council. Citizenship is limited only to adult males of Kilan decent. Women and outsiders are not considered for citizenship except in specific circumstances.
There are twelve district Citizen's Assemblies and they tend to be raucous affairs held in deep caverns. Each citizen is entitled to speak his piece, often causing the debates to rage for days. There primary duty is to elect a member, known as a Demagogue, to represent the district on the Prytany Council, the advisory council of the King. The Demagogues are normally elected for life though they answer directly to their Assemblies and there have been cases where the Assembly has demanded the resignation of their Demagogue. The Demagogues in turn, elect the King, and rarely a Queen from their number once the old monarch abdicates or dies.
The King's (and rarely Queen's) primary duty is to represent the entire Kingdom in the face of the Demagogues district demands. The King is the army's supreme commander and is expected to lead them into all major battles, a tradition that has caused more than one aged King to abdicate in times of extreme crisis.
Each citizen, as well as every able-bodied man, and childless woman over the age of eighteen must serve one year in the army. A relatively small force that patrols the tunnels for invaders and dangerous creatures that might threaten the villages. Every soldier is expect to provide and upkeep their own equipment, leading to a colorful mismatch of uniforms as newly bought equipment is stood next to family heirlooms and battered antiques. Those rich enough can escape conscription by providing enough money to keep up a squadron for a year. The money is disseminated through the army so that the contributor can not hold any direct influence over the soldiers.
Conscripting the childless women is considered a punishment for the
women who have not helped the in the population growth of their people.
In recompense for the year served, the woman is rewarded with full citizenship
with voting rights in the Assembly. This is becoming more common as some
women deliberately avoid having children in order to gain citizenship.
Officially, serving with the Lazan army is also a way for outsiders to
become citizens, but to date only a handful have done so.
Life in the armies is not easy. Devourers attempt frequent raids into the villages, Otan raiders sometimes attack the farms and orchards on the surface and strange creatures sometimes rise from the deep tunnels to terrorize the Lazan towns. On top of all that, the army must always be on alert against the constant threat of an attack by the Malthans,
The Malthans crave the mineral wealth of the Kilan mountains, and plan to enslave the Lazan into an army under their control, independent of their Parthenian masters. To this end they send occasional raiding parties to test the strength of the Lazans, who are convinced that a major confrontation is only a matter of time.
Originally the tunnels extended a few dozen miles beneath the mountains, but when the Lazan began to explore for recourses they dug many more miles looking for possible mine sites. It was an accident however, that turned the tunnels into the thousands of twisted tunnels and shafts. It seems an enterprising entrepreneur somehow managed to lay his hands on a breeding pair of Geophagues, until then unknown on Parthenthius. He trained them to look for minerals and gemstones and they took too readily to the task. The geophages, suddenly introduced to this vast, untouched resource began to feed and breed excessively until they escaped from the entrepreneur. They tunneled and feed excessively, soon turning the tunnels into the tangled maze it is today.
A first the now freed geophagues were encouraged and protected by rival merchants who followed the lumbering giants hoping they would lead them to sudden riches. But the giants soon tunneled into an arm of the Underground Highway, bringing in creatures from Alconia and Talislanta. Most disastrously they broke into the deep Magma Caves, home to the alien Subterranoids and fearsome Pit Creatures. The Lazan found themselves protecting their bloodworms, and themselves against all sorts of new monsters and even the Geophagues had begun to wander into towns and villages wreaking havoc. They began an extermination program to wipe out the wandering menaces, finally managing to bring them under control. Today only a handful are kept under careful watch by the King's Engineers for use in construction or mining, though a few still live in the wild. A popular saying ‘never let your geophage off the leash' developed after the incident, meaning never to let your ideas get the best of you.
The Sanctum Alcedon
Shigata Ga Nai High