Stretching out along the eastern edge of the continent are the mighty Ironspire Mountains. The mountains are the youngest and tallest on Altarus. Wild and untamed, few plants grow on the solid rock and the peaks stretch upwards through the clouds. Storms are sudden and deadly, appearing quickly in cloudless skies, soaking the mountainsides in rivers of rain or freezing them in blizzards that can clog passes overnight.
Firedrakes and Irondrakes love the warm updraughts and rugged cliffs, and gather in flocks of thousands, to mate and feed on ramhorns and wild ovuhz. In the ever green forests of the foothills, the strange bird-like creature known as the lifesuckers stalks their prey. Gigantipeds and darters crawl in the tunnels that spread out from the mountains like roots from a tree. The strange insectile Stingerdragons make their homes in the hollows along the mountain walls, striking with deadly force on anything that enters their line of sight. Recent reports have even spotted the inhuman pit creatures in the subterranean passages, but these reports have yet to be proven, as those who see pit creatures rarely return.
The Ironspire mountains are where the Malthan Mindmages plan world
conquest from their subterranean Enclaves.
Deep under the mountains live the mysterious mindmages known as the Malthan. There history is a mystery to historians on and off the continent. The first possible record of their existence is a small note on a Anasar scroll, listing the numbers of platoons lost in the mountains. They where not encountered again until they surrendered to the Parthenian army.
Physically they appear to have lived below the mountains for a long
time. Their skin and hair are pale and white. Their eyes are small and
black, perfectly adapted to see in the permanent gloom below the mountains.
Their frames are small and fragile, rarely exceeding five feet in
The life of a Malthan is devoted to the development of their Mindmagic. Physical skills are avoided by the mages who see physical actions and tasks as disdainful, better left to underlings and slaves. They spend days in meditation, alone in the deep caves with only their skills and spells for protection.
Family is a forgiven concept. Children, often born as twins, are difficult for the tiny frames of the women, and so are rare but cherished and doted upon. The physical act of sex itself is considered a physical action and frowned upon by the lofty mindmages, who prefer more cerebral pleasures. To ensure that newborns are properly cared for, they are immediately taken from their mother and raised by slave-wetnurses until they are old enough to begin training. The training takes place in giant academies that house, raise and train the children until they pass their final tests and let out into the enclaves.
They rarely speak to each other, preffering instead to communicate
via their mental magics. They see verbal speech as tiresome and proof of
the headblind race's primitive nature. They accept their superiorty as
natural and without question, viewing the other races as weak and inferior.
All save the Parthenians. In all other races, the Mindmages can read their
minds as easily as we would read a book, yet for some reason the Parthenians
cannot be read by even the most powerful of Mindmages.
The enclaves themselves are giant, roughly circular honeycomb-like structures, hollowed in the middle and reaching hundreds of feet high. They are nestled in giant caverns deep below the mountains with a single route to the surface.
The enclaves are the abandoned nests of Stingerdragons. The giant insects build the nest out of their own secretions to house their larvae. The nests can house thousands of the giant insects all caring for and protecting the young. When a food supply dries up, or if the queen dies the remaining larvae and the nest are abandoned. The Malthans hire foreign scouts to find these nests and deal with any remaining inhabitants. The scouts are then usually killed or have the experience wiped from their memory.
Construction begins with a hollowing of the centre and exits cut into the sides. The lower levels are modified and moulded into a vast barracks and classrooms, eventually becoming the academy where the young are raised. The old larval chambers (called Hexidromes) surrounding the hollow centre are cleaned and used as shops and living quarters for most of the population. The upper levels are used for housing the rich, government buildings and entertainment for the elite.
The waxy, paper-like secretions of the Stingerdragons is extremely durable and is almost as strong as the rock which surrounds it. The abandoned nests stand for centuries before the secretions break down and the structure collapses. Young queens looking for a hive often settle within old ones before laying her eggs. This has often lead to disastrous consequences if the hive has been taken over by Malthans.
The Mindmages prefer to meditate outside the enclaves. They venture
from the cities to small alcoves carved within the nearby stone walls.
Their they spend most of their time deep in meditation, developing their
powers. It is the first duty of a new student to find and carve a mediation
spot. It is their last duty to be buried in it. Only a few foreigners are
ever allowed into the giant hives, and even then they are usually slaves
or high level diplomats.
The Malthan see politics as a game. A game they play very well. Internally there politics are rather mundane. It is hard to plot and scheme when the person next to you can read your mind, and so before the Anasar invasions they never really had much use for governments or politics, believing true power lay inside the mind.
However, during the Anasar invasions they saw things they had never seen before. Power over others, rulers, kings, cruelty and punishment. They became obsessed with the power of the hordes, observing them whenever possible and even capturing warriors for study.
An idea was hatched by the council where they would take over the minds of the Hordes leaders, conquering the army without losing a single soldier. They would then lead the Hordes to conquer the continent. But the Great Expulsion put an end to their plans. The Hordes where pushed from the mainland before the plan could be put fully into place.
Soon afterwards came a new conqueror arrived. The Parthenians began to conquer the races to the south and the Malthan saw this as a new way to implement their plan. Without forethought they surrendered to the Automatons, only to discover, to their horror, that they could not control the minds of these alien lifeforms. Stuck in a treaty that they where powerless to change they pushed themselves into important positions so that even if they where not masters, or even equals to the mighty Invaders, they became, at least indispensable.
The Malthans did not consider themselves beaten. Almost immediately they began to scheme and blackmail their way to important positions, eventually effectively becoming the second ruling class in the empire. They planed to inspire a revolt among the Majani and nearly succeeded had it not been for the Jinn Dunewalkers and the properties of the Kinara. The Parthenians then banished most of the Mindmages back into the mountains and promoted the loyal Jinn into the advisory positions.
Annoyed to say the least, the Malthan began to plot a more devious plan. They contacted the Anasar and began to manipulate and aid them into recovering from their punishing defeat. They now plan to give the Anasar a secret army of slaves to conquer the Lazan Kingdom to the south. From there they can take over the Tanor government, hereby gathering an army with enough size to crush the Empire. So far all they have launched is a few tentative strikes to test the Lazan defenses, but the day will come when they begin their invasion.
On one to one politics the Malthan are equally as nasty. They will
pry into their opponent's mind, pulling out plans, details and private
information to cheat, outmanoeuvre and blackmail their opponents. They
see nothing wrong with this. Their philosophy is that if the people cannot
defend themselves then they deserve their fate. They view other races as
inferior and as tools to be used, dropped and discarded at will.
Their Place in the Empire
The Malthan have fallen from grace in the eyes of the Parthenians. The mounting of the Majani revolt was quickly suppressed and no concrete proof linked the uprising to the Mindmages, but not one Majani leader has been punished, and at least 20 high profile Mindmages have been exiled back to the their enclaves.
The Parthenians have grown highly distrustful of the mages. Their advise has become suspect and most of their positions have come under constant surveillance. However, the Parthenians also see the Malthan as excellent administrators and ambassadors. (All Parthenian foreign emissaries an embassies have at least one Malthan Mindmage.) They are not yet willing to give up the advantages that the Mindmages offer. So with a little forethought and a lot of help from the Jinn, the Parthenians are attempting to snap back the political power of the Malthan, while at the same time, holding on to the mighty power of their mindmagic.
Note that if the Parthenians where ever to find out about the Malthan's plan for the Lazan, they would be forced to stop them by whatever means possible. However, it does not mean that they would not decide to implement the plan themselves.
The Sanctum Alcedon
Shigata Ga Nai High