Lonaraban

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The world of the Mandragora is far bigger than own with a number of major landmasses. The closest land of note to Lonaraban is Erilya in the east, a temperate continent that houses a number of races living in relative harmony. Much of the land is covered in dense forests, and the majority of humanity resides there.

Beyond Erilya lies a vast continent stretching three-quarters of the way across the planet. A number of truly bizarre races dwell here, including the Minotaur Empire of Stars and their deadly enemies, the Ogre kingdoms. Few Mandragora have ever seen these lands. Knowledge of them is through hearsay only.

West of the Mandragora homeland are lands that are many weeks journey away, and no Mandragora has ever returned from there. Through the treacherous SpellWind currents of The Flow lie sunken ruins of the old Etruscan empire, now home to creatures that defy description. Even adventurous Bronze avoid these areas - the water is deep, dark and chill. Preternaturally so. Only the most foolhardy - or suicidal - individuals visit this area.

Duralyth itself is in trouble. The magic used in the wars, both past and present, have destabilised the natural balance of the world. The planet is tearing itself apart with seismic tremors and already the weather systems are changing. Storms sweep the land, and devastating magical energies distort both the land and the inhabitants into new forms.

Mandragora are rare visitors to the other lands, or Lands Away, as they call them. Their long lives have meant that their ingrained prejudices run deep, even after all this time. Pride prevents them from admitting that they were once a wandering race with no home, and that many of the short-lived races could be numbered amongst their persecutors.

The map shows the isle of Lonaraban, but it does not show the location of the various Stars. These marine way-stations of Lonaraban are built some way out to sea.

MAPlonaraban.jpg

The Settlements of Lonaraban

Mandragora settlements tend to reflect their draconian origins and the environment in which they dwell. White Mandragora prefer the icy cold of the mountains, Green prefer the forests, Bronze favour the oceans and so forth. Mandragora architecture has a distinctive ‘spiny’ appearance, and their buildings are elegant towering structures with sweeping arches and buttresses. For those Mandragora possessing wings, their buildings have an entrance some way off the ground.

Nearly every single Mandragora building has some form of defensive value, and the manses of the Noble houses resemble little more than fortresses. However, no Noble House would wish the centre of their power and symbol of authority regarded as anything other then beautiful, and are the cause of some incredible feats of engineering and transmutation.

A’ayatora

A’ayatora is an ecological marvel. The name means “Dwelling in the high trees”, and it describes the appearance of this settlement extremely well. Each building is crafted within a living trr’hyr tree in such a way that the tree itself is still alive and grows around the building. The majority of buildings in this city are crafted in such a fashion, after using various transmutation spells. Some Green Mandragora claim that they are able to sense the spirits of the trees themselves after sleeping within a house in some of the older trees.

The city is built on a number of levels, supported by outlying branches, and magically strengthened vine bridges provide transportation between levels. Should there be any hostile beings within the vicinity, these bridges can be retracted to cut off access to the city. The streets of A’ayatora are beautiful at night, as magical glowglobes cast soft light upon the boughs and streets of the city. Despite being a relatively large city, litter and the normal pervasive stench of civilisation are non-existent. Green Mandragora are extremely well attuned to their forest environment and litter or damage to the living trees of A’ayatora will not be tolerated.

An increasing number of the Green Mandragora are taking their role as protectors of the forest quite seriously and appear to have entered into some form of spiritual communion with the woods. They claim that they can sense wanderers in the forest and feel the agony of a tree when it is felled. They also feel a kinship with the animals of the forests and their homes are always more overgrown than anywhere else in the city. This effect often means that normally belligerent creatures such as bears or badgers commonly become docile and even friendly towards such individuals. Scholars’ point towards an embryonic psychic ability similar to the Blue Mandragora and incidents of this mysterious power are apparently on the increase.

The inhabitants of A’ayatora are almost exclusively Green Mandragora, but other Mandragora species are frequent visitors to the city. Red, Bronze, and Gold Mandragora are rare, but a number of other Mandragora pass through on their way to other destinations. Brass Mandragora are welcome visitors to the city, as the Green Mandragora believe that the songs and melodic voices of these Mandragora are pleasing to the trees.

Places of Interest: The High Hostel, (the place to stay in A’ayatora), the Avenue, the street of Singing Boughs, the Parklands, the Royal Palace, the trr’yhr trees, PeaceForcer stationhouses.

Jha’anixor

Located in one of the most picturesque areas of Lonaraban, Jha’anixor is a city renowned for its hospitality and its decadence. It is a city for the rich and powerful and its' whole industry revolves around this. The city itself is constructed of white marble, and sits at the base of a huge waterfall. The rainbows that shimmer around Jha’anixor give it the name “the Blinding city” and most visitors will often pause in awe upon viewing the city for the first time.

The city has a number of attractions, filled with gymnasiums, bathhouses, and other health-related institutions. Several apothecaries dwell here, selling everything from fine perfumes to poisons, and there is a large hospice dedicated to the Healing Arts. Many seriously-ill Mandragora come here to recover from illness, convalesce, or heal wounds. Mandragora view the place as one of relaxation - their equivalent of a holiday resort, free of the intrigues and the humdrum of their ordinary lives. The caverns beneath the waterfall are beautiful limestone caverns with crystalline structures (similar to Starbursts) that emanate a soft hum in the presence of noise, and the subliminal effect on the Mandragora nervous system is one of a soporific relaxant.

Despite the appearance of the city, it also has a dark side. Intrigue abounds even here, and assassination attempts frequently take place in the carnival atmosphere of the city. Despite the best efforts of the PeaceForcers, there is a powerful Thieves Guild, as there are always those that would deal in vice or corruption. Principal among these are those that run the perfumed Drug caverns. These caverns are known for burning of a narcotic fungus that produces an incredibly heady aroma, inducing euphoria and removing social inhibitions. It is also extremely addictive and the PeaceForcers are well aware of the dangers posed by the perfumed drug caverns. Homicidal urges, suicidal and psychopathic thoughts, and other psychoses, can all result after use (even after a single inhalation). The PeaceForcers take a very hard line upon finding one of these dens, whether within the city limits or in the caverns nearby. It is a matter of time before a scandal hits a Noble House.

Along the riverside, members of the Shirr’haim maintain opulent holiday homes. River parties on vast floating palaces are common. Such events often test the creativity and skills of the Transmuters and Illusionists, as they create incredible decorations and items of beauty. Bodies are frequently discovered floating in the river, the tragic fallout from some political scheme that has gone badly wrong. Such occurrences are always quickly dealt with by the local PeaceForcers with the minimum of fuss. The PeaceForcer presence is there, rarely seen, but always in the background there is the silhouette of a PeaceForcer, watching and waiting.

Places of Interest: the limestone caverns, the royal palace, the river, the waterfalls, the restaurants, the gymnasiums, the Drug caverns, the Thieves guild, the PeaceForcer stationhouses.

Ka’al Sthor

It is easy to miss the home city of the Bronze Mandragora, situated at the foot of an undersea mountain as it is. Only the presence of the uppermost ‘peak’ and the fortifications upon it betray the city’s presence. An extinct volcano, the peak itself is hollow providing shelter for a vast number of both SpellWind and conventional craft. The entrance is through a vast portal that can be sealed with a magical force field in case of bad weather and storms. The majority of the few air-breathing Mandragora that dwell here live within the peak, and are only able to visit the “True city” through the use of spells or magic items that allow them to breathe underwater. The city below is a nightmare for surface dwellers to negotiate as the streets all follow a form of three-dimensional geography (i.e. left, right, up, down…), and it can be considerably disorientating for visitors to the city.

The majority of the city’s population earn their living from the sea. The reputation of the Bronze as sailors is well known, and nearly all have homes here but spend little time in them, regarding the ship they are on as their true home. Whether SpellWind or conventional craft, the Bronze are able to handle the craft with ease, and there is nearly always some form of wager and race on to see who is the better captain or pilot in Ka’al Sthor’s harbour. Not all of the city’s economy is based on shipping, and there is a thriving fishing community. With the help of friendly dolphins (see below), fishermen hunt fish and crustaceans using javelins and nets. There are a number of dangers inherent in this vocation most notably the risk of attack from predators such as the Sh’issis, “White demon fish”. This voracious breed of predator is similar to a shark but reaches lengths of up to thirty feet). This lethal hunter uses a sonic echo weapon to stun its prey, before closing in for the kill. Mining is also a common occupation. The seabed is rich in minerals and considerable money is to be made by prospectors here. Unfortunately, the antagonistic nature of the Bronze means that there are often allegations of “claim jumping”, and the individual fights that eventually ensue.

The city is an impressive sight on the descent from the surface. The lights from thousands of glowglobes illuminate the bizarre shell buildings, domes, and globes of the city. Much of the architecture consists of soft curves and straight lines are uncommon within the streets. Some Mandragora comment that the city buildings resemble something that has been half melted within an alchemical furnace. The inhabitants of Ka’al Sthor are immensely proud of their city and dislike anyone who expresses a less than awe-struck opinion of the city. The Bronze have formed a strong kinship with the playful dolphins that share the seas with them, and it is rumoured that some Bronze Aquamancers can speak their language. They call the dolphins Aa’aloss’ass (“Beloved of the waves”), and it is a long-standing joke that the Bronze are unsure as to who makes a pet of the other. For some reason the Aa’aloss’ass are fiercely protective of the Bronze and it is not uncommon for Bronze hatchlings to be left within the care of a Aa’aloss’ass pod while the parents go hunting.

Places of Interest: The waterfront, the mines, the True city (City Below), the Peak City, the Golden peak inn (the most prestigious hostelry in the city), the PeaceForcer stationhouses, the Royal palace.

Na’aralviss

Na’aralviss means “City of mists and water” and it has both in copious quantities. The sun rarely shines here, when it does, a watery diffuse glow is all that it sheds on the ramshackle city. Built of grey stone, the city is extremely dreary in appearance, and the high humidity of the area does little to alleviate this impression. Despite this, it is an impressive city nonetheless as there was very little dry land to build upon when the city was initially constructed. Instead, a network of canals runs throughout the city, replacing the cobbled streets so commonplace in other cities. Terramancers were required to create the bases for much of the buildings here, and they are responsible for the vast array of defences that prevent the city becoming flooded after heavy rain.

The inhabitants of Na’aralviss make their living from the fens – hunting the warm-blooded crocodiles and giant lizards there for their skins. However, much of the income to the city comes from the abilities of the Black Mandragora. Their skills of subterfuge and scouting are legendary and it is here that the TunnelRunners are trained for their role in the UnderEarth. Their training building is completely windowless, a squat pyramid near the centre of the city, and when their training begins they enter a world of darkness for the majority of their training. The city is also home to the infamous Floating Market, or Sh’aan, where merchants travel for miles to sell their wares. A vast number of illegal and stolen items also make their way here, and are often bought or sold beneath the noses of the local PeaceForcers. The customary zeal of the PeaceForcers is curiously absent here, but the number of Noble House representatives as regular visitors may help to explain this. Overzealous PeaceForcers are often found floating in a canal, the victim of a tragic ‘accident’.

The city itself has a dreary appearance – indeed, it lacks the grace and beauty of the other Mandragora cities. The normally elegant spires and minarets of Mandragora architecture are here, but they appear in a relatively cruel and ominous aspect. A Mandragora CrystalSinger once described the city as “trying to tear itself free from the swamp by sinking its’ claws into the sky”. The inhabitants are insular and are frequently surlier than is necessary with visitors to their city. The streets are narrow, cramped and a little claustrophobic. As a result, Na’aralviss is rarely visited except by those that have business there.

Places of Interest: the Floating Market, the Terramancers guildhouse, the flood defences, the TunnelRunners training school, the PeaceForcer stationhouses, the Royal palace.

Shi Arrax

The city of Shi Arrax reflects the nature of its inhabitants. Sitting on the top of a high plateau, in the shadow of one of the highest peaks of the range, the weather itself discourages the casual visitor. Icy winds, snowstorms, and avalanches can cause even the most hardened wanderer to turn back. The city itself is situated within a large cavern. The buildings are of simple construction but warm enough to turn back the terrible chill of the mountains.

The majority of income comes from the iron mines of the kingdom with the city inhabitants trading the ore in the lowland cities. This appears to be the limit of their contact with the other races, and they keep much to themselves. Those individuals that do choose to interact with the other members of Mandragora society are characterised by a shortness of temper and close-mouthed demeanour. Despite their surly natures, these Mandragora are skilled guides and rangers, and they are amongst the most hardy of their species. Some of the Mandragora of Shi Arrax also become TunnelRunners, training in the city of Na’aralviss, which they regard as a little too warm.

The White Mandragora inhabitants of Shi Arrax are less than hospitable. Although nominally subject to the edicts of the Shirr’haim, the clans of this kingdom are fiercely independent and see any visitors to their lands as spies and thieves. As such, all visitors are watched carefully and are expected to leave upon conclusion of their business. The various clans that comprise Shi Arrax are frequently in dispute with one another and conflict is commonplace.

Places of Interest: the royal Palace, the mountains, the iron mines, the fur markets and trading posts, rangers and guides, the PeaceForcer stationhouse.

Shi Kolax

Shi Kolax is a small city by Mandragora standards, but it is of considerable importance nonetheless. The city is set in a picturesque hanging valley that has a commanding view of the surrounding countryside. The buildings of Shi Kolax consist of sturdy, white stone buildings shored up with timber from the pine trees that flank the settlement on either side of the valley. The climate is remarkably hospitable here, as the valley provides the city with shelter from the harsh winds and storms of the mountains.

Various mines exist throughout the local area, providing income from gemstones and metals, and the city makes a considerable profit from the duties that are imposed upon the export of such items. Other industries include timber from the pine forests and sheep farming, but the majority of the income in Shi Kolax comes from the manufacturing and processing of the metal ores. There is also a thriving transmutation industry, with some of the most skilled jewellers in Lonaraban making their homes and livings here. Many of the Noble Houses visit the city to purchase items of value, and the marketplace is a cultural melting pot between the different species of Mandragora. Even the Red visit the city to sell weapons and armour forged in Tar Yanniss, and also buy iron ore for their return journey. A landing platform south of the town allows Giant Eagles and Wyverns to land, along with the air transports of the Aeromancers, although this is still being constructed.

The city acts as a central crossroads for the various trade routes. The market place was originally the idea of Queen Marilena and her consort, Crorax, and they have helped elevate the city to a new level of prosperity. Their sweeping reforms throughout the city’s political structure, rewarding those that bring prosperity and those that improve Shi Kolax’s standing in Mandragora society, has caused some criticism in the Shirr’haim. However, few would dare to denounce these ideas too openly. Marilena is part of the Imperial family, in direct succession to the throne and only a fool would dare to criticise a future Empress.

Places of Interest: the Royal palace, jewellers’ shops, Alchemists, the market place, the landing platform, and the PeaceForcer stationhouses.

Shi Toriax

The city of Shi Toriax is a distinctive city. It is surrounded by a net-like structure that looks like the city is swathed in some form of gigantic spider web. Small fields surround the city with a similar covering above them, beneath which sheep and cattle graze. This net is a powerful ward against the local predators of the mountains, the Wyverns. A sturdy stone wall, topped by spiked battlements surrounds the city itself, and a single portal allows access to the surprisingly wide and airy streets of the city. The city itself resembles an armed fortress more than a typical city, and with good reason.

The inhabitants of Shi Toriax follow a dangerous profession. They catch the savage Wyverns that dwell on the mountainsides above the city, and train them as mounts. The city has suffered from attacks by enraged Wyverns in the past, which explains the web covering the city. It is treated with an alchemical compound that emits an odour that Wyverns have a strong aversion to. The livestock fields outside the city also have such coverings, although starving Wyverns have been known to ignore the net and attempt to seize a cow, sheep, or Mandragor, for food. Of more concern to the citizens of Shi Toriax are the smaller flightless Wyverns that hunt in packs throughout the mountains.

Shi Toriax’s citizens receive more military training than any other Mandragora city (excepting Tar Yanniss), with good reason. An escaped Wyvern poses a serious threat to the lives of nearby citizens and all Mandragora should try to prevent the creature from causing injury, using all necessary means. The ruler of the city, Queen Tyashia’anna, has decreed that the life of an escaped Wyvern is forfeit and it is in the interest of Wyvern stable owners to contain the creatures. A dead Wyvern is of no use to anyone, except perhaps to a Magus as spell components.

Places of Interest: the Wyvern stables and riding school, hunting parties, the market place, the landing platform, the Royal palace, the PeaceForcer stationhouses.

Shi Tovanax

Shi Tovanax poses a considerable dilemma to the Shirr’haim. This fortress city stands close to the single pass through the mountains to Tol Valacc. An imposing edifice that clings to a mountain peak, it commands an incredible view of the surrounding countryside. The city is built for war, extending some distance beneath the surface and into the mountain itself, with a grim and forbidding appearance. The battlements of this fortress are almost perpetually frozen, and the icicles that hang from the ramparts make this city appear to be some nightmarish beast’s jaws rearing up from the mountainside.

Nearly the entire industry of the city is geared toward warfare of some form and the weaponry crafted here is exported throughout Lonaraban. The large numbers of Brass Alchemists that make their living in the city also manufacture the Viridian armour that is so prized by the nobility. The skills found here amount to more than just manufacturing – the White Mandragora warriors of Shi Tovanax are more than a match for the Reds. The different tactics that they use are remarkably successful; favouring swift “hit and fade” assaults, and their skiing abilities also allows them to travel rapidly across the snowfields. The inhabitants also have one additional profession of value: they capture and train the pony-sized Dire Wolves of the mountains and forests of Lonaraban. These savage creatures seem to be so feral that only the White Mandragora of Shi Tovanax can tame them. They hire their skills out, and on some bizarre empathic level, the Dire Wolves accept their handler on a protective basis, becoming fanatically loyal to them.

Despite the manufacturing of the weapons and its serious strategic importance, this area causes considerable problems as the White Mandragora citizens of Shi Tovanax harbour considerable resentment toward the Red Mandragora inhabitants of Tar Yanniss to the south. This has resulted in running battles in the mountains, but the Shirr’haim are reluctant to take punitive measures that may cause a loss of productivity. The diplomatic effort required to prevent the Red Mandragora taking action of their own is unbelievable. At this time, the Red Mandragora look upon these raids as a diversion to the journey through the mountains, but this outlook could change at any time. When that time comes, it could act as a flashpoint that may plunge Lonaraban into civil war.

Places of Interest: the PeaceForcer stationhouses, the Royal palace, the weapon smithies, the Dire wolf pens, the armouries, and the mountains.

Shi’is Stha

Shi’is Stha is one of the most important cities in Lonaraban society. The beach below the city looks like a graveyard for some bizarre breed of giant creature. Here the fantastic SpellWind craft are manufactured from the living trr’hyr trees using a remarkable variety of magical spells, literally being ‘grown’ from the ground up. When grown to maturity, these craft are lowered down to the Bay of Hope by means of an ingenious lock system.

The combination of the various Elementalist Magi is required in addition to the normal joiners and carpenters, and the sustained expenditure of magical power is enormous. There have been hundreds of treatises written on the subject of building SpellWind craft, many stored within the vast library of the Imperial Naval Academy. The entire city of Shi’is Stha is geared toward the creation of SpellWind craft, from the local Artisans to the Magi of the local guildhouses. An extensive library of maritime lore exists, along with the Imperial Naval Academy and the city has a high proportion of Bronze Mandragora, mainly cadets from the Academy. It also has a higher than normal number of PeaceForcer Sentinels, needed to quell the natural boisterousness of the cadets.

Of all the cities in Lonaraban, Shi’is Stha is the most friendly and liberally minded, as the natural exuberance of the large Bronze Mandragora population affects even the local PeaceForcers. Consequently, there are a number of renegades living their double lives within this city, where the risk of discovery is less great. Evidence exists of vast cavern complex of sea caves beneath the city, and the links to the UnderEarth mean that the city has a strong complement of TunnelRunners and Black Mandragora. Rumours abound that these tunnels and caverns are also the home of Dark Aspect Magi and other unsavoury beings.

Places of Interest: the PeaceForcer stationhouses, the Royal palace, the ship yards, the Imperial Naval Academy, the Maritime library, the TunnelRunners stationhouse, the locks, the cavern complexes.

Shirr’haim

The Imperial city, the Shirr’haim stands in the centre of the Bay of Hope. A city of towering spires and high minarets, it is constructed of the local pink stone that gives the whole city a rosy hue at sunset. The city has a deceptively delicate appearance, but a vast battery of spells are woven into the structures, providing both magical and physical protection. The streets in the city exist on several levels with steep inclines that can prove exhausting to the first-time visitor to the city. Some parts of the city never see the light of day, dwelling in perpetual twilight.

The city is the centre of Mandragora society, and Noble manses are dotted throughout the city. These vast structures are the seats of power for the various Noble Houses. Each has a different architectural style, but all vie with one another to prove the most ostentatious in the continual battle for power. The houses of the various guilds also vary from beautiful to tasteless, in a similar fashion. All the Manses have their own security forces and some of the bigger manses can hold up to a thousand inhabitants, all with their own magical and physical defences.

Outshining all the Manses is the vast edifice of the Imperial palace itself. This part of the Shirr’haim is a city within itself, and an intricate number of passes are required to gain entrance to the palace. Only a few Mandragora know every chamber within the Palace, and a vast array of secret passages are supposed to exist throughout the structure. The Senate also remains a part of the Palace and even the Shirr’haim Senators are watched closely by the Blue Mandragora Guards here.

Places of Interest: the PeaceForcer stationhouses, the Imperial palace, the guildhouses, the Noble manses, the Imperial compound, the TunnelRunners stationhouse, the Senate, the Courts of Law, the Temple to Mandrathea, the market places, the Thieves guild, the Imperial Gardens, the barracks for the Shirr’haim Guard.

Tar Yanniss

The dark and brooding citadel of the Red Mandragora sits on a plateau near the Firestorm peak, Lonaraban’s single active volcano. Constructed of obsidian (a hard volcanic glass) this citadel has withstood earthquakes and volcanic eruptions many times over. The city is beautiful in a coldly cruel way, with jagged spikes and spires being everywhere. Statues of famous Red Mandragora warriors adorn every corner, in full battle regalia sometimes wielding the weapons that they carried in life. Despite the apparent fragility of the city there have been decades of spells cast to ensure the permanency of the buildings. Only a lava flow could possibly threaten the city, and this is unlikely due to the magical power of the city’s FireCallers.

The city itself is dimly lit, with only the glow from small fires or magical flares. The city has a reputation for rarely being quiet, with the sounds of marching feet from the various patrols and the continual sounds of weapons being forged. Tar Yanniss resembles an armed fortress more than a city, apparently under a state of almost continual martial law. As such there is little crime within the city, and all visitors are watched by the local secret police, the Na’aalsh. Extensive subterranean farms exist beneath the surface, and many of the younger members of the population labour here, “building character” as their tutors call it.

A huge arena dominates the skyline and it is here that a number of Red Mandragora demonstrate their prowess in regular bouts of combat. Every month the inhabitants of the city attend the grand melee, where some of the most skilled combatants face each other in single combat. The arena can also be used for vast showpiece games and tournaments, being flooded or altered to a gigantic obstacle course, with dozens of participants. When not in use, the arena doubles as the city’s marketplace.

Tar Yanniss has little to recommend it to visitors, and most Mandragora know better than to visit this city without good reason. Only a few of the Citizen Caste visit the place, with the exception of the Black Mandragora who can handle themselves well enough in the face of the antagonism that they can expect from the Red inhabitants. Gold or Silver Mandragora are respected but all others are fair game. Blue Mandragora are particularly unwelcome, and some major diplomatic incidents have been barely averted through careful negotiation.

Places of Interest: the Subterranean farms, the Parade grounds, FireStorm Peak, the mines, the Weapon smithies, the FireCaller academy, the Na’aalsh headquarters, the Grand Arena.

Tol Valacc

The translation of Tol Valacc means “The City on the Edge”, and the name describes the city perfectly. The city is built on the side of a mountain, overlooking a vast canyon. The base of this canyon, shrouded in perpetual darkness, has a myriad network of caverns extending down into the UnderEarth. The city is also spiritual home of the Sacred Ones (the priesthood of Mandrathea), and the temple carved into the mountain side above the city resembles a hawk of gigantic proportions.

The city itself encompasses an array of different levels and the city is almost totally self-sufficient. There are orchards, hanging gardens and farms, all within the confines of the city walls. Iron, precious metal, and gem mines also provide the city with additional income from the subterranean sources in the UnderEarth. There is also a landing area for the Skree’aak (Giant eagles) that the Mandragora use as couriers and messengers. This promontory, jutting out over the crevasse is also home to those rare individuals that can form the ee’kaak bond with the Eagles.

The vast majority of the Silver Mandragora population dwell here, but a number also wander throughout the land, seeking enlightenment. Those that possess the Ee’kaak tend to avoid the city, preferring to commune with their avian counterparts. However, several of these Empaths do dwell within the city, as a number of raptors use the walls of the caverns as their nest sites. In addition, there is a large contingent of TunnelRunners here, continually vigilant for threats from the UnderEarth. Places of Interest: the canyon floor, the landing area, the Temple of Mandrathea, the TunnelRunner’s stationhouse, the hanging gardens, the Empaths’ sanctum, the mines, the PeaceForcer stationhouses.

The Towers of Vir’inya

The twin towers of Vir’inya are the first of Lonaraban land based fortifications and are truly impressive structures. By powerful magical spells and the assistance of a number of Elementals, these structures rear above the narrow inlet that allows access to the Bay of Hope and the Shirr’haim. From this vantage point, it is possible to see miles out to sea, sometimes catching a glimpse of Star South on a clear day. Although such fortifications would appear to be excessive, it is the secret fear of every Mandragora that one day the War Wizards will return with a vast fleet to punish their wayward creations. As such the Mandragora watch and wait, and when that fleet is sighted they WILL be ready…

These fortifications are garrisoned by a number of Mandragora Wings (commonly two per tower), but there is accommodation for two further Wings in times of war. In addition to the vast array of ballistae and catapults occupying the various defence points of the towers, there is also a harbour built into the cliffs on either side of the narrow channel into the Kal’ashiraah. From these, triads of the small fast-attack craft, known as Shrikes, can devastate an attacking fleet. Red Mandragora storm invading ships by gliding down from the towers above, their FireCallers raining fiery destruction down upon the attackers. BattleMagi can erect magical barriers across the channel, but the effort of maintaining such a defence is incredibly taxing and takes considerable mental strength and discipline.

A number of additional defences exist in the towers and even beneath the surface. The Aquamancer magi and BattleMagi can cast spells directly into the channel. This is in addition to the aquatic defences themselves consisting of explosive disks of magical force and Water Elementals that can wreak their own havoc among the invaders. Beneath the surface, a number of concealed outposts and sub-aquatic foxholes exist. From here, Bronze Mandragora can swim up to an attacker and sabotage or overwhelm a craft.

Places of Interest: the battlements of the Towers, the waterfront, the subterranean foxholes, the PeaceForcer stationhouses, the hangar bay areas, the BattleMagi stations.

Yar’atach’haim

The city of Yar’atach’haim sits within a massive subterranean cavern deep below the surface that stretches for miles in every direction. It is here that the High Mandragora (and a select few of the Citizen caste) learn both martial and magical skills. The city is open, without defensive walls, as powerful force shields block the entrances to the cavern. These force shields can only be dispelled by ArchMagi from the Academy, on training journeys deep into the UnderEarth. The city has a number of buildings built to allow for military simulations, including areas that can be flooded and placed permanent illusions of terrain such as the mountains.

The Academy is a huge ziggurat reaching almost a mile upwards. Within are extensive gymnasiums, parade grounds, and libraries, as well as dormitories and mess halls. In addition, NullMagic spells exist in some rooms to allow students to practise their magical skills without causing harm to themselves or their colleagues. The lower levels are simulated battle zones containing illusionary creatures and other opponents. Here Mandragora can test their combat and arcane abilities against magical simulations and sometimes real life opponents.

Although the dangers posed by the Academy are apparently little more than illusion, loss of life is a real possibility. Even here, deep underground, the deadly power games of the Nobility still take place. Every year, a number of ‘accidents’ occur – normally fatal ones – which are conveniently explained away. Sometimes the instructors themselves suffer such mishaps often because of accidents that happened many years before. The time spent there by young Mandragora helps shape the life that they follow upon graduation and with the continual competitiveness of the Academy, it is of little wonder that the Noble Houses are so in conflict with one another.

Places of Interest: the UnderEarth tunnels, the PeaceForcer Stationhouses, the Academy Melee and BattleZone areas, the Grand Library, NullMagic areas.

The Mountains

The mountains of Lonaraban are treacherous and inhospitable. The weather is extremely unpredictable and many of the mountain passes are impassable in the heavy winter snowfalls. Very few choose to live their lives in these heights, and only a few more travel through the mountain passes. In winter, the vast majority of the mountain routes are impassable on foot unless they lead to the castle homes of the various White Mandragora Thanes. Snow blindness is a considerable problem amongst the travellers through the mountains, the main reason that White Mandragora carry coloured silk scarves; symbols of their clan allegiance and to protect their eyes from glare. Avalanches are common hazards in the winter months: aeromancer transports and flying mounts are the most common ways of journeying across the mountains at this time of the year.

The Seas around Lonaraban

The seas surrounding Lonaraban are treacherous at best, surrounded by strong currents and changeable weather. With the considerable number of magic users skilled in the manipulation of the elements, these natural hazards can be augmented in such a way that the isle would become impregnable in case of an invasion. Of more interest are the eight gigantic way stations, known as Stars, built to serve as staging posts and supply depots (as well as military outposts) outside Lonaraban. These large star-shaped structures were created by raising an area of the seabed above sea level (using terramantic spells) and are named after the compass point they occupy in relation to the Shirr’haim.

In a number of cases, these are used as staging posts by the other intelligent races that inhabit the planet. Although Lonaraban may be a place of intrigue and plotting, these way stations surpass even the Shirr’haim’s Imperial Palace. It is common for races that are sworn enemies to eat, drink, and negotiate with their former foes at these stations. At least that is what the station commanders would have people believe, and of course ‘accidents’ will happen. Star Southeast is normally the first point of contact for humans with the Mandragora race.

The Lonaraban fleet normally has a number of Fighter transports and other SpellWind craft near a Star for patrol duty or on manoeuvres. The majority of the fleet is stationed near the Shirr’haim and Shi’is Stha but a number of ships are on frequent patrol beyond the Star Stations. This is mainly to keep the Bronze sailors busy, and helps minimise riotous and disruptive behaviour in port and upon the Stars.

A Typical Star

The UnderEarth

The subterranean lands beneath Lonaraban are perilous in the extreme. Miles and miles of twisting tunnels and echoing caverns riddle this dark and silent world. These realms known as the UnderEarth are feared and respected by the Mandragora. A number of intelligent races call the UnderEarth home: the bestial and powerful Ya’arch (goblins in the common tongue), the Gura’al (a race of frog like humanoids), and the evil Dark Elves, or Drow. Only the Drow can match the Mandragora in magical ability but the other races make up for their lack of magical aptitude in ferocity, low cunning, and strength.

Other creatures exist, including giant lizards and arachnids (such as Giant Spiders), spending their lives hunting throughout the subterranean passages. Occasionally, these creatures find their way to the surface, often making their lairs in mine shafts and the sewers beneath Lonaraban cities. The task of removing these monsters and dangerous creatures from these areas fall to the skilled TunnelRunner Talons trained to fight in the cramped subterranean confines in conditions of total darkness.

Some of the well-travelled areas are vast underground passageways, linking cities such as Na’aralviss and the Yar’atach’haim. Along these routes, there are a number of way stations (see below), and regular military outposts at strategic positions along the length of these tunnels. There are also guard posts and portals at regular points, functioning as security points. They are essential to the subterranean defence of Lonaraban.

Way-stations and Lodging

There are a number of way stations and hostelries throughout Lonaraban. Nearly all are owned by bondsmen Brass or, in rare cases, Gold Mandragora. Lonaraban hostelries normally have three floors, surrounded by a sturdy perimeter wall. In the majority of these establishments, there is a downstairs common room with private tables and booths. The first floor consists of a number of private rooms, including a stateroom for use by the nobility or high-ranking visitors. The third floor normally contains the living quarters for the establishment’s staff, and a dormitory for the local PeaceForcers or military contingent.

Hostelries in urban areas frequently have connections to the criminal underworld and have secret passages or concealed rooms. Noble House representatives use these establishments to conduct business of an illegal nature - and when they wish to avoid drawing undue attention to themselves. Some hostelries also function as safe houses where criminal Mandragora can conceal themselves from the authorities and sell stolen goods.

In some of the more wild areas of Lonaraban, including the UnderEarth, the hostels resemble forts more than anything else. With the various hostile animals and races that inhabit both the subterranean realms and surface world, these establishments additionally function as military outposts. In the event of an attack, guests are expected to help defend the establishment.

A typical Way-station

Mandragora Manses

Manses are the centre of power for the Noble and Imperial Houses. Inside these massive structures are living quarters, libraries and strong-rooms, as well as functioning as secure bases of operations for the various schemes of the House. To most Noble Mandragora, it is the one place they feel safest.

No two manses are constructed alike, but most resemble an upturned wasp’s nest, in both appearance and activity. The manse itself is normally a large fortified structure, with elegant spires and buttressed walls, sculpted by magic and skilled stonemasons, the magical spells used in the construction giving the buildings a “melted” look. Mandragora build their manses not only for security, but for beauty and prestige – after all, the manse has to represent the power of the Noble House, and the chance to score points off an opponent must be taken at every opportunity. Every manse is ornately decorated with carvings, statues, gargoyles and landscaped gardens. Elaborate balustrades and stairways are also used in the structures. Despite all this ornamentation there are normally other considerations – the most important of which is security.

Manses normally sit in the centre of a large compound, surrounded by a high wall. Such walls normally have alarm spells placed upon them, and are also likely to have deadly magical traps placed upon them, as well as conventional guards. “Getting to the garden” is a common phrase heard amongst assassins and other shady characters, referring to the completion of a difficult job.

Every Noble house has a complement of soldiers, although the poorer houses normally have to supplement their troops with mercenaries. All troops vary in quality, equipment, and training but the Imperial Houses have elite troops, well equipped and well trained – and quite a few more than the lesser houses.

Most visitors are entertained in the great hall, under the watchful eyes of the House Guards. A number of small antechambers exist to either side where negotiations and business dealings can take place – as well as some of the shadowy enterprises that all Noble Houses deal in.

A typical Noble House Manse – House Va’shaal

The manse of House Va’shaal is typical of the majority of the buildings found throughout the Shirr’haim.

Transport

Lonaraban has an extensive network of trails and roads across the surface and below it. However, the Mandragora have access to a variety of means of transport: from simple walking to the incredible SpellWind craft that range across the seas of Lonaraban. A variety of hostelries exist throughout the isle, and these include a number of subterranean way stations that are extensively fortified, for travel beneath the ground is not yet totally safe. For those that can afford it, personal Aeromancer transports can transfer individuals and their belongings from place to place.

Aerial Travel

There are a variety of modes of aerial transport in common use across Lonaraban. The Silver Mandragora are known to use the Skree’aak, the Giant Eagle of Lonaraban, but only they can tame these fierce beasts through the mental link that they share. They are never used to carry cargo but they are frequently used as information couriers and messengers. The other flying creatures that the Mandragora use as a mount are the vicious Wyverns that take considerable skill to ride and to subdue, and are known to turn on their riders if poorly treated. They are commonly found in units acting as aerial scouts and skirmisher units in battle. However, they are sturdy beasts, and can carry quite a load if forced to – but their rider ought to beware, for even ‘tame’ Wyverns have a vicious temperament and will turn nasty given the slightest opportunity.

Other forms of transport exist in the form of flying disks (approximately ten feet in diameter) that are linked together. Aeromancers enchant these with magic that allows them to levitate, and such effort requires considerable skill to maintain across a significant distance. Those that pilot these disks are highly paid and a variety of fortunes have been made in this fashion across the regular caravan routes. Nearly all those involved in this line of work belong to the politically powerful Wayfarers’ Guild.

In the cities themselves, low ranking Aeromancers commonly hire out their skills to transfer passengers across the city. Flying carpets and exotic magical constructs are common sights above the Mandragora cities. Aeromancers are employed by the army to ferry troops and supplies, and they also function as aerial scouts in combat engagements. In combat their transports take the role of mobile command centres and provide high vantage points for BattleMagi to cast their spells down upon the battlefield.

Aquatic Transport

The majority of aquatic transport takes the form of the SpellWind craft. These are gigantic ships that are specially created with the use of magic. They are sculpted from living trees and are psychically linked to a pilot. The concept of SpellWind craft is that the sea has its own magical currents that can be tapped and followed by a pilot attuned to such a medium, with the proper kind of craft.

There are a variety of SpellWind craft, and the largest craft are the Ammonite (Koll’acsi) class or the Nautilus (Korra’chi) class. These are huge ships, heavily armoured and armed, and the ‘shells’ of these craft can be used to hold various cargoes. In times of war they are easily refitted as troop transports or carriers for the smaller fighter-class ships, such as the Shrike (Tol’arn) class. The fighter pilots are volatile hotshots (normally Bronze Mandragora), and they often pick fights with crewmen from larger craft, both on- and offshore.

There are a number of independent operators of small-scale freighters or transports. The most common of these craft are the Tar’brak, or Hammership, and they are amongst the most customised SpellWind craft. SpellWind craft are prohibitively expensive and only a few independent operators can afford to buy them. Although SpellWind craft are used far out at sea, a number of smaller conventional craft are utilised on freshwater or small coastal journeys.

Land travel

Most Mandragora rely upon their own two feet for travel across the lands of Lonaraban. Horses are unknown on the isle. However, there are times when speed or endurance become more important, and the Mandragora rely on a number of other methods of travel.

Flight is a much more common mode of transport from place to place for short local distances, but most Mandragora prefer to go by way of the various Aeromancer transports. In most cases, giant Lizards are used as pack animals and mounts. These large herbivores are sturdy beasts that can cover huge distances despite their plodding gait, but they lack intelligence and can easily panic without a firm hand upon the reins. Attempts to tame the savage ground Wyverns have met with little success, as the creatures are simply too feral to accept domestication.

Ga’yadi (Wolf) sleds

In the freezing climes of the mountains of Lonaraban the White Mandragora make extensive use of dog sleds (or wolf sleds to be more accurate), and hire out their services to the highest bidder. In the forests surrounding the mountains, Dire Wolves prowl in large packs, stalking the large aurochs herds. Dire Wolf pups are much sought after in the markets within every mountain fastness of the Whites. The Mandragora prefer to capture pups at a young age from the wild, as domesticated Dire Wolves are not as strong or tough as their wild predecessors.

From a young age, their owner rears these pups so that they answer only to their handler’s voice, and form an extremely powerful pack mentality. The training regime, by which these wolves are reared and conditioned, is a tightly guarded secret by the Spirit of the Wolf (the “guild” to which all WolfRunners, as they are known, belong). The training is harsh and very few Dire Wolves turn upon their handler once they are old enough to pull a sled. It is not without risk to the prospective trainer. In their early years, Dire Wolves pups still possess many wild instincts of their parents, and an excessively cruel trainer may loose more than just his fingers…

No one has ever found out, and no one outside of the Spirit has ever been privy to the secret. It is not yet understood the bond that WolfRunners have with their wolves, but in every sense the young wolves regard their WolfRunner as their pack alpha. This is correct in but one respect – his authority is unquestioned. No WolfRunner has ever been attacked by one of his own wolves, or challenged for dominance of the “pack”. Some say that magic is involved, but White Mandragora are not known for their magical ability. Others say that they possess an empathic ability similar to the Silvers’ ee’kaak, but on a more primal level.

Similar to the Ice Barbarians of the frozen North (in the human kingdoms), wolves are hitched up to sleds capable of hauling heavy loads. A six-wolf team is the most common and such teams make up much of the commercial traffic in the mountains, being able to cover great distances in the most atrocious conditions.

Sometimes these sleds carry passengers – although supplies can be problem without careful forethought. Passengers are rarely carried and they will need to make their own arrangements for food and warmth. WolfRunners are far from social individuals – they neither wish for company nor need it. They prefer to keep to themselves and only team up with other WolfRunners should it be absolutely necessary. Even so, there will be considerable reluctance on both parts - clan loyalties also play their part here – and only if there is a considerable gain to be made. There are tales of WolfRunners becoming as feral as their wolf companions, of stories of them being able to find food for themselves in the howling cold of winter.

Giant Lizards (Sha’ssuth)

The most common steeds on the streets of Lonaraban are Giant Lizards, placid quadrupeds that can reach up to twenty feet in length. The creatures are broad-shouldered, powerfully built, and stand about four feet at the shoulder. In appearance they resemble the monitor lizards of our own world, with similar shambling gait, and long tails. Most species have formidable claws that they use to grub for tubers and other plant life, as well as battles for dominance between bull lizards.

The lizards are herbivores that can cover huge distances on very little fodder – although they do not move particularly fast. They are not very intelligent and are steered by reins attached to their sensitive nostrils. There are a number of different breeds used by the Mandragora to carry out various tasks, from the sturdy vhrikith used as dray animals, to the sleek and swift kah’aaso utilised by couriers and other messengers.

Teleport Portals

In recent years, various Magi have been working at perfecting a network of teleportation gates. It is believed that these ‘gates’ will allow for the transfer of a variety of goods, and allow troop transport in the event of an attack upon Lonaraban. Such gates are still in the prototype stage, and they are only in the early stages of construction in a number of the Mandragora cities namely Na’aralviss, Ka’al Sthor, and A’ayatora.

The Teleport Gates are large hoops set upright into the ground. A number of magical glyphs are inscribed around the circumference. The magical forces involved in opening the gate is incredible and only a few skilled Magi possess the skills required to open the Gates, let alone open the conduit to the destination Gate. When open, the gates appear as an ever-shifting field of colour that flares to white when an object passes through. As yet no living being has passed successfully through the gates, and the Magi are reluctant to risk any of their lives prior to rigorous tests.

Aeromancers regard the gates with undisguised hostility viewing them as a threat to their livelihood, and the majority of the Wayfarers Guild have openly condemned the gates as a possible danger to the isle. A number of the original prototypes (built on a much smaller scale) proved dangerously unstable and caused a number of magical explosions.

Travel Times

The times below reflect the time (in days) taken by way of travelling overland, but they also include other modes of transport such as swimming. Few travel long distances on foot, preferring one of the easier (and more comfortable) modes of transport available to them.

Taking one of the many varieties of transport available to the Mandragora can modify the times taken to cover the distances between the cities. These reduce the amount of time taken as follows:

Travel Times

Transport Time taken
Air Transport, SpellWind craft ¼ of the normal journey time.
Dire Wolf, Giant Lizard ¾ of the normal journey time.
Conventional ship, Giant Eagle, Wyvern ½ of the normal journey time.
Teleportation gate Instantaneous?