by Carteeg Struve
Population: 100,372 (Human 87%, Adlar 5%, Corinesti 5%, Gildanesti 2%, Other 1%)
Religions: major – Tashrama (blue branch), minor – Adlarism, Moanalosha.
Languages: Common, Hudieran, Elven, and Dwarven
Trade: Artifacts, Shrimp, Clams, Whale Oil, and Diamonds
Legions: Imperial Navy
Dhu (Dhoo’) used to be a much larger nation before the Drowning. About 90% of its land was swallowed up by the Sargassi Sea during the Drowning. In present times, Dhu is a relatively minor human nation that has great amounts of trade items, that brings in much needed treasure to the Midlands. Its major contribution to the cause of the Sovereignties stems from its diamond mines.
Life and Society
The small country had two major assets, the diamond mines in the tall hills of Munest and ironically the ocean waters that had long ago destroyed the Dhu Empire. Much of the population lives off of the sea. Fish, shrimp, and clams are important parts of the economy, but the highest amount of income from the ocean comes from the whaling industry. Whale oil is a valuable commodity for Dhu since the southern parts of the Sargassi Sea and the South Tabaran Ocean are teeming with a wide variety of whales.
More inland, Memorance Lake is also used for fishing. Another use of the lake is that often explorers and researchers dive into the waters to search the towns and cities resting deep beneath the lake’s surface. Memorance Lake was formed by the Drowning, and vast numbers of highly populated settlements were lost. The hunt and recovery of lost artifacts is a common practice in Memorance. A tourism business was even begun to encourage foreigners to come and explore, for a price. More times than not, the casual vacationers only get a small amount of time to see the lost ruins before they need to resurface. But the awe the ancient structures give is more than enough to satisfy them. As such, true searches into the cities are done on a less condensed schedule and with much more preparation.
In the spire-like hills of Munest in the southeast, the excavation of diamonds has become a full time business. Discovered shortly before the Days of Darkness, Dhu at last found a method to pull itself out of the period of suffering that begun from the Drowning up to that day. In following decades, Lord Montegron of the Midland Sovereignties would extract much of the diamonds in order to help fund his methods to unify the Midlands. However this industry hit a major setback a few years ago when the local Elder Dragon Seresayon flooded much of the mines in a plan to extract the diamonds for her own needs. Even now many of the caverns are still in the process of being drained.
In the southwestern parts of the Dhu near the Holy Land of Heaventide, many follow the practices of the blue branch of the Tashrama. This branch promotes the concepts of ideal living through hard work and persistence. After the revelation that the church was run by dragons, many departed the lands around Heaventide to live near the capital. However the weakness portrayed by King Luciten has resulted in many moving closer to Heaventide in hopes of living under the strength of a mighty beast. How many of them will truly convert to the church’s ways is unknown at this time.
The Adlar working on continuing the Path in the Heskeram Desert often come to Dhu for trade and supplies, using metals they find during their excavating in order to pay for it. A small but suitable number of Adlar have found it most useful to live in Dhu and man a constant supply chain of goods and services from Dhu to the Path. Although these Adlar are distant from home, they believe they are doing their part for Reorx’s plan.
Over the years, many heathen faiths based off of tales of the sea have come and gone. With the recent return of the Tao-Shin, some people are merging these myths with stories about some of the sea-gods on the various paths to enlightenment. The result is a small population whose faith is an odd mix of actual faith and heathen practices and customs. This bastardized hybrid religion has been named Moanalosha (roughly translates to “Pull of the Sea” in Hudieran) and is rarely heard of outside of Dhu and the surrounding waters.
The authority of Dhu has been weakening for years. Although on paper King Luciten (CG male Midlander human noble 3) is in control, his inability to take decisive action has allowed Montegron to insert men and women into the Dhu government and military who answer to the Great Sovereign Lord instead of the king.
Also in the city of Emperium Gate, a man by the name of Troverhon Keelright (LE male half-dwarf fighter 4/rogue 6/inquisitor 2) has been building a national navy that may be under Keelright’s control more so than Luciten’s or Montegron’s. Rumors are circulating that Keelright may be planning a coup in the future, but without evidence Luciten has been afraid to act. Furthermore, the king is also worried by possible actions that may be taken by the Blue Elder Seresayon if conflict between the Sovereignties and the Tashrama break out.
Smaller towns existing outside of the capital and away from Heaventide or Emperium Gate are run on their own with almost complete independence from larger governments. Only the settlements near the mines are in constant contact with the government in Zmeineturu.
The Dhuish military is extremely weak, and Montegron has assigned several of his own people to both advise Luciten directly in how to handle situations and to build a stronger standing army. This army is growing in strength but is more an extension of Montegron’s power rather than an army loyal to Dhu.
A navy fleet named the Emperium Navy is also under construction and is near completion if not already done so. The fleet was constructed under the direction of Troverhon Keelright, a sailor who had lived with pirates and smugglers since birth. Most of this navy is populated by former pirates who wish to unify their strength under Keelright’s direction. Whether this navy is loyal first to Keelright, Luciten, or the Sovereignties remains to be seen.
Magic and Mysticism
Divine magic is often more trusted in Dhu than arcane. Often port towns will have a healer-woman (ironically named the Moon-Listener) who uses poultices, chants, and meditation to heal wounds and aches of all sorts. Most Moon-Listeners have joined the cult of Moanalosha and say they pull healing from the life-giving force of the waters in the same manner the moons pull the waves. To them the moons represent three gods of the sea. In truth, many Moon-Listeners are simply highly skilled herbalists, but there are others who are mystics, using their own power. A few may even be true clerics of the sea-gods, even if they believe they are praying “to the moons.”
Arcane magic is scarce in Dhu, but it does exist in subtle fashions. Some sorcerers and wizards work on ships helping pirates, treasure hunters, and smugglers. These “wet-wiz folk” (as many teasingly refer to them) tend to keep their magic use subtle and unnoticed by most others beyond whoever has hired them.
Major Geographical Features and Locations
The first Major Geographical feature of Dhu is the Sargassi Sea and the South Tabaran Ocean. Located on a corner where the sea meets the ocean, Dhu has the ability to interact with both sea life and ocean life. Trading with the Corinesti elves is a high priority and the ability to conduct their own trades through ocean ready ships is vital to keeping Dhu’s monetary flow alive, especially with the diamond market recovering from disaster and recession. For these reasons Dhu is rebuilding itself as a sea bound state first above all else.
Memorance Lake with the vast number of cities laying in a blue rest at the lake bottom takes up a fifth of Dhu’s current area. All around it fishing villages and rest spots for tourists have taken root. Beneath the lake, a large collection of stone buildings constructed during the early days of Adlatum’s civilization stand quiet as if the lack of people and the surrounding water was natural to their being. Unlike most of the cities destroyed in the lands that became the new sea, the land had buffeted just enough of the waves in order to let a majority of the buildings stand. The ancient designs of towers, palaces, manors, amphitheaters, stone roadways, aqueducts, and other marvels are now seen as things of beauty, rather than a reminder of the horrors of the flooding. Some also see the cities as potentially hiding treasures and relics of much worth. Others believe that lost knowledge useful in Dhu’s redevelopment may also be hidden below. Although too numerable to fully list, major lost cities and towns include Aldayn, Bahnd, Lemoss, Renmal, Voen, and Zomahkaesta.
The Munest is a chain of tall hills that rise up from the ground in the southeast regions of the country. Under much of these hills are mines loaded with diamonds. With much of this region off-limits to travelers, security is very high. Montegron has stationed several members of the Midguard in Munest in order to help insure the supply remains steady, which it has not. Seresayon flooded many of the tunnels and had many more cut off from the Dhu miners in order to let her own people gain access to the diamonds. Slowly the caverns are being drained, and the rightful owners of the mines are regaining territory. However it is unknown how much of the diamond supply Seresayon was able to take a hold off and how many of the mines she is keeping well protected.
Prior to the Drowning, Dhu was a sizable power whose influence was largely felt in the region, even as the Canon War threatened its existence. At its own high point in the war, the nation’s territories extended from the edge of the Heskeram Dessert to lands now deep within the southern half of the Sargassi Sea. Even a small strip of the lands now in eastern Adlatum was within the Dhu border. Now Dhu is but a small fragment of the old power.
Being on the southern end of Adlatum, the Empire of Dhu took the grunt of a large portion of the wave. The low lying tropical jungles that covered most of the nation were leveled and lost as the Sargassi Sea was formed. Cities and towns were lost, either erased completely or partially sustained to become rubble for Corinesti to clean up. The capital Yuan was one of those cities lost. Although the national weapon of power, the trident Springlife, vanished when the capital was destroyed, Dhu was lucky in the fact that their king and his family survived the destruction. Before the wave hit, the court mage teleported the royal couple and their children outside of time, returning to the moment when the waters had receded.
The empire was gone. Only a corner of the territories remained above the waters, and a large portion of that was now a giant lake. The king chose the location of one of the devastated villages to be their new home, and so Zmeineturu was made the new capital.
The level of destruction was hard on the survivors even more than most other locations. No major city in Dhu had survived, and it would be generations before the shoreline was cleared enough for fishing ports to begin construction. The development of the new capital was also hampered. Although fishing in the newly formed Memorance Lake supplied food, it would be a long time before trade routes would be rebuilt and income from the fishing industry would assist in the reconstruction. Even the royal line would live in a large wooden structure for over a century before a stone manor would be made. Famine and disease was common, and many escaped by being lured into the servitude of the now-dead blue Elder Dragon Almissaive.
Civilization initially began to coalesce on the shore near the Sargassi Sea and the South Tabaran Ocean. It was not the gift of fish, shrimp, or even the whales at first which made this possible but ill defended foreign vessels. Piracy allowed the poor people of Dhu to leach off of the other nations and people who were fairing better than themselves. When pirates from other regions began to attack the Dhu fishing vessels, the local pirates came to their defense and made clear who owned the waters that used to be the Dhu Empire.
During the conflict, one pirate named Gussun gathered a fleet of seven ships run by seven competitive sea captains. The families of the sailors constructed a town under his direction, and Gussun’s Port became their base of operations. Soon dozens of Dhuic pirate ships fall under the command of Gussun, now known as “The Admiral.” After the conflict was resolved, Gussun’s Port became a major seafaring stop for those traveling the Sargassi.
In 368 AD, a group of adventurers ventured into Memorance Lake and retrieved several artifacts from the lost city of Voen. Since then both researchers and adventurers have traveled to the lake bottom to investigate the settlements of the lost empire. Some Corinesti even assisted in the restoration of several of the structures by removing the dirt, coral, and vegetation covering the buildings. However it was soon discovered that although the fish had no problems with the Memorance waters, Corinesti can only breathe it for hours at a time before feeling ill and needing to retreat. A reason for this reaction has never been found. Still, the allure of traveling underwater to see ancient ruins began to attract travelers. Business around the lake finally began to boom. The capital finally began to attract a larger population. A decade later, diamond mines are discovered beneath the Munest Hills. Hope for Dhu blossoms.
During the Days of Darkness, Dhu was hit hard. Being close to where the Adlar dwarves were digging the Path, a larger swarm of Chaos’ creatures swept into and over the land. Several of the cities founded after the Drowning were wiped from existence and memory. Not even their locations were recalled. Villages and towns were similarly erased. Only the three major settlements survived: Zmeineturu, Heaventide, and Gussun’s Port.
Gussun’s Port had the greatest losses as they were attacked both from the swarm over the land and the monsters from the sea. Only a united defense of the people prevented the port’s destruction. Many living around the lake or elsewhere inland fled to the capital for protection, and due to the increased concentration of forces the capital was able to hold the line against a variety of giant rat-like bears whose fur bled poison upon the ground along with a number of dark dragons that breathed the Void itself. The city survived, but both King Fozrok and Queen Helliena were killed. The young Luciten, only fifteen years old and witness to his parents’ murder, was forced to take the crown.
The Blue Elder Dragon’s lair Heaventide also put up a strong defense against the assault. Their casualties did not compare to those above ground, but the Church of Tashrama suffered a massive blow. The Blue Elder Dragon Almissaive was slain. However Almissaive’s mate, Seresayon, succeeded her lover as the new “god” by unknown means.
After the conflict, many in Zmeineturu chose not to leave and remained in the capital. Those in Gussun’s Port spread out to some extent, building new ports a short ways away, but they remained relatively close. Mining for the diamonds begun again, and it looked as if Dhu would recover much faster than it had from its last tragedy.
When the Great Lord Sovereign Montegron began to pull the Midland’s together, he saw a great asset in the Munest Mines. He lent his followers to assist in the clean-up and met with King Luciten. After that meeting a large portion of the extracted diamonds when to help Montegron in his cause for unification and stabilization. During this period, Seresayon also sent representatives to Luciten. Not only did they attempt to forge good relations with Luciten but one of the followers attempted to seduce Montegron himself. Under pressure from Montegron, Luciten ordered the representatives slain.
Montegron saw other sources of potential for Dhu. Seeing the growing line of ports he ordered Luciten to begin construction of a naval port. Troverhon Keelright, Gussun’s descendent, accepted this charge and changed the town’s name to Emperium Gate. This new city also enveloped several of the newer neighboring port towns. Secretly, he began to use the money to also build up the whaling industry, the fishing boats, and also the pirate fleet that had been paying Keelright off for years. Still, the shipyard was completely rebuilt with the funding, and new ships were brought into the fleet. Keelright had concluded one thing in regards to the naval plan. Experienced sailors would be needed, and most of them whether honest seamen or criminal pirates were subservient to him.
Since then Luciten has lived in fear of both the dragon and the Lord Sovereign. Feeling lost without the additional training that would have come from his parents, the king has proven himself to be easily influenced by those around him. As such, the Sovereignties decided to help Luciten by stationing several members of the Midland Guard along with one of Montegron’s personal mages in the capital. Many in the city’s patrols now report directly to the Guardsman, actually putting the true sovereignty of Dhu in question.
Seresayon decided to strike back for her followers’ executions by convincing many of the small villages and towns loyal to the Tashrama to not pay taxes to Luciten and thus Montegron. This quickly resulted in a military escort for the tax collectors and vast number of arrests. Homes and businesses were burned as examples. Many of those arrested were taken to Karsuhon for imprisonment, removing them from the influence of the blue dragon.
The blue responded by having her followers alter the tunnels underneath the Munest Mines and allowing millions of gallons of sea water flood in. The miners were forced to evacuate and the mining stopped. In the meantime, Seresayon’s followers moved into the flooded and isolated tunnels to mine the diamonds on their own. With this new source of income, she used bribery to free her followers in Karsuhon.
In late 420 AD, as the Midland Guard was still reeling from the death of its founder Jermon Cavlin, Seresayon was able to bribe enough people to allow her faithful in the Karsuhon dungeons to escape. The plan did not work perfectly as Jermon’s successor, Noragaen Veliya was able to sound an alarm. In the resulting conflict Seresayon lost half of those trying to escape, but those who returned were forever grateful.
The blue also has a large number of Corinesti followers living both in Heaventide and the sea. With these Corinesti attempting to sabotage sea trade and keep the flooded tunnels from being drained, Seresayon hopes to force the king into a polite conversation without the influence of Montegron hanging over their heads. She hopes to forge some type of connection with the nation, but is truly unsure how. The king is also terrified of the blue, likely as much as Seresayon fears Montegron. It is not widespread knowledge above ground, but under the cave of Heaventide, Seresayon’s eggs are close to hatching. An invasion at this point is a threat she does not want to deal with, especially if it threatens her children’s lives.
King Luciten has additional problems. Without the diamond mines operating at full capacity, funding for other projects, including building a second naval port, was scrapped. Luciten is becoming more and more worried about the sway Keelright has with those in Emperium Gate. Not only did he think the port would rebel, he is becoming convinced Keelright means to depose him. Unfortunately with the plans of a second naval port outside of Keelright’s hands scrapped, Luciten has lost his one chance to economically undermine the man. Luciten’s worry has become public knowledge, and those loyal to the king are hoping the Midlands will step in to solve the situation. Others are beginning to move to or near Emperium Gate, figuring it more stable and to be the growing power. A few others are even heading to Heaventide, wishing to subject themselves to the power of a dragon living in an underground paradise rather than put up with military and noble politics.
- The noble families who used to advise King Luciten are no longer allowed to see the king. Instead Montegron’s own advisers have taken their place. One of the noble families suspects these new advisers may be arcane spellcasters, using their shadowy practices for dark purposes.
- The body of an assassin was found outside of Keelright’s own home. Nobody knows who hired him or who killed him. Half of the city thinks the Great Sovereign Lord wants Keelright dead in order to secure Luciten’s position as a weak puppet, and the other half thinks an agent of Montegron killed the assassin in order to insure Keelright becomes the next strong king of Dhu (under his own rule, of course). Keelright simply wants to know what happened.
- A strong earthquake out in the Sargassi Sea opened up a chasm on the seabed. Flotsam from a long lost city of the pre-Drowning Empire floated up to the surface, and a few of the items look to be in relatively new condition. Treasure hunters are flocking to investigate.
Emperium Gate (Large City 24,984): Located on the shores of the Sargassi Sea, this port city also has direct access to the South Tabaran Ocean. Originally named Gussun’s Port when it was constructed after the Drowning, the town was begun as a combination whaling and pirate cove. According to many, it still is. Run by Gussun’s descendent Troverhon Keelright, the city’s name was changed when it was decided that the national navy would be built here. With King Luciten being viewed of by many as a weak ruler frightened by both the Blue Elder Dragon and Montegron’s own shadow, Keelright has been proving himself a dedicated and hard-nose leader to the people who work for a living near and on the sea. With the knowledge that the naval forces will have to be manned by those locals experienced with life on the ocean, there is brewing question as to who the forming navy will truly follow in the future, Luciten or Keelright?
Heaventide (Small City 6,010): Immediately to the west of Munest and even partially beneath the hills, the blue Elder Dragon Seresayon has her lair. Named Heaventide, the lair is an almost entirely enclosed paradise of trees, grass, and water, all surrounded by rock. In Heaventide is a large bay of water that interconnects through a long passage known as the Seapass to the ocean. The Seapass also travels directly under many of the mines in Munest, and it is now believed that Seresayon used the Seapass to flood many of the mines’ tunnels, cutting off the Midlands’ ability to use it. Other tunnels also branch up to the surface, which Seresayon and her followers call the Abovelands. Only those loyal to the Tashrama and the Blue Elder are allowed in Heaventide.
Zmeineturu (Metropolis 39,512): The lakeside capital of Dhu is clearly the single major population center in Dhu, containing 40% of the national populace. The manor that acts as the royal palace is located directly on the water’s edge and even has its own docks. The city was a small village prior to the Drowning, but afterwards its site was chosen to be the new government center. Unfortunately reconstruction of Zmeineturu was slow. Not until the discovery of the diamond mines in Munest would enough funding be available for a proper city to be built, but further reconstruction was slowed when Great Lord Sovereign Montegron redirected much of the funding to rebuilding the Midland infrastructure. Although a popular travel location for those who wish to see the ruins beneath Memorance Lake, the capital is in a period of uncertainty. Since the last census many people have moved to Emperium Gate in hopes of having a more stable life. With the future of King Luciten’s reign in doubt and believing he is only in place because of the Lord Sovereign’s will, several are looking elsewhere for stable leadership.