The Kurtora Settlement in Age of Defiance | World Anvil
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The Kurtora (koor-TOR-ah)

Last bastion of humanity...   In the hellish alternate world of Gurvangoth, all that remains of humanity lies huddled within the thick stone walls ringing the colossal crystal formation called the Kurtora. Fortified with multiple defensive layers and ringed by a vast quarry formed from an extinct volcano, this immense structure has withstood years of prolonged siege. In addition to providing a means of transportation and a beacon of hope, the crystal cluster at the center affords defense against Chiori attackers and the insidious power of Beastlord. Originally intended as a transportation hub and neutral ground for diplomatic purposes, the city has since been converted into a war-time bastion with citizens of all ages focused on one thing: survival.


95% of the city populace is human with the remaining 5% beasts. Only the extremely young and extremely old are exempt from day to day labor, usually relegated to simple less labor-intensive tasks. In exchange for safe harbor and acceptance, beasts provide a variety of services such as sheep providing wool, cows producing cheese, and chickens providing eggs.


The city is ruled by the enigmatic Queen. The Rangers serve the capacity of generals but there are no councils or inner machinations. There is no room for subterfuge in a never-ending battle for survival. Monster Slayer would technically be king by right of lineage, but he abdicated the throne in favor of hunting criminal beasts out in the wild. While the Queen has ruled fairly and justly, occasionally a hot-headed guard captain would seek to defy her direct orders. In that case, the stocks await the impetuous.


The elite Rangers dedicate themselves to guerrilla warfare and the procurement of precious resources not able to be sourced from the volcanic quarry or within the city itself. The thick rampart wall hides a network of defensive measures such as long-range siege machines, oil cauldrons, boulder drops, and various munitions such as crossbow bolts.   Crossbowmen manning the upper rampart come in teams of three, chaining themselves to fastenings set in the stone to protect against abduction attempts from Avar attackers. A soldier cannot be stationed on the upper rampart unless they have near-perfect aim. Every bolt must hit its mark or inflict a fatal wound since every shot is precious. As long as the guards can kill hundreds of attacking beasts without suffering a significant casualty, hope remains for the last bastion of humanity.   The quarry pit is vast enough to deter most attackers, however the Menageries' own siege crews are able to fire ballista bolts attached to heavy cables to strike the bottom of the plateau face. Elite Flaeyr raiders are able to rappel across the gap and scale the plateau face, but the guards keep a watchful eye on the lower rampart grates and plateau and are quick to sound the alarm if movement is sighted. This is where the oil and boulder drops come into play. In order to maximize effectiveness of ammunition and reduce risk of injury, the guard lures the blood-lusted beasts into strategic kill-boxes and dispense death with impunity. No mercy is reserved for the blood-lusted beasts seeking to target the defenseless civilians within.   After its completion, architects created a complex system of devices affixed to the base of the main crystal cluster. These devices operate like a carillon with a rotating staff of minstrels manning the controls. At all hours of the day the padded hammers of the devices beats a soft tune against the surface of the crystals. In the middle of heated combat, the devices beat faster, producing an ultra-sonic frequency capable of sending Chiori attackers into complete disarray. It is theorized the ultrasonic frequencies produced by the devices beating upon the crystal keep Beastlord from using his innate power to simply collapse the plateau entirely by disrupting the insidious power woven into his voice.

Industry & Trade

No currency exchanges hands in the Kurtora. There is no room for greed or excess in a time of war. Trade is strictly barter either for goods or services such as a blacksmith repairing the armor of a guard or a woodworker producing crossbow bolts for the rampart.   Families that volunteer to board the gentle beasts are able to barter their products as needed. A baker will trade for eggs from a family with a Gwuirhalli resident. Cheese-mongers will request the services of cow-like Buva and weavers will offer clothing in exchange for wool from a sheep-like Buva.   While it is a silent agreement that the guards are provided for free of charge in exchange for their tireless vigil on the rampart, occasionally guards will feel entitled to the finer things in life and attempt to extort craftsmen for goods typically reserved for the Rangers. With so much focus placed on the watch and response, it is easy for such incidents to continue unnoticed.


Every square foot of the city not reserved for transport is reserved for residence or production. The greatest concentration of military presence is along the outer ramparts and the barracks bordering the inner wall. Civilian residences pack the interior of the plateau with a central market for commerce such as there is. The royal keep resides at the center, built around the main central crystal cluster. Produce is grown in window-mounted garden boxes and every home has such gardens in every window to support themselves and barter for other supplies.   Beneath the surface of the city proper lies a deep, complex network of chambers devoted to the storage of supplies, munitions, and provisions. The thick walls of the ramparts conceal a number of defensive siege equipment, chief of which the powerful long-range trebuchets used to counter enemy siege lines. The vast quarry supplies additional stone needed to repair walls or provide ammunition for the trebuchets.   Roads are narrow and paved with stone. Drainage grates are built into the lower rampart but are kept under watch lest enemies attempt to scale the face of the plateau. No wood is used in the construction of building walls or roofs because of fire hazards. Fired clay tile and hewn stone comprise all buildings. Wood is generally reserved for the creation of siege machinery or bolt shafts with intricate carvings found within the royal keep.


The layout of the city from above can be viewed as an onion with the outer-most layers consisting of the rampart wall and guard barracks, the middle layers reserved for residential and craft guilds, the market further in, and the royal keep and the crystal spires at the very center.  
Kurtora Early Concept by Mardrena
Rough pencil doodle


When the major kingdoms on the mainland fell and the royal family fled to the island, humanity attempted to rebuild and managed to prosper for a few blissful years. Once Beastlord seized control of the fallen nobles' shipyards he sent his scouts to hunt down the last vestiges of humanity and snuff them out where they could be found. When he received word of the Kurtora's existence he brought all the weight of his military might to the archipelago intending to extinguish humanity in a brutal war of attrition.   Humans had not been idle in the interim years and stockpiled decades worth of supplies and provisions in the vaults beneath the city and refine means of production and wartime supply chains. While some express doubt that the Kurtora could withstand a prolonged conflict, human resilience very well could have kept Beastlord and his Menagerie flummoxed for decades to come.

Guilds and Factions

The Royal Keep
Overseen by the Queen, the keep coordinates with the guard and the Rangers for distribution of supplies and mobilization of defense. Emergency stockpiles are kept in the keep along with the explosive deterrents used against airborne attackers attempting to ambush the Kurtora.  
The Rangers
The most elite fighters found in the city. Agile, skilled, and tireless. Leather generally isn't used by civilians or guards because it is considered unseemly to wear the hide of a sentient beast. The only exception to this rule is the Rangers, who wear garments crafted from the hides of slain beasts. Taking after the tradition started by Monster Slayer-the elder prince-Rangers wear the head-skins of enemy beasts both to distinguish themselves from the rampart guard and strike fear into the hearts of their foes.   Rangers equip themselves with a variety of weapons ranging from a long sword for close combat, throwing knives for surprise attacks, and single-hand crossbows for mid-long range. They wear cleated boots to navigate the terrain quickly and move along the rail tracks running along the outside of the lower rampart. Rangers are deployed with shocking effectiveness against attempted infiltration from the Flaeyr. They affix themselves using heavy belts and chains attached to the rail tracks and keep moving in multiple rows, firing at enemies scaling the wall while remaining constantly on the move.  
The Rampart Guard
Guards form the bulk of military defense. There are not enough soldiers to form an army capable of countering the Menagerie without suffering significant casualties, so the guard focuses solely on defense. Their duties range from loading the mortars by the keep, resupplying crossbowmen, manning siege engines on the upper rampart, and defending the upper rampart from dive attacks from Avar.  
Everyone from blacksmiths, woodworkers, weavers, and bakers play a role in the day to day life of the city. Most craftsmen operate on an independent status in order to sustain themselves via trade. Any guild hierarchy that once existed fell apart long ago when the Menagerie ravaged the world and laid waste to the nobles' kingdoms.


Decades prior to Beastlord's uprising and the formation of the Menagerie, the Kurtora was envisioned as a neutral location, a "city of the future" so to speak in the relatively medieval environment. It took a monumental effort to quarry out the extinct volcano and expose the gigantic crystal cluster that would form the center of the planned city.   The city reached completion a mere few years before the uprising, and artisans of the time intended the crystal spire to serve as a source of power for the Rainbow Rail transportation network. The complex lightweight airboats-almost a lost art- are capable of traversing long distances as long as a light spectrum relay is maintained. With most known human settlements on the mainland abandoned or destroyed and the network in disrepair, the Kurtora houses the only remaining intact hub.   When the Menagerie achieved a critical mass and began rampaging across the mainland, the royal family evacuated, withdrawing all remaining airboats and cutting themselves off from the mainland. Refugees arrived throughout the years via boat before new arrivals dwindled completely. The Kurtora enjoyed a brief period of peace and prosperity on the main island, but peace came to an abrupt end once the first ship controlled by Beastlord landed ashore.   War broke out with the Menagerie setting up a permanent siege on the outermost lip of the quarry. It seemed humanity would meet its end until the sudden violent eruption of the Kurtora's sister-volcano, the Tower of Fire. Beastlord and his forces withdrew entirely, leaving behind only the Flaeyr clan to keep guard over the Tower of Fire-Beastlord's seat of power. The residents of the Kurtora believed they had won a reprieve, but as long as the Flaeyr remained on the island, they could not venture outside the quarry pit.   Very recently Beastlord's forces have returned to the area and seem to be mobilizing for siege once more. While humanity is prepared to make their last stand, hope may come in an unlikely form of intervention...

Points of interest

The Main Bridge
An ingenious feat of architecture, the simple-looking wooden bridge conceals a complex mechanism capable of folding up like an accordion in times of attack. It can support a great deal of weight and the solid treated wood repels fire and impact. The engineers who crafted died long ago, but their magnum opus remains a key part of humanity's survival.  
The Rampart Wall
Composed of thick basalt blocks, this impregnable wall forms the first line of defense against enemy attack and provides housing for munitions, guards, and the mighty trebuchets. Flaeyr have attempted to get close to target weak points, but the interlayered defense of the guards, Rangers, and crossbowmen thwart them every time.  
The Marketplace
While not as opulent as Bainshaebo's Pavillion, the market serves as the beating heart of the city not only for commerce but socialization. Soldiers mingle with craftsmen and human children frequently play alongside the gentle beasts. Pennants whip along ropes strung from the rooftops, giving some modest color to the otherwise dour city.  
The Royal Keep
Residence of the Queen. Formerly intended as a diplomatic hall, the complex ringing the base of the crystal spires houses the Queen's personal attendants and a retinue of guards to oversee defense of the city center. There is no rich carpet or exquisite tapestries, but there exist some wooden carvings, bas reliefs, and stained glass windows depicting the history of the island and the world.  
The Crystal Spire
While the city itself is often referred to as the Kurtora, this can also mean the colossal cluster of crystals forming the heart of the city. The crystals are cloudy and hexagonal in formation, tinted pale-pink. Its exact composition is unknown with some arguing that it is a gigantic rose quartz or a conundrum-type such as ruby or sapphire and others contending it is indeed a gigantic diamond formed from the very center of the extinct volcano from which the city was made.   The crystals are capable of refracting light both internally and through the Rainbow Rail network. If an attack occurs at night, the guard will set fires in braziers and use polished mirrors to direct light into the crystal face, illuminating it from within. The crystal emanates an ultrasonic frequency that only beasts can hear, and while resident beasts are somewhat used to it with it sounding like the gentle beating of a drum or the ringing of chimes, in the midst of combat it can sound like a colossal gong or a bell.  
The Rainbow Rail
Relic of a lost art, this wide-ranging network of floating airboats can carry a small group of people with relative ease across many miles. The Kurtora is the only structure capable of supporting a network on its own with relays being built from glass or mirrors. In older days airboats were capable of reaching the mainland and additional connected hubs. With the outbreak of war, all the remaining airboats in service reside at the keep. Making them is somewhat of a lost art.  
The Lower Storerooms
Beneath the cobblestones and stone cottages lies a vast network of tunnels, stairs, and chambers devoted to housing vast stockpiles of supplies. The tunnels extend deep into the plateau. Despite the depth, guards keep a rotating watch all the same. It would be impractical, an impossible feat for Beastlord's forces to tunnel underneath the stone itself, but the Queen would not put it past him.  
The Main Gate
Incredibly thick and incredibly heavy, made of multiple layers of wood and metal and fastened to the stone with heavy bolts and hinges. The gate remains closed at all times recently, but in past years it was common for carriage traffic to come across the bridge.


Originally intended for nobles, the Kurtora houses what is believed to be the last remnants of the human population of the world. Refugees had arrived in a steady trickle in years past, but once Beastlord and his Menagerie made landfall, this too came to an abrupt end. It was believed boats simply stopped making the journey, but the Rangers discovered the treacherous Symoi had set to intercepting travellers and delivering them into Beastlord's clutches. Scouts have kept an eye on the horizon in the vain hope a stray airboat might come from a distant hub, but the only new visitors the Kurtora would see might not even come from this world...


Gurvangoth is theorized to have achieved a medieval-level of technology reminiscent of the Dark Ages on Earth. Walls are thick and imposing, buildings compact and simple. With the exception of the keep itself, finery is far and few in between. The crystal formation gives the city a surreal appearance like a mystical basilica, but civilian residences are quite humble in comparison. Basalt quarried from the caldera composes all stonework. Styles come in an amalgamation of European themes. Water is sourced from springs deep underground within the plateau, channeled via a complex network of aqueducts built long ago by cunning engineers.


The Kurtora was excavated in ages past from an extinct volcano on the largest island of an archipelago far out into the ocean. The stone is incredibly old but strong and stable. The city itself is big enough to rival even Bainshaebo on Thanged with the quarry spanning nearly triple the diameter. The outer and inner walls of the quarry are sheer with the smallest of handholds. Stonemasons must use pulleys to rappel down to the floor of the quarry and it is forbidden to carve into the face of the central plateau.

Natural Resources

Farmers once were able to maintain crops and orchards on the fertile land surrounding the caldera but were forced to abandon their lands once the Menagerie arrived. Since then they have adapted to window-box gardens and grow what vegetables they can. Rangers are able to bring additional sources of protein in the form of fish from river traps but it takes multiple teams multiple trips to supply the city on a regular basis. Fish is smoked and stockpiled either in the storerooms or to feed the Rangers.   Metal turns up from time to time at the base of the quarry but is reserved for creation of tools and other items that can be used repeatedly. Crossbow bolts are made from wood with polished stone tips to conserve supplies. The quarry can supply an endless amount of stone as well as continuing to reinforce defense by deepening the pit ever so slightly. Even rationed, food is relatively plentiful and clothing readily available, but until a decisive victory is won over Beastlord and his Menagerie, humanity will never be able to leave the walls of the Kurtora.
The Ronin exited the forest at last and emerged at a clearing bordering a sheer cliff of what looked to be a colossal circular pit that seemed to have been heavily quarried. Fog shrouded the uttermost bottom of the pit, and at its center rest a wide plateau big enough to give Bainshaebo a run for its money. Thick walls of carved stone ringed the edge of the plateau, and towards the middle stood an immense cluster of pale pink hexagonal crystals, the largest towering far above the ground.
— Cataclysm War Ch. 13
The Kurtora by Mardrena
Made with Black Ink
“There’s no way there could be a diamond that big! Look at the sheer size of it! The biggest crystal is twice as tall as Raurgoth is long! Maybe it’s in the corundum class, like a ruby or sapphire, or even a rose quartz…” Rowen babbled as the Ronin trekked along the edge of the vast expanse.   “Look at the rock all around us, Rowen. This was the caldera of an ancient volcano,” Ryo replied. And what a volcano it must have been to have produced such a miracle as this!
— Cataclysm War Ch. 13
Large city
Sunlight filtered through stained glass windows and a wall of crystal from the central spire composed the very rear of the chamber. The modest opulence reminded Ryo of King Torke’s halls on Thanged.
— Cataclysm War Ch. 14
“We thought this world would be a mirror of our own, but it’s nothing like Japan,” Cye commented.   “That’s because we’re not in Japan,” Rowen said and sat back up. “Ryo said this is the site of a volcano, and Tanya said she saw water on all sides. We’re nowhere near Japan; we’re in Hawaii!”   “Hawaii? How’d we end up all the way there when the rifts were formed under Toyama?”   “This world took a completely different course of evolution than our own. Continental drift diverged greatly from what we’ve come to know back home, and we’re not in Mt. Fuji, we’re in Mauna Kea!”
— Cataclysm War Ch. 14

Cover image: The Kurtora by Mardrena


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