Sa Owu

Territory 10,000 square miles
Population 7,155 (Humans 10%, Half-Orcs 5%, Halflings 5%, Nezumi, 5%, Xeph 5%, Saurians 10%, Synads 3%, Elan 2%, Other 5%, Undead (intelligent) 50%)
Ruler House of Whispers, Daywalker Lady Ellianna de Traves


The origins of Sa Owu are much debated. It is known and accepted that the city is built on the ruins of a settlement that once belonged to the Fomorian Empire. The nature of this ancient settlement and its fate are unknown, however. Some scholars believe the decline of the empire caused outposts outside of what is now Tenebrous to empty as citizens chose to relocate to the center of what little political and military power remained. Others believe the settlement was inhabited far longer and even outlasted the fall of Akhetan, the capital of the Fomorian Empire. They believe the settlement fell to the powers of darkness that now rule Tenebrous. Whatever the case may be, the ruins lay abandoned for millennia, until mages from Azul, then still under the rule of Archmage Chandra, began excavating. The proximity to Tenebrous gave the mages a base of operations from which to study the dark desert. It did not take long for the ruins to become inhabited again permanently.   The proximity of Tenebrous also proved to offer different benefits to the arcane practitioners that lived and studied there. Negative energy was abundant, making necromantic magic much easier to use and a lot more potent. The mages’ focus thus swiftly shifted to the necromantic arts and before long Sa Owu became known as a city of necromancers.   The name Sa Owu came from the tribes that live on the edge of Tenebrous. In their native language they referred to the ruins as Sa Owu, or Old Bones. The mages adopted the name early on in their exploration of the ruins.   After Chandra abandoned Azul and traveled north, the necromancers of Sa Owu seceded from Azul, mostly uncontested. For a while the city continued as before, life mirroring life in Azul and other cities. As time passed the leadership of Sa Owu changed, however. Instead of dying, influential mages became undead and remained in power. Over the course of 2 generations the undead took control from the living, which caused major changes in life in Sa Owu. The city now mainly caters to the undead citizens, with the living servants that still remain being a distant afterthought.


The buildings in Sa Owu fall in one of two categories. They are either large and ancient brutalist structures, renovated from the ruins that predate the city, or they are elegant gothic buildings with elaborate decorations. The gothic buildings are mostly built from grey stone brought in from the edge of Tenebrous. The ancient ruins are seemingly built from white marble that never tarnishes. Both styles of buildings are built freely throughout the city, with no pattern or design.   The city has wide lanes and thoroughfares that connect the various districts. Most of these districts are wealthy and well-maintained. Only the Breather’s Hive district is a large slum where most of the living citizens dwell.   The city is surrounded by a large wall of black stone. The wall is hollow, with a large gate that leads from the city into the hollow wall every few hundred feet. Inside of the wall, thousands of skeletons and zombies wait patiently for Sa Owu to come under siege.  


Life in Sa Owu differs considerably from most other cities. Most of the living serve the undead masters that rule the city. They do so in the hopes of one day joining the ranks of intelligent undead in charge. While slaves are also common, mindless undead are preferred for menial labor as they don’t need sleep or sustenance. Most slaves thus perform tasks that mindless undead cannot.   City amenities such as markets exist in Sa Owu, but on a much smaller scale. Food is brought in by the few living merchants and is quickly sold to those living wealthy enough to afford it. There are a lot of poor people in Sa Owu for whom daily survival is a constant struggle. The life of a slave is often better than that of a freeman. The intelligent undead in Sa Owu make up the middle and upper class. The middle-class undead take care of most day-to-day tasks. Guard captains, lower administrators and army officers are all lower ranked undead. The ability to control the mindless undead is one of the most valued powers in Sa Owu. Many middle-class undead have studied some form of necromancy to learn to control their minions. For example, a ghoul guard captain most-likely studied some necromancy to learn how to command the mindless undead that make up his guard squad.   The upper class of Sa Owu are the powerful undead such as vampires and liches, who have studied necromancy for decades. They live in mansions and castles and mostly focus on their arcane studies and on the internal politics of Sa Owu. The upper ranking undead of the city are caught in an eternal game of lethal politics. There are always new necromancers and undead joining the upper ranks in the city, so the established players are always under threat of being replaced.   Control of Sa Owu is in the hands of the House of Whispers, a governing body in which the 100 most powerful undead of the city gather to decide matters through majority vote. The only living member of the House is the Daywalker Lord or Lady, the representative of all living citizens of Sa Owu and the one in charge of their wellbeing.   Death is taboo in Sa Owu, as is talk of an afterlife. It is seen as an enemy that needs to be vanquished. Most mortals hope to find a way to join the undead that rule the city. It is a common practice for freemen to sell their bodies (or even lives) to the corpse merchants who provide the city’s necromancers with fresh bodies to raise.  


Not many practice any kind of religion in Sa Owu. Most hope to escape death altogether and see no need to worship anything that can save their souls. Religion is not forbidden, however. There are still some shrines to Chandra within the city walls, and some mortals (mostly slaves) pray to the ancestors or spirits of their people.  


Sa Owu has a large army, mostly consisting of skeletons and zombies. The army is not always active. When not needed the bodies of their soldiers are kept in warehouses and the hollow wall surrounding the city.   When on the march, intelligent undead act as commanders in the field and powerful necromancers join to replenish the ranks after a battle. Recently, Sa Owu has begun offering their undead armies to other cities such as Akek, as a mercenary force.  


Sa Owu and Azul have been at war for centuries. The war has developed into a cold war, with the last true battle dating back decades. Skirmishes still happen, mostly near the Bloodgate west of Sa Owu.   Sa Owu has always kept a neutral distance from most other city states. This policy seems to be changing, however. Recently Sa Owu has approached Akek with several offers of supplying the City of Scales with undead troops. It has also taken a harsher stance towards Amon, who it seems to consider a rival for dominance over the jungles between both cities.   Sa Owu has little contact with other city states. It considers the dealings of the living beneath it.


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