In the name of King Fenris, I, Alexio Glen Prexyann, hereby relieve Tiris Henrif of his claim to birthrights bestowed by Nelandra to all living Gérouns. Through his sins, he has proved unworthy to be one of our numbers and will join the scouting squad of Tistakas. Here he shall find his fate serving the greater good. According to tradition, he will be allowed to choose another assignment if he manages to survive three full expeditions in the caves. Everyone should now refer to him as Tiris Gan Henrif in keeping with his new rank. This will stand for the rest of his days and applies right now. Departure for the desert will be tomorrow.Tistakas is one of the few stopovers on the road to Irisport and undoubtedly the most famous of them. The city has many things to make people talk about, starting by its unique location and the dangers below its grounds. It is no coincidence that Tistakas was built exactly where it is. Long before Irisport attracted any merchant, soldiers gathered and constructed defenses to keep deadly invaders under the ground. Tistakas in the only city in Menicea to be built on the side of a rift, a few meters underground. Its two main purposes are to provide a safe shelter for travelers in the far east of the Desert and to keep the Swarmlings from invading the lands.
The RiftThe rift is the main reason for the early construction of the city back in year 0. No one knows what is at the bottom since it seems bottomless from above and is the land of the Swarmlings, a deadly species of semi-intelligent primates. As far as people know, the rift appeared suddenly after an earthquake in the last years of . Immediately afterward, the Swarmlings tried to push their way to the surface and were stopped by Nelandra's army that already conquered the land back then. Having a few vast walkable plateaus, the fortifications were built directly inside the rift and were followed by barracks later on.
The SwarmlingsJust like their birthplace, these monsters are a mystery. With spikes on their back, a small layer of fur and sharp claws, nothing really compares to them on the continent. They are only found deep in the rift, and it is yet unknown how they survived until the breach was opened and how they feed themselves now. The Swarmlings seem to have a sense of hierarchy and organization, as they use rudimentary tools and build small huts. No matter how much the soldiers seem to kill, they always come back and learn from their past mistakes. Many assaults have been tried, but the army soon realized that the Swarm knows its tunnels very well. The attackers faced a tough defense, made of traps and tricks that forced them to fall back to their own positions outside. Since the first day they were found, the wild primates always showed a fierce aggressiveness and tried to reach the surface. As the decades went by, their attacks seemed more and more desperate, as if they were running away from something. Through hard efforts and countless losses, the army managed to claim some ground over the wildlings but started to lose it back during the last century.
Northern sideThe Northern and largest side of the rift carries the city. The whole plateau is in a recess of the rift, thus sheltered from weather and especially heat. The town stretches on the whole length of the tableland and can only be entered via two gates located on each end, both heavily guarded. Large chunks of cloth are suspended under the opening to the sky. They are made of several layers and regularly cleaned as they retain rainwater and lead it to filters and tanks. From west to east, the first district is the barracks. Since the only access to the southern plateau of the rift is located there, soldiers built their homes the closest they could to react quickly in case of Swarmlings outbreak. Past the military area is the merchant district, where most of the locals live and work if not farmers. Each evening, soldiers gather in the large refectories to have their dinner served. Passing traders usually join them and bargain trinkets and books against a few coins. Lastly, on the eastern part of the plateau is a mix of houses, taverns, and inns, mostly frequented by travelers. It is by far the most beautiful neighborhood of the city since it was built more recently than the two formers. The town and garrison are led by The Flytis Family. They have built a small network of large caves into a beautiful troglodyte mansion over the years and run the city from there.
Southern sideThe southern side is narrower than the northern one and is strictly military since it is the only way to the depth. The only access to the south is via the western gate of the city and is protected by many gates and walls. Soldiers made each layer easily disposable so they could fall back to the next one if they were overrun. While Swarmlings mainly attack via the caves network, some often try to climb the rift while their comrades are keeping the soldiers busy inside. A small group of them almost managed to escape in the past but were stopped at the last minute. After the incident, the regency had a suspended platform built, watching the walls day and night. The only people actually permanently living on this plateau are the Commonworkers members of the Scouting squad, in a dedicated barrack.
Scouting squadThe Scouting squad is well known throughout the continent. It is only composed by newly named Commonworkers. They have to participate in nearly suicidal missions where they go deep into unknown caves to map them and hopefully bring information about the local swarmlings to the soldiers. Being sent to the squad is often considered worse than a death sentence. The strongest or luckiest will die fighting for their lives against the swarmlings while the others will often be captured. According to the few testimonies of those who managed to escape, the prisoners are generally tortured and eaten alive. Only the worst kind of persons are sent to become scouts. They are usually murderers or longly wanted criminals that caused enough harm to the realm. People globally agree with these sentences, representing how much those who infringe Nelandra's law are despised by Meniceans. What keeps the prisoners from committing suicide is the promise that they can become servants if they survive three full expeditions. This was not enough to keep some of them from trying to escape though, hence the construction of a dedicated barrack for them on the southern plateau. If a member of the scouting squad is found trying to break out, they will be sent into the caves immediately. It is said that 5 out of 100 criminals will make it out of the squad and become servants.
Irisport's population influx around the year 80 further pushed the authorities to think about a more stable source of food. Thanks to Lysa Glen Greshorio, the desert's capital invested in farming tools to make the surroundings of the lake bordering the south of the rift fertile. She also made sure that no other roads were maintained and guarded in the desert so that caravans had to pass through Tistakas and pay the toll.