Sonos Virens Ulrot Character in Shadowfire | World Anvil

Sonos Virens Ulrot

Prime Sonos and Imperial Dronologist

Sonos Virens Ulrot is the most famous living composer from Deepmot. He has been writing and composing for nearly 300 years and is the current Prime Sonos and court composer for the Empress Nolno Vengassi.  
I've never experienced anything like it. The hundreds of rows of the royal ampitheatre filled, elbow to elbow with Deepkin, and all in such silence all I could hear was my own breathe and my blood throbbing in my temples. It was a silence so complete but full of jittering expectation.   And then, seemingly from within me very self. A counterpoint to my own heart beat, but deeper than anything I'd ever felt. Atop that, layers of sibilant sparkling from my feet to the hairs standing upon my scalp. The music, if that term even does it justice, it was within me, and I within it. it was the stillness of the rocks, and the vastness of the sky all at once.


Virens mastered the traditional Dronology of the Deepkin, which involves the interplay of multiple players across many miles of interconnected tunnels and caverns deep below the surface.   Dronology consists of long passages of echoing percussion, overlaid by reverberations of horns and airflows that pass through natural tunnels and kin-made tubes carved through the very rock. The resulting music is full of strange rhythms caused by the interference and harmonics of the sound waves over so much distance and time. Harmonies swell and long melodies are built that can take hours to resolve.   Dronology compositions can run over hours, days and even weeks of performance. It requires much discipline and finesse as the resulting music is dependant upon the shape and extent of the long tunnels and caverns that twist and turn beneath the earth where it is performed.  


Virens' most famous composition, is called the Wise and Gracious Allmother of the Deep Flowing Uhd and tells the epic of the surfacing of the Deepkin. It celebrates the first Empress of Deepmot, Nerida Vengassi, who led the Deepkin from the ruins of the Hollow Earth to the surface over 1,000 years ago. The music was commissioned by Nerida's grand-daughter, the current Empress Nolno Vengassi and was first performed on her 400th birthday. She is now 679 years old, and it has been performed every year without fail to mark her birth and remind the Deepkin of her connection to the royal matronage.   The performance essentially takes the entire year to prepare for, and when finally underway, it takes many days to evolve and cycle through the evolution of sound to its ultimate crescendo.   The construction of the music begins miles beneath the ground below Deepmot, where Virens' musicians will strike against the very rocks at the long destroyed entrance to the collapsed Hollow Earth, know as the Broken Gate where the Deepkin who survived The Destruction first found safety.  
As the echoes of those first notes are struck, they travel through rock, and up the tunnels and caverns, where progressive layers of new sounds and instrumentation are added. Virens' musicians are spread over many miles of these tunnels, and each, through percussion, or wind, or voice, add to the swelling and layered wonder of the music as it echoes upon itself and rises slowly to the surface.   The deep dronology finally emerges into the royal amphitheatre at Deepmot, where it is added to by the singing of the Kin Choir. Most of the citizens of Deepmot will join in this vocal overlay, singing and swaying in a trance that lasts many days as the deep music drones on and evolves around them.
Sonos Virens percussion
by Ononomad using

From Dronology to Psychotonics

Even though Virens composed the piece, and it is the prime source of his favour with the Empress and his popularity amongst the noble houses of Deepmot, the truth is he now delegates most of the work to his many hundreds of disciples. He will emerge at the final crescendo of the performance to be visible for the Empress and to accept his accolades.  

Tired with tradition and logistics

In truth, his greatest masterpiece now bores him. Because dronology is so highly dependent on the fixed structure of the geology of the mountains, the music rarely changes and has grown tiresome to him. The most interesting challenges over the many years since he first composed it were the minor changes required to cope with earthquakes and volcanic shifts that can alter the timing and quality of the music, and even these changes he now delegates to others.   Virens feels that the music has become less about the artistry, and more about the management of supply lines, communications and the many other logistics that underpin the successful performance each year. His team is built of literally hundreds of staff ranging from the musicians themselves, his geo-engineers and to the cooks, cleaners, guards, messengers and labourers that support them, and the many bureaucrats that maintain and drain from the network in equal measure.  

New inspiration

Virens true passion has moved to the study of new and innovative forms inspired by the vibrancy and immediacy of the music of the surface lands. Many of the Deepkin find the folk music of the Protectorates or nthe Shimmerlands grating, confusing and harsh, but Virens finds the frenetic speed, and the ever-changing and adaptable nature of it intoxicating.   He has been known to accompany diplomatic delegations to Helton or New Lafaelle only to sneak away from important meetings to visit local taverns incognito. There he will spend spend time watching and talking with the many common folk-musicians there.  
Anyone else would be pulverised for his insolence. But the Empress sees it as an artistic eccentricity and encourages it. It is dangerous what the Prime Sonos flirts with, embracing the ways of the surface world. We are the True Kin! We belong below in the deep vastness and timeless strength of the Hollow Earth. We should suffer none of this shallow frivolity. It is an outrage.
- Mallazar Kyzen, The Shadow Queen and Matron of Clan Kyzen
  There is much whispering amongst the court at Deepmot as Virens has also spent many years visiting with the Spore Minds of Glimmertown. It is rumoured that he is studying ways to use the collective and emergent consciousness of the Sporeminds as an instrument in its own right. Virens has begun a long collaboration with the Overmind, seeding within the sporemind the concepts of deep dronology, along with the folk improvisations drawn from across the Protectorates. He hopes to use the power of the collective unconsciousness of the sporemind to compose a new form of music that is emergent from the collective psyche, that will constantly change, grow and evolve into ever new and innovative forms. He calls this new form Psychotonics.  

Artistic schisms

Many of his own apprentices think he is finally going insane at the end of a long life, but there are a few followers amongst his staff that are enamoured of his new direction, and feel an opus even greater than his dronology masterpieces is in the making.   Some of Virens' more traditional-minded apprentices in dronology are growing tired of doing all the hard work and letting the crazy old man take the credit. They seek to embarrass him and his followers. His standing in court at Deepmot is growing tenuous, and his loyal followers urge him to reveal his new opus before it is too late.
Sonos Virens and Apprentice
by Ononomad using

Mental characteristics

Personal history

He is a member of the royal family - a cousin of the empress herself. While the matriarchy of the royal household meant that he would never be in a position of direct power, his privilege nevertheless saw him close to that seat of power. His talents have been regularly put to use as part of the royal propaganda, and he has been provided with near endless funds and a massive network of musicians and staff to see his visions come to life.   Virens learnt his craft in his youth, apprenticed for nearly 100 years to the now deceased Sonos Petreus Vengassi. His early years saw him study and master the various instrumentation as he rose in the ranks Petrues' Dronologists. Petreus saw both his raw talents, as well as his connections across both Vengassi and Ulrot clans. Instead of seeing Virens as a worthy successor, Petreus grew jealous, and sought to bring Virens' rise to a sudden end.  

The retaking of the Broken Gate

It was Petreus who first proposed the greatest of the quests that underpinned Viren's early success. For centuries, the broken entrance to the Deepkin's ancestral home in the collapsed Hollow Earth had been lost to them, and over-run by many horrors that now cralw in the darkness. It had been a long dream of many on the royal court to rediscover these locations. Petreus seeded the passion to find the Broken Gate within the youthful and brash Virens, but it was Petreus' true hope that Virens would die in the attempt.   Much to everyone's suprise, the delight of the Empress, and to Petreus' dismay, Virens was indeed successful. He led many exhibitions into the dark ways beneath the mountains, mapping the tunnels, chasms and cathedrals beneath the earth. It took nearly 10 years, and the deaths of hundreds of Viren's assistants, but it proved to be the very quest that enabled Virens to surpass his master's skills and compose the greatest Dronology peice ever known.  

The rise to Prime Sonor of the Royal House

After his discovery of the Broken Gate, Virens returned to court and was celebrated across the breadth and depth of society in Deepmot. Petreus quietly retired from court and hid himself in shame as an ecstatic Nolno Vengassi commissioned the masterwork that would eventually solidify Virens' legacy.   Virens and his many helpers would spend the next four decades constructing engineering wonders across the deep ways of the mountains: carving out hollows, shoring collapses and gradually modifying the acoustics over many miles of tunnels. Virens experimented with early compositions throughout this time, mastering the techniques that would culminate in his dronology opus.   The first performance of his masterpiece occurred 198 yrs before the Tempus Accord, and well before the arrival of the Returned. It was received with unanimous rapture by the peoples of Deepmot who gathered at the newly created royal amphitheatre. Nolno rose at the end of it, and in the rarest expression of favour, physically embraced her cousin and named him her Prime Sonor.
Current Location
Current Residence
Skin Tone/Pigmentation
Pale blue-ish grey
Aligned Organization

Cover image: by Midjourney
Character Portrait image: by Ononomad, using


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18 Jan, 2022 16:28

Using the very structure of the tunnels as a base for music is a very cool and interesting concept. I can't imagine the kind of planning that would be involved in all that. Nice read!   Small note: you used 'peice' instead of 'piece' a few times :)

Feel free to check out my Orena 'Raitin Bane' page and my new world Terra Occidentalis if you want to see what I am up to!
20 Jan, 2022 23:26

Thanks Kef! And i'm also interested in the efforts this would take... I'm going to have a second iteration at this exploring some of those issues, and the history of how Virens got to his position. I think the dangers and efforts required by the team beneath him is the source of the 'schisms' mentioned at the end of draft 1... Hopefully I'll have time before the challenge is out :-)   Also thanks for peice/piece - is fixed... peace out!

26 Jan, 2022 07:27

That's a very cool idea you wrote out here, Dronology. I can also imagine that performing the same piece for hunderds of years is quite boring and the quest to find something new lures.

27 Jan, 2022 00:33

Thanks Jacob-W, really appreciate the feedback... and glad you liked it! :-)

26 Jan, 2022 21:13

Ooo!! nice! awesome concept! also nice artwork added!!

Akimotos, worldbuilder.
27 Jan, 2022 00:34

Thanks Akimotos! Heroforge is super fun to play around with for sure

27 Jan, 2022 15:18

This is terrific. It's a really unique, interesting concept, but you didn't just stop there. The artistic schisms in particular draw me into imagining its history.

28 Jan, 2022 07:21

Thanks for the feedback Spartacus! :-)

8 Feb, 2022 14:31

My gosh, that is such a cool character, and an even cooler concept! It reminds me of these videos of people using like construction pipes or something to make music with echoes. It was also really interesting to see the evolution of his relationship with his craft and music. Awesome work!

Creator of Arda Almayed
14 Feb, 2022 02:27

Thanks TC, really glad you liked it, and especially his more personal relationship to his art as well. :-)

14 Feb, 2022 09:18

I had liked this earlier, but somehow I didn't comment yet. This guy really left a lasting impression on me. The court politics are an interesting setting, and as a reader I could emphasize with his artistic frustration and desperate search for something new. I'd have loved to see more of why they considered him crazy - the picture I had in my mind was that of the decorated artist who got grumpy and intolerable in his old age.

If you have some time, I would much appreciate your feedback on my entry for Adventure April: Carbon Copy Paradise
Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
16 Feb, 2022 08:03

Great article! This is a fascinating concept to produce music :D Though it must make it really hard to train without everyone being able to hear anything as if it were a real performance. When they need to make changes because the tunnel architecture shifted slightly, do they have a way to muffle the noise, or do they play fully and let everyone hear everything?

To see what I am up to: SC list of articles and goals.
16 Feb, 2022 08:27

Thanks Amelie!   That's a really good question! I reckon they would have to muffle or contain the noises in some way. And I think there would be a very strong element of abstract calculations being done to keep the actual performance special.   There would be some way to test the echo and reverberation without using actual instruments (perhaps clicks and short bursts of sound), and they would then need to calculate what the final result would be once full instrumentation is added. So the Sonos works mostly in theory, and only upon the final performance will they know if it works as intended or not. I think the stress involved every year if someone miscalculated would be immense.   This is likely a big source of the disquiet amongst his apprentices. I suspect Virens lays the blame on them for any mistake, while basking in personal glory for all successes. The Imperial Court is not a fair and equitable place. ;-)