The Cities of the South [NOTES]
The Ancient Highland Cities
Today an arid land of rock and sand, the Garamite Highlands were not always so. In the time of the First Empire, a race of men lived at the harsh region's center, surviving as shepherds and raiders in the once green and pleasant Vales of Umri. These vales, and their inhabitants, were burned long ago by the Sunarians, though, as retribution for centuries of Garamite raiding and invasion. Life has not returned to the highlands in the millennia since, and the rocky red canyons and dried out river valleys are supposedly haunted by the long dead. Great ruins sit at the two entrances to the vast mountain realm, still standing guard over a land who's people they once long ago failed to protect. These are the ancient, twin fortresses of Garamae and Pigamar.
- Garamae guards the western entrance to the Vales of Umri, and is carved from the rock of the canyon walls in a fashion lost to mankind. Baring no blemishes or seams, the walls are smooth and look almost natural.
- No one knows who exactly built Garamae. The barbaric Umrite people were barely sedentary and utterly lacked the skill to carve anything close to its mastery.
- Many believe that Garamae may date back as far as the legendary Golden Empire that existed in mankind's far flung past, though others suggest it could be even older, as its strange seamless design is wholly distinct from the angular brickwork of the Golden Empire.
- Garamae was a major burden for the Sunarian Empire, as its existence kept imperial armies from entering the mountainous realm of the Umrites and allowed them to raid with impunity.
- Numerous armies would be shattered assaulting the bloody gates of Garamae, with the fortress holding a reputation as an impregnable citadel for centuries before it was finally conquered by Caneth I.
- When Garamae finally fell to the Sunarians, the empire was at last able to punish the raiders, and a genocidal onslaught ensued as the Sunarians chased the Umrites out of their mountainous homeland.
- Pigamar guards the eastern entrance to the Vales of Umri, and is less impressive than its western counterpart Garamae, being made of common stone blocks.
- Pigamar would never fall to an assaulting army, and only turned to ruin after the Umrites were forced to find a new homeland in the east.
- When Garamae fell, the Sunarians were able to march into the Vales of Umri for the first time ever, and carried out a genocidal rampage against the Umrites, as vengeance for centuries of unchecked raids and barbarism.
- Terrified of the vast bloodthirsty Sunarian army slaughtering its way east through the valleys, the Umrites fled in their thousands to the far side of their realm, seeking refuge in the last great fortress of Pigamar.
- The Sunarians never came to Pigamar though, and no great assault came to finally wipe out the Umrites. Instead Caneth I, held his men back and ordered the Vales of Umri purged of all life. Every man, animal and plant was put to flame, and burnt from the world. Casting out salt in their wake, the soil of the valleys were left infertile and drenched with blood and ash. Unable to sustain life, the Vales of Umri was forever after a wasteland of salt and bone.
- Driven into exile the Umrites fled east and found the Gora'tan River, where they began to drive out the native Pershani and took over the regional city of Goma, making it their new capital.
- Today the descendants of these refugees are the Gorumites, who dwell in the nearby land of Gorum. They bare little resemblance to their warlike ancestors though and are a highly urbanized people.
The Gorumite Empire
The Gorumites are are a people who have existed for millennia, though only recently united into a cohesive union under the mantle of the Gorumite Empire. As such they are considered by many to be a new power in Nebtka, and are disliked and seen as a threat by many of their neighbors. This is a well earned reputation though, as the Gorumites have always been an opportunistic and aggressive people, going back all the way to their barbaric ancestors, the Umrites, who descended from the mountains over a millennia ago, to conquer and steal land from the mercantile Pershani. More recent expansion has also served to reinforce this image, with the Gorumite Empire conquering a vast swath of land early in its inception. This factor has convinced many that the Gorumites are still the same old barbarians as their distant ancestors, who when shown weakness, will not balk at the chance to strike and attack. Realistically though, the Gorumites are a far cry from their savage highland ancestry. Heavily urbanized, the Gorumites long ago abandoned the barbaric raider life of their ancestors and settled down into cities as masterful merchants and craftsmen. Since the great foundation of their empire, the Gorumites have rapidly come to view themselves as a single unitary people as well, diverging greatly from the fractured past wherein one's city defined one's identity. Ruled from the capital city of Goma, the Gorumite Empire is today led by an esteemed emperor, though true power is actually held by the cities oldest, and most prestigious noble families, who are each represented by a powerful patriarch. Known as the Council of High Bloods, the one hundred and one wealthiest patriarchs gather upon the death of an emperor to elect a new one, who can serve only with their grace and approval, for life.
- The Gorumites dress in linen and samite robes, with leather or hide straps often being included to hold their apparel together. Men, more often than not, also wear a head wrap or turban that conceals their hair. Women, generally wear hoods, or shawls over their heads, though they do not cover their faces and their hair remains clearly visible.
- Gorumite soldiers are often adorned in bronze, or iron plated lamellar, with high pointed helms topped in a spike. Officers, generally also sport a horse hair plume, or pair of plumes, signifying their rank. The hand axe and shield are the signature weapons of Gorumite warriors, with the practice being a lingering remnant of their Umrite ancestry.
- Older than any of its surrounding neighbors, Goma has existed for millennia, and was likely founded by the ancient ancestors to the Pershani. It fell to the Umrites sometime during the late Second Sunarian Empire, however, and most of these early inhabitants were driven off.
- The modern Gorumite Empire is centered around Goma, which following the catastrophic Shattering of Nebtka, embarked on a crusade of unification to assert itself over the surviving cities of the south. Successful in these conquests, Goma is today the unquestioned home of the emperor, though, the city's noble elite act as the true power within the mighty Gorumite Empire.
- Located at the mouth of the foul and yellow Gora'tan River, Goma is reliant on outside water to survive. For this reason, a number of aqueducts carry fresh water into the city to sustain its sizable populous. While the poor are often forced to trek to one of the numerous fountain to collect water, the rich and powerful usually have it pumped straight to their homes though intricate lead, or copper pipes.
- The buildings of Goma are a menagerie of Pershani mud-brick, Gorumite fired-brick and other foreign architectural styles, highlighting its old and diverse history.
- The countryside to the north of Goma is heavily farmed, with wheat being the staple crop throughout most of the country.
- Pork and dog are two meats especially enjoyed by Goma's populous who eat one or both at almost every meal.
- The southern shore of the Gora'tan River, opposite Goma, is pockmarked in mines, quarries and pits where lead, sulfur, copper and iron are all mined extensively. This industry serves as the main source of pollution for the river, as massive amounts of slag and waste are both dumped into the sluggish waters of the disgusting river.
- Pollution from the upriver community of Hadet is also a major contributor to the Gora'tan's foul coloration, as the city's brickworks dumps tonnes of clay waste and garbage into the river every day.
- Gimecta is a relatively new city, which arose only a few centuries ago, just before the Shattering of Nebtka. Established along the banks of the River Bahlosh, it was originally a colony, loyal to the once mighty City of Zoal, but gained its independence when its mother city was overcome by the Shallow Sea.
- Formerly a great plain of rolling grasslands, the lands around Gimecta were flooded by the Shattering of Nebtka, and much of the territory north of the city is today a vast and uninhabitable marshland. Gimecta also experienced serious flooding issues after the disaster, and it is for this reason a city of muddy island slums, built of brick and mortar, connected by wooden causeways trailing above murky floodwaters
- Owing its rapid rise to the arrival of hundreds of thousands of refugees from the flood crisis, Gimecta is a mongrel city of a half dozen ethnic groups, all living together in the wet and humid marshes of central Nebtka.
- The main industry in Gimecta is easily its fired-brickworks, which today serves as the main manufacturing center for bricks in the Gorumite Empire. Because of a natural anomaly in the area, numerous different colorations of clay can be found surrounding Gimecta. Drawing its clay from these multi-colored sources, the numerous brickworks in the city all produce different hues of brick that give the city a very striking and colorful architectural style.
- Gimecta was one of the first cities conquered by Goma in its campaign to unify the new south under the authority of its elected emperor. Overrun by refugees, and struggling to recover from the loss off its mother city, Gimecta could not hope to put up a real fight when Goma's armies marched upon it, and surrendered peacefully, the moment they appeared outside the city's colorful walls.
- Despite being brought under the mantle of the Gorumite Empire, Gimecta remains heavily troubled by the wide variety of refugee groups dwelling within its walls, and much of the city is a vast swampy slum of bridges and shacks.
- Because they surrendered peacefully and accepted Goma's new authority, the Gimectans were given special status in the empire and were allowed to maintain their own special guard to retain order in the over populated and crime riddled streets of their city.
- Known as the Gilled Guard, the guardsmen of Gimecta are equipped in copper scale mail, with helmets adorned so the visors look like a fish's gills. Carrying nets and daggers, they are trained to specifically kill criminals, rioters and violent offenders and are quite good at it if their reputation can be believed. Because of their effectiveness, detachments of Gilled Guard are often requested in other Gorumite cities to help reign in troublesome elements.