The City of Vanlgrym is a bastion of the Duergar, who dwell deep beneath the scorching sands and jagged mountains of Thelasia. Vanlgrym is one of the last remnants from a time, when Thelasia was governed by Xaress the draconic emperor. In the city buried beneath the mountains dwell the last known supporters of Xaress, who worked closely together with the greyskinned dwarves during his lifetime. Now, the Duergar of Vanlgrym have claimed the caves and underground ruins of the Hibana desert for themselves and established themselves in the city of flowing fire, as they call it.
At the top of the nation stands the Deepking, who rules with an iron fist. The organization itself is based on a monarchy and the title of Deepking is handed down from parent to child upon the parent's death. The first Deepking was named by Xaress himself and until a different ruling is made, the title of Deepking will remain in the hands of the current king's line.
Role of the Deepking
The Deepking used to be a direct subordinant of Xaress during his reign over Thelasia, which granted them limited control over the nation's people and resources, in exchange for services rendered. Back in the days of Thelasia's oppression, the Deepking was the Forgemaster of Xaress, tasked with constructing any type of machinery or structure the dragon required.
The Deepkings of old were at least in part responsible for constructing the various Ziggurats and Necropoli that are spread over the land and now buried beneath tons of sand. With the demise of the draconic emperor much of the lands that the Duergar took were either destroyed or retaken by the people of Thelasia, causing a hefty loss of influence for the Deepking.
The Council of Steel
The Council of Steel is considered the left and right hand of the Deepking. They are gifted Duergar, who have the ambition, drive and cunning to progress the agenda of the Duergar. While that is mostly shrouded in mystery to anyone but the Deepking and his most trusted, it should not come as a surprise that it is nothing good.
The Council of Steel is built around Vanlgrym's industry and deals with the most important resources needed to further any related goals:
- The Master of Blood. The title of Master of Blood is given to the leader of the military, who also holds the responsibility of directing and distributing any workforce to the appropiate places. Mind you, this does not include fellow Duergar, but rather prisoners, who the army took.
- The Keeper of Gems. The keeper of gems lords over Vanlgrym's treasury. Their task lies with increasing the country's riches. Since Vanlgrym is not a part of the broader world, the amount of legal deals made by the keeper of gems is low. Generally speaking, their day-to-day tasks lie with chartering out promising mining operations, organizing raids on trade routes and any liaison with external forces. Despite their rough and self-serving exterior, some nations contact the Duergar of Vanlgrym for their craftsmanship and skill.
- The Master of Flame. The Master of Flame is the designated councilor for any craftrelated topics. They organize the forges, ensure that they are always going, works out improvements to the workflow and, if needed, helps enforce them through harsh punishments. A fundamental requirement for the job is to follow the mindset that there is always room for improvement. In addition to that, they are also tasked with ensuring that young Duergar are educated in their ways and ready to take up the responsibilities required of them once they reach young adulthood.
The nation's culture is built around the belief that the surface dwellers have taken their right and stole their lands. Thus the Duergar of Vanlgrym have nothing but hatred and contempt for the people walking up above. Their whole culture and way of living is built around the belief that there will come a time when they can take their revenge and that it is their right to do so. Duergar never forget a slight against them and feuds can carry over for generations, so it should come as no surprise that their hatred only festered.
Their pride in their nation might not be entirely without valid reason. Aside from their nationalistic pride, the Duergar have built a reputation of not needing any breaks and not tolerating failure. Excellence, speed, precision are but a few of the attributes that are linked to all of their work. They are innovative and competitive to a fault, a trait which they are taught to follow from the moment they start their education. Those young Duergar in Vanlgrym, who excel get leniency, while those who fall behind are punished by remedial lessons and other tasks.
Hierarchy and duty are other important traits for the Duergar of Vanlgrym. Everyone knows who is responsible for anything, anywhere. Names and accomplishments are very important and part of every introduction. It is normal for a simple introduction to take anything from a minute to five minutes. The longer the introduction, the more important the person. The denizens of Vanlgrym are more than aware, who in their district is responsible for work distribution, legal matters, policing, healing, overall decision making and other such matters.
The city of Vanlgrym is bold, big and strong. Huge walls line the outside and large square towers rise from behind them, spires of gold and bronze that gleam in the rivers of molten lava that run from the forges all the way to the outside of the walls, where they line around them for added protection. Every building is lined with streaks of plated gold or platinum. The streets are paved with black obsidian as are the most important buildings of the city.
At the center of it all lies the Obsidian Sanctuary, a formerly destroyed Ziggurat of Xaress, which was restored by the Duergar and repurposed as the palace of the Deepking. The Ziggurat holds the country's treasury which is said to be an ocean of gold, silver and all sorts of gems.
From the palace's entrance goes a straight street, the road of litany, which is made from reddish bricks. Each brick is inscribed with words of ambition and promises of revenge in the old dwarven tongue. This street leads straight to the Black Forge, which operates most of the city and was built with the Astral Forge in mind. Here the Duergar built their golems, forge their armors and weapon and tinker on new inventions. While they amassed massive amounts of coin and riches, some would argue that this is the nation's biggest treasure.
The exact numbers of the Duergar within the walls of Vanlgrym are unknown but they are estimated to be somewhat between 10.000 and 12.000 citizens with a military force of about 1.000 Dwarves. While these numbers might not impress, this is only counting the forces consisting of flesh and blood.
It is no secret that during the days of Xaress, the ancient dragon shared all sorts of magical secrets with the Duergar both to strengthen his allies as well as to give them a foundation to improve upon. He gave them the secrets to animating lifeless matter into obedient golems and he showed them the secrets to the Astral Forge, which allowed the Duergar to reverse engineer this ancient artifact and build the Black Forge.
With these assets under their belt, the Duergar were able to build up a sizable amount of artificial soldiers in the form of golems and other mechanized entities. Accounting for these and the average material and upkeep required to operate them, the overall military is assumed to be somewhat between 1.400 and 1.600 strong.
Last but not least, one should not forget that Xaress was also gifted with the magical art of necromancy. While the Duergar of Vanlgrym are noticed for their love for anything technological and not their aptitude for magic, one cannot be too sure, if the Duergar did not also dabble into this field.
Foreign Relations are basically non-existant. The Duergar of Vanlgrym are autonomous and don't seek positive trade relationships with Thelasia. Instead, they aim to raid their supply lines or their smaller villages in order to provide for themselves that which they cannot create themselves. Even among their section of the vast networks that make up the Underdark, there are none who really trade or even work with the Duergar of Vanlgrym.
In concerns to Thelasia, the Vanlgrymians are more than antagonistic, seeing them as usurpers and lesser beings worthy of nothing but contempt. Since the inception of the nation following the liberation from the iron rule of Xaress the two have been stuck in a cold war like situation. There are no open hostilities but both parties are aware that the other wants to see them gone. While the Duergar are currently unable of dealing a decisive blow against their foes, the people of Thelasia are held back by the uncertainty of sending troops into a territory, where the Duergar hold all the cards in their hands. As such, both parties are currently biding their time, circling each other and waiting for the other to make their move.
Derogas Truxis ka Nul - The Fire Yet Bears Embers
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