Before the cataclysm the western edge of the Republic butted up against the eastern border of the Kingdom. Following the Days of Fire a ridge of land known as the Great Escarpment forced its way up through the bedrock and now juts up abruptly creating a natural barrier. On the far side of this lies the Lands of the Dead, also known as the Lichfells.
The Undead all originate as members of other races and their knowledge, such as it is, is based on their previous existence.
Each of the Lichs maintain enclaves within Sobek, but notably the Grey, Brown and White maintain hidden fortresses elsewhere. The Nameless Rogue and many of his followers “of the Pale” maintain ships and constantly move around. Their ships raid the Coasts of the Shieldlands plundering for slaves and many have even reached the shores or the Northmen’s lands. This makes the Rime Sea dangerous, especially at night and makes the sea a place of constant war with fleet battles being fought across its span. Their silent ships and floating fogs have c
urrently given them superiority of this region but th
e Northmen and the Kingdom fight back with a vengeance. Hammurabi is rumoured to dwell below a mountain in a city underground and as for the White Lich, no one knows.
The Necropolis of Sobek and the Nightspire
The Necropolis is surrounded by a wasteland; after a decade since the Undead nation appeared it has grown into a towering icon of the Lich King’s power. The wasteland that spans from the walls in all directions for some distance is known as the Garden of Graves.
The walls of the citadel are a fortified barrier of the bones of the long dead. The centre of the necropolis now houses one of the most marvelous feats of engineering, a wonder of the world today, the Nightspire. The tower is the home of the Lich King and entry is forbidden to all but his high council and is well guarded by the Iron Mantle and the King’s own private guard, the Forsaken.
Being immortal has weighed heavily on some of those who have carried the gift of unlife for many years. The inhabitants pursue many arts, crafts and virtually anything to alleviate the boredom that descends upon those that live for ever. In the shadow of the Citadel is the amphitheater and arena known as “the Crucible.” It is here that everything from dark passionate operatic plays, to gladiator sports with living slaves and twisted monsters take place to entertain the population and distract it from tearing itself apart with scheming. Some necromancers attempt to plumb the depths of “The Great Below” to study its turbulent veins and flows of power, but truly, few if any stand a remote chance of achieving understanding and this knowledge is guarded jealously by those Liches that have done so. Other Necropoli or fortresses of the dead are pale imitations to the dark grandeur of the citadel. Regardless, nearly all the Necropolis settlements stand as stark, forbidding towers against the otherwise cold and desolate landscape which sees harsh rains and snows in it’s darker months and blistering summers that bleach the bones of the lands white.
The Lichfells do not have any conventional exports or trade goods. There is no agriculture. They export only death and immortality. Yet many of those not taken as slaves for souls and entertainment, still seek out necromancers to become Undead, if only to get access to the ancient libraries, that hold archives of lore encompassing medical advances, mathematics engineering and law, a most dangerous lure for those in search of answers. The Necropolis of Sobek is but the centre of a network of strongholds that rise from the blasted land …
“I have been dead for several years now. I know what it’s like to die. I can honestly say dying was the easy part. Seeing the Shard and The gateway to the lands of the dead however … that was the hard part …”
Standing near the border with the Shieldlands is the second largest necropolis, Tulgasa; the gateway to the Lichfells.
When the Escarpment rose it created a harsh, almost unimpeachable rise. Only in a few places did the rock give way to allow a sedentary ascension. These bottlenecks into the region are watched, but none watched so much as the largest entrance at Tulgasa. Here, a huge encampment was set up on the orders of the Lich King.
In less than three years, The encampment became not just a fort, but the Towering Shard that is Tulgasa. The Voice, the Lich King’s Seneschal and Arkad, the Lich of the Iron Mantle invested themselves into this formidable bastion of death. The Shard is one of the tallest structures in the land, save the Citadel at Sobek.
Using slaves and the skills of the Architect, vast towering walls were erected that surround the Shard. Attackers would have to deal with assailing the sheer height of the escarpment before dealing with the thick tall walls that could, at any moment, eject boiling water and oil from any number of skull-like gargoyles along the fascia.
Behind the walls lie military fortifications and barracks as well as the slave market. Nearly all slaves, save those who are captured by “those of the pale” at sea come here. It is the second reason why Tulgasa is known as the gateway to the Lich Fells. The presence of Undead reapers of the Iron Mantle is very heavy here and they regularly patrol the borders.
“The storm afflicted peak is stark contrast to the serenity within. It is here, that on reflection, we can see the true nature of our state, the perfection of undeath”
At the highest point of the escarpment lies the frozen mountain range of Ur.
Nestled among these peaks is the necropolis of Ur on the mountain of Kaymakli; a temple built at the top of a treacherous winding road leads to the gaping maw of a skeletal beast carved into the mountain: The Lich, Ur-Nammu has its sanctum.
Utterly unassailable by an army due to its location, the entrance is guarded night and day. Only a small well trained and stealthy group would stand even a chance of dealing with the preparations and designs of the community within.
Inside Kaymakli is a network of concourses and halls, hewn chambers present living areas for all those within and, at the very bottom of the Necropolis of Ur is the white lake, so called due to the fungus that glows with an eerie luminescence.
“It is indeed a sad life that has never breathed deep the sweet, proliferous bouquet that is Karduniash. You’ll never find a more honest scoundrel either to be sure…”
The blighted necropolis of Karudinash is the sacred home of the Nihil, the Desolate and its ferrymen.
Despite making its home in Sobek; Nihil has strong ties here and regularly visits this blighted web. The land here is swampy and upon a single rocky plinth stands the settlement that sees regular trade from ‘the Pale One’s’ Ghost Ship raids.
Here, rickety wooden piers and walkways allow the Undead to make their way about their business under the sickly canopy of vines steeped in stagnant water. Those of the Pale find it a great place to off load their slave cargo.
Karudinash is also the closest port to Tulgasa and an alternative to travelling further up coast to a deep water inlet at Spinemore. Jaded undead seaman, not always exclusively of ‘the Pale’ try to revitalise their passions on shore leave, making the necropolis a veritable violent hive of cutthroats. It is because of the popularity of the necropolis with the Pale, that rumours often do the rounds that the Nameless Rogue frequents this city enjoying it for it’s honesty perhaps more than the back handed politics.
“Even the Undead find some places unsettling. The noises that echo across the waters of Spinemore are the heralds of the works of a mad genius… No wonder those of the Pale don’t go there unless they have to…”
Spinemore is located in the far south of the Lichfells. It is guarded on one side by a towering mountain and below its sprawling surface lies a vast underground lake that links it to the Sea of Blood.
Even though many ships can berth here, the population of those of the Pale are still the minority, as is the barracked Iron Mantle force. There is a larger population of the the Architects followers here than anywhere else in the Lichfells. This is due in no small part to the Lich carving a home inside Spinemore peak.
Having fled the mine haven of Tulgasa, about 5 years ago, he has made his home here. Within short order he had created a network of passages with his followers. From here, he can travel inland to Sobek but equally beyond to Karduniash and on to Tulgasa if needed.
From below Spinmore a subterranean harbour dug into the rock houses a fleet of bone ships that range out into the Iron Sea and Bay of Blood attacking the coasts of the Patrician Cities and the Sisters. Alongside their allies, the orc River Clans, no small rivalry exists, and it is a matter of constant concern as to who is the most infamous…
Not a necropolis as such, Blackgate is still a notable outpost along the edge of the escarpment guarding the ascension up from the Shieldlands.
Called Blackgate by those legionnaires from the Wall of Iron that live in its shadow, the fortification is perhaps typical of many such outposts that jut from the edges and of the escarpment. It was thought to be the main staging point for the Undead, until the humans cast their sorrowful eyes on the skyline of the Shard at Tulgasa.
It is rare for Blackgate to ever open. Instead it guards a steep ascension into the Lichfells and its denizens prey on anyone who ventures to close.
Similarly Deathpass, Mortgate, and Skullgate, are human names of several outposts along the border.
An ice flow in the north houses the Iron Mantle troops overlooking the land from some altitude, the shard of Tulgasa plainly visible to them. This outpost guards a treacherous entrance to the lands of the dead.