Krellus

The fact that the city-state’s founders decided that a bunch of life-eating librarians was an acceptable alternative to loss of tradition is a perfect example of the rest of Krellus’ politics and political philosophy. The reason the city-state itself and not its citizens keep on being mentioned is that it has deliberately been engineered so that potential reformers cannot go anywhere near the actual governmental authority, and if they do, the deeply conservative Mnemosyne will veto whatever the would-be reformer desires. What Krellus as a whole did a decade ago is probably what it will do today, and what it does is scheme to restore the Eluen-cuthpar and everything the stories remember about it. Exact specifics may change, but not Krellus’ culture or philosophy-at least not by their estimation. In fact they’ve changed quite a bit; their entire culture revolves around the Buried Library, a converted cavern and underground spring that served as a storehouse of vital lore in ancient times, and now serves as that and the effective palace of the Mnemosyne, unwilling to sleep separated from their precious books. Except none of those books contain any trace of culture; the closest thing that comes to the literary and artistic traditions of the Eluen-cuthpar is the purely practical and pragmatic advice given in various dissertations on trade, agriculture, and war. This has resulted in Krellus becoming an extremely joyless and cold place to live in; there is nothing in the books about social pursuits, artwork, or even entertainment, so the Krellusites, in their quest for utter accuracy and to live as the Eluen-cuthpar did, have little-to-none of any three of those. What art they do have is based around a sense of “antediluvian realism” that follows incredibly strict guidelines that prevent anything that might not glory the past or the mission, and what entertainment they have is mostly based around gladiatorial fights and games of strategy.

That being said, a focus on purely practical pursuits and training for the mission has had tangible benefits. The Krellusites are master tacticians and skilled with administration besides. They have neither the numbers nor the inclination for straight-out open conflict, but espionage, sabotage, and small-scale covert operations are things the city-state finds is second nature (perhaps due to the Mnemosyne’s influence; vampires are known for being stealthy if the situation requires it). In truth, they haven’t been able to do much else; while they do have access to the legendary portal network that once connected the continents, they don’t know how to operate it on command, and the port they use most frequently is moderately damaged. Thus, they are bound by the alignment of the stars and other natural phenomenon that affects magic; they can only send small teams through and back every couple years or so, with a connection stable enough to send nonliving supplies and messages through forming about once every two months. Thus, most Krellusite “frumentarii” tend to be highly trained archaeologists and spies used to working without much support already (and there is no shortage of on-the-job training for competent loners in jungle-infested Antaye, either). Generally, they also come with Yal lycanthropes, particularly scholarly wereowls and stealthy weredogs, as “outside talent” (and because those two genus of lycanthrope are resolutely middle-class in Yal’s caste system, thus giving them the most freedom to leave Yal out of all the elite warriors). The objectives, up until recently, have all been purely attempts to find relics of the Eluen-cuthpar; despite their open loathing of the “savages” descended from their old empire (in particular nalu; the significant population Krellus has is not nomadic, living in a series of ancient and safe aqueducts, and their culture regards normal nalu as barbarians who willingly threw away the “civilization” of agriculture) Krellus is not adapted for conquest or even raiding. The frumentarii will destroy evidence of their city-state’s existence, and anyone who looks close to discovering it, but otherwise Krellus is remarkably peaceful.

Those frumentarii, however, never include the Mnemosyne themselves. The gates they use are too unstable; the sheer metaphysical weight of certain people (in game terms, around CR 9 and higher) causes the weakened gate to glitch, opening massive rents to the Feywyld and spewing out hostile denizens across the city-state. While the aftermath of the discovery of that particular problem did lead to the lakes known as the Three Scars to become suitable for nalu existence, the swarm of marauding elementals that released also damaged the Buried Library quite severely. The Krellusites will not use a portal to send people with raw strength over again until they find a new, more stable portal than their own Constellation Gate, or if they grow well and truly desperate.

Beyond the Buried Library itself, located on the outskirts of the city-state to the east (deliberately hidden; the Mnemosyne are their own security, so all the city-state must do is make sure it remains hidden), there are several important locations. To the north lies the Constellation Gate itself, originally meant as a sort of “secondary hub” for the Roads of Light apart from going to Cuthpar and back again. To be more accurate, the Gate uses Cuthpar as a relay, allowing a traveler to “bounce” off the islands, effectively never actually stopping there en route to their actual destination (the fact that all the normal gates leading to Cuthpar are currently one way or inactive is part of the reason the Gate is so unstable; as more portals are opened, no doubt the Gate will become at least somewhat more reliable and less dangerous). Fanning out from the Gate are a collection of anti-Feywyld bunkers and battlements ready at a moment’s notice in case the Gate starts to rip open portals to it, along with the Three Scars. The lakes are their own defense against many of the monsters, being effectively a trio of concentric moats, and more than that each one of the nalu citizens is trained in siege and sabotage warfare. They also bare the somewhat unique distinction of having a unique governmental position dedicated to overseeing their well-being, the Aquaeous Legate. The current Legate is a female nalu named Galla Domitilla (LN druid 6th level) who, while she still believes in the overall mission of Krellus, has grown sick of how the rest of the city treats her people as a largely unpaid guard force. Any infiltrators may be able to win her over to the cause of defanging the city-state’s operations if they convince her it is harming more than it helps.
May 15th

At the center of the city-state lies the Spire, the fortified capitol where the supposed lord of Krellus, Province Governor Lar Panatieus (LE human aristocrat 12), holds court. In reality, everyone knows that Panatieus treats his position as a way to prove himself as an ideal candidate for the Mnemosyne, and spends all his own initiative perfecting the frumentarii as an organization, and overseeing their operations to retrieve lore. The real holder of power who dwells primarily in the Spire is the Emissary of the Library, Servius Strabo (NE kobold vampire rogue 10), an amoral but loyal member of the Mnemosyne whose primary goal in accepting the position was both to increase his own personal power and to ensure the Governor remains loyal. Since the latter motive turned out to be an err on the side of caution, for the most part Strabo generally juggles his duties between serving as the voice of the Buried Library and building his influence.

The west is Krellus’ primary residential district. Here lies most of the citizenry as they mill about their day in the most grey place on Antaye; even more noticeable given the bits of jungle that have stubbornly grown into the city, perhaps the only rich colors in all of Krellus. Kobolds and humans mill about their lives in relative quiet and incredibly sanitary conditions for Thepa; besides widespread plumbing, one of the benefits of what remains of the city-state’s ancient infrastructure is that a mass-transportation system, the Moving Roads that serve effectively as conveyor belts, still operate. As a result, herd animals largely are unseen here, any cargo or passenger just stands on a Road until it reaches their destination-and herd animal leavings are also nonexistent. Of course, that doesn’t mean the district is entirely peaceful; crime is endemic to Krellus, and the thing is, it’s not (just) the kobolds. It’s the duergar; the deep dwarves regularly run contraband and forbidden entertainments through the dark alleys of the residential district, even working with kobolds on a regular basis.

Why becomes clear when one approaches the duergar hold to the south. Specifically, the fact that it’s largely over ground; it used to be to the east, where the Sunken Library lies along with what farms the city-state runs. Thing is, however, the rest of Krellus is heavily prejudiced against the duergar for reasons unknown and likely forgotten, but what hasn’t been forgotten was that, after tensions boiled over just under a century ago, most of the duergar’s home was ceded to the Mnemosyne as “reparations”, an extra wing to the Library. This was an even crueler move than what it sounds like; the Ghetto (the duergar’s accurate term for it) faces the dangerous interior of Antaye directly, meaning they’re usually the first stop by attacks by any raiders or monsters. And the duergar cannot realistically do anything about it; the stereotype of duergar as lying, greedy schemers runs too deep in Krellus’ culture, enforced by the Mnemosyne. Small wonder they lash out, and get what joy they can from the contraband they’re able to hide from the guards.

Editing needed

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Krellus

Thepa irranshalee