Tan-El: City of Wonders
Revitalizing a City-State Once Plagued by Ancient Evils and Building a New Scholar's Capital
"We have the technology: we can rebuild it."
The Story of Tan-El
Tan-El is an ancient city-state at the edge of the Hadarna Mountains on the Indicara Peninsula. It was once a gateway to a city on a plateau in the Mountains. "Tan-El" was probably in its original tongue, a colloquial Runic I, closer to the word "Tunnel." The reason for this is the route of access to the City in the Mountains, a Tunnel, magically and mechanically maintained. Tan-El itself was a city of technological wonders, where golems and other magical constructs took on the burden of the daily tasks beneath the station of its citizens, including providing heat and hot, running water. Look here for a rough map of Tan-El.
About 3,500 years before the present, the city collapsed in a time of turmoil and grief. The "ambitious but lazy" inhabitants of Tan-El were attacked by lightning elementals and other creatures and were slaughtered. The citizens were piled six-feet high before the Main Gates, which stood closed even as the elementals visited death upon the masses. Clerics, soldiers, leaders, merchants, others, all were killed indiscriminately.
Elsewhere in the city, the Council struggled to set into motion plans to salvage the city, save its inhabitants (or at least themselves), and stop the elementals. Tyner, once leader of the Council, stood silent within the protected halls of his pagoda, and when people came to alert him to the danger, he did not answer at his gates. Was he dead? It is now our belief that he cared deeply for the turning of evil for good. Were other plans of his in motion that did not ultimately succeed?
At the Castle Bah Nareth, the Council (or member who lived there -- the Council appeared to span several city-states) had limited options and limited time. Some golems retained their function, others had been destroyed by the elementals. Their options for escape were as bad as their slaughtered citizens'. What happened next is an object of speculation, though the results are true enough. The Castle's Citadel was given to creatures from the Hells, fierce major devils called Deathstealers (a.k.a. Nabassu), in return for the carefully-contracted destruction of the elementals. Was it the wish of a mad Council member, his time expired? Was it a mistake, the failure of carefully crafted spells to stop the destruction? Was it an act of War by another power? Regardless, the end result was the destruction or disappearance of the elementals. Despite this, few, if any, citizens survived the calamity. The city lay a lifeless ruin, overturned by nature.
Tan-El in Recent Times
The ruins of Tan-El of just a few years ago were the gutted, shattered remnants of a once great city. Trees and dense foliage made the city hard to spot except from up-close. Walls and stone buildings lay collapsed and broken. Despite this, many wonders remained within its expanse. The pagoda of Tyner was virtually spotless, its magical protection still in effect, owing to Tyner's vast intellect and power. The Castle had cordoned off the lair of the Deathstealers, who awaited any chance at escape from their prison. The chief research institute's clockwork beast still functioned. The Main Gate's lightning-spray defense still worked. Many golems about the city functioned through the millenia. The library was watched-over by a once-great mind, that of Tellah, who as penalty for his overpowering evil deeds stood, maintaining a library whose books had been consumed thousands of years ago by bookworms and who still awaited the wish of the Council. Other evils and menaces prowled over Tan-El. The Behir, as long as several blocks of the city, used to prowl and taunt with her immortal, super-intelligent, lizard-like form. She was bound to the city, when she once was part of the "electrical zoo" and she craved the return of the Key to her containment within Tan-El (she was still bound by the powerful magics to a small extent), lost for a long time from the city. Also, a powerful Good Grim was assigned to the city, to watch over the evils found there and prevent them from being set loose upon the world.
Great Evils Defeated:
In their quest to rid the city of evils, the party removed quite a number in the course of exploration. Some had to be dealt with to explore further. Others simply "needed doing." Here's how it went!
The Great Ones
The "Great" Ones are the snake-man demonspawn come out of the Indicara Jungle. The lesser demonspawn have undergone many vile rituals to give themselves snake parts and magical and psionic powers. The "Great" or "Old" Ones have completed a further set of rituals to give them an even greater power and more snake-like appearance. In Tan-El, the demonspawn were a perpetual nuisance to exploration and their evil mastery recruited demon-worshipping bugbears into their service. All three Abominations in Tan-El have been defeated. Lesser ones have returned from time to time. When they are discovered, they are killed immediately. The time of the demonspawn in Tan-El is at an end, chiefly due to the work of the Stone Soules. They are specifically known as outlaws to the new government of Tan-El.
The Grey Philosopher and Sacrol
The citizens of Tan-El were slain by the lightning elementals, the Deathstealers, and their own soldiers in a mad rush for escape from the deathtrap the city had become. When so much death and destruction was visited upon the inhabitants, including prominent clerics rushing to calm the citizenry, the sadness and evil of the day left a permanent stain upon the land. At the main gates where people were piled six-feet high, two undead monsters formed over time. One was a Grey Philosopher, in the main gate house, who was killed before he could solve the problem that so consumed him that he could not pass into death. Perhaps he was trying to figure out how to open the gate without the city's electical power. Regardless, the collective spirit of the people killed ensouled a fierce Sacrol as well. The Sacrol was an extension of the general evil and mayhem done that day.
The Grey Philosopher had dangerous withering attacks and a way to turn his vile "thoughts" into grey streamers which hideously wound those who approach, even at a great distance. The Sacrol was a slow-moving cloud of skeletons capable in a few moments of draining all life from a body. Despite the defeat of these monsters, and the exorcism of the foul remains of the Sacrol, a vision of the horrible death of the people of Tan-El was still projected during the evening and could be seen in the streets near the main gate at midnight each night. This is one of the first projects to come under the Council's attention, for immediate removal.
Seven Vampires and a Devil
When the SS gained entry into the inner sanctum of Tyner's pagoda-like Tower, they discovered the forms of great evils held in stasis. Seven vampires had been imprisoned in elemental earth by Tyner's genius. Additionally, a lesser devil had been divided into its elemental components and was to be sent to the respective elemental planes to permanently destroy the evil and remove it from the power of the evil deities. Tyner's beliefs held that evil should be permanently removed from "circulation" rather than destroyed, since it injured the forces of evil more that way (since destruction on the Prime Material Plane meant a return to their own diabolical planes, albeit at a cost of effort on the part of the evil sponsor). Though the SS were incapable of completing the devil process, they were able to finish the vampire entrapment. The vampires have been removed and placed in permanent storage elsewhere, and the devil has been destroyed. Tyner's knowledge has been salvaged in his lab notes and hopefully future benefit will come to the world through their resurfacing. The pagoda has become a symbol of the new Tan-El.
The Stone Soules decided that the Deathstealers were a significant threat to ever colonizing Tan-El, if they could not be removed. As a result, an assault was mounted on the Castle's Citadel to remove the Devils and send them back to their Hellish planes. Two of them were immediately returned to their plane by Lorm, High Priest of Aurora, and Alegra, Matriarch of Phaulkon, and the third was destroyed on this plane, at great cost to the forces of evil. The undead army of the Deathstealers, made up of ghouls, ghasts, and shadows, was destroyed entirely, and all of the treasure recovered. The Castle's Citadel is now clear.
Rozarok, the Behir
The Behir was removed since the SS retrieved the Key from a long and involved quest in western Cromwell. A bargain was struck with her in return for leaving the area forever. She has since moved north into the Indicara Jungle, where she can be away from the "hunk of rubble" she hated so much. Though a powerful evil was released into the world, the threat of having it so close to civilization when all it wanted to do was retreat into the jungles seemed a small price to pay. The return of the city of Tan-El to the Council's control was the ultimate result.
Tellah, the Librarian
The formerly supremely evil Zardos, Tellah was the addled, but malignant, main character to the classics A Life of Infamy and The Tale of Years. He used the force of the evil god of ignorance to mask his deal-making with many evil powers, thereby gaining powers much greater than other evils had managed before. He was imprisoned by Tyner to use his intellect to the aid of the municipal library, as Librarian. Because of the vast danger revealed by auguries for interfering with Tellah, the Soules sought some way to destroy him and remove the "time-bomb" from the Library. Thanks to the help of the Sage Orimaxes, of Cromwell, Zardos' treachery was revealed forever to the duped evil powers. This led to Tellah's destruction, even while placing Orimaxes within the Chains of Binding. This means that Orimaxes willingly (and without the party's knowledge) put himself within the immortal chains so that he would be a perpetual repository for knowledge to help fight evil cults. Orimaxes has been personally trying to fight the power of evil cults everywhere since his son was killed by the actions of the Cult of the Black Flame many years ago. Since he was old, he thought the Chains would provide him with much more time in which to deliver vengeance to evil forces. Though the party was unaware of his plans, they vow to use his binding to greatest advantage for fighting evil. Now, the Library is open, and "there is no level-draining in the Library!"
The Grim has been recalled to his beatific plane since the evils of Tan-El have been dealt with, and the Soules are much closer to their colonization ideals.
The Future of Tan-El
The Stone Soules have begun to recolonize Tan-El and make it their own, as of March 2185. Tan-El's new crest is featured above. The two over-arching principles guiding the new city-state are Truth and Liberty. The three stars on the crest are the three members of the Council.
The reconstruction plans of Tan-El and a schedule appear here.
The Daring Dozen agreed to go through the Tunnel and see what was on the other side. The mission began in March 2186.
The Government of the New Tan-El
The new ruling body of Tan-El, is once again the Council, but it has been reorganized. This is because little of the original governmental structure has been unearthed, and because the Stone Soules wished to mark the government with their own important agendas. Though the structure is summarized below, the full text of the Charter and Bill of Rights may be informative.
The Council is a three-person body which has specific duties for each member, and larger goals as a body. The Council makes laws and is responsible for their enforcement, but is itself above those laws. Council members are as follows:
The Magister, in charge of magic and scholarship in the city, and the magical infrastructure.
The Sapienter, in charge of religion and relations in the city, as well as control of undead.
The High Praetor, in charge of reading the will of the people, and acting as their voice.
Though the Magister and Sapienter positions are appointed by their predecessors, the High Praetor position is elected from among the people every few years. The High Praetor may not be either of the other Council members. The Druid of Tan-El is a permanent advisor to the Council, and other advisors may be appointed as necessary.
Magister Eliandor Lothander.
Sapienter Alegra Falconer.
High Praetor Theo.
The Banner of Tan-El, that flies above the Main Gatehouse at present:
The Hand of the Council
The Hand of the Council, led by Ludo "the Hand," is the special forces and police of Tan-El. It is above the law, in charge of carrying out the secret or important wishes of the Council. A number of other halflings are also members of the Hand. The Hand need only answer to the Council.
Further Governmental Organization
There is much more to the Government that has been set down in writing, including maximum penalties for certain crimes, appointed judges, and a taxation structure, but the information is neither public knowledge nor important for this area of discussion.
Tan-El has taken into its lands as a Protectorate the Tan-El Observatory and Institute for Sky Studies. Go to that page for a better description of it.
Since this didn't fit much of anywhere else, here are some official holidays of Tan-El:
Soules Day: 4 January (in honor of the Founders, the Stone Soules)
Foundation Day: 15 March (in honor of the Foundation of the Regency)
Orimaxes Day: 21 June (a day to celebrate honor, goodness, and life)
Guild Day: 1 September (a time to celebrate guilds, compacts, and unions, and all workers)
Day of the Fallen: 1 November (honoring the dead)
Good-of-All Day: 26 December (the day when all Citizens must spend the day working for the good of the others)
Truth Day: 27 December (in honor of scholars and Sages)
Greate Winter Holiday: 28 December until 3 January (Birth-day celebration)
The Day-that-Is-Not: 32 December (Leap-day, every ten years)