Zaghäl, the City of the Wicked was a city founded on the continent of Aels in Polforia by Hake elves from the continent of Ushaenor. It was an effort of late elven colonization for expansion of the long geographically imprisoned Hakes. It was also part of the strategy of the Dark Legion of Demons to open many fronts against their foes all over the world of Aiers, and to found a city of elves in the 'Demon homeland of Polforia' that was devoted to them and to the production of a magic corps of war wizards.
Zaghäl would prove successful in both producing such mages and in becoming an integral and potent member of the Dark Legion. Though, not without its share of missteps. It might be said to be the magical opposite number of the High elves' great magic city of Dahl'Haran. Although, it more closely appeared as a greater, starkly dark version of its avowed foe on the Aels continent: the High Elf and Sylvan Elf city of Lorthen that it would endlessly toil to destroy.
The east side of the nation, and location of the city was on the west spur of the Northern Nohalion Mountains; the two divided spurs that the Kanov nation of Kanovait lies between. The west side of the west spur of the mountains, just north of where the Nohalion mountains divided became part of Zaghäl's territory. The foothills and lands to the west of the mountain were covered with old forests which were long considered cursed or haunted, especially by elves. But this disturbing country became the base of Zaghäl.
Speculation: The original footprint of the country might have suffered considerable deforestation and erosion due to the rapid construction of the city and its supporting towns?
Later, as the city-state grew in population and power, its territories spread further and further west, at the expense of the old nations of Dbejor and Entartea. The Draak Harg land of Drachland lay to the south.
Zaghäl's Purpose in the Dark LegionEdit
As the Campaign of Sargos came to nothing due to the Humans of the Five Kingdoms of the Northwest having summoned the Sand Beings, to destroy the Grand, Central Dark Legion army. With perhaps as many as a million deaths in that campaign which ended in a retreat, the Dark Legion of Demons was unwilling to ever again commit its full force on any one front. Even though Sargos of the Five Kingdoms would engage in foreign adventures in the southern continent of Zarhuy and would even come to squabbling amongst themselves, the Dark Legion saw this not as weakness but as strength born of certainty.
Even the vast land of Polforia with Dark Legion lands outside of it in other regions of Aels felt confining; so, to win, the Dark Legion would plant colonies in the continent of Hieyoks such as Draconia-Hieyoks on the continent, and would do all it could to encourage dissent of the non-human races throughout the world. Their colonial ambitions would prove to be a 'mixed-bag' as no great legions would ever be raised and sailed to Aels to serve the Dark Legion, indeed, they would often be essentially independent, even as the eastern nations of Tok-Thoria and Anutkia would declare their independence for a time. However, these colonies would indeed serve to cause rebellions, raids, and campaigns against the humans and High elves throughout the world, and the demon colonies were often useful bases and headquarters for non-humans to coalesce and organize. The were useful platforms for armies opposing humans to strike from and retreat to.
The Hake nations of southern Ushaenor would likewise attack their old enemies of the High elves, to little effect; but it would keep the High elves' Empire of Whide Axis distracted by their old enemies, the blue skinned Hake elves. In a reversal to the Dark Legion's colonizing other lands, the Dark Legion would instead allow a colony of Hakes to be set in Polforia, the Hake settlers to be given enormous resources, and to grow at some expense to neighboring Polforian countries. So, a Dark Legion fleet would secretly manage to take thousands of Hake colonists from Ushaenor to Polforia in Aels, with scarce knowledge to the High elves that this had been done.
The price of all this was high, the proud but embittered Hakes were to become allied to the Dark Legion, and Southern Ushaenor to become a front in the 2nd War of the Power. More importantly than that, the Hakes were to send their BEST as colonists, not their dregs or poor and desperate, or ambitious but foolhardy, as often is the case of the majority of colonists. In this case, the Hakes were to send colonists that were all capable in some way or other, some as fighters, and others being magic users, with some of the most powerful in the Hake nations as being the leaders. These colonists were to someday fight for the Dark Legion, they, or their children, in a manner not completely inconsistent with the Demon Servers of the human Nutks subject to the Blood Tax.
As a Magic AcademyEdit
The Dark Legion had long used Polforian elves as warriors and war-mages, such as the warriors, war charioteers, and sorcerers of Daiman'Yar and the elven archers of Ded and elite war-witches of the Witches of the forests of Ded. However, for all their sophistication to Orcs, Kanovs, Beast People, and the Kdaimon humans; elves produced armies of light infantry, light archers, and light cavalry for their small size and physical strength, and relatively small populations, and would be relegated to more auxiliary roles. The true power of elves was to be found in their magic, and they were useful minions who could cast spells on the front lines, where the Soul Stone and Soul Shard demons need not risk losing their bodies to combat.
However, elven mages may have been more numerous than demons, but they were much weaker in their magic, easily killed, and slow to reproduce and train. The numbers and the best sorceresses and war-priestesses of the Drow showed that Daiman'Yar did not produce mages in any great quantity, and that the Witches of the forests of Ded had a fearsome reputation that exceeded their actual power and skill. The power and skill of the High elves' war wizards in the First War of the Power would especially shock the demons and prove that the potential of elves was much deeper than they expected and that the magic traditions of the Polforian elves were clearly not the best.
Hence, the Hake were brought to Polforia to improve the capability of elven mages called upon by the Dark Legion, with the hope of eventually replacing the country of Ded as an academy as it had been long relied upon, but had long failed to be the sort of "witch-factory" that the demons had wanted it to be. The Hake colonists of Zaghäl would not immediately prove to be much of an improvement; but the Hakes would be forced to take in Negeémi Drow exiles as mates, and learn of some of the best of Drow magic traditions, plus some of the Witches of the forests of Ded would come to Zaghäl to teach their own techniques to the Hake and Drow children of the new city. Gradually, the Hake, Drow, and Blood Elf teachings would be tried, evaluated, and sifted through to coalesce into a Zaghäli magical system. The city and its school of magic would come to be a center of magical learning in Polforia; previously hidden techniques, or from beyond Polforia, or created by the demons would become known and taught.
So, Zaghäl would play an important role in the Dark Legion in producing war-mages in numbers and quality never seen in Polforia before. Also in magical research in moving magical techniques forward. Zaghäli sorcerers would be sent to join Dark Legion units in fronts all over Polforia and into the world beyond.
The City of the Wicked of Zaghäl Edit
Description of the City Edit
Long before the foundation of Zaghäl, the region was regarded as a cursed place, plagued by monsters, ghosts and spirits, and according to elven magic experts, there was a strange flow of maná in the region.
The city was carved out of stone in a mountain, in rock-cut architecture. While it was being built, the extracted rock was used to other building projects.
The city -planned by elves, dwarves and demons, and built by a large slave workforce- was carved on the hilltop and side of a stone mountain that projected out from the mountain range behind it.
The former peak of the mountain became the Tower of the Dark Elf King, administrative, religious and magical centre of Zaghäl.
connected by a carved bridge, was the Citadel. Surrounded by a large moat and impressive walls rock-cut, it housed the surface elves elites of the city, with the houses, temples and other buildings mostly carved out of stone, but later additions where built.
Two monumental bridges left the city: one to the mountains, that served as well as an aqueduct to provide fresh water to the city, and other to the valley, making a long turn in a small decline.
At the end of each bridge, was built a fortress.
The three monumental bridges weren't only for communication, but as well provided housing. The Wizard Bridge, between the Citadel and the Tower was a market district, where lived and traded free alchemists, wizards, witches and healers, independent from the great houses, the upper-well commoner class.
The Queen Bridge, between the Citadel and the mountains, had as main use as aqueduct, but as well provided housing to free artisans (elven and free non-elves).
The King Bridge, down to the valley, primarily had a function of transport and communication to the valley, for trade with the surface and to the farms of the valley. In the housing of the bridge, lived commoner surface elves and free non-elven workers.
This, while impressing was, however, only the surface. Most of Zaghäl went down, down below: they kept carving the stone, until they reached Kazrrad.
There lived the drow elites, but as well other drow and -in sperate neighborhoods-, their slaves and servants. grey orcs, ogres, trolls, beast men, etc.
Magicracy, the rule of the ones with Maná.
Among elves, such rule is not unexpected, as magic users are often the ones ruling or in positions of prominence in elven societies be it as seemingly godlike arch-mages at the pinnacle of an advanced civilization, or simple shamans of tribal elves. Those elves blessed with power are often tasked with using that power for the entire community and given accolades and some form of elite status for that service, not for the mere possession of an ability to bend magic to their will.
Maná is Maná in Aiers; but that doesn't mean that different societies treat it the same. The Hakes see the practice of magic as an artifact of their past greatness, and hoary sorcerers jealously guard and meditate on truly ancient symbols and texts. The High elves debate and analyze spells, trying to choose the most effective, trying to make new advances. The Drow see magic as a gift of the divine and seek power through prayers, bloody sacrifices, and seeking for their souls to grasp some 'godhead' within themselves.
Not surprisingly, the Hake might be ruled by some singular god-king who astounds for his feats, or else the wizened mage whose mere appearance and proclamation might change the minds of kings and the direction of nations. While High Elves typically have a rule by a magical council, or else an elite and usually revered board of advisers making recommendations taken with great import. The Drow, with their priestesses and sorceresses, typically rule by the interpretations of their holy writs, or by 'revelations' to their high priestesses.
Elven magic wielders may serve their people, but not infrequently via Autocracies, Oligarchies and Theocracies.
Zaghäl, founded by Hakes, was not surprisingly ruled largely by decree of their autocratic Dark Elf King, of which there were two: First, the great arch-mage Uvilia of Alesdale, the greatest of all living Hake sorcerers, reputedly the greatest of all elven magic users though most of his life. The Hake who left his tower and nation to found a colony on another continent. Second, there was the son of Uvilia, Zarg'Adhuul the Pact, he who was born of an arch-mage and Negeémi royalty, while blessed by the demon-god Bazrrods. Zarg'Adhuul was the first and greatest of the Zaghäli Elves, who would become an elven 'boy-king' and rule with the certainty of a god in the mortal world.
Zarg'Adhuul, whose mother was Phaere Vrinn, the exiled queen of Negeémiliel, trained in their Acolyte ways; where the pantheon of gods of the city of Zaghäl were the Seven Demon Princes and its panoply of demon lords, of whom her son was considered one of.
Hence, Zarg'Adhuul, the Dark Elf King, supposed lord of all the Dark Elf peoples, was not merely an autocrat, ruling by the strength of his might and respect for his mastery of it, but as a god to be worshiped for being a god.
This element of theocracy not just empowering Zarg'Adhuul, but also holding him subject to the hierarchy of the pantheon of demons that Zaghäl was beholden to and required to worship and venerate.
Speculation: Phaere Vrinn may have, in effect, served not just as a queen and 'King's Mother' but as the high priestess for worship of her son?
Clash of Drow-Hake cultureEdit
As a dual ethnic society, it is not surprising for there to be conflicts. Proud Drow matriarchal women becoming a favored minority within a Population of embittered Hakes. Hakes who were struggling in a new land for the ascendancy of their people, but having to accept exiles alien to them, and gradually giving up being a Hake colony for Hakes.
Indeed, there were probably Hakes of multiple kingdoms present, and there would come to be many different Drow cultures represented, eventually, mostly from harsh Lolh worshippers of the Drow of Northern Kazrrad, from the nearby, fractious drow city of Ched'l Sulho, to including the especially factional Dungeandar drow of northwest Kazrrad. Later, other elven groups and even demons, would come to live in an increasingly cosmopolitan city.
Masks became an important symbol which were either worn in various social settings for ceremonial purposes, or simply possessed and worn hanging on a belt or strap as a fashion statement. Virtually every inhabitant of the city would have a mask, even various slaves from Ozcura orcs to even the giant ogres and trolls often had masks. Usually they covered the entire face, but not always, or were plain white, but not always, as they could be painted. Usually, they seemed nondescript.
The cultural symbolism is currently unknown. Speculation: Perhaps the masks were a device and burden instituted to remind the people that they were Zaghäli before they were Hakes or Drow, or another race, or which Drow city-state they might have originated from. Being elves with an enormous lifespan, many inhabitants of the Wicked City had long lived previous lives as part of other societies. Certainly the Drow would have had developed multiple animosities between the Drow city-states and the squabbles between the great houses of those petty states. All these were to be put aside for the service to the State, the Dark Legion, and the goal of the overthrow of Human societies and of the High elves.
Like many great projects of the Dark Legion, the building of Zaghäl required the use of armies of slaves, very diverse slaves in this case, as many skills and strengths were needed. As the nation was built from deep forests to mountain peaks, and then all the way down into Kazrrad, endlessly carving out ever lower galleries, the construction might be said to have never ended.
Hence, there was a very large proportion of slaves in the city. Many categories of slaves existed, the construction workers, diggers and miners and stone cutters who sawed endless blocks in situ from the living rock within the mountains that supported, and became part of, the great tower keep, the citadel, and palaces.
There was an army of Ozcura Orc slave-soldiers, possibly acquired from the nation of Ded? There may have been other races used as slave soldiers as well, certainly ogres and trolls as shock troops is possible.
Slaves as servants or used for the acquisition of pleasure abounded.
Another important category was selecting enslaved elves who had a potential for magic power, and using them for breeding, for another price that the Zaghäli had to pay for their colony and the labor and resources to build it was to provide the Dark Legion with their gifted young as war mages.
Some degree of incest was practiced in Zaghäl. In large part due to the selective breeding in which those magic users strong enough to be war mages were to be commonly born and raised. As examples, a powerful sorceress might mate with her own son, or children of a great mage might have brother mate with sister, or a male great mage might impregnate many elven slaves or selected concubines the children born might later be mated with their blood siblings, half-siblings or their cousins.
There might have been incest practiced for cultural reasons as well. Some of the Hake and Drow might have avoided interracial marriage or couplings and mated with their own ethnicity. Between the Hake colonists, and a smaller group of Drow, some families might have been willing or eager to marry cousins for purposes of race, or family assets.
Speculation: Again, the symbolism of the masks might have been to negate ideologies of the factionists, even on matters of family? Also, it might be a reminder that 'self' was subject to the State, and with practices of incest, that all might be one's blood, and none might be, all at once? One's children, particularly illegitimate children, were NOT the children of the parents, but were the children of Zaghäl itself?
At the height of its power, about 50,000 elves, but a much larger non-elven, largely enslaved workforce.
Free population from most populous to least through most of Zaghal's history:
- Hake from South Ushaenor, particularly Alesdale, many young Hakes were later native born in Aels and Zaghäl.
- Drow at first, a small minority from Negeémiliel, later, a much larger minority from Ched'l Sulho and many other city-states of North and Central Kazrrad.
- Zaghäli Elves The mixed blood offspring of Hakes and Drow, at first, rare and special, with many more being born later.
Generally Free non elven inhabitants:
- Dwarves, from various races and nations. Possibly disreputable Fronhost Dwarfs and far flung Farian Duergar?
Generally enslaved races:
- Ozcura Orcs, supposedly the only orcs aesthetic enough in appearance to be Zaghäli slaves. They were often more like indentured servants or 'Janissary' type soldiers as well as menial slaves. The neighboring land to the west of Entartea was the original homeland of the Ozcuras and so many of these 'pretty orcs' came from there. However, it might be that many of the ozcuras might have originated from the Dark Legion countries of Ded and Billiboncea where large numbers of ozcura Half Elfs can be found, and much of the ozcura populations were clearly carrying recent elf blood.
- Ogres and Trolls collected from the Northern Nohalion Mountains, they could be useful for great works for their strength, or use of muscle as guards or shock-troops.
Zaghäli Elves' DescriptionEdit
The Zaghäli Elves are a race of dark elves who lived in Polforia. They are a made of Hakes from Ushaenor and Drow from multiple cities from Aels. The zaghäli were willing to breed to enhance their potential magic; many of the second generation are a mixed race of Drow and Hakes. Skin color ranges from dark blue to dark grey, light hair to dark hair.
At first, their origins were during the Second War of the Power, when the demons of the dark legion wanted to create a larger front to fight their human and light elven enemies, and they went seeking for alliances, such as with the Hake dark elves.
At the 2466 after the Apparition of Humanity, this alliance between the dark elves and the dark legion was sealed, with the demons granting to their dark elven allies lands in the southeast of Polforia, in the haunted forests of Zaghäl, in exchange for their alliance, and their worship of the demons as their gods.
There, the most powerful arcanists and magic users of the dark elves built--along with a large slave workforce provided by the dark legion--the City of the Wicked, Zaghäl.
Soon, the Zaghäli (inhabitants of the dark elven city) prepared for war, to war against the hated light elves, aiming at the High elven/Sylvan elf city of Lorthen, the last high elven settlement of Aels.
And at the 2483 a.a.H, the Zaghäli will attack and siege Lorthen -completely surprising the High elves, as there was no Hake in Aels that they knew of, and while they were able to defeat the high elven armies, forcing those light elves to flee to their fortified city of Lorthen. The Zaghali attempted to assault the powerful fortress, but were forced to retreat.
However, they didn't renounce their goal, and returned in the year 2496 with a larger and more powerful army, with legions of Ozcura Orcs (the only Orcs the Zaghäli thought were physically aesthetic enough to be their slaves) and siege equipment, but this time their army was defeated by the sylvan and high elves before laying siege to the city.
Weakened after these two failures, not only from a military point of view, but more importantly, in the eyes of the demons, the Hakes of Zaghäl sought to expand politically from a single Hake state in Aels, into a wide confederation of dark elven states, and at the 2511 a.a.H they made alliances with the Drow and the Anqueael Elf(ves), and as well with the demon light elven servants, the blood elfs, particularly those of Daiman'Yar which would be instrumental in the building of Zaghäl to its peak.
Then, the confederated dark elven armies marched to Lorthen the following year (2512), laying siege to the High elves for six years, until due to disagreements between the dark elven commanders, internal power struggles in Zaghäl and a minor defeat in the gates of the inner citadel of Lorthen, made them abandon the siege.
But from the long running Hake-Drow alliance, will be born the first truly Zaghäli.
These, like the Ash elves, are of mixed parents: Drow and Hakes are both Dark Elves, and both chose to live in Zaghäl, for being powerful arcane users.
While in the years of 2536-2539 a.a.H, the City of the Wicked and their King will fight in the dark legion's civil war -War of the Four Black Kings, more of the Zaghäli were born:
And during the Third War of the Power (2633-2675 a.a.H), they will compose the backbone of the magical users of the Dark Legion of Demons (along with the demons), being feared their war witches and warlocks, because as they were born from magic-wielding parents, the Zaghäli had a strong magic lineage... and according to the other elves (light and dark), they had as well strong madness in their blood.
However, with the Great Cataclysm the Cataclysm, the City of the Wicked will disappear, erased, from the face of Aiers, and the few Zaghäl survivors, mixed with other dark elves...