Despite its fearsome name and even more fearsome reputation, the lands of greater Khartoum, known outside of their borders as the ‘land of the dead’, is a misunderstood Kingdom unlike any other on Eletrues.
This is an ancient and mystical land – once divided to ancient Khartoum to the East and the deserts of the strange and mysterious half human/half animal Qahoori Nomads to the West.
While the Qahoori, who were always few in number to begin with, have long since disappeared from the world, leaving behind only their mysterious pyramids – Greater Khartoum is now infamous for its relatively low population density, yet has by far the largest army in all of Eletreus..
For this is a land that has been ruled by a benevolent, undead dictator – the Lich King, T’shering the Eternal, who through his immense necromatic power raises the dead to toil and serve in his army, and ensure his living subjects enjoy a life of pampering and luxury.
While feared and even despised outside of his Kingdom, the Lich King is neither good nor evil, nor has plans of conquest and world domination – but only to preserve the culture and the livelihood of his people, whom he considers himself a father to. His undead minions, which outnumber the living 20 to 1, are generally hidden away or dressed in robes and wear golden masks to cover their skeletal visage as exposed bone is considered impolite and akin to public nakedness..
THE LAND OF THE DEAD AT A GLANCE
Military: 5,000 human soldiers. 150,000 ‘terracotta’ warriors (animated skeletons cased in a flexible terracotta like coating that serves as armor and covers their bones).
Racial Characteristics: The people of greater Khartoum are only slightly different in appearance than the Escians, with dark brown skin, dark eyes and dark hair.
Language: Khartoumian – an ancient language with a hieroglyphic writing system originally learned from the Qahoori Nomads. Traders are often multi lingual, and the undead nobility – with hundreds of years to study – are typically fluent in ALL the languages of Eletreus, even ancient and extinct ones.
MAJOR TOWNS, CITIES AND PLACES OF INTEREST
ANKARATH: The Capital, controlled by the Lich Kings council, all of which have direct telepathic links to him. The undead minions are rarely seen here openly. A major trading seaport – Ankarath is a rich and prosperous place with bustling markets, foods from every corner of the continent and a rich cultural scene, the Lich King being a major patron of the arts.
NEMRU CITADEL: Is completely manned by skeletal warriors, it appears almost deserted if casually observed, but actually garrisons over 30,000 undead warriors without the need for food, water, entertainment or any of the other usual expenses needed to maintain an army of this size. The lands surrounding it are the only truly fertile farmlands.
MAKALANI STRONGHOLD: Another ‘unmanned’ outpost, this one with 20,000 undead soldiers ready and waiting for the Lich Kings order.
NEBTASAI PASS: The pass contains scattered throughout the valley many natural mineral deposits, including steel, copper, tin and one of the biggest gold mines on the continent. What makes it so different from anywhere else is that the vast majority of the miners are undead with a handful of human supervisors and families.
THE FORBIDDEN DESERT: The largest desert on the continent, it is a haunted and dangerous place at night, with the angry spirits of the murdered Qahoori Nomads attracted to the living like moths to a flame and many wild, uncontrolled undead of all types and persuasions..
QUSEMU: An Oasis town that was once the central meeting place of the Qahoori Nomads, it has recently been re-established by a rebellious necromancer who is raising his own army in the desert. The reason for his rebellion, and the reason that the Lich King has taken no action against him, is known only by the Necromancer and the Lich King themselves..
KARAMENTONEN: Originally inhabited by the Qahoori as hunting grounds, Karamentonen is situated next to a large oasis with additional bore water supplies. Over the years this town has grown from the original cave homes carved into the side of the hills into a city in its own right, trading by sea and serving as a hub for several gold mines in the hills.
THE MOTIONLESS SHORE: Once a Thanish town and stronghold, the city was unwittingly built too close to the Loch. Reclaimed by the Land of the Dead, it was wiped out some 600 years ago overnight by the Tentacled Horror – its first documented appearance.
THE BURNING TEMPLE: Was sacred to the Qahoori Nomads, and destroyed during the invasion of the Thanes – it has been partially rebuilt, and an extensive labyrinth exists below it from where the Lich King has his throne, and his amazing treasure hoard to rival even the oldest Dragon..
NOTE ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE UNDEAD AND THE LIVING
The relationship between the undead and the living in Greater Khartoum is a complex one. For a start, there are several types of living dead in the these lands.
By far the most common are the animated skeletons. In the mines and in areas where there is little contact with the living they go about fully exposed, but in civilized areas go about dressed in robes, gloves, boots and face-masks made of colored metals (bronze, copper and gold).
Nobles, merchants and free men and women simply wake up in a new (and lighter) variation of their old body. As it is quite a shock for most, the majority of the newly dead spend their first month of unlife at a temple before rejoining the world at large to ease the transition. While they no longer feel pain, they can feel extremes of heat and cold, and still retain a sense of touch. While for some it is frustrating that they can no longer at nor drink, conversely they will never feel hunger nor thirst again..
Warriors and soldiers are in most ways the same as any other freeman, though physically they are very different. For upon their deaths, the bones of warriors are encased in a moveable, flexible ‘coating’ of magical terracotta armor. Mentally, the main difference however is that they are unable to resist or reject a direct order from a superior, and can be forced to forget any memory within the last 24 hours if so ordered to.
Servants, slaves and low ranking members of society who are raised again retain most of their consciousness, but it comes and goes, and they typically go into a kind of autopilot mode when performing repetitive tasks.
Criminals are a special case, for the death penalty is common – but with a horrible twist. For sentenced criminals are first executed and then become prisoners of their bodies which are wracked with hideous and unending pain. Punishments in the Land of the Dead are severe, and the crime rate as a result is almost non-existent.
While most of the undead within the Land of the Dead maintain the physical presence of their bones, and may live on in this second life until the bones literally rot away, some survive even this and go on without their physical bodies as shadows and wraiths. This state can be brought about by powerful magical spells or the sheer will power of one who has spent more time in their bones than they ever did in the flesh.
Because death is not the end in this land, people do not grieve quite as much when a loved one passes, but consider it an extended stage of a ‘normal’ life and quite a natural progression. While sinister in appearance, and vulnerable to priests who invoke the solar god against them (which is why all religion is outlawed on pain of eternal punishment in these lands), the undead are not inherently evil and retain the same basic outlook that they had when they were living.