For 600 years, Rauxes stood as the capital of the Great Kingdom, bearing witness to both the empire’s greatest glories and its most savage depravity. In 586 CY, Rauxes’ long reign as imperial capital came to an end when Patriarch-General Pyrannden of Hextor announced to a stunned imperial court that Ivid V was no longer overking. Within minutes, a ferocious magical battle broke out on the streets of the imperial city as rival princes desperately vied for the Malachite Throne. What happened next none can say, but its effects are well known. Rauxes was cut off from the surrounding lands by a shimmering magical field that enveloped the city.
Since that day, debate has raged among the learned as to Rauxes’ fate. Some say it has become a Fading Land, while others, including Mordenkainen it is whispered, argue that the vast magical energies unleashed in Rauxes’ death throes have torn a rent in the planes into which the city has fallen.
These scholarly arguments over the fate of the city have not troubled the fortune hunters attempting to plunder the legendary wealth of the overkings. However, of the many who have passed through the Shimmering Wall surrounding the city, none have returned – save perhaps one.
In Brewfest 593 CY, the bard Finnadrel of Delaric (CN male human Brd6) was pulled half-drowned from the Flamni near Orred. He claimed to have escaped what he called the, “War Without End,” raging within the ruins of Rauxes. Though the bard painted a dramatic picture, doubt was cast on his account when it was discovered he was wanted in Delaric for defrauding investors in his last theatrical production in 591 CY. Nonetheless, reports that the Ahlissan soldiers warding the margins of the Forsaken City have been assailed by all manner of strange otherworldly creatures emerging from the Shimmering Wall have convinced some of the truth of Finnadrel’s tale.
History prior during the reign of Ivid V: Ivid still has firm control, politically speaking, in the capital city. His Imperial Regulars, Companion Guard, and the Town Guard remain loyal to him. But the human troops work for him almost entirely out of fear of the baatezu and evil priests who throng the city.
However, by no means everything Ivid decrees comes to pass. His courtiers have learned that Ivid is now so hopelessly deranged that he cannot tell fact from fiction, and thus simply telling him that such-and-such has been done (even if it hasn’t) will keep them alive as opposed to being executed for treason.
The overking’s insanity leaves him without any real notion of what is going on in Aerdy. He still believes the Great Kingdom is intact and that his armies are currently recruiting from South and North Provinces, and the Bone March, preparing for another strike against Nyrond.
He plans this for the end of summer, when crops are ripening in the fields, allowing his armies to survive by foraging as they go. However, Ivid sees spies everywhere and daily orders the execution of traitors in his realm. Again, he is told that these orders have been carried out.
From time to time, a public execution is held by the Screaming Column if an appropriate culprit can be found. Since most of the imagined enemies are far away, or even nonexistent, this is obviously not often possible. Half the population of the city has fled in terror, although now the Town Guard at the five city gates have orders to let no man or woman leave without an imperial pass.
Those seeking to escape must do so through the Undercity, braving its terrors, or else try to scale the 25-foot high city walls and avoid the mobats, flying fiends, and imperial mages who patrol the outskirts of the capital. Few are crazy or desperate enough to attempt this. Far fewer still succeed.
The atmosphere in this city is that of the last days of a terrible tragedy. Everyone knows that Ivid’s days are numbered, and few believe he can survive the coming year. For most city folk, this is no comfort; they don’t believe that they can survive the coming year either – and they are lapsed into utter despair. Some live day-to-day; others collapse into stuporous helplessness.
Most taverns and shops are boarded up, and little trade goes on now. Those artisans left in the city hoard what they can in the hope of better times to come, though they are eager to sell if they have any hope of not being robbed by thieves or the Town Guard (much the same thing).
Some food reaches the city still from Naelax lands around Rauxes, but many ordinary folk are close to starvation. Some even hunt rats for food, braving the possibility that one of the city’s wererats will get to do the eating instead.
People are terrified of the Companion Guard, though the Town Guard can usually be bribed and the Imperial Regulars are typically kept within barracks – unless there is any serious unrest, when they will be called out to reinforce the Town Guard.
There are exceptions to this, however. Princes Ishainken and Zamasken of the House of Naelax hold court at decayed bordellos with their debauched and toadying retinues. Both feign absolute loyalty to Ivid, and the town military forces do not dare interfere with these cousins of the overking. Many other dark factions and forces lurk within Rauxes, as the location descriptions below show.
Floods, Disease, and Treason!
Many buildings in Rauxes are unstable and hazardous. Flooding has been a major problem in Rauxes for several years, with significant rainfall causing water tables around the Imeda-Flanmi rivers to rise to record levels. Extensive areas of the Undercity have been flooded, as have the cellars and basements of many buildings. Wall foundations have collapsed in some buildings, and rotted in others. The buildings which have collapsed and not been rebuilt for lack of funds are the obvious hazards. It is the buildings on the point of collapse which are much more dangerous.
Pursuing a quarry into a rundown area of the city, or even an abandoned mansion, can invite the possibility of a structural collapse almost anywhere. The only good thing about this is that the Town Guard know which buildings are unsafe and don’t enter them. Therefore, avoiding their pursuits can be easier than one might expect.
Second, disease is endemic in the city. Sewer flooding and water pollution, coupled with the rapid growth in the vermin population, are the major causes.
The third problem facing the population is the place’s laws. While new and absurd laws are decreed by Ivid on an almost daily basis, the Town Guard has virtually given up trying to enforce them. The one exception is that of treason. It is treason, for example, to use any name other than “Great Kingdom” for any part of the lands of Aerdy – including Almor, North Province, etc. Ordinary people are only too eager to run to the Town Guard with an account of anyone who has dared do so. It is treason to wear any holy symbol or the regalia of any faith other than that of Baalzy (save for priests of Hextor). And so on.
Notable Locations in Rauxes
- The Great Way
- Tower of the Dead
- Karoolck’s Tower
- Palace of the Overking
- The Screaming Column in Oltary Park
- Zelizar’s House
- Halfhigh’s Mead and Ale
- Erthara’s Boarding House
- The Imperial
- The Golden Grain Tavern
- The Red Dragon
- Jipzinker’s House
- The Royal Guild of Merchants
The Undercity of Rauxes
The Undercity is composed of city sewers, which lead by a long outflow to a network of cesspits and by another to the Flanmi just before it joins with the Imeda. There are burial chambers, basements and cellars, and even dungeons and private jails (and the base of one or two wizard’s towers, too).
However, access through the Undercity to major locations (notably the royal palace) is either non-existent or else fraught with danger and actually designed as traps.
Beyond The Capital
From Rauxes, troops and tax collecting militia have control over an area within a day’s ride (one hex) and westward to Rifter. In a strip of land north of the Imeda, extending some 20 miles north and to within 20 miles of Grelden to the east and almost to Paralad, the excellent farmlands are owned by Prince Ishainken. Elsewhere, the lands are a patchwork quilt of Ivid’s own lands, royal trust lands, and smallholdings by minor Naelax Princes. Royal trust lands are administered by Protectors.
Outside of major settlements, hamlets and large farmsteads are “protected” by prowling bands of militia. In trust lands, or Ivid’s own landholdings, these are the King’s Own Regulars; elsewhere, they are soldiery of the local landholder. The Naelax princelings obey the overking’s troops when they visit, but they give no active support to the overking. They have their own petty squabbles in addition.
These militia are supposed to protect farmers, keeping bandits and mutinous soldiers at bay, and to extract appropriate taxes, tithes, and tolls on the dirawaen roads to Delaric and Roland. They generally do so, but in some areas the local rulers are uncaring, and the militia extract whatever monies and goods they can from those passing through – unless the passersby have guards and fighters of their own.
In Ishainken’s lands, the militia are virtually autonomous given that their liege is almost always absent. They even fight among themselves for the privilege of raiding a farmstead or merchant when the opportunity arises. Rarely, a squad of Companion Guard may ride from Rauxes to inspect these lands and quell such mutinous behavior, and for a short time afterward order may be restored.
The northern trade road to Delaric is little traveled now, though trade from Roland along the dirawaen road to Grelden (and downriver by barge to Orred, then on to Rauxes and also south to Jalpa and Torrich) is still a vital artery of supplies. Ores, salted fish, treated woods and ropes, and other goods flow to Rauxes. But as the coin of the capital declines, so will this trade.
Locations and Settlements beyond Rauxes