THE RUINS OF CORT'MANGAR

DESCRIPTION - LOCATION - PEOPLE - CLIMATE - MYTHOLOGY - HISTORY

Far to the north of Sarvonia, the ruins of Cort'Mangar, once a great city populated with dark elves and orcs, sits in the north of the peninsula of Caaehl'heroth. South of the Deep Winds Portal at Osthemangar, on the western coast of the Sea of Tears, Cor'tam'Angarek as it was called, the City of the Dark Claw in orcen, was believed to have been home to the ancient Ae'es'th'er'oc tribe and dark elven spellcasters. Built to stand against the savage Dinali, Cor'tam'Angarek stood strong for over two and a half millennia. The city was shattered by the birth of Shadespelll Gorge, some few stralls from the city, the vile taint of the Netherworld seeping out into the city and the land around it, killing everything. Since its destruction, Cort'Mangar has become a place of nightmares; a desolate shell, surrounded by wasteland, inhabited by terrifying abominations that some say emanate from the Netherworld, the city's former residents made into the very Shades that haunt its fog-shrouded streets. Some claim it cursed, but regardless, the shadowy inhabitants of Cort'Mangar are not to be trifled with.

Description. Few people have ever visited dead Cort'Mangar, seen its ruin and its desolation, and survived. The first records of a fortified city, populated with nightmares, came from the journal of Marvan Swiftrook, an Erpheronian explorer to Caael'heroth. Swiftrook and his companions found Cort'Mangar, but their fates are uncertain as Swiftrook's journal was discovered by Kaa'er'dár'shín Mist Hunters in the possession of a Ghun'Moirta'Oc in the Mists of Osthemangar some two centuries later.

Syras Kelweather, an Injerín Explorer, recovered Swiftrook's journal from the custody of the Mist Hunters at some point around 1400 a.S. Drawn by the mad ravings and descriptions in the journals, Kelweather discovered a second entrance to Cort'Mangar, a great vaulted bridge across one of the chasms around the city, and added further to the notes of Swiftrook.

"Erpheronia’s majestic castles hold not a candle to these dark ruins. I find them strangely beautiful…" Marvan Swiftrook wrote of the shattered, jagged spires of Cort'Mangar. These massive towers rise above the riven and ruined walls of the city, which enclose the mist which obscures much of the rest of the city, and its unearthly inhabitants.

Much of Cort'Mangar's remaining construction seems slapdash. Block shaped orcen buildings standing alongside great elven towers of night, broad streets broken up by arcane circles of stone megaliths engraved with some sort of symbols. Researchers cannot approach the city close enough to investigate these further, for fear of life and limb.

The towers of Cort'Mangar, supposedly of dark elven construction, stand easily 160 peds tall in their broken state, as has been estimated by the use of complicated mathematical formulae. The design of these towers is strange, more like they were grown than crafted, resembling nothing more than great, black backbones stretching into the sky, splintered tops clawing at the clouds.

The towers stand in sharp contrast to the blocky orcen built ruins below. In several places, jagged shards of towers crater the surface of the ruins heavily, or litter the mist covered streets.

Very little of the city itself can be distinguished where it is shrouded within the mists. Those structures which are not towers are laid out in an ordered grid, long since broken and mutilated by the destruction of the city. The orcen ruins are blocky, with harsh corners and heavy battlements around what must have been doors or windows. Though few remain, orcen wall defenses seem to have tapered to a spike-ringed tower with an open top.

"I can sense a palpable malevolence in the area" is what Swiftrook wrote of the region around Cort'Mangar. It is true that there seems to be less light the closer an observer approaches to the ruins. The cause of this seems to be two-fold. The weather around the ruins is in a state of permanent changelessness. The air does not stir unprompted and a permanent bank of dark cloud extends from the city for about ten strals in all directions. It does not rain or snow within these ten strals usually referred to as the "Desolation of Cort'Mangar". Nothing green grows on this frozen plain. It requires a great deal of effort to do more than crack the ground and digging is nigh impossible for any one man. The second reason for this pervasive darkness is thought to be the sapping influence of the Netherworld.

Kelweather wrote "This desolation is not natural, like the plains of ice to the east. It is a dead place. It is the taint of evil that has seeped into the land here. As though some grim malice has taken hold of it and made this its own. Its den."

It may be that the proximity to the Shadespell Gorge, or one of its "tributaries" sucks the very light and life out of a place. Few dare approach the ruins and this remains mere conjecture.

The ruins can only be approached by two means. The south, where Marvan Swiftrook undoubtedly made his ill-fated expedition, and the west. Initially, only the southern route was known yet, upon later exploration, the Injerín explorer Saryas Kelweather discovered a great bridge that crossed the body of the Shadespell Gorge and ended near the city. This is the only known crossing of the Gorge and remains structurally sound despite its age, suggesting the use of magic in the construction. Return to the top


Location. The Ruins of Cort’Mangar are located on Caaehl'heroth in the north-easternmost section of Northern Sarvonia. The nearest visible landmark, Mount Osthen, is estimated to be some hundred strals from the ruins. The Ruins lie to the south-west of the Deep Winds Portal at Osthemangar and at one end of the Shadespelll Gorge. Cort’Mangar and the immediate region are often referred to as a whole as “The Desolation of Cort’Mangar”. Scholars suspect that a fissure from the Shadespelll Gorge extends underneath the city itself, leaking its otherworldly aura into the region. Return to the top

People. In the long ago days before Thar, the king; the fortress of Cor’tam Angarek ("City of the Dark Claw" in an ancient, long since dead orcen dialect), was an orcen fortress, built to keep some enemy, from encroaching further into Caael’heroth. The orcs built high walls and tall towers in Cor’tam Angarek and girded it for war. This enemy, believed, from recovered artefacts in the Shaddhar mountains, to be an offshoot of the Dinali, feared soldiers of the Chosen Eckra the Cruel.

Eckra the Cruel, one of several chosen dwelling in the North of Sarvonia ruled from the Keep of Tak'dinal. His soldiers were the fearsome Dinali, by all accounts a barbaric and violent people who some scholars infer to have been of Ice Tribes stock at some point, twisted by cruelty, malice and magic into engines of killing. Eckra was among the most feared of the northern Chosen and his keep remains a Forbidden Zone, on the peninsula of Kru'ul. He is thought to have perrished in the Battle of the Winds along with the other Chosen in that region and their armies when the Eight Winds Bay was created.

Fragmented records from Injerín libraries suggest that during the War of the Chosen, Dark Elves were believed to have enslaved the orcs inhabiting the city, building dark spires of impossible heights, summoning circles and eventually creating twisted, evil creatures for the war, making meph'guór and other monstrosities to do battle.

After the destruction of Cort’Mangar[1], the exact cause of which remains unknown, the only inhabitants of the ruins are the enigmatic “Shades”, "Hav’ak Lohks” (lit. "Faces of Night"; Kh'om'chr'om) to orcs. Terrible spectres who flit silently among the decaying city. "They do not walk. They... slither on barely perceptible legs. As if their lower bodies are bathed in shadow. I see hundreds of them. Maybe thousands!"

"They are not alive, but neither do they seem to be dead. They are as the leaves on a dying tree, their colours faded to nothing, clinging to the branches before the storm wind blows them away. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of these creatures. They seem faded, the impression of life left long after life has deserted this place, like a footprint in the mud. I can feel... wrongness about this place, about these walking shadows. They and it are paradox."

Kelweather called these creatures "Náfreánh" (lit. "Faded"; Styrásh) and refused to speak of them further in his notes.

The nature of the creatures remains unknown. Two of Swiftrook's expedition were killed by the Shades, Swiftrook himself seems to have barely survived.

"Their eyes! They see me! Like dull emerald orbs, their eyes perceive me. I am frozen in place. One pair grips my soul. Another looks as well. And another. More and more can see me hiding! I rise in my spot. I hear cries of pain as my companions react. Suddenly... they are around me. A Shade suddenly appears next to me. I watch in horror... its long, graceful fingers reach out to touch my companion. The old man Riggs twitches violently! The shade’s touch bore into the man’s forehead... he falls to his knees...

[...]

Poor Riggs and Foeman... I run and can only watch as their bodies shake and scream for mercy. The shades converge on them... their flesh melts away to reveal the same inky blackness underneath. The shades devour them. They become one.

[...]

My shoulder is cold. I was hurt. Like a dagger of ice under my skin. I was touched. The shades tasted me. Gods.

Why does the world look so grey...?"

The Shades appear to be cunning, at least in some sort of mindless predatory fashion like that inkling of intelligence which exists in wolves and in other such beasts. Whether or not they feed or simply add to their numbers with this deadly touch is unknown.

"We can divine very little based on Swiftrook's observations. He was obviously in a state of panic when he wrote what he did. He may very well have been dying, or going mad. What we can conclude from Swiftrook's journals and later notes by Syras Kelweather is that the creatures inhabiting these ruins are not natural. Neither are they the result of magical tampering, such as with meph'guóur or their ilk, but something else entirely.

Most closely, they resemble the stories of the Shadow Elves, the Móh'rhím of Fá'áv'cál'âr. However, taking into consideration the history of the area, these may very well be the spirits of those inhabitants of the city, the ancient Ae'es'th'er'oc, the dark elves who conquered the city and any foolish or unlucky enough to run afoul of it since.

The influence of the Netherworld is unusually strong in this region, we have several places where it seems to bleed into Caael'heroth like ink seeping through paper, Chaos Rifts. The Deep Winds Portal at Osthemangar, the Mists surrounding it, the Shadespell Gorge and Cort'Mangar.

Whatever these creatures are, they are not living, rather they seem to be caught between Caael'heroth and the Netherworld, much like a fly trapped between window panes."

-- Vekarn Kha’mal, Discussions on the North

Kha'mal, a Volkek-Oshra demonologist, has published several treatises on the precise nature of the various phenomenon around Caael'heroth. His earlier work, "Ineffable Madness" garnered support among scholars to the theory that the nature of Cort'Mangar lies with the Netherworld.

The Osther-Oc believe them to be the spirits of the orcish warriors that inhabited the city, punished for angering the land and cursed to keep all creatures from it for eternity, and share this belief with the Kaaer'dár'shín half orcs. Return to the top

Climate. The weather surrounding Cort’Mangar can hardly be called such. Like much of western Caaehl'heroth, the ruins are perpetually shrouded in cloudy greyness. It does not rain or snow about Cort’Mangar, nor does the wind blow, making the soundless air seem strangely dead.

This becalmed aura extends for six or seven strals in every direction from the ruins, leaving the ground cold, dusty and desolate. A perpetual black fog lies on the ruins themselves, obscuring the ground from easy inspection, and wreathing the towers like fell smoke.

The air is biting cold, and only grows colder as the approach of the city continues. No wind touches Cort’Mangar, nor its coast, and sea-faring vessels daren't approach it for fear of becoming becalmed. Time behaves oddly within the Desolation, twisting and knotting, warping like wood left to dry. There is no discernible pattern to how this behaves, days can last blinks of the eye, or blinks stretch on endlessly until they seem to be days in ending. The air smells of cold and faintly of decay, despite any flesh in the city having rotted away aeons ago. Return to the top

Mythology. Fragment of Dinali text, recovered near the orcen ruin of Ogh ca. 730 b.S. "And we fled to the sea, we crossed it and came to land, and were driven back into the sea by monsters."

Osther-Oc Oral History (transcribed and translated from Kh'omchr'om by Tharoc Wargrider):

In the days of our grandsires' grandsires, vermin came to the land. The clans fought them, but they could not kill all the vermin, weak as they were, for they were too many.
To keep the vermin from their lands, the clans built a fortress. They built its walls high and strong. They called it "of the Dark Claw", and there they made camp.
The clans killed the vermin, drove them back across the mountains and thought them crushed and dead and returned to their camps, never more to cross the mountains.
But the vermin returned, and brought more with them.
And music of battle sounded on the plains and the spirits rose up, angered by the blood of the vermin.
The angered spirits tore open the land, and made it barren and drove orc and vermin both from it.
And in their anger, the spirits cursed the fortress. They tore down its walls and broke its camps and killed its peoples.
They cursed its people to keep all from it, and to walk the land for as long as stone is hard and water is wet.
And the cursed warriors died and rose up, clothed in the night.
Their faces were the night, and they rose and kept the land from vermin and from orc. Return to the top

 History. Author's Note: Information derived from old Injerin records, orcen oral histories and from scrolls recovered by Saryas Kelweather.

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THE ERA OF SUNDERING
(YEARS 11.900 B.S. - 10.000 B.S.)
ca. 11700 b.S. Dark Elves and Orcs Migrate North
Dark elves and orcs migrate north together to Caaehl'heroth to conquer unknown lands. The dark elves prove superior and no longer share power with the orcs and begin enslaving them to be used as laborers and mercenaries. The orcs call themselves the Ae'es'th'er'oc clan and become subjugated under dark elven rule for the next several centuries.
  

ca. 11500 b.S. The Deep Winds Portal is Built
Accounts are few and much of the origins of the tower is steeped in myth, but it is generally believed by some scholars that the tower of Osthemangar was built sometime after Fá'áv'cál'âr was destroyed and the elves moved north. The exact nature of the construction is not known, but some believe that dark dwarves had a hand in it. Most likely, the portal was built as a means for the dark god Coór to enter the world of Caelereth, bringing forth his dark armies with him.

The Mists is believed to have come about at this time also. Once the portal was opened, the Netherworld atmosphere seeped into the world corrupting it.
  

ca. 11000 b.S. Invasion of the Dinali
The Dinali migrate and settle the Peninsula of Kru'ul and begin incursions into the Peninsula of Aden across the Ice Sea. They come into contact with the dark elves and Ae'es'th'er'oc. A war begins over territory as the human Dinali attempt to move east across the Aden Peninsula.
  

ca. 10150 b.S. The City of Cort'Mangar is Built
The fortress city of Cort'Mangar (originally orcen "Cortem'Angarek") is built as a defense against the Dinali barbarians. The city is built using strong stone works mined from a nearby chasm. The dark elves use ancient magic to help build the city and construct high towers within.

THE ERA OF SORCERY
(YEARS 10.000 B.S. - 9.500 B.S.)
ca. 9600 b.S.
to 9500 b.S.
The Rise of Eckra the Cruel
A powerful Archmage known as Eckra the Cruel builds Tak'Dinal Keep in the region which should later be known as the Forbidden Zone. Eckra slowly expands his domain until he is the sole master of the peninsula he is in. Eckra builds more armies to crush the orcen and dark elven warriors in Caaehl'heroth. The Dinali are reinforced with fresh troops while the orcs and dark elves retreat into Cort'Mangar for one last stand.

THE ERA OF CATACLYSM
(YEARS 9.500 B.S. - 8.500 B.S.)
ca. 9500 b.S.
to 9000 b.S.
The War of the Chosen
The War of the Chosen devastates much of Caelereth, including Caaehl'heroth. One of the largest battles thought to have been fought during this war was centered around Cort'Mangar.
  

ca. 9450 b.S. Humans and Icelanders Join the War in the East
The humans in the Stone Fields of Peat and the Icelands are forced to enter the War of the Chosen as mercenaries for the sorcerers. They are used in battles and magic experiments as expendable material and they prove to be hardy yet undisciplined warriors.
  

ca. 9023 b.S. The Battle of the Winds
A great battle between the four most powerful archmages in Northern Sarvonia takes place at this time. It ends with the unleashing of incredible forces that rip the land apart and create what is now know as the Eight Winds Bay. It is also said that the archmages and their armies are destroyed when the sea rushes in to fill the gaping wound they made in the earth.
ca. 9023 b.S.
to 9000 b.S.
Years of Cleansing
With the death of the archmages at the Battle of Winds, this makes it much easier for the combined races to throw off their shackles of servitude and cleanse the land of the remaining acolytes of human magic, and the last armies of the archmages. These years are marked by the use of elven Xeuá magic, to heal the wounds the archmages created.
THE ERA OF CONSOLIDATION
(YEARS 8.500 B.S. - 3.400 B.S.)
ca. 7500 b.S. The Shadespell Gorge is Born
Eventually, long after the Portal is built and after the War of the Chosen, the Netherworld instability finally reaches its climax and a one huge earthquake rocks the region. The Netherworld energies burst forth from the crack and suck in all living life nearby, including Cort'Mangar. The orcs and dark elves likely are caught by surprise and are turned into hideous living shadows in a matter of a few blinks. The city falls apart, towers crumble and thousands of inhabitants are lost.
  

ca. 4700 b.S. The Year of Ghosts
Injerín records and orcish oral history report strange, unnatural weather out of the north-west from across the Sea of Tears. Storms the carry the sounds of battle, unnatural wailing and screaming in the wind and a persistent smell of death in the air occur almost monthly for a year before suddenly disappearing.

THE AGE OF AWAKENING
(YEARS 1.655 B.S. - 822 B.S.)
ca. 1000 b.S. Erpheronian Explorer Marvan Swiftrook Discovers Cort’Mangar
Shortly before his disappearance in the Mists, Marvan Swiftrook discovers the Shadespell Gorge and the city of Cort’Mangar. His discovery and narrow escape from the Shades slowly drives him mad. His journal tells of a mysterious people that live in the city now completely overrun with shadow and Netherworld presence.

THE AGE OF DISCOVERY
(YEARS 1.144 A.S. - 1.440 A.S.)
ca. 1.200
to 1.300
Swiftrook's Journal recovered by Kaer'dar'shin Mist Hunters
A group of Mist Hunters recovers Marvan Swiftrook's journal from a G'hun'Morta-Oc in the Mists. This journal would later find its way into the hands of Syras Kelweather and from there into the possession of the Santharian Dream.
  

ca. 1.400 Syras Kelweather rediscovers Cort'Mangar
Syras Kelweather rediscovers Cort'Mangar by way of a bridge over the end of the Shadespell Gorge and observes the creatures Swiftrook called "Shades".

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Footnotes.

[1] The compendiumist has attempted to maintain scholarly neutrality by avoiding subscription to any of the dozen theories as to the cause of the opening of the Shadespell Gorge. [Back]

 Date of last edit 5th Rising Sun 1670 a.S.

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