THE KATKARA MINING STATION

DESCRIPTION - LOCATION - PEOPLE - COAT OF ARMS - CLIMATE - FLORA
FAUNA - RESOURCES - MYTH/LORE  - PRODUCTION/TRADE - HISTORY

East of the "Dragon City", Karakan, lies a small mining village of Katkara, famous for its massive exports of gold, iron ore and, in lesser quantities, other significant minerals. As any visitor to this mining centre is sworn before the Black Altar to never speak of anything they might have seen within its walls, information concerning Katkara is at best sketchy; certainly not enough to provide a decent description. The Compendium, however, has acquired a collection of myths pertaining to this strange settlement through a generous donation of the Asaen family, from which our scholars hope to bring together a rough description of the place and its inhabitants. This entry will attempt to dispell at least some of the thick mysteries surrounding Katkara.

Description. The first and probably the only thing you will see when riding pass Katkara are the walls of the village. They surround the village for almost three hundred peds in a shape of a semi-circle; there are almost dozen of towers on the mountain slopes which are connected with tight tracks on which Katkarian soldiers march seriously. The towers are carved into the mountain itself, with low wooden doors and one window on the second floor. On each of the tower’s crown’s is a guard with a bow and several torches. The purpose of these towers is probably to overlook at the slopes and to prevent any trespassers from looking behind the thick walls of Katkara. These walls are simple stone made blocks which are incredibly thick and about fifty peds high, which is quite unusual for a mining station. There are five towers on the walls which are decorated in aurium. On the crowns of each of the towers a banner greets the wind, the banner represents a scarlet dragon with the Black Altar in its roaring mouth, the background, as with all other villages throughout the Dragon’s Back region, is golden in colour. The gates, which represent the very peak in Katkarian outer architecture, are purely made out of iron. In the gates, a dragon’s head is carved in natural size and length, when the gates open the head splits in two.

Behind the gate, you can see a black peak, the peak of the obelisk-shaped Black Altar. The Altar is about sixty peds high and is darker than the night itself, the legends surrounding this altar are mainly connected with the Dragon Lord, it is said that Seras, created it out of purest aurium, which was then coated by black iron (therefore the name "Black Altar"), and gave it to Katkarians for reasons only the God of War could know. The Karakanites were somewhat jealous on Katkarians for this gift because they thought of themselves as Dragon Lord’s favourites.

Although no recent description of the inner side of Katkara is available to the
Compendium, some earlier information can be extracted from rewrites of official documents of colonization, written and signed around 3484 b.S. by the Twin Kingdom’s supervisor for the Dragon’s Back Region Baer Saes, which describe the early foundations of the village of Katkara and the creation of the settlement itself.

"When we came here from Twofold, we came to a barren land, dry and windswept. We named the gap, which was the only entrance to the valley, the Resonant Gap. The slopes of the mountains are lower here and a small creek is running somewhere at the northern end of the valley. Western side is dotted by cliffs and large, sharp rocks which will probably serve as a good wind cover for future nearby structure. I send some men to follow the creek; it seems to be running towards the great river flowing west from here past the build site of Karakan. The land around the creek seems workable and we do have a fresh water source so as soon as we get some workers around we can start to build a colony..."

-- Extraction from Official Documents of Colonization of Zhun, dated around 3484 b.S.

"The foundations of the colony are running smoothly, already there are six large sleeping tents put up around the creek and one kitchen tent is set up in the middle. After careful explorations of the area we found out and made some building plans for walls and future buildings. On higher mountain slopes, overlooking the gap, we discovered a couple of large rocks which looked like towers, “Fang Towers”; it would be easy to connect them with a wall. [...] The messenger brought a letter from Twofold, the financial support we requested has been denied. It may be allowed if we make this colony worth of establishing. Frankly I don’t see anything we can use here, except of the little farming ground we have, and I cannot count on military use of this colony because Karakan already took that role..."

-- Extraction from Official Documents of Colonization of Zhun, dated around 3483 b.S.

"Four of five promised support wagons with supplies have finally come. The gold we discovered years ago has made this place to light up of activity. Much of government officials are already here and I was already relieved of commanding the building process of this colony. The colony is decided to be named Katkara. The walls are currently being built and, inside, the stone village hall is near completion. This two story house will serve as a centre of administration for Katkara and will be the headquarters for the village council. [...] I’ve been given a place in the village’s council, but I declined [...] and farming fields are getting expanded to suit the people’s need for food. Stone and wood houses are spreading all over the valley. These small homes will serve as a place of living for two dozen of miners that will work in the mines. [...] Mining guild’s officials are already in few new dug out mining halls underground and are researching the best way to start digging further. What really impresses me are the mining tunnels (some say they even spread to Karakan) the forms of rocks in there are truly amazing. You would think that they would like to tell the very history of the world, I’ve seen carefully carved fortresses with great towers and walls; I’ve seen mountains and seas, coasts and waves, cliffs and bays; I’ve seen strict but kind faces in the stone as if someone carved all of that in there [...] Although we expected to find gold ore while mining the mountain we only found iron, aurium and other minerals, but none as worthy as gold..."

-- Extraction from Official Documents of Colonization of Zhun, donated by the Asaen family, originally this part of the Documents was hidden and kept secret (a part of this entry is still missing) dated around 3475.b.S.

It is still unknown what would Katkarians want to hide in the walls of their village but some speculations are brought up by Emperor Dearan in his famous work “A Zhunite Sunset”, which were written before his first visit to the mines of Katkara, where he describes his thoughts about mysteries of the village and the meaning of the Black Altar oath.

“As an Appraiser I have to listen to the people and as such I have heard a lot of tales about the “terrible”, “amazing” and even “amusing” mines of Katkara and these tales are often illogical and even more often irrational. But as a researcher or purely out of curiosity I gathered some of those tales, extracted details and conducted researches to find out the truth about Katkara. What I came up with is these two stories and/or theories:

The Tomb of Seras, the Dragon Lord: the Religious Conflict. Around the year 3500.b.S., the Twin Kingdom, following the prophecy of the famous Stone Caster Xhin’áktár expanded towards the east, towards the unexplored lands of Zhun. A couple of months later Priestess Xhin had another vision: “Seek the silver serpent through the seaside and pursue it to the stones of the Spirit”. Thus two parties were formed, one of them, later called the Northern Pursuit, had been caught in a war between two largest nomadic tribes of the Zhunite plains. The ones who escaped from this conflict ended up in Kimbar, the grandest city they had seen so far on Zhun. On the day of their departure from this city they were greeted by a young warrior who promised to guide them into the Promised Land if they would agree to build a fortress in his name. The Oracle of Kimbar advised the Pursuit that this man was Dragon Lord Seras himself, the Zhunite God of War. After about a month of travel up the great river Kimb, the Northern Pursuit led by Seras came to the source of Kimb were they’ve built Karakan, a fortress in Dragon Lord’s name. What is not said in this myth is what happened to the Dragon Lord after Karakan was built.

As I have written, the tales concerning this are almost impossible to imagine, although they are not as rare as one may think. An elderly peasant in Ktsarmashik told me of possible explanation to Katkara’s secrets:

The month after Karakan was completely built Seras simply disappeared. No one knew what happened and the priests of the Dragon Lord had announced that Seras went to the heavens to forever guide the Karakan’amar to their destinies. The people were thrilled, that they found a home and that their god would always watch upon them, but sad, that they physically lost their only great leader. On the same week Baer Saes, the supervisor for the Dragon’s Back Region, came to Karakan claiming that he is here to found a new colony. On the next morning a caravan head out of the Dragon City, containing several wagons which were guarded, aside from supervisor’s men, by Karakanite soldiers and a few priests. Although the people considered the fact that some priests will accompany the caravan odd, this was explained by the high activity of nomadic tribes in the area. The legend claims that the caravan contained the body of Seras. After arriving at the Katkara building site the company, counting over three hundred men, started to build Seras a tomb in Katkaran natural caves that they found there. It was said that tomb was the greatest tomb ever built, and that the tunnels reached to the other side of Dragon’s Back mountains and had a secret exit there.

The tomb itself is rumoured to be gargantuan, as in size thus in splendour, a thousand stone pillars supported the mountain roof. The heads of dragons carved within these pillars shed an everlasting light (these were probably torches which the priests changed according to the torches’ lifespan) and beyond these lights, a million red stones on each pillar gave an atmospheric weak red light all over the cave. The grave itself is supposed to be on a balcony, high above the floor, under a statue of a great dragon with his wings spread, mouth opened, prepared to throw fire on everyone who is not allowed to be in this magnificent place. Already from the gates of the village you could see the Katkarian temple, much like that of Karakan, although smaller in size. The entrance to the temple is supposed to consist of massive iron gates, carved with various events dating from the meeting in Kimbar, through the bonfire and the appearance of the High Goddesses themselves to founding of Karakan and Seras’ burial, what is odd, though, is that Dragon Lord is inscribed as a great dragon and not as a young warrior (the second version is accepted by the Karakan’amar). The priests of this temple (the ones that attended and conducted Seras’s funeral) first took the original name of their Karakan brothers (the Wardens of the Dragon) but after later mentioned conflict they changed it to the Wardens of the Dragon’s Truth.

The citizens of Katkara guarded the Dragon’s Secret for years, but not until the middle of the Krean-Viaquis war that the secret of Katkara was, supposedly, first uncovered. The Krean authorities demanded that each colony gives a share of soldiers for the war against the Viaquis. As the Krean have failed to collapse the fragile alliance between Viaquis rajas from within the Karakan’amar considered the war already lost so they meant to send just a few troops to honour their allegiance towards the Twin Kingdom. Katkara also sent a troop of soldiers to aid their Krean superiors. During the Katkarian stay in Karakan, just before leaving for the battlefield the secret of Seras’ burial was uncovered, although, strangely, no one knows how or why. Anyway, the Karakans were insulted by denying their god’s divinity and, as stubborn as they are, sent a little army to prove the Katkarians that they will defeat the Viaquis all by themselves and thus show that, by presenting Karakan’s allegiance to the Dragon Lord, Seras himself, not just his avatar and that he filled their spirits with the greatest warfare abilities the Zhunite plains will ever know.

The Viaquis were eventually driven back, but not without notable territorial loss, and Karakan soldiers played a significant role in this victory, but did the Karakan’amar prove their god’s divinity? Was Seras actually a god or just a prophet of the Goddesses? Although this kind of mixing of both nations (Krean and Zhunite) religions is not quite possible due to the cultural and territorial differences that existed at that time, but even now Karakanites believe in their Dragon Lord and the religious gap that once existed between Karakan’amar and Katkarians is currently narrowed by the bonds of the Grand Empire of Krath.

What does not fit in this myth is the mining prosperity Katkara has today, along with the “Official Documents of Colonization of Zhun”, especially the entries written by Baer Saes which clearly state that Katkara’s purpose was strictly mining. Another suggestion is that within the tomb, there were some tunnels that served for mining which were greatly exploited so that no one ever suspects the true function of Katkara, the entries in the Documents could be false, while the real documents could be held by the very zenith of Twin Kingdom’s political elite and the reason of this secrecy was to prevent a civil war in times of the Viaquis invasion, when the Krean’s treasury could not support the loss of another military outpost (Karakan) and a valuable mining colony (Katkara).

The Fortress of Thousand Fangs: the “Earned” Riches. The next myth is telling us about political reason behind the secrecy of Katkara. We can find its beginnings at the start of the Viaquis invasion of the Krean lands in 3470 b.S. During this conflict the Krean were forced to use their money to hire other nations armies to defend their lands, and the Krean lands that were already under siege tried to transport their wealth northwards to save it from the jealous Viaquis. It is supposed that one of these shipments, in fear from the Viaquis looting party that entered deep into the Twin Kingdom’s territory, has fled through Qualaris lands and reached Karat Silhadhor, a new Krean city which was then in the building process. The looting party was eventually caught down and executed and, according to legends and stories, the shipment was considered lost. But the caravan lived safely in the new-found city and they didn’t plan to return the riches to the Krean, so they decided to start a new life in the newly-colonized lands of Zhun.

After several years of exile some people were suspecting the wealth of the strangers and they were forced to leave Karat Silhadhor in a search for a new home, some people in the city joined the party for they promised them “riches beyond their imagination”. What’s surprising, though, is that they met Baer Saes, the Krean supervisor for the Dragon’s Back Region, who was coming back to Katkara after his short visit to his family in Twofold. Although he was relieved from supervising the colony of Katkara, he was still appointed an administrative role in the village (note that he originally rejected the proposal for a place in the village council, some stories, like this one, tell otherwise). Along with Supervisor Saes the party went to Katkara. After their arrival in the mining village it suddenly started to export gold as a raw material and as jewellery (even now Katkara is famous for its jewellery of precious minerals). The stories tell that during the II. Krath’s engagement in the Krean war against Viaquis and during the Twin Kingdom’s emergence from the depths of economical crisis (which happened shortly after the beginning of the war with Viaquis), around the year 3300 b.S., some, very brave from the Viaquis side, rides into Krean territory were committed where there was lots of treasure stolen. The strangest thing was that each time Krean pursuit parties followed the trail it ran towards the lands of Zhun and after each of those raids, Katkara started to export more and more precious resources.

When the Viaquis were beaten, the second Krath Empire renewed the trade routes running through the Twin Kingdom’s remaining lands. The momentary peace gave a chance for the Empire to discover the bandits who stole numerous shipments of precious resources. The force sent towards the lands of Zhun wasn’t very large, its primary mission was to locate and disable the bandits (the Katkarians were the main suspects) from ever entering the Krath Empire's territory. During this peace period the supposed “Katkarian Outlaws” were operating in Zhun, stealing cattle, farm fields, there are rumours that they were involved in several kidnapping cases, but the local militia was unable to stop them. The Krath reinforcements came just in time for Krean authorities in Zhun, with the help of some locals, occasional eyewitness and a bit of luck the Empire's troop reached the walls of Katkara in intention of discovering the secret behind the missing Krean treasure. What the Krathrians found in the village was at least surprising if not shocking: the village was abandoned! Each richly decorated, house was empty and the entrance to the mines was buried by large heavy rocks. But the troop refused to leave they dug and dug through the mountain and in one month time, they reached the caves of Katkara, but the surprises did not stop there. After careful examination of the mines, several sub-tunnels were found which were not mining tunnels. Each of those few tunnels was sealed with sturdy stone and metal doors. The Krathrians were not in the mood of staying in the village for another month or even several months so they just quit the search for the bandits and returned to the Empire.

Later on another conflict on the vast peninsula of Shar started, and with the new alliance between Krath Empire and the Viaquis, the jungles seemed a bit too dangerous for a few hundred “bandits” of Katkara.

How did Katkarians just disappear? And why? Do they have something or someone to hide? What is supposed, though, is that under Katkara people of Karat Silhadhor along with their new Krean allies and Baer Saes’ group built a smaller version of their ex-home and from it they attacked Krean, Krathian and Zhunite caravans passing through Dragon’s Back Region and they even got involved in the Krean-Viaquis war, but they chose a side that’s neither Krean or Viaquis. These legends say that “Bandits of Katkara” pilled up such a treasure that all Katkarians could live peacefully for the rest of their lives, that the grandchildren of their grandchildren could live a fine life. But my guess is that when an earthquake shook the region (in 2806 b.S.), not only Karakan was harmed but Katkarian mines collapsed (Katkara stopped exporting iron and other resources in that period) and with them the secret fortress fell. Why do Katkarians keep it a secret now? That’s probably because they’ll have to return the treasures they have stored for centuries to its rightful owners, the Krean.

-- Dearan Asaen’s "A Zhunite Sunset, Tome 4: The Northern March", Chapter III, Dawn Over the Sleeping North; Section: Introduction: A Northern Cascade, Subdivision: The Voyage Through Dragon's Back, Appendix: The Mysteries of Katkara

This part of the Zhunite Sunset was written by Emperor Dearan Asaen before his first visit to Katkara’s mines. Later on he added another paragraph about his view on the mysteries of the village and the meaning of the Black Altar Oath.

"The reader will notice that of all the entries in these tomes, those on Katkara are the only ones I have not corrected as subsequent visits continued to refine my initial observations. The more I visit Katkara, the clearer my conviction of the soundness of the oath of silence before the Black Altar becomes. Hence I have decided - after hours of deliberation, agonized by that unique frustration of reluctance, I must confess - that the secret I had sought so fervently in my early days as an Appraiser I shall now not reveal. Katkara must remain a mystery." Return to the top

Location. The Mining Station of Katkara is located in the south-western Nybelmar, on north of the Moredein Palantith Zhunit (plains of Zhun) in the Dragon’s Back region, north of Ktsarmashik, east of the Dragon city Karakan and north of the great river Kimb. Return to the top

People. Although one may think that people of Katkara are bound to forever live in their village’s walls and don’t speak to outsiders, you may occasionally find a Katkarian farmer or miner talking and laughing with his friends from nearby villages. On the contrary to Karakan’amar (“Those who dwell in Karakan”) Katkarians still hold the traditions and looks of the Krean, although their tender light skin is turning darker under the effects of the Zhunite sun. The Katkaran population is mostly made of miners and farmers, although they have to have people of other occupations because the villagers rarely make contact with the outer world. Couple of dozen soldiers serve as a militia to protect the village’s order which is quite unnecessary because the small population of the village prevents the development of any kind of criminal. The soldiers' duties are more of territory guarding nature, they consist of driving out intruders and trespassers. Return to the top

Coat of Arms/Sign. As in the other villages all around Dragon’s Back, Katkara uses a dragon as a symbol to the village. The Katkarian dragon holds the Black Altar in its opened mouth and the colour of the dragon (scarlet) and the background (golden) is same as in Karakan, Serekeye or Ktsarmashik. Return to the top

Climate. Katkaran valley shares pretty much the same climate as the rest of the Zhunite plains. The only difference is in stronger winds that come tumbling down the valley slopes and the Resonant gap. Return to the top

Flora. The flora around Katkara is pretty scarce, with few black oak trees and low bushes, mostly redberry, this is mostly because the land around the village is barren and the only water source is the Baer creek which runs through the valley. On the higher mountains slopes, we can find some sanhrix pines and a low layer of grass. The ground around the station is unworkable; this is the reason why Katkarians cultivate their plants inside the walls. Return to the top

Fauna. The lack of flora is diminishing the fauna of Katkarian valley. Although on the higher slopes of the mountain you could rarely find some elver elks and small rodents like kuatu or mice. Of insects you can find a whole lot of spiders and arachnids such as cave spiders, the main reason for a large population of spiders is more than twice their number of all kinds of flies. Return to the top

Resources. As a mining colony Katkara is main exporting village for iron, mostly black, it is also one of the main acquirer of opals in south-western Nybelmar. Also, during the later colonization of Zhun, Katkara was known as an important source of all kinds of materials, which were transporetd to other colonies around the Plains, such as Marrmarra, or even smaller villages like Serekeye or Ktsarmashik.

Gold is mined in large quantities along with aurium ore. Due to the harsh winds and bad soil, growing crops is hard or even impossible task to perform, that’s why Katkarians rely on cattle as their main source of food. Return to the top

Production/Trade. As Katkarians do not get out of their village much, they must rely on trade with other settlements in Dragon’s Back, so they like to import agricultural products (wheat, corn, grape wines) and cattle (mostly sheep, goats, pigs).

The jewellery industry is highly developed in the village, Katkara is famous for its golden necklaces decorated with opals. Katkara trades with other villages mostly in iron and other metals. The private traders from Karakan often buy aurium and marble, which are pretty cheap in Katkara, to sell them for a higher price in Evansos or some other settlement.
Return to the top

Myth/Lore. There are thousands of small and large myths, legends, stories, tales and other non-narrative things. The only thing we know about Katkara is extracted from these myths, you could say that this whole village is a myth for itself. Return to the top

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THE ERA OF MYTHS
(YEARS 4.300 B.S. - 3.170 B.S.)
3485 b.S. The Expedition From Twofold
An expedition, counting around a hundred men and women, sets out of Twofold. Its leader Baer Saes wants to found a colony in still wild and mainly unsettled lands of Zhun. During the trip to Karakan the expedition gets larger by population of newly founded small farming communities as people hope to live a better life in the promised colony.
  

3484 b.S. The Founding of Katkara
Saes' expedition, tired of searching the land for a perfect colony, settles to east of Karakan. Harsh conditions and no promised prosperity chases most of the settlers away to Karakan, leaving Baer Saes with about fifty men and a hope for the support of the Twin Kingdom.
  

3483 b.S. Rejected Plead
An appeal towards the Krean authorities, asking for more manpower and resources, is rejected, forcing Saes' men to find a good reason why this new colony should be built.
  

3479 b.S. The Gold
It is assumed but not confirmed that during this year, gold is found somewhere around the borders of the colony.
  

3477 b.S. Recognition
The prosperous Twin Kingdom, aroused by the news of finding the golden ore, sends much needed resources to Baer Saes in five large caravans. It is said that these caravans contain enough resources to build a large mining facility, let alone a small mining village. It is a mystery, still, where all those resources go and another odd thing is that around 3477 Karakan firstly starts to exploit its mines with new mining equipment.
  

3475 b.S. The Completion
Newly constructed mining colony of the Twin Kingdom is finally completed. The walls are erected around the village with the claim that "the prosperity of the Krean should be protected from the always-preying eyes of the Zhunite tribes". The access to the village is forbidden for only Katkarians can enjoy in their riches. This declaration caused unrests among the people but the swift action of the Krean military prevents mutiny.
  

ca. 3470 b.S.
to 3100 b.S.
War Significance
The colony's importance for the Twin Kingdom is best proven in its significance during the Krean war with Viaquis rajas and all other conflicts, mainly with their war against Evaquis and the Empire of Krath. Katkara's resources are spent on improvement of the army and acquiring new and improved weapons and armour from Katkra's rich stock of aurium and iron. As people see the riches that fill Katkarian treasury they want to be included in this payable business. In interest of protecting the secrets of Katkara, the Black Altar arises. No one knows how or when, it just appears there over the night and with it the Black Altar oath which protects the secrets of Katkara even until this day.

THE CURRENT AGE
(YEARS 2.970 B.S. - 1.667 A.S.)
2701 b.S. The Collapse of the Mines
A massive earthquake hits the rich Katkarian mines, which significantly reduces the export of minerals. The Katkarian economy greatly fumbles which forces the secretive Katkarians to rely on the outer world. During these long years, along with rebuilding of the mines, Katkarians have to work in the fields and take care of the cattle (which is considered menial compared to mining) to earn their living.
  

1941 b.S. Zhunite Upspring
It is rumoured that, although the villagers of Katkara proclaim their independence to the Grand Empire of Krath, some villagers serve as imperial spies and that fact enables the Empire to find out some useful information about the rebellion efforts in Karakan and Katkara.

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 Date of last edit 27th Passing Clouds 1667 a.S.

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