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.
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..."
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.
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.
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."
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.