According to the records of the Kaer kept in the Hall of Time, Daralon was a prosperous town nestled in a mountain valley in the Theran province of Barsaive. It subsisted mostly on farming the valley area and selling some of the famed Daralon ironwork and pottery worked from clay taken from the riverbanks. The inhabitants of the town paid their tithes to the Theran Overgovenor and their dues for the Rites of Protection and Passage that have allowed them to survive the Scourge.
Kaer Daralon was built over the course of three generations in the mountain caves above the valley. Much of the work was done by the master Elf elementalist and builder Dianuus. The natural caverns were expanded and strengthened by elemental magic, all laid out in accordance with the Theran plan. When the early signs of the Scourge came to the Daralon valley, the people entered the kaer and the wards were sealed to wait out the Long Night.
That was 498 years ago. It is now the fifteen hundred and sixth year since the founding of the Kingdom of Throal. More than fifteen generations have lived and died in the confines of the kaer, waiting and watching the elemental clock designed by Eternal Thera to tell when the time of the Scourge would be over. Fifty years ago, the sphere of True Earth stopped its descent towards the bowl of True Water.
This unexpected development has resulted in considerable debate and discussion among the leaders of the kaer, but thus far they have erred on the side of caution. The Therans predicted that the Scourge would last as long as another century, but there is a growing belief in the kaer that something terrible has happened and that the Scourge will never end. Some of the people have begun to despair that the end will never come and there is an edge of madness to life in Kaer Daralon.
The people of the kaer remain hidden deep in the earth, watching, waiting and hoping for some sign that the Long Night has ended.
The History of the Kaer
Kaer Daralon was created by the people of the town of Daralon and the inhabitants of its surrounding farms and villages. The kaer was designed to hold all of the inhabitants of the mountain valley where the town stood. This included a village of T’skrang from the nearby river as well as several Troll clans from the high mountains. Members of six different races dwell in the kaer, so there was some friction at first. Minor incidents of violence and conflict arose and were harshly delt with by the kaer’s ruling council.
In the final days before the closing of the kaer, a party of adventurers arrived in Daralon. They claimed to be fleeing from horrors they had encountered in the foothills of the Caucavic Mountains. The elders of Daralon took this as a sign of the time to seal the kaer. The party of adepts took shelter there as well.
One of the adepts who settled in the kaer was the Ork swordmaster Kilas Tarn. Ill at ease with a life of confinement, Tarn began a school to pass on his discipline to others. He married a woman of Daralon and his line carried on the tradition for generations.
Some two hundred years ago, there was an outbreak of plague in the kaer that nearly doomed all of the inhabitants. Dianuus the Master-Builder, himself stricken with the plague, use his magic to cause a rockslide that buried the access tunnel to the most plague-ridden portion of the kaer. This halted spread of the plague and saved the rest of the kaer.
Dianuus and some of the other adepts of the kaer were lost in the tragedy, along with their accumulated wisdom. Some people claim-though not too loudly-that faint noises can sometimes be heard from behind the rockfall that closed off the plague tunnels and that there are ghosts or worse that still haunt those halls.
The ravages of the plague and the pressures of life within the kaer began to diminish the population of the community. So the loss of a section of the kaer did not prove overly taxing.
About fifty years ago the Council of Tweleve appointed a small group of adepts to exit the kaer and explore outside. Among them was Grella Tarn, swordswoman and descendant of Kilas Tarn, wielder of his legendary sword Truefang. The party departed throught the Guardian Gate and it was sealed behind them. They never returned. Since then, the Council and their successors has been reluctant to allow any more such expeditions.
Life in the Kaer
Life in Kaer Daralon is very routine and has been for as long as any can recall. Food is carefully rationed out morning, noon and night, usually meals of magically grown vegetables and similar staples with the occasional special celebration calling for meat or baked goods made from the kaer’s carefully protects supply of animals and grains. During the day the kaer’s adults work the lattice farms that provide food, tend to the small herds of sheep or cave lizards in their pens or provide repairs or craft work for the kaer. In the evening troubadours and storytellers read from the Book of Tomorrow and tell tales of the outside world while illusionists entertain and enlighten with their images of the world of the ancestors before the Scourge.
Kaer Daralon is ruled by the Council of Twelve, the wisest and most capable chosen from among the people. The Council represents the Twelve Passions that are venerated in the kaer. Although the Council members are not always Questors, many of them are, and they are chosen to represent their Passion’s purview on the Council. The Council makes laws, metes out justice and administers the kaer. Slavery is the typical punishment for any crime that does not merit death. Death sentences have become increasingly rare.
The other major factions of the kaer include the Swords of Daralon (usually simply known as the Swords) and the Adept’s Lodge. The Swords are a warrior sect that serves as the guardians, police and military. They generally keep the peace in the kaer and are the only people allowed to carry weapons with them routinely.
The Adept’s Lodge is made up of the kaer’s surviving adept traditions, who pass on their teachings to suitable students in anticipations of the end of the Long Night. Some Disciplines have died out or were never really represented among those in the kaer. Other disciplines, like the Scout and Beastmaster, have survived in little more than a ceremonial role, since the environments intended for them are limited in the kaer. There is some resentment by kaer residents against practioners of disciplines that are looked upon as “useless” since they don’t contribute to the survival of the community.
The Structure of the Kaer
Kaer Daralon is laid out like most kaers built under the Theran plan. There is a large central cavern, lit by a massive light quartz embedded in the roof. This cavern contains the central buildings of the kaer: the Hall of Time, the Adept’s Lodge, Council Chambers, the Temple of the Passions and the Garrison of the Swords as well as other administrative buildings. The central chambers also houses Crafter’s Row, a long row of tents and open kiosks were the people trade their humble arts and crafts. (As much to prove they are free of taint as for any love of art.)
The outer edges of the great cavern and several other caves are taken up by the lattice farms, high frameworks where the produce that feeds the kaer is grown, aided by elemental magic and the blessings of the Passions.
In the center of the cavern is a fantastic statue of the passion Garlen, sculpted from rosy living crystal by Dianuus the Builder. Radiating out from the central plaza are six narrow roads. Five are named for the True Elements and lead to the living quarters for the people. Each road leaves the plaza under a sculpted arch made from the appropriate true element and the “central square” of each living space holds a fantastic sculpture of that element made by the master-builder himself. The Fire Caves were sealed during the plague by Dianuus are have been lost for some two hundred years, but the other areas have been more than enough for the kaer’s population. The Fire Arch went out the same day is now little more than a monument of blackened coal.
The sixth road leads to a pair of orichalcum gates between two statues of fierce warriors known as the Guardian Gate. This gate leads into a maze of traps and deadfalls to the surface and the sealed entrance of the kaer.
Beneath the central cavern are deeper tunnels and caves. These were intended for population growth in the kaer, but the population has been shrinking so these areas are abandoned and left alone. Few go there save for members of the Swords or the Adept’s Lodge on some strange errand or another. Kaer-lore has it that these dark tunnels sometimes serve as meeting places for strange gatherings or other doings best hidden from the rest of the people.
The People of Daralon
Most of the population of kaer Daralon is Dwarf and Human. There are some Elves and Orks as well. Trolls and T’Skrang are the most rare and have been the worst hit by the kaer’s declining population, the T’Skrang especially so. There are only thirty-six T’Skrang remaining in the kaer-all that is left of an extended clan-and they fear that they may well die out in another few generations.
There were some Windlings in Kaer Daralon, but they died two centuries ago during the plague, only the oldest Elves still remember them.
Obsidimen are nothing more than a legend to the inhabitants of the kaer. They are mentioned in the Book of Tomorrow, but none have dwelled in Daralon, so no one in the kaer has ever seen one.
Current population of Kaer Daralon is about 3,000 Name-givers. The kaer was constructed for nearly twice that number, but the population has slowly declined over the centuries and some of the lower caverns and tunnels of the kaer have been abandoned, along with the loss of the Fire Caves. Strange subterranian creatures have sometimes been spotted in the lower tunnels and they are normally considered off-limits to the kaer’s inhabitants. There is some concern over the declining population, and some doomsayers claim that the kaer will die out before the Scourge is over.
Individuals of Note
Doria kel’Ar, human female, Questor of Garlen, Counciler and former High Sword of Daralon. Counciler Doria was once acknowledged as the most skilled warrior in Daralon with the office of High Sword, leader of the Swords of Daralon. That was many years ago and she has since retired from the ways of combat: at least with a blade. She has taken up the ways of Garlen and is still known as a tenacious “she-bear” by her opponents on the Council of Twelve. She is wise, comforting , strong-willed and well loved by the people of the kaer.
Pelgar, dwarf male, Archmage and Counciler. The archmage Pelgar is an elderly dwarf who came to his office nearly twenty years ago. He is a wizard of no small skill and oversees the activities of Daralon’s magicians, mostly to the maintenance of the kaer and the investigation of the conditions outside though so far with little success. A crotchety curmudgeon of a dwarf, he is the terror of magical apprentices-and no few adults-in the kaer.
Mabon Rus, human male, Questor of Erendis, Counciler. Counciler Mabon is a follower of Erendis, the Passion of Order and Governance, which makes him well suited for his duties on the council of Twelve. His wisdom in matters of administration is heeded by his peers and he is well known for keeping live in the kaer running smoothly. Mabon is fair but firm, with a strong reputation as a disciplinarian among the children of the kaer.
Meer’resh t’Lassor, female t’skrang, Counciler. Counciler Meer’resh is the female head of the surviving T’skrang clan in Kaer Daralon. She is fairly young for her role, the old matriarch of the clan having passed only two years ago. She is considered level-headed compared to some of her bretheren, who clammor increasingly for action from the Council. Her brother, Sethek, has also done little to aid her cause.
Netzach Kol, ork male, Master of Memory, Keeper of the Book of Tomorrow and Scholar. Netzach is nearing the age of fifty, ancient for an Ork. He credits his long life to this love of knowledge and claims that he won’t die until he knows all there is to know. He lovingly tends to the kaer’s precious stores of books, scrolls and other heirlooms in the Hall of Time. He knows all of the lore and history of Daralon and can often be found telling stories to children in the Plaza in the evenings.
Onara Stonebones, troll female, Warrior, High Sword. Captain Stonebones is the High Sword, commander of the Swords of Daralon warrior order and at skilled fighter herself. The troll warrior stands a head-and-a-helf taller than even the tallest human males of the kaer and wields her massive stone broadsword like it was a toy. Her booming laugh and good cheer make her a welcome companion and a popular leader. Onara claims that she does not involve herself in politics, concerning herself only with keeping the peace.
Sethek t’Lassor, male t’skrang, Nethermancer. The mysterious Sethek is an albino T’skrang with white scaly skin and reddish eyes. Considered an omen by his clan mother at his birth of the dying of the T’skrang within the kaer, Sethek has always had a morbid fascination with death. This, naturally, led him to become a nethermancer, which has caused the people to shun him all the more. This seems to be to the t’skrang’s liking and he contents himself with his solitary magical research, working with the kaer’s other magicians when needed but keeping mostly to himself.
Vonna Firehair, female elf, Questor of Astendar, Counciler. Counciler Vonna is in many ways the soul of social life in Kaer Daralon. As the most devoted follower of Astendar in the kaer, she is involved in all matters of art and beauty in an effort to bring cheer into the lives of the people. Some say that she is something of a busybody but most are enchanted by her wit and charm. Firehair is well known for the namesake hair of reddish-gold locks. She has been pursued by many suitors in the kaer and has taken many lovers, but has not chosen a mate. She claims to not want to be tied down at this early stage in her life, since she is not yet a century old, making her fairly young for an elf.