Capital: (City State)
National Alignment: Lawful Good
Size: 75 thousand square miles
Government: Militant Theocracy
Ruler: ArchPrelate Helotodus
Law: Written Constitution
Coin: Karatikan standard
Kur Maeth is a small city-state at the mouth of the Dreneb River in Halganath. An ancient city with a foul and rotten history, she was overrun by the Fourth Crusaders. With aid from the far east, and tensioned trade with Rakore, she is an Inquisition-run city devoted to the forces of good and order. ArchPrelate Helotodus has recently taken over the city state and its areas, keeping the Ogre Nations from destroying the home he's carved out for his people. Composed of crusaders, paladins, clerics, priests, and blessed refugees, Kur Maeth is one of the holiest cities on Gaeleth, second only to Karmen in the far east.
Old even during the Shaping Wars, Kur Maeth has been built upon and then destroyed hundreds of times. It's position at the mouth of the mightiest river on Gaeleth makes it a city of some prominence, for whomever controls Kur Maeth, controls all the trade with the Laekenala Jungle, and the Avris Mountains. The current city was founded nearly nine hundred years before the Storm Wars, and served as the root of all evil in the west. Temples to Argunas, Mazripos, Milthel, and even Nathel periodically dominated the religious aspect of the city, though few probably paid much attention to whichever gods declared themselves dominant. Illicit trade, drugs from the Laekenala Jungles, slaves and slave labor, and all manner of forbidden things earned the city the name 'The Heart of Darkness', or Kur Maeth in ancient Karatikan. Not long after the Storm Wars, Kur Maeth became an extension of the Alekdan Principalities, and came to be dominated by pirates and their trade.
During the War of the Undead, the centuries of hatred and harsh death came to haunt the city. Overrun by undead, the city was then conquered by Nabrolian armies, and the undead bent to Nabrol's ferocious will. Then came the crusaders.
The Fourth Crusades had been organized from doomed Giranhad by ArchPrelate Dolf Antolin in 1310 Avard. The ArchPrelate and his backers in Karmen hoped to invade and wipe out the Ogre Nations under Supreme Ruler Itzak. Funded by the Inquisition, and aided by dozens of nations in the far east, Antolin would have set sail with close to half a million crusaders, paladins, and holy warriors to wipe out the evil and magic of the west. Word came that Giranhad would be destroyed, and quickly. The crusades became an evacuation, as space was made aboard the myriad ships and vessels for the refugees of the fated city. Many crusaders stayed behind of their own volition, becoming martyrs and heroes in death.
The crusaders set forth from Giranhad just as it sunk into the whirling vortices of the maelstroms in a flood of fire and thunderous clouds. Arriving in Kur Maeth several months later, they smote the Nabrolians with all the pent up rage at impotence they possessed. Shocking even the Nabrolians, the Yatindaran led crusaders forced the Dark God to bring in two archons to try and stop the crusaders – to no avail. ArchPrelate Dolf Antolin was killed in the fighting, though not before he slew an archon in single combat. Nominated as a saint by his successor Prelate Talon Bhramord, Antolin is still revered in the city.
Talon Bhramord had been a forward scout of the crusaders, and rose quickly to the position of ArchPrelate. Under his guidance and directorship, the city expanded to encompass a great deal of the lands nearby, and was formally established in 1319 Avard. Bhramord reinforced the navy with Nabrolian-built heavy triremes, allied himself with Rakore, received supplies and reinforcements from Karmen, and set about preparing the city to survive any siege – even one from the massing Ogre Nations. When the War of the Undead ended, Arpelos's Chosen set up a massive temple in Kur Maeth – and with the temple came a dragon. Artanus, an ancient titanium dragon of enormous size, guards the city in the air from all that would harm Kur Maeth. Coupled with the crusaders themselves, and the formidable blessings of Yatindar and the Inquisition, Kur Maeth had become a fortress of light in the dark western lands.
In 1329, against ArchPrelate Bhramord's will, the the city invaded Rakore as that nation was being invaded by the Ogre Nations. Bhramord led a schism in Kur Maeth, with those loyal to his will turning sides and aiding the Rakorans – while those that were still Inquisition-aligned were forced to flee back to Kur Maeth and appoint a new archprelate.
Land: The city-state of Kur Maeth encompasses a wide variety of lands, in a relatively small area. To the north and west lie the great Avris Mountains. The Dreneb River's mouth lies to the east of the island city, fully two hundred miles across. Across the river lie the swamps and jungles of the Laekenala Jungle. Within the foothills of the Avris Mountains, fertile farmlands and herd lands roll gently down to the river.
Use: The foothills are used for farming, cattle, and horses, and they are the most important resource of Kur Maeth. Some mining takes place in the mountains, and a great deal of exploration, hunting, and gathering takes place in the jungles.
Water: The enormous flow of freshwater from the Dreneb River, coupled with streams and run off from the Avris Mountains, gives the city-state as much water as it needs for any purpose.
Weather: Rain is a common factor in Kur Maeth, and a sunny day that does not cloud over is a rare event. In addition to the rain, the city also seems to be a magnet for bad storms, storm systems, and hurricanes from the Gulf of Teras. Some speculate that Brigain may favor the city, or even that one of his artifacts or relics lies hidden in its depths. Whatever the reason, many sunken ships lie in the river and off the coast of the city-state.
Animals: The jungles are filled with large and very dangerous creatures, ranging from diplodicii to reptilian gargantua. The native tribes there are primitive, with powerful shamans, druids, and rangers. The mountains seeth with behir, and some of the hill giants that the Nabrolians had brought in with them. The river and its tributaries are full of tanystropheus, giant elgannet beetles, constricting snakes, alligators, and even scrags.
Keynotes: A druidic grove composed of a ring of massive jungle trees lies just north of the city along the river's bank. Of particular interest is the rock island of the city itself, composed of granite and basalt, with a small part of the river keeping it away from the mainland to the west.
Backbone: The heart of the crusades is the holy warrior formally known as the 'Crusader'. Priests of considerable prominence and military training, they are the backbone of the Kur Maen military forces. Numbering in the tens of thousands, their divine worship and healing prayers, combined with their raw steel swords and chain mail, makes them a formidable force in the west. Mainly followers of Yatindar, there are also crusaders from other gods.
Cavalry: Nearly equaling their numbers are the paladins who have set about to settle the untamed lands and peoples of Kur Maeth. Armored in field plate, and armed with lances and massive chargers, only the Toomarans are more formidable in cavalry engagements. Able to heal one another and their mounts, with only their hands, much of the Kur Maen cavalry is considered nigh-unstoppable in a charge.
Artillery: Because of the plethora of good woods, Kur Maeth also sports a formidable amount of artillery. The city itself is on an island, and surrounded by trebuchets, catapults, and ballistae. Prepared for a siege by the Ogre Nations, the passes through the Avris Mountains are also heavily defended by massive artillery.
Seekers: The Seekers within Kur Maeth number several thousand, and all can be assumed to be rogues of considerable skill at infiltrating even magically defended settings.
Navy: The Kur Maen navy is formidable, as well. Stocked with Nabrolian triremes, their crews number over three-hundred each. Experienced with rounding up pirates, and patrolling the waters of the Laekenala Jungle, they are sailors and crusaders who wear studded leather and wield short swords. The triremes have formidable arsenals, complete with ballistae and battering rams, in addition to steel plating on the undersides.
Elite: The elite of Kur Maeth are a specially trained order of Paladins known as The Order of Saint Antolin. The order was founded by ArchPrelate Talon Bhramord to handle the most dangerous of missions for the Fourth Crusade, and consists of paladins from several different gods and goddesses. They wear a variety of armors and carry a variety of weapons, but they are formidable as a whole, trained as a whole, and deadly as a whole.
Mercs: Very few mercenaries work in Kur Maeth, without the scrutiny of the clerics. A high moral fiber is needed to work for the crusaders, as well, and so they rarely work inside the capital city itself. Those that can stomach the crusaders find plentiful work, either in the mountains, or in the jungles.
Special: Perhaps the most powerful weapon in the Kur Maen arsenal is an ancient titanium dragon known as Artanus. With wings nearly one hundred feet long, he is a relatively small dragon, but his formidable armor and breath weapon, combined with powerful defensive magics, makes Artanus a match for nearly any other dragon on Gaeleth. The domain of the city was decided as being the radius of Artanus' flight in a day from the temple to Arpelos on the main island of the city. It should be noted that Artanus is also a specialty priest of Arpelos. Also because of Kur Maeth's role in the Fourth Crusades, a number of Disciples of various gods reside in the city. Their presence could turn the tide of war, particularly the Disciples of Rahne, Mikindim, and Habrem.
Citizenry: The majority of the citizens of the Kur Maen area have little military training, but the crusaders are making inroads at teaching a mass militia. Every male citizen can be considered a warrior.
Assignments: Small patrols frequent the lands of Kur Maeth, but larger forts are arrayed in the passes through the Avris Mountains. Several forts exist along the northern edge of Kur Maen control, as well as within the jungles themselves. The vast majority of the Fourth Crusaders can be found in Kur Maeth itself.
Philosophy: Kur Maens are generally a hard-working, faithful lot that put the common good above their own. Militant, they also are quick to judge, and call priests in to deal with any matter they cannot themselves decide. As a theocracy, faith and indoctrination are the mainstay of its people.
Languages: The dominant language in Kur Maeth is the Common trading tongue, because of the variety of backgrounds and nationalities. Between any two people in Kur Maeth, the odds are against them speaking the same national language, unless of course their national language is the Common tongue. Though a majority of the people are actually from Giranhad, Giranhad itself was a hodgepodge of languages and cultures because of its trading port status on the Aboriac Sea.
Classes: The Fourth Crusaders are very respective of individual rights, particularly among dwarves and humans. The various churches, of course, are the mainstay of Kur Maen life, and hold the highest and most respected positions. There is also a small amount of feudal control, particularly among the outlying districts of the city-state.
Taboos: No Kur Maen can pass a church or temple without making a gesture of respect – usually a small circular symbol over their heart. Because of their status as Fourth Crusaders, men cannot look upon a nude or semi-nude woman – nor can a man or a woman be left alone together in a room unless they are family or married.
Commonlaws: Theft is met with swift and fair justice from paladins and priests alike, as the Church of Yatindar has jurisdiction in all things legal. Murder is usually met with a life-time sentence to the quarries in the Avris Mountains – an area referred to as The Black Stones.
Mannerisms: Because of its close ties with the churches, many of the local customs are secular – such as using the syllable 'Ar' before the names of evil gods (ArNabrol, for example). Kur Maens are rarely superstitious, having confidence enough in the churches to call upon them as needed. Kur Maens are scared of arcane magic in all its forms, and often make a circular symbol over their heart, as a sign to Yatindar to protect them from magic.
Holidays: (For full holiday listings, please consult the calendar table in the main Gaeleth entry section.) Trilan the 6th is generally regarded as a day of celebration by followers of Yatindar, and the Fourth Crusaders in particular. During that entire week prior to the holiday, from the Freeze on, the holidays are marked by exchanges of food and drink, displays of fighting skill, and somber remembrances of soldiers and citizens fallen during the War of the Undead.
Appearance: A military lot, the average Kur Maen is readily identifiable by his cotton tabard, worn on nearly every occasion, and even to work. The various tabards display the insignia of their gods or their occupation, and rarely can be used to identify individuals. Short, military cut hair and closely trimmed beards are the norm among men, and women tend to have shoulder-length hair or shorter, bound back in small pony-tails.
Foods: Kur Maen food is heavily spiced, and composed mainly of vegetables and other plant-derived materiel. Drink consists of vast quantities of fresh, purified water – easily identifiable by its blue-dyed appearance to indicate purity or prayer-enchantments by the priests.
There are eight class equivalent or caste-like ranks within Kur Maeth. Most of the ranks are very stable, with upward mobility truly only possible within the church or its holy military. Many nobles chafe under the rule of the Inquisition, but also realize its strength and importance. The holy nature of the military and its gods-given nature sets the military of Kur Maeth apart from most other national militaries.
Kur Maeth's greatest ally is thousands of miles away. The holy city of Karmen supports Kur Maeth from afar, with priestly spells being the mainstay of contact. Courriers and parchment also deliver orders from the holy city, as Kur Maeth and all the Fourth Crusaders nominally fall under its control.
Kur Maeth has a tentative cease-fire with Rakore, and is against the Ogre Nations. Though Rakore had proven a staunch ally, the crusaders can barely trust the nation, as it is friendly to mages. The Inquisition and the holy city of Karmen keep tensions high between the two allies, despite the necessary trade in arms and armor. The Ogre Nations lie just over the Avris Mountains from Kur Maeth, and the original intent of the Fourth Crusades was to raze the entire nation, and its races. Mounted guards and fortified positions watch over the passes into the Avris Mountains, and overzealous Inquisitors watch all cargo from Rakore.
Relations with the Toomar Tribes and the Sholin Tribes are considerably better. Regular merchanting takes place with the Toomarans, and a trading post has been set up along their coastline. The Sholin peoples traditionally sail in of their own accord, and some have even opted to join the Kur Maen navy.
Occasional punitive expeditions are made against Sandar and the Alekdan Principalities, with the layovers being in Al Fahim and along the Toomaran coastline. Relations with Al Fahim are relatively good, though neither nation seems to understand the other. Only trade happens between the two, with no hope of any greater treaties.
Coinage: The unit of currency in Kur Maeth is the Karatikan standard, twelve-sided coin. The purity of each coin is verified with a dated stamp from the temple of Lul in the city.
Barter: Larger transactions than coin require gems, standardized by Sholin pearls and Avris diamonds cut in varying ways. Bullion is rarely used, save by the churches themselves to deal with other nations.
Exports: Kur Maeth has become self-supporting under ArchPrelate Bhramord, exporting spices, peppers, lapis lazuli, diamonds, mahogany, hemp, honey, sugar, wax, medical applications, and teas from the Laekenala Jungles and the Avris Mountains.
Imports: The city imports relatively little, such as lead, cotton, silk, and stained glass. A great deal of salted beef and cattle comes in regularly from the Toomarans, though the city treats it as a luxury it can afford to lose.
Customs: Customs is relatively light, and charges are minimal. Of important note are the 'entry spans', large blockhouses through which people and cargo are required to pass to enter into the city proper. These entry spans have been runed and warded by the prayers of the faithful, such that souls of evil intent perish in blinding flashes of lightning. Cargos with evil connotations glow plainly for customs officials to note within the entry spans.
Contraband: Anything associated with evil or evil gods is illegal in Kur Maeth. Anyone trying to smuggle in slaves, drugs, evil holy symbols, or questionable items that might be linked to arcane magic is detained for considerable questioning, under the influence of truth prayers and the like.
Capital: Kur Maeth, the city, is the primary source of employment, government, and gold within the city-state. As well, most of its populace can be found there, as well, accounting for an enormous city of nearly half a million people.
Cities: Only two other cities within the city-state bear mention. Thalagus, along the river to the north, is a mining city. It also houses The Black Stones, the common name for the penal system there. Mathilda is located along the coast, on the other side of the Dreneb River from Kur Maeth proper. Mathilda is a lumber town that also deals with the natives of the Laekenala Jungle, and does a brisk trade in spices and rare woods.
Temples: The Bastion is the largest temple in Kur Maeth, and is a massive dome-shaped fortress on the southern end of the main island of the city. The Bastion houses all of the crusaders, paladins, warriors, and priests of Yatindar, and is the center of government for the city-state.
The next largest temple is the Temple of Light to Arpelos. Built of golden marble from the Avris Mountains (supposedly in a single day), the temple is large enough to boast an aviary for the great dragon Artanus. Though dragons were on the crusaders list of things to kill in the west, Artanus is the holy symbol of Arpelos, and beyond reproach.
As organizer of the crusades, Yatindar is the dominant religeon for Kur Maens, followed closely by Whalin. Mikindim and Olorin are well respected, and temples to Habrem, Rahne, and Galgiran are fairly common. There is but one temple each to Lul, Elinthar, Arpelos, and Galanus.
Late at night, the ghost of ArchPrelate Dolf Antolin walks the streets, dispensing justice with his twin longswords. One of the longswords, Revikal, is as ghostly as he – striking terror and fear into evil. The other, Gledikal, is very real, leaving bodies and blood behind in the wake of slaying evil – or so the legends go.
Whenever a storm brews with fierce lightning, it is said that Brigain's archons are entering into a meeting somewhere within the city. Few venture out on such nights, as the weather is very harsh, but few wish to if the rumors are true.
The druidic grove to the north of Kur Maeth was once a fortress of Nathel's during the Storm Wars. Legend has it that priests of Barith overcame the fortress, and the giant trees' roots cracked even the tiniest stones to rubble. No priest of Barith has ever been able to confirm this, but many people believe the remains of the fortress are buried under the soft loam of the surface.
ArchPrelate Helotodus: The leader of Kur Maeth, the ArchPrelate spends a great deal of his time going over paperwork within the confines of the Bastion. An older, balding man with a paunch and a vicious tongue, he bullies his way through tedium with the kind of stubborness that only a blindly devout paladin can bring about.
Disciple Defrom Mallick of Arpelos: Leader of the Church of Arpelos in Kur Maeth, Disciple Mallick holds loose reigns on the titanium dragon Artanus. Mallick is an extraordinarily tall man who prefers to wear chain beneath the robes of his office, and has made it his life's work to ferret out the pockets of evil left in the wake of the War of the Undead. He also spends a bit of time ferrying mages out of Kur Maeth right under the Inquisition's nose.
Disciple Keyel of Yatindar: Leader of the Church of Yatindar in Kur Maeth, Disciple Keyel is the anti-mage second to the ArchPrelate's will. Appointed by the Church to lead the Inquisition in Kur Maeth, the Disciple and the ArchPrelate of Yatindar get along quite well.
Because of their theocratic and Inquisition-based society, all Kur Maens are extremely knowledgeable on religious subjects.