OmphalosSetting > OmphalosPlaneAlfzongen

Omphalos: Plane of Alfzongen

Overview

A plane defined by steep mountain ranges, a multitude of green valleys, extreme climate changes depending on one’s altitude. The wind sings as it whistles through the valleys and crevasses, and the meltwater carves channels deep into the rock, leaving few wide-open spaces. The nearby farms are terraced, with barley and wheat, potatoes, olives, grapes, and garden produce like tomatoes and herbs. These are the lowlands: the further one goes into Alfzongen, the higher the mountains rise, the more forbidding and steep their slopes become, and the lower the temperatures plunge, leaving one in perpetual gasping winter.

The dwarves who live here, call it Alfzongen which means Songwinds. The dragonkin call it Rammurts es Konidsaavol, the Mountains of Mourning, and are perpetually annoyed that the dwarven name has persisted due to tradition. Only diplomats and official communiques use the "correct" (dragonkin) name.

The gateway to Omphalos is located within the trade city of Bryn Barak, the Golden Gateway, in the Dwarven language, or Novuy Daarim in dragonspeech, located in the dwarven-settled lowlands of the Zongen Garan, which is at the intersection of several dragons' demesnes. Farmland and vineyards dominate the countryside around the city, but dragon-trains run from there to various nearby towns and up from there to the dragonkin-controlled territory.

Notable Features

The sky of the Alfzongen is light blue at midday, a faint ring across the horizon. It has one sun, no moons.

Bryn Barak, the Golden Gateway - the trade city which opens into Omphalos.

Ruins of devastated castles, which were once the seat of dwarven kings, long destroyed by the dragons.

Deep mines, some of metal, others of salt, which reflect thousands of years of digging, many of which have become entire towns into themselves.

Population

The immediate population is largely dwarven, but with a number of dragonkin, looking down their nose at the softskins, and their kobold servitors who seem to be everywhere, scurrying frantically and apologizing at the drop of a foot. Fauns are mostly country dwellers, living on the fringe of the settled lands, coming in to trade and marvel at the wonders of an actual interdimensional city.

Aesir claim Alfzongen to be their homeland, but with so few of them, most of whom have gone to Omphalos to avoid coming to blows with the dragons, this is more of a curiosity than a serious legal claim.

History

In the earliest recorded days of the Alfzongen, the dwarves kept to the lowlands, the dragonkin, the highlands. Kobolds often raided the dwarven settlements for food, and the dwarves, anxious for the richer veins of metals and precious gems to be found in the deepest parts of the mountains, returned the favor. The dragons themselves considered these doings beneath their attention, so long as they had plentiful food.

That changed with the opening of a portal to Omphalos, several thousand years ago. The clever tinkerings of goblins spread quickly among the dwarves, and soon cannons allowed them to fend off even drakes. The dwarves advanced ruthlessly up the mountains, aided by a few interested heroes of the Aesir. The dragons were forced to act at last, and in a mighty month-long campaign, razed the dwarven fortifications all the way back to their original lines, while their dragonkin and kobolds died by the hundreds and thousands to push the armies back in the wake of their draconic masters. Most of the belligerent Aesir perished-- gloriously, their survivors claim.

The dwarves were permitted to hold the lowlands, but they would do so under the suzerainty of appointed dragon overlords and their dragonkin administrators. The Aesir took refuge in Omphalos to lick their wounds, a kind of government-in-exile.

Over the coming centuries, kobolds copied goblin inventions and adapted them to more useful, commercial ends. Mechanical dragon-trains, in the image of their dragon-gods, began to carry cargo up and down the mountainsides, and dragon-airships took to the skies. Both sides now find trade and commerce the overwhelmingly preferable situation, despite the grouching of old-timers about the tyranny of dragons.

Architecture

Bryn Barak is largely Dwarven architecture: stonework, traditionally shaped and laid in place without mortar, or stone and mortar, cobblestone, and even cement for newer and less important buildings. Dwarves build out of pride and a desire for their work to endure centuries. Their work tends to the Brutalist, sharp angles and stark surfaces with high-angled roofs, often with gables, decorated with relief murals on the official government structures and the homes of nobles. Dwarven-only homes and shops will be cramped to larger species, but their streets are deliberately built wide and reinforced, and their public buildings and taverns are sized to accommodate the Aesir, who are giants.

Floors are usually stone, but the more luxurious homes are furnished with wood, with carpet being valuable goods, sometimes imported silk, and furs from bears slaughtered in the nearby mountains or exotic beasts for the nouveau rich.

The Alfzongen Threshold

Bryn Barak is built on a roughly north-south axis with a spacious central roadway, which ends in an elaborately maintained roundabout circling a castle made of three to five segments stacked north to south. As sections are drawn toward the Maw, the closest section is disassembled and rebuilt on the other side, and buildings that are in the way get knocked down to clear room for the roundabout. This ensures that any armies invading from the Omphalos side will be forced to go around the castle, rather than being able to charge straight through the city and into the open. Each segment is associated with its own set of gates, east for incoming and west for outgoing traffic.

The roundabout ends at the Threshold, where a wall with watchtowers is likewise constructed in north-to-south sections. In Bryn Barak, 'behind' the Threshold, this area is dedicated to construction supplies and camps for the worker.

A wide 'march' takes up the space immediately within the Threshold, paved with stone quarried from the nearer mountains in Alfzongen, meeting up with the Thresholds of Viostethaer to the west, and Yaxchilan to the east. The dwarves are scrupulous about making sure no buildings or encampments are permitted against the wall that might allow smugglers access, and regularly patrol it to roust out layabouts.

The Alfzongen District: Royal Ring

Alfzongen maintains a wide central throughfare, kept clear for the majority of the way to the Maw, and circumferential roads splitting from this to either sides. The city is painstakingly gridded, with noble estates taking up neat city blocks.

There are two embassies here: the High Embassy, which belongs to the dragonkin and which deals in political and noble undertakings, and the Low Embassy, which is managed by the dwarves, handling commerce and basic legalities. The High Embassy of Alfzongen is apparently hidden within a maze-like garden, and well away from the commercial throughfares, while the Low Embassy is right off of the main street, reflecting the two races' relative sociability.

One of the monuments of Omphalos is found here, housed in a museum dedicated to the Ancient Ones. It is theoretically open to all, but charging a hundred coins for admission-- a price that generally wards off those who are not at least moderately well-off. The museum is shaped with a primary tower containing the monument itself, a rune-carved stele, and a succession of wings designed so that traffic can be routed through parts that have become temporarily unsafe due to land-shift.

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