Four Thousand Club
CAINHURST LORE GUIDEThe land of Hollowvale is an inhospitable world of plague infested wastes, haunted forests, Undead infested cities and is ruled by Necromancers and Dark Mages. Why then, do so many choose to call Hollowvale their home? And more than that, are proud to live there?
"For every Living person there are generations of dead. Which realm would you rather rule?"
"For every Living person there are generations of dead. Which realm would you rather rule?"
Quite simple, they hate the rest of Aether even more.
Many of the "Darker" races of Aether live in Hollowvale to escape the persecution of the Church of Light to the far South, and to them it is a place where they can live in safety without fear of Light magic wielding paladins burning down their homes in the middle of the night.
All the magically capable members of the population have at least a passing understanding of necromancy and the Undead are used for manual labor as well as personal servants.
All that is required to live in Hollowvale is complete loyalty to the Cainhurst family, who have ruled from the throne of Blackrock - the ancient castle in Hollowvale's very center for over a hundred years.
Hollowvale lacks any real political relationship or communication with the outside world, apart from some limited trade by independent and daring merchants who won't let a little thing like the Undead stop them from making a pretty pile of gold. Hollowvale does however have a healthy trade relationship with the Dwarves of Magruhdul to the far east, who frequently dock at the Dead Harbor and Vinistead to peddle wares. Hollowvale defends its borders viciously, and is often at war with its Western neighbors - the warriors of Hinokah. But thankfully, there hasn't been any battles for over a decade, the rest of Aether seeming to prefer leaving Hollowvale to its own devices - something the population is just fine with.
The seat of the Cainhurst family, Blackrock Fortress is an ominous and ancient construction that has stood for thousands of years, enduring all hardships and never falling to any enemy. Believed to have been built long ago by an ancient Dwarven tribe long lost to history, Blackrock is famous for its opulent interior and has a rather unseemly reputation for prisoners never returning from its dungeons. Blackrock is also well known for resting on top of miles of cave networks that run beneath Hollowvale, the true depths of which have never been reached.
The Capital city of Hollowvale, ever in Blackrock's shadow. Once known as "Yu'hgral", Crowhaven was once the home of a tribe of Demon worshipers before recorded time began and was inherited by the Necromancers and darker races who fled from the South - renaming it Crowhaven. One of the larger cities in Aether and famous for its dark atmosphere, Crowhaven is a city of dark magic and the shadow, but can by no means be considered unpleasant. Indeed, it is one of the best protected communities in the country. Crowhaven has an odd beauty to it - filled with ornate towering spires, gigantic cathedrals and great twisting staircases. Its populace live in relative harmony with the Undead performing much of the manual labor, leaving its population to their own devices. Crowhaven excels in matters of medicine and ancient arcane arts, but many of its inhabitants suffer from a touch of the "Dark Madness", and can be incredibly inhospitable to strangers and "Light folk".
Sushi Muncher !
Dreadmoor is surrounded by impassable wooded mountains and steep hills on all sides, sparing the northern shore. This makes it a natural fortress for the lone tower that presided over the region. Dreadmoor rough terrains make it a strategic prize for the Hollowvale residents to the East, while serving as a deterrent factor to Western invaders. Once a battle site during the War of Vampire Aggression, much of the old battlefield has been transformed into a skeleton army factory. Thanks to the efforts of the Sepulcher family, the old bones of the fallen now serves as their own fighting force.
The semi-tundra land makes it difficult to grow crops like that of Central Hollowvale. However, Western breeze carried foreign seeds into the land, where they evolved to survive and thrive in Dreadmoor for the last two centuries. It was not until the naming of Lady Sepulcher V that Dreadmoor saw interests in botany, empoldering, and cultivation of northern reclaimed sealands.
Nowadays, much of Dreadmoor landscape is dominated by vibrant flowers in stark contrast of the lone watch tower in the middle of the valley. Dreadmoor has been home to the Sepulcher family since the succession of Lord Sepulcher II and the foundation of the family estate here - the Necropolis.
Notable Region Exports:
rare flowers & herbs, pine tar, oaken resin, maple syrup, and skeleton soldiers.
The lone watch tower fortress that oversees much of Dreadmoor. Heavily guarded by undead and serves to warn Hollowvale in case of an attack by lighting the beacon at the top.
[Grave of the Unknown]
A historical battle site now converted into a skeleton production site by digging up old bones of the fallen. A runic stonehenge formation is set up to honor the fallen and guarded by undead soldiers.
A complex crypt built upon an abandoned church by early early Western colonists. The Necropolis has been the Sepulcher's family estate since. All Sepulcher members are buried here.
[Garden of Dreadmoor]
Polders formed along the northern shore are used to grow different wild flowers, roots, and herbs. Empoldering efforts started with Lady Sepulcher V's interests in reclaiming the northern shore from the sea for cultivation. The Garden have since been tended to by undead workers and residents of Dreadmoor.
Lore Needed! The Most western city of Hollowvale, and dedicated to the protection of Hollowvale's western border. There is a sizable army of Undead here at all times.
The Dead City
Lore Needed! A city so lost to time that even its name has been forgotten. Said to be cursed, any attempts to re-popularize the area have met with disaster and Blackrock is currently content to leave the city to rot. That hasn't stopped rather foolhardy adventurers from sneaking inside in hopes of treasure. Some have even survived. Some even still sane enough to form coherent sentences for a time.
Lore Needed. A rather secluded city home to several darker races who prefer to be left to their own devices.
A city of Elves who fled persecution from the south and founded a new land to call their home. While not technically under the Cainhurst banner, they currently maintain good relations and several of its inhabitants have even gone to serve in Blackrock's royal court. Unwelcoming to non-elves.
Lore Needed! A flourishing city to the East, Vinistead is known for its verdant fields and dangerous forests. The land is incredibly fertile, unlike much of Hollowvale - and is responsible for providing food for much of the country. A area of booming trade and wealth, Vinistead enjoys major protection from Blackrock due to its strategic importance. Has something of a unpleasant reputation for corruption.
Named for its copious amounts of Undead workers rather than its ironically booming population, the Dead Harbor serves as a checkpoint for the southern cities to journey to Crowhaven due to the completely inaccessible Dead Wastes. A surprisingly cheerful and bright area, that one wouldn't think was in Hollowvale if it wasn't for the hundreds of Undead working on the ships and markets.
The Dread Wastes
A wasteland feared by even the powerful Dark Mages of Hollowvale, The Dread Wastes was the site of a terrible battle long ago, and has permanently been stained by a corruption that destroys all it touches. A location of ghost stories and hidden horrors, bottomless marshes and poisonous swamps - The Dread Wastes have never been effectively explored or tamed for one reason:
The Dead of the Abyss. The only Undead not under the control of the inhabitants of Hollowvale, the Abyss Undead defend the Wastes with the focus of a hive mind - tens of thousands of bodies working as one to destroy any who dare attempt to traverse the area, purple flame flickering in their eyes. Lucky survivors have spoken of gigantic cathedral sized masses of undead roaming the Wastes as a collective giant that crush and consume all in their path. To date, no one has found the cause of this Abyss, and Blackrock has had several failed expeditions into the area - failing even to catch one of the Abyss "Alive" for experiments.
A large and foreboding forest to the North of Blackrock, entrance to Shadowbark is strictly monitored and controlled for one simple reason: It is the home of the Werewolves. The Wolves have no offical alliance with Hollowvale - such things are not in their nature, but the Dark Lord and the Alpha of the tribe both agreed to an arrangement known as the "Black Wolf Treaty", wherein the Werewolves are allowed a large Forest to reside within in peace - but must remain strictly within its borders. Non-Wolves are forbidden from being within one mile of Shadowbark, with only the Cainhursts permitted entry when invited. Surprisingly, the Wolves are courteous and fascinating hosts - and staying among them is an enlightening experience.
- Roughly 200 years ago, the whole of Aether was effectively under siege by the Vampires. They had organised, they had armies. They were basically drinking the world dry.
- The Church of Light from Great White city of Alcamoth reformed itself into a quasi-military religious force and organised the rest of Aether under one banner to combat the threat. The great Lords of man, the elves, Dwarves; Even its enemies - the Necromancers, Dark Mages and "evil races" agreed to help, as the Vampires were a threat to all living things.
- Vampires are wiped out over 150 years of systematic and grueling war.
- The Church of Light decides to continue the holy crusade, and turns on its dark allies - who are forced to flee to the inhospitable land of Hollowvale. The Church is unable to pursue.
- The Dark Races, tribes and cults basically turn on each other in a war for dominion over Hollowvale. The unification war. Ulfric Cainhurst, greatest of the Necromancers claims victory and names himself Lord of Hollowvale.
- Over the next decade, those who resist his rule are effectively wiped out. The Black Court is formed. Hollowvale becomes an organised, independent country.
- Tensions rise with the Hinokah - the Lords of Cloud Top to the west, who take no pleasure in a land of Undead spreading across their territory. Tensions quickly spill over into conflict. Another bloody war begins.
- Six years later, the Hinokah and Cainhursts are forced into a stalemate. The Undead unable to move into Hinokah territory without being torn apart by their terrible war machines, the Hinokah unable to penetrate the inhospitable land of Hollowvale. A tense stand off continues to this day; There is no truce, but no war either. With Hollowvale effectively locked off from the outside world. Only the Dwarves see no reason to spur Hollowvale, and the two countries enjoy friendly relations.
- Ulfric, realizing he has no heir to his throne and Hollowvale would collapse into infighting without a strong leader, begins to build a dynasty. He has children with several mistresses to cement Cainhurst's future control of the region.
- Present day. Hollowvale stands strong...for now. But rumors of Ulfric's old age and deterioration are spurring Hollowvale's enemies. It is a time of paranoia and mounting tension, with the once stoic and coldly logical Dark Lord growing ever more vulnerable.
"Feeding a normal army is a problem of logistics, with the Undead, is is an asset. Feeding is why they fight. Feeding is why they're feared." - Ulfric Cainhurst
The Undead are bodies of the deceased who bound to the will of the one who reanimated them. They have no connection with the soul of the deceased, rather serving with blind obedience until they are either released from the magic that compels them or destroyed. Incapable of speech or independence, the Undead are the perfect servants for those willing to practice the dark arts of Necromancy. The power and form of an undead greatly depends on the strength of the magic that raised it - with the creatures ranging from the drooling and mindless common zombie, to the imposing and intelligent Dire Knights.
The Rules of Reanimation are simple:
- At least a pound of flesh from the victim is required. The more of the body that is reanimated, the stronger the Undead is. While it is technically possible for a skilled Necromancer to conjure a Undead out of nothing but mana alone, these are always greatly inferior to true "flesh" Undead.
- The Resurrected Undead is bond to the will of the one who resurrected it. They will follow any order to the best of their ability and understanding - with stronger Undead able to follow complex orders, basic Undead can usually only manage to understand single word commands.
- The ownership of a Undead can be transferred to another, as long as the other has the willpower and magical strength to take it. A amateur necromancer would not be able to control the advanced Dire Knight, for example.
- A Necromancer can control multiple Undead at once, with most being able to control several dozen. A true master of Necromancy - such as Ulfric, is capable of commanding several thousand at once.
- An Undead "dies" upon the death of its master.
- Common Undead. The most well known "classic" drooling zombie. The Common Undead are shambling, mindless and slow. They are capable of following simple commands such as "Stay" "Follow" or "Kill" but lack the capacity to understand complex commands. Weak, but tend to overwhelm in numbers.
- Greater Undead. The most popular Undead with Necromancers with a degree of understanding and strength. Greater Undead are smarter, stronger and faster. They are capable of following complex commands, and work as efficiently as the living. Greater Undead are used as farm hands and manual labor as well as in the Cainhurst's armies.
- Dire Undead. A rare sight outside of Blackrock, Dire Undead are the result of Expert Necromancy, and only a few can be controlled at a time. A Dire Undead is intelligent - even shrewd - a match for an experienced swordsman on the battlefield, and are even capable of using limited magic. From a distance, they can even be mistaken for the living. Used as elite guards and shock-troopers.
- Dire Knight. The Ultimate Undead. Standing at two meters tall and equipped with thick armor and able to use a range of weaponry, the Dire Knight is a worthy adversary, capable of decimating entire units of knights. A Dire Knight can only be summoned by a true master of Necromancy, and takes incredible magical ability to maintain - as such, Dire Knights usually hibernate until disturbed or called upon, rather than left to complete tasks.
- Abyss Undead. Undead of the Wastes. Known for the purple flame that burns in their eyes. Dangerous, filled the will of some unspeakable power. Abyss Undead work as one, overwhelming even the strongest of opponents. Mercifully, they do not seem to be interested in leaving the Dread Wastes.
A Brief Overview of Blackrock
The Chain of Command is thus:
Lord Ulfric Cainhurst
The Hollow King. Patriarch of Cainhurst. Lord of Blackrock. Ruler of the Dead. Refereed to as "Dark Lord" or "My Lord."
The Cainhurst Children
Children of Ulfric. Future of Cainhurst. Ranked by Age.
The Elite Guardians of Blackrock. Beautiful. Deadly. Bodyguards, Operatives. Spies. Assassins. Personal Maids.
The Black Court
The Nobles. Lords and Ladies of the Court. Representatives of every town, city and tribe under Cainhurst control. Sworn to Loyalty. Ulfric holds court twice a week within the great throne room of Blackrock, but more can take place during times of emergency or if required.
Royal Guards. Trained from childhood to defend the Cainhurst Family. Merciless.
Rank and file guards and servants
Recruited from the various cities and towns sworn to the Cainhursts. No notable abilities.
(Life at Blackrock TBC)
"Greatness, at any cost." - Cainhurst motto.
The Hollow King. Lord of Blackrock. Patriarch of the Cainhursts.
Once a Acolyte of the Church of Light who abandoned his vows due to what he saw as the Church's impotence and hypocrisy, Ulfric was still a young man when he began his journey to create his own mark upon the world. Born into poverty and irrelevance in Alcamoth's refugee camp during the Vampire scourge, Ulfric learned difficult lessons early after his mother was murdered by a common pick pocket and he was unable to find any authority figure that was willing to help him, much less care about the death of another faceless refugee. The pain of that loss forced him to come to a harsh but inescapable conclusion:
Only strength matters.
Fascinated by the Darker magics that the Church seemed so adamant to wipe out only spurred Ulfric to embrace them, and he quickly proved himself an adept user of the forbidden arts. His natural charisma and strength earned him a small but loyal following as he traveled - gathering those who he saw worthy of his cause. He accepted any and all into his ranks with the desire to crush the Vampire menace and break free of the Church of Light's stifling clutches. Ulfric held no prejudice for what others saw as "Lesser" and "Corrupt" races, and many gathered to his side during his search for more power. It did not matter who you were, all that mattered was that you had the strength to prove yourself. His messages and speeches were seductive and enchanting, and by the bloody conclusion of the Vampire War, Ulfric was considered one of the strongest amongst the self proclaimed "Dark Lords".
Ulfric Cainhurst did not truly come into power however, until the War of Hollowvale's Unification.
With the Vampire menace crushed, the Church of Light's mighty army forcing many of its enemies to flee to the inhospitable wastes of Hollowvale - infighting quickly began between the various tribes, cults and factions that clambered for shelter from the Church's holy crusade.
Ulfric Cainhurst, already of great influence, considerable power and military wisdom quickly rose to the top. After several conclusive battles and routs against his enemies, Ulfric Cainhurst named himself the one true Lord of Hollowvale - and all who would deny his claim would be crushed like the others.
Ulfric proved himself worthy of the title of King quickly. Hollowvale was organised. Treaties and trade agreements were signed. Tribes and cults assimilated, cities repopulated. In a few short years - despite constant war and siege from her enemies...Hollowvale stood strong.
it is not in the nature of Dark Mages and Necromancers to work together in such a way; the outside world expected Hollowvale to consume itself - but Ulfric's iron rule endured. His philosophy and leadership creating a relatively peaceful life for the many who accepted the rule of the Dark Lord.
For forty years Ulfric Cainhurst has ruled. A man of years before he even ascended to the throne, there are rumors that the once mighty man's health has began to fail him. He has sired children - all brought up in the Cainhurst philosophy of Strength. But only time will tell if Hollowvale will survive the decline of its master.
A cold man of brutal logic, Ulfric is not forgiving of failure.
He wields the Great Sword of Ninniel: One of the Legendary Blades of Aether. Ninniel is a feared blade of terrible power, said to capture the souls of those it kills.
Ulfric has sired seven children during his forty year rein over Hollowvale.
Laurence Cainhurst - 32 (Deceased. Poisoned)
Severa Cainhurst - 29
Helmfried Cainhurst - 26
Klyn Cainhurst - 20
Lucian Cainhurst - 18
Noire Cainhurst - 15
Luna Cainhurst - 7 (Deceased. Sickness)
Considered to be children blessed by the madness of Dark Blood, Ulfric's children are all quite extraordinary - as to be expected from those born from the Dark Lord. Born into a world of manipulation, dark magic and paranoia it is somewhat amazing that they're as well adjusted as they are. Each is constantly probed and tested for signs of weakness by their Father, who is determined to forge a new Bloodline that will cement his dynasty over Hollowvale - none of the children have been brought up with any parental kindness or warmth, perhaps save from overly familiar servants and each other.
Laurence Cainhurst was believed to be destined to inherit his Father's throne - a power obsessed Dark Prince who Ulfric favored above all others, until he died of a mysterious fast acting illness and all responsibly fell to the eldest Daughter: Severa. While many believe Severa actually murdered Laurence to gain his position - there was never any proof, and Ulfric seemed disinterested in pursuing the matter; privately impressed by Severa's ruthlessness. In reality however, Laurence had been planning to murder his siblings to remove any potential threat to his ascendancy. His plot was discovered, and Severa poisoned him during an evening supper. Severa has maintained the facade, pleased to see it has made many weary of daring to cross her and seemed to earn her her Father's subtle approval.
Luna's death was a far more sombre affair for the Family. With each child born to Ulfric seeming to be sicker and "stranger" some Nobles whispered that Ulfric's corruption by Dark Magic was spreading into his blood. Luna was an incredibly sickly girl who suffered from hallucinations and terrible nightmares of "Black tentacles and Watching Eyes" before she passed suddenly in her sleep. She was a kind girl, quite unlike many of her older siblings, and the loss stung for many of them.
"If a Dark Maiden comes for you, die boldly or die swiftly - for die you will." - Crowhaven saying.
An elite order of seven members that serve at the behest of the Cainhurst family, the Dark Maidens are known for their beauty and terrible, demonic power. Handpicked by Lord Ulfric from the elite ranks of the BloodGuard, those that survive the excruciating ritual deep in the catacombs of Blackrock are forever changed. While beautiful and overwhelmingly strong, to become a Dark Maiden is to walk a terrible path between the living and the dead, for whatever the mysterious and closely guarded process that takes place deep within the catacombs of Blackrock creates a Dark Maiden removes that which is most precious in the process - the Soul.
The Dark Maidens appear as beautiful maids while serving within Blackrock - but this is simply a mask for pleasant society. Each Maiden's true form is unique, demonic and truly strong. So strong in fact, that a single Dark Maiden is capable of destruction that can usually only be caused by a small army.
For reasons unknown, the Dark Maidens must always number seven. They are completely loyal to Blackrock, and serve many roles; including spies, assassins, guards, spies, torturers and personal maids.
They are as follows, and are ranked by length of time within the order.
Lady Lucreziah, The First Maiden.
The First is the oldest and strongest of the order, and was the one who discovered the process to become a Dark Maiden. She serves as Ulfric's left hand, and is one of his most trusted advisors and servants. She embodies the Demonic power of Pride.
Asherah, The Second Maiden.
( Koala )
One of the older Dark Maidens with an unwavering sense of allegiance and whose heart sits on the edge of a void. She embodies the Demonic power of Lust.
Sever, The Third Maiden
A disturbed and apathetic woman, Zadia has an obsession with turning her victims into living dolls of sewn flesh. Always carries scissors. She embodies the Demonic power of Sloth.
Violet , the Forth Maiden
A shape shifting slime who appears as a beautiful masked women. Violet suffers from a terrible hunger, and enjoys eating her foes slowly. And alive. She embodies the Demonic power of Gluttony.
Lissa, the Fifth Maiden.
A kind hearted but incredibly shy woman who wields a bow made of bone. Tends to have panic attacks when too much attention is placed on her. Surpresses her urges. She embodies the Demonic power of Envy.
Zenobia, the Sixth Maiden
A battle hungry warrior maiden who cares for nothing but testing her strength against mighty opponents. Wields a gigantic great Axe. She embodies the Demonic power of Greed.
Seldanna, the Seventh Maiden
( Schnomoah )
A Dark Elf new to the order. Loyal to the order and Ulfric, she will never falter.
She embodies the Demonic power of Wrath.
The elite combat mages of Hollowvale, the Bloodguard are recognized throughout the Land of the Dead for their opulently lavish robes of deep crimson and their unflappable attitude to all that dare stand against them. Trained from a young age in the traditional dark arts and combat skills of their Cainhurst masters, the Bloodguard boast versatility not only as mages excelling at Necromancy and elemental magicks, but as masters of the blade. While lacking the raw strength of the superior Dark Maidens, the Bloodguard are nonetheless seen as the pride of Hollowvale's military and a example of what Blackrock can offer children with magical ability. The mindless Undead can be a powerful foe, but an Undead army with a squad of Bloodguard is a fearsome thing indeed.
To be a Bloodguard is to be acknowledged as the best, and the right to be a part of their order is hotly contested amongst the trainees and guards who frequently compete to be a part of them. The Bloodguard take their role seriously - with some even going on to become part of the Dark Maidens. Defeat means Death, and To show fear means you can expect to be cut down by your fellow Bloodguard without hesitation or mercy.
Not to mention, they're awfully stylish.
The Outside World