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DENAGOTH (Kingdom of)
Location: Continent of Brun, north of Wendar and west of Norwold and the Heldannic Territories. NW
Area: 125,000 sq. mi. (323,750 sq. km.).
Population: 270,000, roughly 25% human and 75% humanoid; estimated demihuman (elf) population: 2,300.
Languages: Denagothian (a human language not closely related to any other spoken in the Old World), Orcish, Gnoll, Goblin, Bugbear, Heldannic, Elvish (Geffronell, Genalleth and Alfheim dialects).
Coinage: Gold (gp), silver (sp); barter common.
Taxes: 30% income tax, collected yearly.
Government Type: Theocratic dictatorship.
Industries: Hunting, raiding, mining, agriculture (grows barely enough for its own use).
Important Figures: Landryn Teriak a.k.a. the Shadow Lord (Overlord,), Grumman (General), Durifern Widefarer (Clanmaster).
Flora and Fauna: The area known as Denagoth comprises a great oak forest to the east that dates back to the old Blackmoor era and another forested region to the west mostly made up of dead trees. Throughout the whole region the terrain is rocky and difficult to cultivate, if not impossible. The Avien Plains, in the central part of Denagoth, is the only area where the soil is somewhat able to produce crops and where cattle can be tended without particular problems. The northern zone is basically a rocky waste that gives way to swamps and frozen tundra. The animals commonly encountered in Denagoth are moose, elk, bears (all species, especially grizzlies), wolves (even dire wolves), wild boars, snakes and mountain lions. The land is a haven for humanoid races, and many tribes of orcs, hobgoblins, goblins, bugbears, gnolls and some ogres live in the foothills and on the highest peaks of the mountains, as well as in the forests. The Mengul Mountains are home to a vast variety of monstrous species, such as: snow apes, white apes, giant bats, dragons (white and blue), harpies, giant ferrets, sasquatches, and unicorns. Black dragons abound in the swamps and forests of the entire region, unchallenged masters of the draconic race inhabiting Denagoth.
Further Reading: X11 Saga of the Shadow Lord, previous almanacs.
Description by Christopher Dove.
I am writing this report not of my own free will, but because I have been charged by the High Priestess of Denagoth to let you, dear readers, know of Denagoth's magnificent landscapes and shed some light on its inhabitants. I have been told to reassure all of you, who live in the southern nations, that Denagoth has no desire to cause mischief in the Old World; it is an ancient land with a proud history that only deserves to be acknowledged by the other important nations of the world.
In this brief commentary I will describe the northern region of Denagoth, that comprises the Malor Swamp and the so-called Denagothian Wastes, a barren, rocky wasteland full of crevasses and geysers. As usual, I have been allowed to travel there always escorted by a small group of soldiers gladly provided for my own protection by the Most High Priestess of the Church of Idris.
[Even this year the report arrived in perfect shape, even though persistent rumours coming from the north state that Professor Dove is in the hands of the dangerous forces of the Shadow Lord. We do not know how much of this has been written by his quill and how much has been later added or modified for propaganda by the Church of Idris. We only advise you, dear readers, to take everything written here with the benefit of doubt until we find out more. For more information on the Great Forest of Geffron, the Avien Plains, the Dead Forest of Lothenar and the overall region, please refer to the previous Mystaran Almanacs, AC 1015, AC 1016 and AC 1017. Ed.]
Travelling north of the Lothenar Forest, far beyond the holy citadel known as Idris Tower, the traveller finds himself lost in the eerie marshes known as the Malor Swamp. A rather large area of quicksands, deadwood, sick pines and willow trees, this foggy swamp reminds me of the great Malpheggi Swamp located south of my homeland, Darokin. Many animal species [especially birds and amphibious animals, but there is next to no sign of mosquitoes and snakes, although other fastidious insects can be found. C. Dove.] populate this ecosystem, but unlike the Malpheggi Swamp, this region is not really a hot place. Quite the contrary: given the fact it is located so far north, and exposed to the icy winds coming from the northern wilds and the polar regions, the Malor Swamp is a cold and fetid place, where only the dirtiest and most stupid humanoids live [trolls and a few kobolds, tribes which have never submitted to Idris's faith and are constantly trying to harass people who venture in this area. C. Dove.]. Given the precarious state of the soil, the dangerous and renegade humanoid inhabitants, and a few voracious species of monsters and animals braving its murky waters and bogs, it is no surprise that nobody lives here and that there are no human settlements within a 10 mile radius of it.
North of the Malor Swamp lies what is commonly referred as the Denagothian Wastes, a vast area of barren hills, broken lands and insidious badlands filled with geysers. A well-patrolled road, which cuts across the Avien Plains, connects Idris Tower with the northernmost outpost of the Denagothian Kingdom, the ancient tower of Gereth Minar. In fact, Gereth Minar is the last civilised settlement one finds if he travels further northwards, since from then on only nomadic humanoids can be found, and they are not really as civilised as their southern brethren living in the Avien Plains. Even though, nominally, the Kingdom of Denagoth stretches far beyond Gereth Minar, in practice the Shadow Army never ventures too far from that outpost, leaving hundreds of square miles completely unpatrolled and under the humanoids' sway [without counting other more fearsome monstrous inhabitants of the wastelands. C. Dove.].
Gereth Minar is a fortified keep rising on a stone hilltop and overlooking a small village crouched in a glen to the south of it. The fortress comprises a stone walled keep and a ring of military barracks that house the keep's garrison [nearly three hundred people of mixed race. C. Dove.] as well as their facilities. Gereth Minar is indeed a sturdy building, similar to Idris Tower in architecture, but not as beautifully decorated [after all this is a military outpost, not the seat of the national faith. C. Dove.]. Even though it is not as ancient as Idris Tower, Gereth Minar has a more interesting and troubled history, since it was built more than 300 years ago by one of the Essurian kings, Gereth. It then fell to the untamed northern barbarians [an ethnic group greatly feared in Denagoth, to which the old hero Henadin, who caused the downfall of the Essurian Kingdom, belongs. Despite all my researches, I have not been able to get any further information about these barbarians. C. Dove.], and later was rebuilt by Gereth's son, Minnear, who renamed it Gereth's Pride [this is the actual translation of Gereth Minar. C. Dove.]. Gereth Minar has stood ever since against any assaults made by the northern nomads and a few rebel humanoid tribes, and it is without doubt the most difficult assignment for any soldier in the Shadow Army, be it human or humanoid.
Not much to say about the people living in the Malor Swamp, since next to nobody lives there. The Shadow Army stationed in Idris Tower regularly patrols the fringes of the swamp to catch dangerous monsters and criminals before they venture too far inside the Avien Plains or the Lothenar Forest, but they don't pursue anything or anybody into the swamp, unless they're ordered to by the high priestess herself. The humanoids living inside the Malor Swamp are as treacherous as they are voracious; they cannot be trusted. Some soldiers have told me that a great black wyrm also dwells in the heart of the swamp, but thanks to the power of Idris he has never ventured out of it, probably preferring to dine on the local fauna.
As for Gereth Minar, the soldiers manning the keep are typical Denagothians, deeply loyal to Idris and always following the orders of their leaders in a fanatical manner. They are suspicious of strangers, since they are unaccustomed to them [not many people travel to Gereth Minar and the few strangers they see during the year are always warring bands of humanoids or human raiders coming down from the north or from the surrounding hills. C. Dove.], but as soon as you prove yourself a follower of Idris or a loyal Denagothian, you're welcome to stay in the village below the hill [no civilian is allowed inside the tower of Gereth Minar. C. Dove.]. They speak the same language common throughout the plateau, which uses the old Essurian alphabet [Essuria was an ancient kingdom that encompassed the whole Denagothian Plateau for roughly five centuries. C. Dove.], although many of them are incapable of writing. Since there are also many humanoids living in this region, listening to conversations held in orcish and bugbear is common enough, although the officers insist for everyone to use Denagothian when speaking to reinforce their sense of unity. They know they are the descendants of a proud race of conquerors and great warriors, of honourable fighters and true believers, and that the humanoids living alongside them represent what they were in their early ages, so they must be considered kin and tolerated [provided they have sworn fealty to Idris and the cause of Denagoth. C. Dove.].
I cannot say much about the other human and humanoid inhabitants of the Denagothian Wastes, since I have not ventured into their territory for the sake of my own safety. What I can tell, based on the soldiers' words, is that these individuals are extremely violent, aggressive and resistant even to the harsh climate of this region, so they are fierce opponents not to be undervalued. Many monsters also dwell in this wasteland, chiefly among them clans of stone and hill giants, tribes of voracious ogres, huge burrowing creatures, packs of beastly scavengers and aerial predators like wyverns, which seem to dominate the skies here.
The Church of Idris is responsible for rebuilding the nation after the fall of the Essurian Kingdom at the beginning of the 10th century. The rumours that described the Shadow Lord as the sole ruler of Denagoth are false, since it is in fact a perfect theocracy ruled by the most wise High Priestess of Idris. The Shadow Lord is only the commander of the Denagothian army, and the rumours about his violence and ruthlessness have been exaggerated by the nearby Wendarians, since they still remember the wars made in the past centuries with the Kingdom of Essuria and blame the current Denagothian Kingdom for those. Aside from defending itself from the elven invasion of last year, Denagoth didn't attempt any invasion of the nearby lands during all these decades and only now is trying to end its isolation by sending emissaries and ambassadors to its neighbouring countries to establish political and economic ties.
If you are travelling this far, stay on the patrolled road that goes from Idris Tower to Gereth Minar if you don't want any problems. You will be stopped frequently at post houses by soldiers of the Shadow Army to check what your business is, but at least you will be safe from the monstrous dangers of the Malor Swamp and from the renegade tribes living in the northern Denagothian Wastes. There is nothing really interesting in this part of the country to justify a visit, anyway, only potential dangers.
The whole Malor Swamp is foggy and harbours many dangers in the form of quicksands and unseen entities, in addition to the visible monsters and the legendary black wyrm living here. You are advised to avoid it if you want to return home alive.
Also, don't venture too far from Gereth Minar once you're in the northern wild lands, since it is an insidious territory. Geysers abound in the badlands, as well as unknown poisonous plants and insects, and shifting trails and treacherous crevasses that open suddenly under one's feet. You can quickly become lost among all those rocky hills and canyons, and the worst thing that can happen to you then is to stumble into the numerous occupants of one of the many caves that dot these hills. They will not treat you so gently, and you can be sure you will be the special guest at their dinner table... served as the main course.