Mankind has taken refuge in many various ways to defend itself against the Undead Curse. Great walls surround the other City States, a testament to human engineering and resiliency. However, there is one of the five Great City States that has no walls. It is the northern city of Keldj, a frigid and harsh landscape so cold and so demanding that the undead monsters that roam the world are not able to function properly there. Keldj is an entire city that runs along the base of Mount Keldj, the tallest mountain in the King’s Realm. Winter sets in on this place nine out of the twelve months of the year. Humanity exists here by its sheer willpower.
Keldj is a mystery to the other City States. Outsiders are explicity unwelcome. A distinct manner of dress and speech separates the people from the rest of their breathern in other City States. Rumors and speculation are all that the other governments have to go on when it comes to understanding how this place continues to exist. The assumption of many is that Keldj is nothing but a series of small tribes who unite only to deal with outsiders. This could not be further from the truth.
Outsiders have seen the wandering tribes that reside at the base of the mountain but they often do not understand the purpose of these tribes. The highest calling for a citizen of Keldj is to be a farmer. Farmers are men of great strength and wisdom. They are men of cunning and renown. With so little time during the year to plan crops beyond the foot of the mountain, farmers must be all these things and more. Their nerves and resolve are tested with each planting season as they quickly descend into the landscape below, plant their goods and retreat until harvest draws close three months later.
At the side of every farmer is one of Keldj’s warriors. These warriors are known as Marauders. Citizenship is granted in an official capacity to those who serve as a Marauder for their job is the most dangerous of all. They are an elite strike force that takes the fight to the undead horde. Where other City States fight defensive wars against the horde, the Marauder’s job is to inflict so much damage on the nearby roaming monsters that the farmers may attend to their duties in peace. It is a system borne of insanity but it is a system that has worked for hundreds of years. The Keldjian people see no reason to change their ways now.
Keldj may be different in form and function than the other City States, but it is not any less advanced. The secret of Keldj resides in the mountain itself.
Mount Keldj is hollowed out. A complete and magnificent city exists in its belly. Kept warm by geothermal vents it is a singular and perfect feat of engineering.
The Keldjian people had no part what so ever in its creation.
The great secret of Keldj is in its founding. Prior to the War of Sin, the Dwarven people foresaw their own demise. They knew that a powerful Elven mage intended to corrupt the element of Earth so completely that their very souls were in danger. The Dwarven people began their last great project. The converted their secret city into something that humans could inherit. In return, they entrusted the collected souls of their people to the last true Master of Earth and endowed him with their immortal spirit that he might safeguard them until it would be safe for their return.
At the summit of Mount Keldj sits a man whom time has forgotten. He has watched the world change and has kept that promise made so long ago. The people of Keldj are his children and he is their protector. Though no one has ever seen this man, there is a legend of his existence and it states that one day the Old Man of the Mountain will descend to meet his people and lead them to a new home.
The people of Keldj patiently await that day.