Category: Tertia Worldbuilding

The Lands of Tertia: The Dull

The Dull

Population (Nepheline/Aljani): 41,000,000 // Population (Morus): 33,000,000

The enormous cave system that exists underneath Tertian land, the Dull’s connecting corridors reach under the entirety of Crobayoris and most of Pradas. It is practically considered a continent of its own and surely enough has its own cultures and history. The Dull got its name when Gonel emerged and the sheer energy released by his breaching of the planes stole the color from the Dull’s caves. It is split into two major territories; the Nepheline and Morus kingdoms. The Nepheline hold rule over the western Dull, the caves under Crobayoris, while the Morus claim the east. Due to the manipulations of Kovec, these two factions were locked in a long strife until recently, when Kovec was killed at the climax of an uprising led by two twin Morus sisters named Scheya and Rilkasha. Taking over Kovec’s throne, the twins now act to bring together the two sides of the Dull that had clashed for centuries.

Roteva is the Nepheline capital of the Dull, the place from which King Amdrus carries out his rule. As all Nepheline territory is, the city is crafted such that there are no curved shapes. The streets, the buildings and even the caves connected to the city can be fit into squares and triangles, all done for the sake of showing off the Nepheline’s perfection of mining and carving. The Nepheline are a tough and hardy people who made shaped their homes from the mines and survived even during their darkest time, the colorless war. When Gonel emerged, he did so within Nepheline territory.

The Demon wiped out several Nepheline cities during his ‘challenges’ and in times of boredom he tended to wander the Nepheline territories in search of fights. At this time the Nepheline were driven eastward, towards Morus settlements. Depite Kovec being incapacitated at the time, the Morus did not miss this opportunity to pincer in on the Nepheline and make their lives awful. Despite this, the Nepheline lived on and built Roteva defiantly close to the border between Nepheline and Morus territories. This was the Nepheline’s way of showing their fearlessness, that they are powerful even at their weakest. Since its founding, Roteva survived countless attempts at siege from the Morus, which acts as further testament to the Nepheline’s stability.

As prior mentioned, the Nepheline are masters at mining. Over the centuries they have uncovered countless new metals and gemstones that have bolstered their culture significantly. Some of the gems were even capable of storing the magic that flowed through the earth, which gave the Nepheline a huge amount of energy to work with. These materials have led to invaluable trade routes with settlements on the surface, which has given the Nepheline access to everything they would otherwise have been denied by living underground. As well as being the people who have
explored deepest into Tertia, the Nepheline have also connected countless caves and made them relatively far easier to journey around.

Due to the Dull, the Nepheline territory in particular, being so deeply affected by Gonel’s magic, Nepheline settlements are home to a majority of the world’s Aljani. In the times of the colorless war, when the magic was at its most potent, countless were corrupted by it and turned into Demons that share traits of Gonel’s visage. The rest of the world rejected such corrupted people, judging them by the things that Gonel did. The Nepheline were not the same, in those hard times the corrupted and non-corrupted stood together to keep the Nepheline alive. Aljani or not, they are siblings in arms that defined the Nepheline’s bravery together. The Nepheline are not only accepting of Aljani, they love them as their own. Due to this, most of the surface’s Aljani have moved down into the Dull to live a life where they’re validated.

The Trade Routes is the collective name given to the tunnels that lead from the surface down into the shallow levels of the Dull. There’s not much to say about them other than that they’re cleared out caves where resources from the surface and the underground are brought through. These routes are heavily guarded to prevent monsters from entering the caves and making life difficult for the traders. The routes that lead to Nepheline territory have been purposely molded by the Nepheline such that the journey is as easy as it can be for commuters. Dead end paths are closed off, steep sections are marked, the ease of travel is impeccable. The creatures that live here are completely harmless burrowers like prairie dogs, badgers and foxes.

Theraphosa is the Morus capital, by far the most huge Morus settlement and was known as an impossible dungeon during Kovec’s rule. Found in the caves under the sands of Venatoria, Theraphosa is so expansive that it houses over half of the overall Morus population. The Morus as a people have struggled to really find a culture of their own, their purpose for most of history was to be a race that Kovec could perfectly manipulate to her will. A perfect army made in her own image, of which she had complete control over. They were not to be tainted by interactions with the outside world, so the Morus cities were all built as massive dungeons that were hellishly tricky to traverse. A Morus travelling from their home to a store would have to tread the same path each day, for a misstep could land them in a 100-foot deep pit or filled with the poisons of the darts and arrows that hid behind every wall. A lot of these traps were magical in nature, the worst of them capable of instantly incapacitating even the hardiest adventurer. Theraphosa was the apex of this, a city that would take weeks to traverse and where every street and every home could kill.

Theraphosa was also home to the Driders, Morus who had been corrupted past being simple Magia and taken on heavy spider-like traits. Most Morus cities would only have 3-4 Driders governing Kovec’s law at most while Theraphosa had an army, as well as all the traps anyone who attempted to delve into Theraphosa would have to worry about being caught in a Drider’s web. Webs that could make made invisible with magic and given venomous properties. All these defenses for the sake of protecting the great castle Apophysis, from where Kovec developed her corrupting and manipulative magic.

Now that rule has passed on to Scheya and Rilkasha, Theraphosa has become just a massive problem. As a part of their rule they wish to make the cities safe so the Morus can live actual lives there and develop themselves as a people. Furthermore, they wish to gather together the Drider so they can help them to return to who they were before Kovec corrupted them so deeply. Theraphosa is the biggest thing standing in the way of this ideal. The concept of undoing every trap in Theraphosa and being able to smoke out every single Drider that would hide themselves in the massive city is ridiculous. The twins can’t even ask the aid of the Nepheline for this effort, since Theraphosa’s traps are so deadly that the Nepheline would likely just end up getting slaughtered trying to make their way around. Even in Kovec’s death, Theraphosa remains a fortress that defends her will.

Latrodectus is known for being one of the Morus’s greatest fort cities during the time of Kovec’s rule. It shared this title with several other settlements near the Nepheline Morus border, all of which remained unconquered despite individually being relatively small cities. What makes these cities significant is not that title that it held in the past but occurrences that have happened recently. The fort cities have become places where the twins have brought in Nepheline to mingle with the Morus and help them to rebuild the cities that were formerly filled with various deadly things. They’re now a symbol of the new age that the twins bring, one where the Morus can experience the world and cultures that they’ve missed out on and develop as a race. Latrodectus is the most successful of the cities thus far, its people were willing to work with the Nepheline and together they have almost entirely rebuilt the settlement.

Although Latrodectus is known for another thing, for discovering the location of a hermetic dragon in the caves near the territory. Hermetic dragons are creatures of huge importance, they are born only to make huge impacts on the world. Before this dragon in particular became known, people thought the hermetics of Spectrum Peak were the only ones. The fact that one is underground raises many questions; what event caused it to come into being? What impact is the dragon meant to have on the world? How long has it been there, did it appear in response to a new threat or was it driven underground in times past? Is it the only one or are there other hermetics that the world does not know about? These questions are sure to bring many people to Latrodectus, and when they come the Morus’ social developments will be tested.

The Night City is a pocket plane created by Kovec to act as her link between all of the Morus settlements. It is now used by Scheya as a place to govern the growth of her people.

The Exile Caverns are places where the Morus and Drider who are still loyal to Kovec have gathered together. These groups truly believed in Kovec’s rule, seeing the influence of the old god as a blessing and as something that made their people great and powerful. Whether that be their true feelings or thoughts spurred by Kovec’s magic, these groups are still people that the twins wish to recover. These groups have taken to trapping caves to pick off Nepheline wandering in their territory as well as to kidnap their fellow Morus. Those who they capture are brought to the Driders, who retain knowledge of Kovec’s magic and use it to brainwash the Morus back into loyalty for the old god. They build their numbers, although most of them don’t really understand what end they wish to reach. They’re effectively programmed to rebuild Kovec’s army but without direction they live ferally, among the wildlife of the Dull.

The Mosslands of the Dull are equivalent to the ‘nature’ of the world above. While the Nepheline and Morus settlements are significant, they only make up around 1% of the Dull. Incidentally, over half of that percent is Theraphosa alone. The Mosslands are a majority of what the Dull is, winding caves full of gems, moss and creatures. The Mosslands are split into multiple levels with classifications that generally define the Dull as a whole. These levels are ‘the roads’, ‘the descent’, ‘the deep’ and ‘the doldrums’. Formerly, there was also ‘the shallow’ before the uppermost level of the mosslands was cleared out for the sake of the trade routes.

The roads cover the mossland territory that is commonly traveled by either Nepheline, Morus or just adventurers looking to find treasures. These are the mosslands between settlements, where the creatures have adapted to the frequent presence of people and are mostly docile. The fiercest beasts one will find around Nepheline territory are bears, which can easily be spooked off if you know what to do. Although not strictly aggressive, the most dangerous creatures that can be found in the roads level are Natyr. The Dull is home to many forms of fungal Natyr that, while slow, can release potent spores that can easily incapacitate a group of people. Morus territory is trickier, during Kovec’s time she brought in various kinds of spider and, as she did the Morus, influenced their evolution with her magic. They turned gigantic and monstrous and as an invasive species they easily took over the mosslands around the Morus territory. The Morus formerly used them as hunting companions to bring food into the settlements but Rilkasha now spends much of her time hunting down and removing Kovec’s spiders from the ecosystem. The fungal Natyr exist in Morus territory with the same frequency as in the Nepheline’s, although some of them have absorbed Kovec’s magic and become horrid half-spider half-mushroom amalgams. These mutations can lace their webs with spores that make them nigh-inescapable, easily the deadliest things one could come across in the roads.

The descent is the level of mosslands that reaches further down into Tertia, below where the Nepheline and Morus have settled. Nepheline mines stretch down into the descent but they don’t make settlements there because of the more aggressive creatures there. Goliath centipedes and scorpions are common threats in the descent, but what really defines this territory is its aquatic disposition. The descent is home to many wells of water, of which only more have come to be through the Nepheline’s mining. There are entire rivers flowing through the descent, in open areas one might even be lucky enough to see a natural underground waterfall. Snails, fish and crustaceans thrive in the descent, the latter easily able to contend with the arachnids and arthropods. Whether or not a goliath scorpion or a colossal lobster would come out on top in a fight is a common debate between Nepheline. The creatures that rest firmly at the top of the descent’s food chain, however, are the dragons. Although not as aggressive as their Kanotian cousins, the salamander-drakes and the olm-drakes are easily the toughest fight you can find in the descent. Mercifully, the salamander-drakes have weak vision and the olm-drakes are totally blind, so they can be avoided in case of any unfortunate encounters. If one walks into a Nepheline dig site, though, the entire operation has to be called off until it leaves.

The deep marks the level of the Dull that the Nepheline have deemed not worth mining, the point at which the risk becomes too great to be worth investing into. Monstrous ants, worms and beetles are the main threat here, individually they aren’t as strong as creatures in the descent but they scuttle around in massive groups. A colony of deep ants could devour a drake in seconds, the worms are larger than men and can easily chew through the cave walls and the beetles crush their prey while being almost impossible to damage. There are even moths in the deep that will just eat people whole. If that wasn’t threatening enough, the deep is where adventurers will start to see many more Aljani-beasts who were driven down to this level long ago. It is thought that the burrowing of the deep’s giant worms is what created these lower levels of the Dull. Similar to the roads, the worst things to encounter here are one of the two types of Natyr. The first type is the moss Natyr, which conglomerate together and camouflage in the dark cave halls as unassuming clumps of moss. When a creature steps on one, the moss Natyr will quickly wrap around them and begin devouring them. The scary thing about them is they secrete a toxin that turns the body of their victim into mold, which is easier for them to devour. This is extremely fast acting and even if the victim survives, they can end up looking zombie-like for the rest of their lives because of their exposure to the toxin. The second type and the apex creatures of the deep are the Pilea Natyr. The Pilea are a source of countless scary stories in Nepheline communities because of how they hunt. They bend their bodies into a humanoid shape, which they know the other creatures of the deep are aggressive towards and stand totally still in the middle of hallways. When they are attacked, their thorns lash out and the poison from them can cause total internal failure instantly. Only in a creature’s dying moments do they see, through the darkness, the pink flowers growing on the Pilea’s body. A Pilea won’t even eat the body, it sucks out all the fluids from the inside of its prey to sustain itself.

Those who fair the deep will eventually reach the doldrums, a scarcely explored level of the Dull due to how hazardous it is. So deep into the ground, this is where the heat of the world’s core will start to singe spelunkers that are not optimally prepared. Due to the heat, the transition between the deep and the doldrums is the hard cut-off point for Natyr. Plant life stops happening completely this low down but the creatures persevere. The creatures of this level are as Magia and have evolved obsidian flesh to give them resistance from the heat. The creatures of this level are also omnivores in the purest sense of the word, they’re capable of sustaining themselves purely by eating rocks and letting the magic within their bodies process that into what they need to keep living. They do hunt on occasion but skirmishes they get into are commonly territorial in nature. Snake-dragons and titanic esurient bats make up the most dangerous sorts of beast one is likely to encounter here.

The Grey refers to areas that were touched by Gonel’s magic during the colorless war. Warped by his demonic essence, these areas have spawned countless dangers for the residents of the Dull. During the colorless war the grey took over a large amount of the mosslands, creating havoc as creatures were corrupted and became Aljani-beasts that tore apart the balance of the Dull’s ecosystem. Once Gonel was defeated, the Nepheline who were keen to take back their territory drove the Aljani-beasts down into the descent and then further into the deep over time. The Morus also moved to slaughter the Aljani-beasts by the command of Kovec, who was still bitter from her loss to Gonel. Since that time areas of the Grey have become smaller, Gonel’s magic drawn into clusters of magic-absorbing crystal. This does not stop them from being dangerous places where Aljani-beasts spawn and make travelling the Dull all the more dangerous. The hermetic dragon spotted near Latrodectus was found close to an area afflicted by the Grey, leading people to believe that it may have appeared for the purpose of killing Aljani-beasts.

The Red refers to unstable danger zones within the Dull and places that have in the past been used as warzones. While the Grey is found on basically all levels of the Dull, the Red is confined
largely to the roads and the descent. These areas are marked by the Nepheline so that adventurers and other folks in the Dull don’t end up in the wrong place should any cave-ins happen. Apart from the wildlife of the Dull, getting crushed by rocks is an entirely real threat. Areas marked as the Red are more frequent in the descent, where a lot of mining takes place. Areas where drakes have been spotted may also be marked as Red zones. In terms of marking warzones, it’s unclear whether or not they’re defined as Red because battles took place there and that could make the area unstable or to mark out places of memorial. If you asked two random Nepheline, they could give you one answer or the other. These warzones are mostly places where battles between Nepheline and Morus took place, although there are still old, dead Nepheline settlements that were left in ruins during conflicts with Gonel. This could be taken as a joke or not, but most Nepheline would tell you that every area of the Dull from the deep downwards is marked as Red.

The Molten Interior, the deepest levels of the Dull below even the doldrums that are nigh-untraversable by those who wear flesh. While magic has allowed Tertia’s creatures to live in ridiculous environments, practically nothing lives in the molten interior. If for some inexplicable reason someone were to come all the way down here, all they’d find are lost Cast bumbling around. The Cast aren’t even aggressive, their confusion might lead them to lash out if approached but realistically there’s a low chance one will fight you. Due to being the place in the world with the closest proximity with the core, where all of the magic in Tertia flows through, it’s possible that the molten interior is home to Fae, which are extremely rare on Tertia. Fae are beings of pure magic that have developed their own ‘will’, although what they would hope to achieve in the molten interior is difficult to discern. They might find their purpose in guiding the Cast, either back to their home in the liquid metal of Tertia’s center or up and out into the world, where they can truly use the lives that they have been gifted by magic.