5e Free Mini Campaign part 4: Talhanas, and Two Adventure locations

Talhanas: A New Nation of Blended Cultures-

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Among the most interesting cultures to come to Selna is the Nation of Talhanas. Talhanas is not a colony, but rather a nation born out of the cultural blending of the Jhorrund and the Walkonians. So closely had they become that a number of Walkonians had begun to romanticize the nomadic lifestyle of the Jhorrund, which was of course reciprocated by the nomads that took interest in the relatively exotic immigrants.

Many of these relationships had altered entire tribes, and emptied entire villages, as the cultural exchange became a wild and unpredictable journey. The journey ended in a relatively benevolent surprise, as the resulting product was a splinter nation, a merging of the two cultures into something entirely unique. Some see Talhanas as a watering down of the respective cultures, and fear for what it could mean for all three societies, though these dissenters are relatively few in number.

And so was born the city-state of Talhanas. Initially created as a trading post, the settlement quickly grew from visitors and immigrants that wanted to live a different life than those offered by the Jhorrund or Walkonians. Though the city-state is treated as a sister tribe by the Jhorrund, the resulting leadership has since declared sovereignty, recognizing that the burgeoning culture was not compatible with strict Jhorrund traditions.

Despite the stark divide, Talhanas acts as an able go-between for Walkonia and the Jhorrund, and maintains amiable relations with both nations. It has begun to consider expansion into untamed lands, and has commissioned several charters for these purposes.

The society of Talhanas is indeed unique, and combines a respect for the land with the benefits of a stationary culture. There are many people of Talhanas that wander within the bounds of the territory, maintaining a semi-nomadic lifestyle, but even the prospect of a central hub is a vastly different cultural experience than the nomadic life of the Jhorrund.

Culturally, Talhanas is focused on respect, honor, and a simple life. While not exactly Spartan, many farmers and city folk are expected to practice a habitual austerity for the sake of those unable to sustain themselves. Many of the composite communities see it as their duty to raise up the less fortunate for the sake of all.

Attempts by outsiders to alter these values are usually met with anger and even violence. It is difficult, for instance, to see any enterprising merchants make a profitable living within the city state of Talhanas. Any such endeavors tend to be appropriately understated.

On the topics of war and conflict, Talhanas is both too peaceful and too new to participate in any military campaign. However, they do offer some assistance to the Jhorrund in crafting war supplies. The Talhanas sensibility has led them to a special appreciation of crafting in general, and Talhanas  arms and armor are treasured across the continent.

Despite being approximately 70 years old, Talhanas is among the most impressive cities on the continent. As they expand their settlement into the countryside, they have stumbled across various ancient secrets. Even now, the site of a planned expansion has been stalled due to the discovery of an older city buried by time.

Castle of Thundering Bells- An adventure location.

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On the lonely plains of Selna’s eastern half stands a monumental castle that stands out against the horizon. It is surrounded by featureless plains, the only feature for hundreds of leagues. So old it is that it appears to some as a lonely green hill from a great distance, as it has been covered with moss and ivy that cling to its walls tenaciously.

The castle is large, and may have been a redoubt in some ancient war that even the Adventists had forgotten in their hey day. Whatever its purpose may have been can only be guessed at, for it holds a powerful curse to this day. Within its walls, all sound is silenced. This effect supersedes the strongest magics, and may be the work of an artifact buried deep within. However, as one attempts to skulk within the ancient halls, a sound disturbs reality, as it resounds from within each intruder; a bell.

Faint at first, the incessant ringing grows ever more oppressive. Within an hour, the maddening gong drives most intruders out. Those that resist the bell will find themselves lost within the maze of the castle, surrendered to addled madness with the castle as their tomb.

Curiously, those who are somehow permanently deaf are left undisturbed by the gongs, but attempts by such people to enter the castle have all failed. None have seen what fate awaits the deaf treasure hunters that enter.

The castle has long been a subject of curiosity for many of the colonists of Selna. Jhorrund tribes are banned from going, though this has not stopped the occasional tribe member from attempting to plumb the depths of the castle for treasure or knowledge. Kaldornians have continually attempted to experiment with the castle’s strange properties, only to lose vast sums of research grants, at the least.

The curious rumor that seems to have circulated recently is that the castle is showing signs of change; the moss has been receding. Astronomers have tied these changes to an upcoming astrological event. It could be that for a short time, the castle will relinquish its secrets to those who have an abundance of bravery or recklessness.

A Missive to the East Walkonian Magistrate:
“A strange and disturbing discovery was made near a the hamlet of Merzost. Unauthorized explorers have uncovered an ancient ruin that contains an ancient technology. The locals are beset with anxiety as tales of the ancient complex become known, and imaginations run wild with the curses and terrible dangers that might spill out.

The Walkonian Guild of Explorers has quickly apprehended the perpetrators, and they have been found to be spies from Kal Dor. My sources tell me that they were intent on discovering alchemical secrets. We have already done a thorough search of the complex, and found nothing.

We are fortunate in one respect; the place has been empty for centuries, and it seems that it was in disuse. The troubling thing is that it did contain a map… I have it in my possession for safekeeping, but it details three additional areas, and we cannot be sure that the spies have not already disclosed this to their leaders.

I humbly request that you draft a charter to find and secure these locations. The contents of these additional Alchemical Stables are of great importance, and could present a danger for the entire region. I only hope that it is not too late.”

Alchemical Stables of the Golden Age-

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The Alchemical Stable of the Golden Age were a haughtily named set of buildings commissioned by the Selnan nobility. Few know of their existence, and fewer still have set foot in one, and they are the subject of wild speculation. What is known is that they hold ancient technologies, though so far all of it has been broken beyond repair.

The currently explored complex offers only a hint of what the other complexes might contain. Strange abstract frescoes seem to suggest that its purpose was to generate wondrous and horrible life forms, or for the crafting of terrifying weapons. Whatever the complexes might actually hold, the potential for danger is higher than any potential for gain. This risk has done nothing to halt the plans for the despoiling of the ominous compounds.

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