Pemmadhaghra

(found at #30 on the world map)

It is said that the Chasm opened in an earthquake twenty thousand years ago at a specific conjunction of several of Pressen’s moons, though no records exist, of course, from that time to prove the legend right or wrong. At first, it is said, it was merely a crack in the ground, barely a few feet in width and a few hundred long, but over the following centuries it expanded to its present size, about two hundred feet wide and about ten miles long. No one knows why it grew, nor why its growth finally ceased. But there it lay, and the hilly grasslands around it would give way suddenly to thousand-foot cliffs of sleek black obsidian.

It lay untouched for millennia after that, until the Forty-Seventh Dark Times, when the forces of Arkenos in their invasion of Gallidus decided that they would make the uninhabitable Chasm their main base. That invasion is rumored to have been one of the most dire in history; it took decades to expel or exterminate the vermin that crossed to Jenoa, and in the meantime the Dark had plenty of time to carve into both sides of the walls of the Chasm a gargantuan, labyrinthine city, with great halls, endless corridors and barracks, and even shafts from the ground level to the deepest deep, which could be traversed with platforms retrofitted with the same levitating crystals used on skyships. Great arches of bridges, forged by some volcanic smith or fiery magic, connected the two sides of the Chasm. No one really knew why the Dark had chosen to build in such an inhospitable place, and many theorized that there was something of value hidden beneath the layers and layers of shining black rock. Indeed, it was not until the Dark had been defeated everywhere else did anyone realize how defensible the Chasm was: it took years to cleanse the farthest deeps of the creatures of evil that had created it, its structure was not easy to assault, and gigantic subterranean storehouses made laying siege almost futile. In the end, though, it was conquered by the forces of Jenoa. During the siege, however, that the City of the Chasm got its name, in the ancient tongue of the Gallidan Elves: Pemmadhaghra, the Long Fall.

It was not long after the forces of Darkness that had tunneled out Pemmadhaghra were destroyed that local Jenoan races sought to occupy its passageways. It was then that they discovered that there was nothing of value to mine in the rock of the walls; no matter how far they went, the walls were simply plain, dark obsidian. Despite this disappointment, many stayed, and Pemmadhaghra rose in power and glory. Over the subsequent millennia, it has been the capital of empires and has lain abandoned for centuries. At times, the population has grown so great that it spilled onto the surface (the hard rock means that any expansion of the existing cave networks is hideously expensive), and there are great ruins all about the once-meadows around the central, widest portion of the Chasm, while there are many farms in its vicinity that provide it with foodstuffs. In some portions, the Chasm remains as it was in the past: an abrupt gash in the soil, into which an unsuspecting trekker might stumble only in order to plummet to an untimely death.

(It is worth repeating that much of this knowledge is due to legend, but researchers have corroborated many of these proposals, at least pronouncing them plausible.)

In the present day, Pemmadhaghra is a significant city of the waning Tlerian Empire, though it itself has only a shadow of its former glory. This does not mean, however, that the shadow is not itself bright, as the nobility of Pemmadhaghra still wields sway in internal Tlerian politics and are among the wealthiest of the world, having decorated their underground palaces lavishly. Only about three quarters of the caverns are fully occupied, and those are those nearest the surface, where a twin city beneath the rays of the sun also has raised its foundations. The ascension shafts still operate, miraculously. The lowest deeps, however, are those for which the city is most famed, for there live the mysterious Seers, often consulted for their foresight by none but the Tlerian Emperor himself. Interestingly, the most famous prophecy of all was reportedly given as a response to a particularly vague and stupid question by a lackluster emperor about the immortality of his memory, though the answer was fraught with significance and dread, for it is said that it was sealed with the blood of the Seer that spoke it:

“When falleth Pemmadhaghra,
Deeper falleth the dark.”

This prophecy, while indubitably true, has warranted no small measure of intense speculation amidst politicans, priests and commoners alike, with some saying it has already come to pass, that it is now (especially in relation to the supposed corruption of one’s political opponents) or that the dark to which it refers is really the Dark, looming overhead once every thousand years.