The Pirates Of Atlantis
Empire of Lemuria
Atlantis’s chief rival, and at times enemy is the Empire of Lemuria. Once the most powerful realm in the world, Lemuria is slowly but surely being eclipsed by the Dominion… but it remains mighty, and the final outcome of the struggle between the two is by no means certain. Not even the Vasaran oracles can predict what will ultimately come to pass in this titanic conflict.
LEMURIA, THE LAND BENEATH THE WAVES
The heart of the Lemurian Empire is, of course, Lemuria itself. Once a land like any other, it now exists deep beneath the waves of the Tellaric Sea.
Relatively little is known of Lemurian history, for the Lemurians are a private, even secretive, people who don’t necessarily want outsiders to know about them or their land. What chronicles do exist tend to contradict one another on various points, and often make claims so outlandish that no reputable scholar can credit them.
Nevertheless, one who studies what is available can create what seems to be a plausible, consistent outline of Lemurian history. Thousands of years before Poseidon gave the new land of Atlantis to Evenor and Leucippe, Lemuria was founded by a powerful sorcerer named Falarlem. Falarlem was a great philosopher and scientist who discovered the four basic foundations of Lemurian elemental magic, the mystic substances ignaetium, corusqua, crystallos, and fulminor. Using them to fuel an army of soldiers and a fleet of ships, he conquered the archipelago that he christened Lemuria.
With the power of the four mystic substances behind it, Lemuria’s fortunes rose. In the centuries after its founding, Lemuria went on to conquer much of the known world: Saravon, Deoghar, Sangobar, western Tel’Ramas. It would have extended its reach further, but hubris and ambition led to a number of disasters that weakened or stymied the Lemurians. First, the chronicles speak of a “great spell” intended to give all Lemurians immortality and vast mystic powers. But something went wrong with the working of it, and the Lemurians were crippled instead (though they did succeed in extending their lifespans). Exactly how they are crippled is unclear, but their anguish over the results of the “great spell” comes through in every chronicle and record available to Atlantean scholars.
Apparently the taste of immortality they received only whetted the Lemurians’ appetite, for soon they went to war with the gods themselves to obtain the secret of life eternal! In their fiery workshops the sorcerer-scientists of Lemuria built vast magiconstructs designed to let them storm the citadels of heaven itself. One assault after another was repulsed, until at last the Lemurians designed the greatest weapon the world had ever seen: the Mandragalore. The nature and purpose of the Mandragalore are uncertain, but it seems it was designed to shake the land of the gods and destroy it, much like an earthquake or great storm ravages the earth. But such power was not meant for mortal hands. The Lemurians activated the super-weapon and prepared to rejoice in the downfall of their enemies… but something went wrong. Waves of arcane energy exploded from the device, ravaging Lemuria itself as the Lemurians had meant to ravage heaven. Then the Mandragalore detonated, scattering pieces and fragments of itself all over the world. The explosion was so powerful that it killed thousands of Lemurians and shattered their largest island.
But that was not the worst of it. Lemuria’s sorcerers soon realized the explosion had destabilized the archipelago and that it was beginning to sink beneath the waves! They tried to halt the disaster, but their spells were not strong enough to overcome the effects of the Mandragalore. Soon they turned their attention not to saving Lemuria, but preserving it. They erected vast domes of crystallos over the Lemurian capital and ignaetium mines so that the Lemurians could live and thrive beneath the waves. It took several centuries for Lemuria to overcome the effects of the disaster and learn to live beneath the waves.
During that time many parts of its empire broke away from it to chart their own course in the world. When Lemuria was once again ready to assert itself in the world, its first task was to reconquer those lost lands. This it did swiftly and harshly, cruelly punishing those who’d dared to turn away from it in its time of troubles. When the reconquest was complete, Lemuria marched on to take new lands.
Had things continued in that wise, Lemuria would no doubt rule the world today, despite having to cope with the difficulties of living underwater. But a new power arose in the world — Atlantis, whose mystical might was a match for Lemuria’s own.
Since then Atlantis’s power in the world has waxed and that of Lemuria has waned; the Lemurian Empire has contracted, with the lost lands becoming part of the Dominion of Atlantis. But the struggle between the two is far from over, and Lemuria has many weapons at its disposal that could spell doom for the Great Island and her people.
Lemuria itself is an undersea kingdom protected from the crushing weight of the Tellaric waters by magical domes made of crystallos. While living underwater imposes many difficulties on the Lemurians, it also offers them unprecedented security. No Atlantean spy has ever succeeded in getting close to penetrating the Lemurian dome, nor could any existing army or navy bring significant force to bear against it without employing magic on a level that even the Atlanteans have never tried.
The main Lemurian dome is a full 10 miles in diameter and contains all the buildings and facilities the Lemurians need for daily life, including magical engines that draw oxygen from the water. Extending off from the main dome are tunnels to some smaller domes that protect the ignaetium mines or farming areas. Within the dome the buildings have an unusual style, one that would strike modern human eyes as being a sort of combination of Baroque and Art Deco styles — onion-shaped domes, intricate mosaics, lots of carved stone, many buildings sheathed in bronze, brass, or copper plating. Important features include the palaces of each noble house (see below), the immense palace of the Priest-King, the four ziggurat temples of the Lemurian gods (see below), and the Amphitheater, where the “fossilized” skeletons and clothing of the nobles who witnessed the Mandragalore’s destruction sit in mute testimony to the weapon’s power. Aside from Lemuria itself, the Lemurians control a surface empire that as of 12098 BC is confined to the continents of Saravon and Deoghar.
LEMURIAN SOCIETY AND CULTURE
Lemurian society consists of two groups: the Lemurian nobles and the Mole-Men. These two populations live very different lives. Lemurian nobles devote themselves entirely to whatever pursuit they choose — typically sorcery or warfare, but sometimes sports, philosophy, or the like. They live lives of ease and pleasure.
The Mole-Men, subhuman servants descended from the people who originally inhabited the Lemurian archipelago, only stop toiling to eat and sleep. They are the ultimate slaves, never questioning or rebelling, just working, working, working without complaint. They live underneath Lemuria in extensive warrens which also contain much of the magicomachinery that ensures Lemuria’s continued existence.
To a Lemurian, a Mole-Man is not a sentient being. He is a thing, a golem of flesh and blood, and possesses much less value than a magiconstruct (after all, a Mole-Man is ugly and not the creation of Lemurian sorcery). Any behavior that hints of a Mole-Man’s conduct, even minor things such as traveling underground, is beneath a Lemurian noble — he would rather die than act that way.
The Noble Houses
Lemurian society revolves around the noble houses, of which there are said to be nearly fifty. Each is named for one of the founders or early notables of Lemurian history. A patriarch (or matriarch) leads each House, and only he can take the name of the house as his surname (all other members take a diminutive or altered form as their surname). For instance, Kerevar Shorg is the patriarch of the House of Shorg, and no other member of the House could use the name, Shorg, in his own name until Kerevar is no longer the patriarch.
The patriarch is often the oldest member of the family, but sometimes he’s one of the elder members with the most prestige, influence, or power. The Priest-King must approve all appointments to patriarch, but the actual decision is made by vote of the adult members of the family. The patriarch holds great power, not only over his own House but Lemurian society, for the members of the Council of Patriarchs serve as the chief advisors to the Priest-King and often sway his opinion.
Lemurian marriages are arranged entirely by the House patriarch and elders (often certain women in particular); they have nothing to do with love, and love rarely results from the unions. Often marriages are arranged to seal economic or social deals. The woman becomes a part of her husband’s House and moves to its palace, though her true loyalty may remain with her birth-House.
A House usually only has five or six traditional given names for its children. Since a House consists of dozens of individuals, the members use epithets (either ones they choose, or ones given to them) to differentiate themselves from others of their House with the same name. A House raises children communally — the idea of a discrete set of parents raising a child is alien to the Lemurians; a child is the son or daughter of the House as a whole, not two individuals.
Each House has a reputation among its fellows, both for the great feats of their ancestors and more often for the infamous ones. For example, the House of Shorg is known for producing great warriors… but the story most often told of them is the ignoble and disgusting death suffered by Tregon Shorg at the Battle of Mt. Akontios.
Conflicts and conspiracies between nobles Houses are not uncommon. Duels and assassination resolve some of the difficulties quickly, while other rivalries and hatreds fester for decades or centuries.
Nearly all Lemurian nobles pursue either the arts of war or sorcery, and typically they devote every day to the task of perfecting these skills. Few Lemurians create art, write poetry, or dedicate themselves to hobbies. To the Lemurian mind, only two fields of activity — sorcery and war — are worthy of a Lemurian’s time. Doing anything else is considered aberrant and even disgraceful, so it takes a strong personality and a willingness to endure scorn to choose other endeavors.
The warrior spends his day drilling, observing the construction and repair of war machines, and reading the histories of past military campaigns. Occasionally warriors go hunting in the surface realms or hold war games, usually recreations of historical battles the Lemurians won, using Mole-Men as troops.
A the sorcerer’s day is much more bookish — he spends most of his time in a library, either his House’s or that of another. Other days he spends in his estate’s workshops, conducting experiments.
What experiments he chooses to perform and avenues of research he chooses to follow are up to him, but usually his House, not to mention the Priest-King, will have “suggestions” about the best ways he can spend his time. Unlike a stereotypical surface world wizard, who prefers to horde his knowledge and guards it jealously from his own kind, most Lemurian sorcerers love to discuss magic with their fellow Lemurians. However, the communal nature of Lemurian sorcery sometimes gives rise to the cabals and conspiracies that plague Lemuria’s internal history.
All of a House’s members gather for dinner in the palace’s grand hall at six o’clock, where they discuss the day’s doings and goings-on. If a House member misses the dinner he must explain why and make apologies to the House’s patriarch as soon as possible — missing dinner is considered disgraceful. The only reasonable excuses for missing dinner are serious illness and being outside Lemuria entirely. A dinner is solely for House members; other Lemurians, including the Priest-King, are never invited.
When outside their palaces or receiving guests, all Lemurian nobles wear masks — either a half-mask covering the upper part of his face or a full one covering his entire face. Each House has a Lemurian heraldic demon or creature for its symbol, and the mask is typically a stylized representation of that symbol. The masks are always fierce in appearance, with sharp fangs, horns, or like attributes. The most ancient masks possess mystical properties. Materials vary greatly, but the oldest are often of materials Lemurians rarely use in their metalworking, such as black iron and steel.
The Lemurian religion has four gods, one for each of the alchemical marvels that form the backbone of Lemurian mechano-mysticism: Nolor-Khan, Dweller in Smoke, lord of fulminor; Rareesha the Scorched Goddess, queen of the pantheon and goddess of ignaetium; Manteen, Lord of the Shard, god of crystallos (and thus by extension of protection and security, since crystallos domes preserve Lemuria underwater); and Og-Slyntal, the Voice of Lightning, god of corusqua.
The Priest-King is the head of the Lemurian church, though his duties are mostly ceremonial. The priesthood, which is small in number compared to most other societies of the Atlantean World, is divided into four groups, one devoted to each of the gods. Bickering and rivalries between the four are commonplace, sometimes escalating to vicious mischief or even gangs of disguised priests who corner a rival priest on the street and beat him. Typically the priests remain in their respective ziggurats, endlessly performing rituals to propitiate their god; they also conduct magical research involving their god’s element, since many priests are also sorcerers.
The Lemurian economy mostly involves trade among the various provinces of the Empire, which supply Lemuria with most of the goods and services it needs. In effect Lemuria uses its Empire as a vast storehouse and captive market. External trade is mostly conducted with Tellat and Kaphtor, since Atlantean merchants usually deal warily with Lemurians and the Empire of Hazaria doesn’t have much that Lemuria desires. Sometimes Lemurian merchants disguise themselves so they can obtain more favorable terms with Atlanteans, or work through intermediaries so the Atlanteans don’t know the ultimate recipient of the trade-goods.
Internally, the Lemurian economy involves barter among the noble Houses. They don’t buy things from one another with money (which is used only for transactions in the surface world). Trades most often involve services (“If you’ll repair my ornithopter, I’ll send 100 of my Mole-Men to assist with your construction project”), since the Houses treasure their possessions (many of which have thousands of years of history) and rarely dispose of them. To some extent a House’s Mole-Men serve as a sort of ad hoc currency, used most frequently in gambling, but the exchange of Mole-Men is mostly symbolic since to a Lemurian noble Mole-Men have no value at all.
Lemuria is an empire with a rigid, autocratic system of government. The leader of all Lemurians and ruler of the empire is the Priest-King, Kalagar Lorr. The ruler retains the title “Priest-King” in deference to Lemurian tradition, even though “Priest-Emperor” would be more accurate. The Priest-King’s word is law, and to defy him is to risk exile, execution, or whatever other punishment he deems fit.
Assisting the Priest-King are two organizations. The first is a vast bureaucracy made up partly of nobles and partly of priests. They see to the day-today running of the empire. Nobles are usually involved as governors ruling the various provinces of the empire, generals commanding its armies, or similar important positions. Priests serve as the day-to-day bureaucrats; they keep records, assist governmental officers, and in general keep the machinery of government running smoothly. Rivalries between the four factions of priests sometimes disrupt the government for this reason, which is why the Priest-King does his best to keep any conflicts from getting out of hand.
The second is the Council of Patriarchs, a sort of senate composed of the patriarchs of all the noble Houses. Technically the Council has a purely advisory role, but sometimes its power eclipses that of the Priest-King and its “suggestions” virtually have the effect of law. When Kalagar Lorr came to the throne the Council was in a period of ascendancy, and he’s struggled hard over the decades to regain some of his office’s traditional power. As of 12098 BC, power has become evenly balanced between the two, but the political momentum seems to be in the Priest-King’s favor.
Lemuria has no legal code. The only crimes are embarrassing one’s House or the Priest-King, and usually this embarrassment results from failure. The only punishments are ostracism, exile, and execution. A House patriarch sentences a noble to ostracism, and he lets the family know of his judgment at the House dinners. The patriarch always sits at the head of the table; a Lemurian’s status dictates how near he sits to the patriarch. An ostracized House member sits alone at the very end of the table. To further embarrass a member of his House, a patriarch can give the noble a epithet that serves as a reminder of his shame. Only the Priest-King can sentence a Lemurian to exile or execution. He does so at his discretion (or whim, as the case may be).
Lemuria maintains a large and powerful military that it uses to keep peace throughout its empire… and hopefully in time to extend the borders of that empire once more. The backbone of Lemurian military might is magiconstructs, ranging from large vehicles (like ornithopters, ophidothopters, and pisciremes), to personal craft (Gullop-Steeds and Flynq-Sharks), to individual weaponry and armor (ignaetiors and caraprixes, for example), to massive warengines that dominate the battlefield (such as hepatizon giants and crystallocolossi). The massed Lemurian army or navy is an awe-inspiring sight that literally glows with the power of all the magic involved.
Lemurian sorcery primarily involves control and use of four mystical elements (ignaetium, corusqua, crystallos, and fulminor). Through various alchemical and mystico-engineering processes, Lemurian sorcerer-scientists draw the power out of these elements and use it to cast spells or power magiconstructs of every shape, size, and function.
Lemuria controls the continents of Deoghar and Saravon. At one time its empire was much larger, but it’s lost ground to Atlantis. Lemuria’s noble warriors are ever-eager for another chance to clash with the Dominion, and hopefully to regain some of the empire’s lost territories.