At the bottom of the largest lagoon in the perpetually submerged continent of Tarrod lies Tawsooooshar, the capital city of the imperial shoal. The lake itself with its brown murky waters is regarded as the most sacred location in Eshal cosmology, since it is widely believed to be the hallowed grounds on which the Matriarch was first spawned by Karg, the mightiest among the gods of water. For this reason the lake is known as Kargalooooshoal which means ''Place of Karg's Child'. It was due to the sacred nature of the lagoon that in the aftermath of the unification of the various Eshal tribes, the first emperor at the advice of his Cuada allies, chose to erect a new capital at its bottom to symbolise the emergence of the new imperial shoal. In order to appease the local spirits of the lake as well as the high god Karg, the leaders of the rival tribes were sacrificed and buried beneath the foundations of the new city. Within the space of a few weeks, the most prominent priests of the heretic deity Larfu, as well as the chiefs who had remained loyal to him and the old ways, were eviscerated, their spilled blood serving to usher in the beginning of the imperial shoal's savage domination over Tarrod. With their deaths, the eldest son of the Matriarch who had previously been merely a glorified shaman, was now recognised as the ultimate master of the entire submerged continent.
Seat of Power
The political and religious nature of this submerged city is evident in its strongly monumental architecture. The best example of this fact is the ceremonial heart of Tawsooooshar, the emperor’s palace. Housing both him and his vast array of concubines and offs-ring, its vast rectangular mass created from a lustrous blue coral that was quarried and removed from the distant coastline of Tarrod. Rising out of the murky depths of the lake's waters, its glowering, hulking mass upon closer inspection, reveals elaborate wall panels which depict important scene from Eshal religious myths as well as pivotal historical moments. Most of the carvings depict the emperor as a vast Eshal warrior towering above fleeing Anura and mermen rebels. As they desperately attempt to escape, the monarch can be seen reaching down with viciously clawed fingers to grab the wretches. Other panels depict the captured foes being hurled into the ravenous maw of the emperor even as his feet trample countless hoards of other enemies. Yet more of those panels depict Toltep, the firstborn among the Cauda, raising his hand to bestow a blessing on the reverentially crouched mass of the emperor. Other carved reliefs and panels show the various Eshal deities. Past the massive single square entrance carved into the front of the palace, lies a great concave area that serves as the emperor's seat of power. Massive idols of the various Eshal deities rear up, the butchered corpses of sacrificial victims heaped at their feet, their entrails and organs laid out on the great stone alter positioned before each idol. Located in a narrow alcove separated from the main hall by a thick barrier of rush, lies the emperor's own throne room, a small space dominated by the massive stone throne carved into an elaborate visage of the open, gaping maw of the Matriarch. Here he receives reports carried by his scribes and subordinate priests. The modesty of his throne room in comparison to the central hall with its numerous alters, is meant to emphasize the fact that despite being of divine origin himself, the emperor is but the chief priest of the gods of water, those supreme beings who must be worshipped and revered above all.
Surrounding this central complex are small rectangular buildings carved from coral which house the emperor's numerous mates and their children. His mates dwell in several of the coral dwellings, while his offspring reside in collective nurseries located within the rest. Located some distance from these buildings are the more typical dome shaped mud mounds which house his servants and their families. This is the shoal that is expected to serve the emperor's every need. All of them, from lesser priests to Ranchowen herders, dwell there in order to put into effect the desires of their lord. They are housed in separate mounds according to the function they perform, with the lesser priests occupying the largest mound which is further distinguished by the elaborate carvings on its sides which detail the religious duties performed by its occupants. Among all the underlings of the emperor, only his elite bodyguard are permitted to live in a mud mound built directly against the side of the palace itself. In the event of an assault on the palace, the troops will be summoned to battle by a large gold gong suspended from the gaping entrance of the central hall. Other small mounds are located on the outskirts of the palace complex and are intended to serve as warehouses which receive the tribute rendered to the emperor. This tribute typically takes the form of gold nuggets obtained from the subdued foes of the Brave People as well as kelp and sea weed provided by loyal peasants from the surrounding local shoals. The warehouses containing the gold nuggets are constantly guarded by the most fanatical and loyal among the emperor’s retinue of lesser priests.
Located some distance away from the emperor's palace is a large building whose size is dwarfed only by the royal residence. Like the royal palace, it has been carved out of coral. Its sides are also similarly decorated with reliefs depicting certain entities and scenes. However instead of displaying the Eshal pantheon or the emperor, the carved panels on the walls of this building display instead images of monstrous, misshapen monsters Many of them are portrayed as humongous humanoid beings that lack the aquatic characteristics of Tarrod's inhabitants. This building is the fabled sanctuary of the Elder Children. It is here that that the mysterious and fabled Cuada summon fell spirits in order to battle them and compel these beings to relinquish their secrets concerning both the magical arts as well as the secrets of Tarrod that are known only to them. On occasion, the building violently quivers as the Cauda mystics struggle with especially savage spirits. This place on account of the dangerous work that is carried out on its premises, is off limit to all Eshal, even the emperor himself. The Cauda have told The Brave People more than once that some of the spirits are powerful, malicious beings that strive eternally to destroy the imperial shoal by reaching out to consume the son of the Matriarch himself with their vile enchantments. Only the Cauda on account of the unique gifts that they have received from the gods of water, can combat these being and force them to reveal their precious secrets. This like much else that the Cauda have told the Brave People is a lie. It is in this building that the Cauda perform the magical ritual that transforms their brutish, mindless offspring into sentient beings. To reveal this fact to the Eshal would effectively ensure their extermination at the hands of the Brave People. In order to lend credence to their lies, the Cauda occasionally unleash potent spells that cause massive tremors to convulse the building and its immediate surroundings.
Deep below the entire palace complex and its associated buildings lies a massive crater that measures a mile across. The Eshal have never ventured into its depths of this cavernous pit since it is believed to be the location where the captive rival foes of the first emperor were slain. Their angry shades allegedly stalk the dark depths of the massive cavity, slaying all those who dare to descend into it. These angry ghosts are also a Cuada fabrication. In reality, the pit houses ancient artefacts created by a long extinct civilization which does not appear in the tales of either the Cauda or those of the Eshal. Occupying a most prominent place among these artefacts, are vast stone and metal pumps that control the level of the water that submerges most parts of Tarrod. Each pump is a soaring cylinder made from a strange composite material that integrates stone and iron alike, meshing both materials seamlessly with one another. The smallest of the pumps is as large as a mature cypress tree and all of them have arcane, incomprehensible sigils carved onto their sides. The more remarkable of the other artefacts consist of curved metal spheres that heat the surrounding water when knocked several times in quick succession. For centuries now, the Cauda have studied the artifacts, making clandestine excursions to the pit via secret subterranean passages leading from their sanctuary to the location of the mysterious relics. However, although they have learnt how to manipulate some of the more minor artefacts and devices found within that dark cavity, the Cauda have still failed to learn anything substantial about the artefacts or their long vanished creators.
Characters Of Interest
The foremost among the emperor's lesser priests, Kagasoool is also the warchief of the capital and resides in the garisson with his warriors. Seemingly loyal and dedicated, he has led the emperor's personal troops against the empire's foes to victory on many occasions. For this reason, he has been awarded a thick gold chain with affixed pearls as a personal token of the emperor's regard. Unknown to his royal master however, Kalgasoool is actually a devotee of Larfu and seeks to overthrow the emperor along with the rest of the imperial order that he despises. Bitterly resentful of the sway that the Cuada exercise over his people, he is determined to infiltrate their sanctuary in order to obtain their most closely guarded secrets.
One of the senior Cauda clerics governing the sanctuary, Kalgo lives in constant fear that the dark secret of his people will be exposed. Entrusted by Toltep himself to guard the secrets of the sanctuary, Kalgo has sought to persuade his breathren to create a horrific monster or abomination for the sole purpose of unleashing it against the Brave People. Such a feat could easily be accomplished by resorting to the dark lore of the kings of Kasmir. By creating and letting lose such a monster with the aim of sowing terror among the Brave People, Kalgo intends to ensure that Cuada claims about evil beings which seek to destroy the Brave People will no longer be questioned or challenged by the worshippers of Larful. Like the rest of his people, he understands that for so long as the Brave People are menaced by dangerous monsters which the Cuada alone can manipulate and destroy, his kind will continue to dominate the Eshal unquestioned. However, fearful of creating savage terrors that might turn against them and consequently become a fearful bane like the Taccredi, his colleagues have so far refused to accede to his demand. The day might yet come when Kalgo chooses to act by himself and spawn a terrible monster, the likes of which has never been seen yet.
First Contact:An expeditionary DeMadden vessel stumbles across the city. The PCs are commanding the fleet. Do they decide to seize the capital by force or will they seek to establish diplomatic ties with the imperial shoal?
Espionage:The PCs are Eshal warriors who have been hired by Kalgasooool to infiltrate the sanctury in order to expose its secrets. In order order to accomplish this, they must descend into the pit beneath the capital so as to sneak into the sanctuary via the passages leading to it. Unfortunately for them, Kago who has long feared such a possibility of espionage, has created foul abominations to ambush any intruders.
Amok:Kalgo has finally created a savage beast which he has let lose in the capital. The PCs are ordered to put an end to the monster.