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The Dradorny-Arnas was a mythic citadel in the Uldona Spine that was said to be the center of evil sorcery in the days of the Szreldorn kingdom. No one actually claims to have seen the Dradorny-Arnas, but sailors along the Parta Rokantha will occasionally report strange lights shining from high atop thesea-side cliffs. Legends attribute these lights to the ghosts of the sorcerers who once dwelt within the High Citadel, stil ligniting their incendiary magics on the darkest of nights.Such stories are told to scare young children by the fireside,and most of the people of Folyavuld put no faith in them. Achoice few, however, know the truth behind the tales.The Dradorny-Arnas does indeed exist. The fortress-temple was constructed on the northern fringe of the central massif of the Uldona Spine in the mid-Second Age. Thousands of slaves spent their adult lives moving great marble blocks from highland quarries to the construction site, and thousands more were sacrificed in the consecrating of the structure. The citadel sits perched above a great sink-hole carved by runoff water, with caves below that wind beneath the highland plateau, through great limestone chambers and over darksubterranean lakes. Long ago, these caverns were transformed by the hands of slaves into a road; a series of bridges, winding cavern paths, and narrow staircases leading from the Gweléth riverbed to the great staircase that winds up the outer edge of the sink, and leads to the front gate of the citadel.Ancient Rhidon myths name the caves of the Gweleth gorge the Narsza Trador (Fo. "The Shaded Road"), and even the tribal shamans shun the cave that is the entrance to the vast underground complex. In the days of the Szreldorn Kingdom,after Oraishapek the Dispossessed began possessing the kings and effectively united that house with the priesthood of Rakana-Kiral, the Dradorny-Arnas served as a monastery forthe training of the priesthood in the ways of sorcery and dark sacrifice. The citadel itself was constructed as a temple rather than a military fortress. The defense of the structure rests inits inaccessibility, more than it does a set of walls or garrison of warriors. Oraishapek designed the citadel, and being an Easterling himself, the architecture is distinctly eastern. Themain portion of the citadel is roofed by a great domesurmounted by a spire which stabs into the highland sky.Within the high spire is a single windowed chamber where Oraishapek has worked some of his most potent spells. It was here that, in the guise of Lokor Szrel, he raised the great beast Kraszapol from the depths of the Inland Sea.The walls of the temple are adorned with many friezes that depict various scenes from the history of the Baradhrim people, and the myths surrounding the worship of Rakana-Kiral. A historian with some knowledge of eastern history might reconstruct much of the First and Second Age history of the Szreldorn people just by spending time studying the doors, walls and ceilings. A more formal account of Szreldorn history, as well as the practices of Oraishapek's priesthood once existed in the library hall of the temple, but much of this collection has disintegrated over the years.After the fall of the Szrel-King in Mordor, the remaining priests shut themselves within the citadel, damning themselves to starvation rather than submit to the new authority in Szrel-Kain. The spirits of many of these sorcerers still haunt the fortress, providing a macabre troop of companions for the citadel's newest inhabitants. For after Oraishapek's Ring was recovered and the bound spirit made active again, he immediately returned to his ancient stronghold, intent on reclaiming the kingdom that was once his. His Orc servants at Gaurblog Lug guard the temple andinfest the caves of the Narsza-trador, effectively sealing theonly approach to the structure. The adherents of Viszater-dyzo (Fo. "Cult of the Glorious Return") send messengersfrom the cities into the Rhidon countryside, their passage intothe Narsza-trador being masked by Orc raids into the highlands, or fierce storms called by the Dispossessed to smash the Rhidon coast. In this way, Oraishapek remains incontrol of his spies in the cities. The Orcs return occasionally from their raids with an unfortunate victim, stolen from his village and brought to the citadel to provide the Dispossessed with a new host. The Dispossessed's spies normally hand-pick those that will be kidnapped, careful that the new hostfits the profile of a desirable vessel for their spirit-lord.

References

  • MERP:the Inland Sea by Mike Campbell, Luke Potter and Justin Morgan-Davies
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