Prantz: History and Rumors
Prantz had rocky beginnings. Tomas Crousian, a middle-aged merchant, cousin to the Virvatule family of Morholt, had a dream that this city would be a magnificent mercantile haven in the Crousain name. The name Prantz was chosen after Tomas' beloved maternal grandmother (her name was Pran'tis, but she was lovingly called Prantz for the lively and spirited way she danced). In the spring of 101, the walls began to rise around the unusually flat bedrock that was bisected by the ancient Coursier Road. Eight-foot thick, these walls were intended as defense from an untamed and still churning landscape and were created with all the care that the wealthy can demand. Construction continued, sewers being laid, and roads being smoothed, when the news came that Tomas had been a very bad boy.
The Virvatule family records have carried down the story of Tomas's dabbling in black markets and of a good deal of money siphoned off from the allied duchies when contracts and trade deals would suddenly fall through and Tomas would just as suddenly be flush with coin. Word reached him of the discovery of his activities before his return to Alindor, and he and his coin vanished one night leaving tired, badly overworked, and unpaid workers behind.
Abandoning the effort after Tomas slipped away, most of the builders went south (only to find a dark elf invasion on the surface). The town of Amiss was lost completely, and the survivors scattered. Prantz was forgotten in the wake of the need to survive on the untamed southern coast. It was not until, by chance, a sea captain from the fortress of Seawatch named Abish Kilm stumbled across the walls of the partially-built city on his way back from a trip to Sedera that construction began again. In his later years, his telling of the finding of those massive walls was recorded. From Serendipity, One Man's Travels:
I was planning to return through the forest, actually. I spent some time as a ranger in my younger days and enjoy the quiet of the trees almost as much as a good day at sea. But giant unrest had been high that year, and my wife was due to birth our fourth child very soon. Thus, I opted for the safer route south from Rangley. Now, I'm sure I'm not the only person who has passed by that place. I occasionally heard tell of the empty city. But to witness it, first hand! I remember seeing the walls, taller than the trees and as thick as a horse. The stone was so tight that after sitting for a hundred years it had not crumbled at all. I walked in and saw what it could be--what it should be. But what really set my mind was a chest found inside a room high in the wall. It was iron and unlocked. I took a peek, I admit. Wouldn't you? And I found the plans that Tomas Crousian had left behind. Simply amazing! I found the name of the city. Prantz, I think it read. I knew this would be an ideal advance fort and had to be completed. I set out for Seawatch then doubly determined to finish the job.
From the year 230 to the year 340, Prantz acted as a military arm of Seawatch, providing safe passage along the Coursier Road and aiding in the war against the elves. Then, in 340, during a time when wars were over and the swelling population of southern Dregar wanted both peace and prosperity, some of the fortifications came down and the city rebuilt for habitation. The restoration was completed in 356, and immediately, the city began to thrive; so much so that King Evestial Santana moved the throne there in 360 and there it remained.
The next large step for Prantz was in 516, when the selfish, destructive reign of King Thorlin Santana was abruptly ended by his half-brother, the man to first call himself Emperor: Raklin Diamoniar. He was aided by adventurers that would pass into legend and, in one case, to the heavens: Karrak, Rainstorff, Eon, Katia, and Serenity.
Raklin brought about a golden age for the city, constructing many of the most beautiful buildings such as the former temple to Toran and the citadel of Rofirein (now the courthouse), as well as many of the roads traveled around the continent and the standard of measurement for those miles, the statute. He set a common currency for Dregar that became a coin of the world, the true. With the seal of Dregar on one side and a portrait of himself on the other, and a raised ridge around the outside of the coin to prevent the practice of shaving, the coin remains a testament of the genius of the man to this day. From Prantz, he hosted the Congregation of the Principium, which resulted in the formation of the Charter of Laws designed to give the common man a guide to follow for proper legal behavior. Raklin also helped form the Divine Court, overseen at that time by Rofireinties and Toranites, that would be responsible for the maintenance, refinement, and carrying out of laws and punishments across the empire (and effectively the world) for the next thousand years. This time of good emperors and good governance lasted for over 500 years.
Then, in the year 1123, the last emperor of the Damioniar line was murdered in Deadman's Pass, and the world was thrown into shock. Prantz became a lawless place as a power vacuum made room for those with might and the will to use it. The city was a shambles; most of the people not wishing to succumb to the madness walked from their homes with only their loved ones and what they could carry and headed for Lor or Castle Mask. Succession, now a fully-formed realm in the wake of the emperor's death, made bids to annex the suddenly leaderless south, as did other, less-savory people. It was not until 1142 that Ethan Troy Waylend, cousin to the Diamoniar line, gathered the support and showed the backbone to take the throne of emperor. Slowly, the situation settled as the people accepted their calm, focused new leader.
Waylend, however, saw that Dregar had changed in those few years. Sedera had always maintained its independence, swearing fealty only to keep the emperor off their backs. Succession had elected its own king, one who was accustomed to and accomplished at dirty tricks and lacking in ethics. Boyer was reasserting itself as well. So, while the mantle of emperor still applied, Ethan Waylend took the formal title of old: King of the Southern Lands. Quietly, behind the scenes, the various realms swore fealty; but in public, he was simply a king. Once again, peace falls on the continent, until the year 1341.
Bloodstone came back fully intent on leashing the world to his madness. Along with Queen Allurial, King Karem Waylend took a leading role in preparing to battle the evil returned. He began an accelerated training program for anyone wanting to fight and instilled a limited draft to swell the numbers needed for field engagements. He had Fort Hold built and made many deals, most of which remain secret, with other governments to keep order in the world should Blood have even limited success in his campaign. By 1372, his methods had become as desperate as the situation: spies were executed on sight and mandatory recruitment was stepped up. Corruption in the ranks was addressed with the Prantz Officer Army Corps and for the next several decades, the build-up continued. The strain on King Waylend was visible every passing day, but no one expected his death in 1401. Prantz remained stable though in the hands of regents. The war-weary people still found the fortitude to pay the taxes necessary for a defense of the city. What they would feel only a year later was beyond weary, however, and the constant barrage on their lives explains much of why Prantz accepted the Deep Lord as fast as it did.
Lord Rael marches on the city in 1402. While many accounts exist of the battle against Bloodstone, most of them center on the defeat of Bloodstone himself or the mighty and costly defense of the Great Oak and the death of Ozlo the dragon, caller of heroes. But of Prantz, defeated and taken?
The following account was published by one defender and is reprinted here to represent the words of those who fought, bled, and died on the front lines of that desperate battle.
The Battle for Prantz, an eye witness account
Since that final, endless day, Prantz has once again shuffled forward to steady commerce and the honest sweat of daily living. In that same year as he took the city, Lord Rael placed over half his army on the streets. Deep dwarves replaced almost every guard and the city radiated a haze of fear.
The blood-shocked populace had to put up with one more indignation before the city finally seemed to calm: the sudden total destruction of Toran's temple. In 1404, the Deep Lord declared Rael a realm, stretching from Lor to a boundary that ran to the edges of Succession's and Sedera's southern borders. All the while, Lord Rael has carefully worked on his public image, almost shedding the association with Bloodstone and finally garnering positive reviews when he forgave several traitors on the gallows (while simultaneously eliminating the last known heir from the Waylend line) and put the Rofireinites in charge of the administration of justice.
As for the city, the impression it leaves depends now on the observer and whether they remember the city in its free days or not.
The noted news reporter Bumblebee has written down his impressions during his first visit after the Deep Lord took over:
The day is cold and bleak and my little fire is a tiny beacon against it. Dalos Lake gives up some frosty mist as the gray-skinned dwarves change guard by the main gates to Prantz. I am camped on the hill waiting for dawn and a chance to see what my ears had been filled with for a year. My home, overrun, and dwarves from the Deep walking the streets!
My fire safely out, I hesitate. I take a breath and say a short prayer to Prunilla before walking up to the gates. They are very big gates in very big walls in a very big city, and I ought to know. I know every nook large enough for me to fit in it.
A flag is flying on the walls, and it was not the horsehead of the Waylend line, which is very discomforting to me. Let me try to describe it: A black castle on a white background connected to a white castle on a black background by a red line. The red line only takes shape as dawn brings light to the sky. It creeps like a blood stain between the castles.
I stare at those flags snapping in the morning breeze for too long. One dwarf at the gate steps toward me, my stomach doing flip-flops as he comes. His voice is gravel, and he asks me my business. I am here to visit Prantz and in I go.
I slip between heavy-banded gates and feel the eyes of the guards on my back. Then, I turn my gaze on the city that I can see in my sleep. The guards whose skin matches the dull sky are everywhere. Something is missing, but I am exposed, so I swiftly find cover by a sign. I glance up only after I am safely behind the large wooden post. The sign says in common: The Laws of Lord Rael, Ruler of Prantz.
It is here I feel a stab of pain. Let me tell you what you can no longer do in the city of my birth; use magic, summon familiars or Pit Dwellers, carry a weapon, speak any strange language, show any religious symbol, worship a god, or be a dwarf born on the surface of the world. Dwarves must register before entering and leaving and mages as well. Thieving and assault are outlawed of course. The punishment for breaking every law is imprisonment.
I read the sign twice. This can't be my Prantz! I slip between shadows and intend to move around to the temple to Toran except it's not there. I can only stop and stare at the hole where the temple was. It's not there!
I feel eyes on me again and find a spot between buildings near the bank where I can watch the people. Everyone seems stifled. The clothes are duller, the buildings darker, and the people quieter. The city feels gray.
I step quickly through little pockets of darkness to the Merchants Row and suddenly there is noise! People are trading and compact tables line the streets. For a moment it's like I've stepped into another world; then, I'm filled with joy. This is Prantz! The sweet sound of haggling tickles my ears, and I wander the sea of legs taking notes.
I only wish I'd stayed there when I entered the place near the castle where the barracks of the Prantz Guard and the mighty citadel of Rofirein are. The silence stuffs my ears like cotton except for one lone voice calling drills. The citadel stands though and this makes me happy. I investigate the area but dare not go near the castle. The guards there frighten me; they are Deep dwarves with strange purple eyes and hard stares. They wear no armor. They carry no weapons. But their eyes say this is not a problem for them. I stay away, circling around toward Haft Lake.
Once again, it's like breaking the surface and drawing in air. There is noise and smells and swimmers in the lake. I smell blackberry pie in a windowsill and wildflowers in a garden. I am nearly run over by a tall human in buckskin rushing past, a bow in one hand. He does not apologize. I don't know if he even saw me.
Haft feels like Prantz used to. It has a pulse, a rhythm, life. Two children run down the path racing each other and laughing.
I reluctantly turn back toward the city and pass the armored guards. I decide to skim the walls, looking for old hiding spots and vantage points. They are gone. The walls are smooth except for a strange mushroom pattern carved by amateur hands that I see in places all around the city.
My home. Is this better? Is it safe? I don't know. But I know the pit of my stomach has an opinion, and it's not good. I find my parents, visit friends, but when I leave, I'm not leaving home.