|Capital City:||Elysian (New Atlantashar)|
|System of Governance:|
|Leader(s)||Prime Naristhel Zaphrinath|
|Real World Influence:|
Accessed through the deepest depths of tunnel systems throughout northwest Eurus, the Subtellurium is a realm of darkness, hazard, and secrecy. Founded in the depths of forgotten history by what would become the Taelgranis race of Sidhe, it represented a retreat from the affairs of the world and a reactionary isolationism that impacted each of the Sidhe races differently.
The Taelgranis carried with them memories of their great city, Altlantashar, and the cruel destruction of its hallowed libraries and universities. Deep in the realm beneath the earth they founded a new homeland in massive caverns and interconnecting cave systems where their heritage of amassing knowledge could be pursued far from the reach of outsiders.
Culture found in land
what faiths are present, what are the views on faith
Society is structured into a caste system that is semi-rigid with a limited but real possibility of advancement. The castes determine profession at an early age, but with sufficient effort and education, a young Taelgranis can integrate into another caste, most often above their family’s station, and by doing so pull their family upwards in the next generation.
- Electi: The highest level of society is reserved for the leadership structure only. It is relentlessly and exclusively masculine and represents the most rigid patriarchal element of Taelgranis society which is in many other ways more egalitarian with regard to gender. The Electi are limited in number and ranked (descending) as follows:
- Elysian Prime: The leader of the capital city of Elysian holds a commanding influence over the leaders of the other two major Taelgranis cities, as a sort of Princeps or “first among equals” amongst the triumvirate of most powerful citizens. He is the patriarch of the most powerful family in the city, currently Naristhel Zaphrinath.
- City Prime:the singular executive leader of both the administration of a city itself and the subordinate communities associated with that city, even if they are substantially distant from it.
- Praetor (Council Member):the council is composed of the leaders of prominent houses and chosen revered elder statesmen within the city and surrounding region. The absolute threshold for this position varies from city to city and tends to be restricted by the council itself to a fixed number of members, seldom changing at all and when it does change it is universally to increase the number of members slightly.
- the Elysian Council is composed of 27 Praetores
- the Tzetzes Council is composed of 13 Praetores
- the Hyperion Council is composed of 9 Praetores
- Adjutants: Understudies and assistants to the Praetores of each council, this class is made up of those who aspire to and have been chosen to ascend to the council themselves. They attend to many tasks the Praetors or Primes will not do, such as functioning as diplomats to the surface world and managing the bureaucratic details of government.
- Validi: The high society of Taelgranis are the elite family members of prominent Houses and are the pool from which all Electi are drawn. The class is fundamentally hereditary and exclusive, with admittance to or banishment from the class being only possible through Prime decree. The membership fluctuates somewhat but is predicated on strict primogeniture. These are the prominent oligarchs of Taelgranis society.
- Optimati: The wealthy and influential elite, owners of significant business interests and keepers of well-regarded libraries who aspire to but have not yet cultivated the most significant status.
- Librarian: Directly beneath the cultural elite is the rank of keepers of knowledge. This caste includes not only the literal tenders of books but many other tasks and positions associated with the keeping and management of the cultural treasures of the Taelgranis people. Even the most menial tender of a minor functionary’s personal library is accorded tremendous and almost reverent respect. More Taelgranis aspire to this rank than to any other, including that of the leadership and wealthy elite. Their relative status within this profession is drawn from the importance of the library, archive, or museum to which they provide service and then an intricate subordinate set relating relative importance and seniority therewithin. These nuances are convoluted and best understood by Librarians themselves.
- Proeliatoris Noctum: Known as the Shadow Knights by outsiders, the word literally translates to something more like “those whose work is done in the night.” This caste is the highest and most prominant of the working class, not an order of knighthood at all, but the translation issue is one of many tools used to good effect with surface dwellers. The Proeliatoris Noctum is those whose state-sanctioned purpose and function is to leave the secretive world of the Taelgranis and travel the surface lands in search of information, intelligence, and acquisitions. They serve to fulfill the cultural hunger for knowledge and its preservation in their role as scouts, informants, and spies. This group is ordered loosely and regionally into power structures based on seniority and tends to serve at the will of Librarians or members of the upper class to whom they owe a relationship similar to fealty. It is also largely responsible for the reputation of Taelgranis abroad as sneaky, untrustworthy, and potentially dangerous.
- Magisteri: Instructors, master artisans, and educators of all sorts fall into the caste of Magisteri. With knowledge, wisdom, and intelligence being the foremost well regarded social virtues, teachers are afforded a substantial amount of social and political capital as a result, and one must be a Magister to take on any kind of formal teaching role in public life, from skill at arms, to advanced alchemical theory, to primary education of the most basic sort. Priests and anyone offering religious instruction must also belong to this caste.
- Excubitors: Formal duty in the defense of land and people falls to the Excubitors, the warrior caste. Subject to lifelong training, members of this group may be skilled fighters, mages, alchemists, engineers, hunters, and any medical professional not of sufficient standing to work as a Magisteri, which is unique in that public health is considered a matter of defense and safety to the Taelgranis. Some Excubitors are formally members of ranked military structures within their home communities, but other members of the same caste may work independently or for profit. Seniority and recognition of skill level tend to self-organize relative power within this caste.
- Opifex: The common working class aggregate caste that includes manual labor, food production, services, and merchants of insufficient wealth and standing to be admitted to the upper crust of society. This is by far the largest proportion of Taelgranis society.
- Illuvies:Least among the peoples of the Subtellarium are those deemed worthy of only the most menial and hateful tasks. Criminals of certain types, the very poor, and people whose hereditary profession is particularly distasteful find themselves among these ranks and are deeply mistrusted and poorly regarded by most Taelgranis society, to the extent that they are commonly derided with the pejorative "Rat-eater".
There are also different levels of social status for those Tael'granis who have left the Subtellarium behind.
- Externus: Several examples exist of Taelgranis exclaves that have made large scale communities and durable settlements on the surface world. These are not well regarded by Subtellurium residents, who consider them to have betrayed their heritage in an important way, but they are not treated with the same extremes of disrespect offered those who are born to the Subtellurium and choose to leave it. It is possible to make pilgrimage to or even eventually integrate with proper Taelgranis society if one comes from a background as Externus, but the stamp of that origin will linger.
- Rogue: Those who abandon their homeland permanently tend to be rejected by Taelgranis society and not be welcome back should they later decide to return. While it is not a crime to go to the surface world it is regarded as a hazard best undertaken only by specialists. Going on one’s own by someone out of curiosity or personal ambition represents a wholesale defiance of tradition and disrespect for cultural norms.
- Outcast: Criminals who are banished from Taelgranis society are not simply viewed dimly but are met with outright hostility whenever they are found in the Subtellarium in any capacity. Those who have been cast out are explicitly forbidden any possibility of return.
Customs and Holidays
What days matter to the people
Arts and Exceptionalism
Organization of the Land
The capital city, described by many as "the New Atlantashar", is Elysian, named for a faean ideal of the afterlife and with high aspiration for the civilization. It is located most proximally to the surface nation of Alba, and many known Subtellurium entrances are located on the island.
There are two other major settlements that could be described as cities, Tzetses and Hyperion, named for an early Taelgranis explorer and a powerful mythological rebel respectively. Tzetses is located most closely to the human kingdom of Malay, while Hyperion is somewhat adjacent to Doomstadt. There are an assortment of other large towns and smaller settlements scattered throughout the Subtellurium, often quite far apart and isolated from one another, but each is within the approximate overarching purview of one of the three primary cities, who in turn respect the ultimate authority of the Prime of Atlantashar.
It bears repeating that distances and directions within the Subtellurium differ somewhat from the way the tunnel systems interconnect in the surface world. While in some cases this can be employed as a convoluted shortcut in travel, it is fare more often the case that any route which involves a journey through a portion of the Subtellurium will be longer and more circuitous than travelling on the surface.
Cities are constructed of elaborate and elegant stonework, often with much carved directly into the walls of the massive caverns. Architecture trends to vertical, with a functional and class bias to those literally higher up in a city. All settlements are significantly fortified to manage the encroachment of dangerous wildlife and beings such as Morgoths who prey upon the denizens of the dark. The cultural center of a city is always a massive and zealously protected library.
Cities are ruled by a patriarchal aristocracy, with the leader or "Prime" of the city's most prominent family being an executive authority over a council of the other Primes above a certain threshold of power. While there is some jockeying for position in the lower and middle ranks of this system, the uppermost families have a tremendous amount of inertia in power and seldom descend.
The current Prime of Elysian, Prime Naristhel Zaphrinath, belongs to the ancient house of Zaphrinath and has ruled the city since the 1970s. Other prominent families in Elysian include the Do’matyl, the Argyris, the Oth’viir, and the Naurambra.
Tzetzes is ruled by Prime Micarlin Beltaulur, and prominent houses in that city include the Icarid, the Omiros, and both the Oth’viir and Arygris families that are likewise prominent in Elysian. Hyperion’s leader is Prime Viethan T’sagh, backed by the Epameinondas, the Omiros, the Do’matyl, and the Argyris houses. The family of each city Prime is substantially represented in each of the other two cities as well. The Argyris family is the most far reaching Taelgranis House that has not held a position of City Prime in several generations.
History since the Dragon Wars
Major Modern Events
In recent years (beginning 2017) some portions of the outskirts of the Subtellarium have begun to disappear or become inaccessible. This has led to a slow exodus of refugees from endangered areas, and led to progressively more Taelgranis appearing on and having to integrate with the surface world. Some of those refugees are afflicted with dangerous memory loss, others have no recollection of their home or where it once was but are otherwise unaffected. It has gradually become known that something is happening in an ongoing way to areas of the Subtellarium, but the proximal cause is not general knowledge. Those places impacted are not caved in or moved, however, they have ceased to exist entirely.
The Subtellurium is composed of a system of vast caverns, caves, and tunnels mostly natural in composition, in contrast to more sculpted and artificially managed underground dwellings of the Dverg. While seeming to be deep underground, it has over time become apparent that the Subtellurium is in fact located in some other realm bridged by the deep tunnels that can be found which lead to it. This means that direction and distances between surface entrances and the tunnels that link them within the Subtellurium can be deceptive. It also explains why the caverns, despite being sometimes miles beneath the surface, are neither hot nor flooded, and host an ecosystem entirely unique to their demesnes.
Exotic and frequently dangerous creatures abound in the Subtellurium, and both plants and fungi grow there that cannot survive anywhere else.