Sunday, May 20, 2012

Pellatarrum: Tunnels through the Dayspire

As mentioned earlier, the Dayspire is HUGE, such that the entire island chain of Hawaii could fit inside its 720-mile diameter. This means that anyone wanting to go around it has a rather long journey ahead of them, and given that the Dayspire sits at the absolute center of the material world, there are lots of  those someones who want to do just that. Many of these someones are willing to pay good money for a more direct route.

These people -- mostly merchants, though sometimes diplomats and adventurers -- are granted access to the army tunnels that exist at the Dayspire's ground level. Originally devised as a way to rapidly shift the bulk of the Dwarven army from one end of Agnakorem to the other, during times of peace these highways make excellent commercial thoroughfares.

The layout is simple:  guarded entrances at each "clock position" lead into the Spire for several miles before joining up with a large roundabout which circles the inner "sluice pipe". Once there, lanes clearly marked in all civilized languages will lead you to your exit, likes spokes on a wheel hub.

Concentrated within these tunnels, both in the outer spokes and the inner hubs, are the largest collection of dwarven vendors that a non-dwarf will ever see. The prices are high, but it is much like the concession stand at a movie theater, or the shopping concourse at an airport: if you can afford to get in, you can afford the prices being charged. In many cases, this is the only way to buy fine dwarven goods* without having to pay import or luxury taxes.

Not all of the shops are run by dwarves; many gnomes run inns, restaurants, and other hospitality industries there. Human-run establishments are less common, due to the underground nature of the city, but they do exist. At least one dragon-owned and kobold-operated warehouse is also on premises. There is also a small but vibrant halfling community as well, whose chief focus is the cultivation of edible fungus and husbandry of poultry and livestock.

There are categorically NO ELVES in residence, due to their phobias. Half-elves and half-orcs are vetted carefully before being granted attendance.

Entry is simple: Pay a gold piece per person (extra rates for wagons and beasts of burden; bulk rates for caravans and traveling armies may be negotiated) and stay as long as you have funds (no squatting; the tunnels are patrolled regularly). The dwarves do not operate the tunnels for a profit, even though they manage to make a small fortune doing so; the money is there mostly as a barrier to keep out the riff-raff.

It is possible to enter the tunnels without paying, if one has a very good reason for so doing. Entrance will be granted at the discretion of the guards, who have several ranks in Sense Motive. A plea such as "My mother is dying and I need to be by her side" will be honored if it is true; a selfish reason will be turned away, and a lie will result in a mild thrashing (nothing broken, just some bruises) and a reminder that dwarves do not appreciate deception.

Both ends of the tunnels have gates made of pure adamantine, and in an emergency can be closed to isolate certain sections. The gates can also be operated like an airlock, with one opening only after the other is shut.

The only non-magical way to gain entrance into the Citadel-Forge itself is through another gate within the inner hub. Diplomats and dwarven citizens may enter freely; those who are neither are searched and questioned thoroughly before being granted admittance.

* "Fine dwarven goods" meaning "The crap that wasn't good enough for own people and so we'll sell it to the other races," a.k.a. The Irish & Australian Alcohol Concept.

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