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Beneath the walls and streets of Tradetown, through caverns deep and dark, the sound of nature, and the life of the human world is rapidly, dizzyingly replaced by the low, earthly hum of shifting stone and metal, as the myriad thousands of Skaven below in Nesthome, go about their lives. You could watch, for hours, as the ratmen, those skinny, unclean beasts walking upright like men bent in two scurry about nonstop at all times of the day and night. They sleep in shifts, working tirelessly, endless to move dirt, carve stone, and melt iron and clay down. Heavy hammer blows ring through the night, as the Skaven rebuilding effort carries on, forging implements of creation--and weapons of destruction. Staring deep into the embers so close by, Zhot twitched, watching as the heavy-rat nearby went to work, sparks dancing across coarse, singed fur as he lifted that ungodly-sized wooden mallet and brought it down again, with a shower of sparks. Clang! Clang! Again and again, the heavy-rat knocked the crude iron into shape, before pulling it free from the Anvil, and investigating it once again. The blade--an ugly metal thing, flat and long and jagged, gleamed in the embers of the forge. He set down the hammer, and went for a strip of leather, wrapping it tightly near where the blade ended. Satisfied, he handed it to Zhot, who staggered a bit upon accepting the weapon. "Glaive-rats need training-strong," He recalled the words from the cruel boss-rat, who'd drilled his brood in combat. Zhot had plenty of training with a staff, then, but the added weight threw him off. His glaive felt hard to balance, and the wooden shaft was too light. He choked his grip up closer to the tip, brandishing it like a walking stick. The heavy-rat had other weapons to forge, and Zhot was no longer needed. He fled away, towards the always-present light of the surface world. The pulley lift took him there quickly, along with a dozen other skaven, all bustling to get back to work, and when they arrived, they forced their way through another two dozen warring for a place on the lift. Nearby, another lift had similar lineups. The skaven glaive-rat made his way upwards, fresh air surging into his lungs as he emerged into the bright sunlight overhead, from a sun still hanging above the treeline for a few more hours. He wasted no time in gawking at the man-things of Tradetown, as none of them spared him a glance, either. Skaven hurried through the streets as quickly as man-things did, working, trading, setting up wagons. As he crept to the end of town, the Skaven numbers grew thickest, as nearly a dozen wagons were set up to muster. These wagons were all doubly wide as necessary, and built by man-thing laborers, sturdy and strong. The majority of them were wrapped up in wires and coils, burdened down with lumber, furs and chiseled stone, heading into the world beyond. Although Skaven clan-rats lined them, well-armed and numerous, humanoid traders operated the carriages from the driver's benches, and sickly-looking horses were strapped to the carts. The horses looked skinny and malnourished, a consequence of the rapid boom in population in Tradetown. Zhot's stomach grumbled, and he eyeballed the beast of burden hungrily. Skin and bones or no, he felt as though he could eat an entire horse-thing on his own! He trailed through the wagons, passing by more and more trading vehicles, until he found a singular wagon at the end. It was just was wide, but made from less wood, and unencumbered thus far. It appeared lightweight, but shoddily made, and the horse pulling it along seemed almost healthy. Most importantly, however, were the shields and banners strapped to the vehicle. They flew high, brandishing the Skarr Clan's sigil high above the wagon for all to see. He stared into the sigil, entranced, before hurrying to the wagon to join the only other Skaven available, a scrawny creature inspecting its weapon, a long, well-made human crossbow. It was big enough to pick up with one hand, for larger creatures, but to a Skaven it was about the right size to be wielded with both. He stressed the limbs some, as Zhot joined him. "Other Wagonses have many more rat-things." Skritch noted. Zhot climbed up next to him. "Many more of us?" He asked? "Not many." He nodded in understanding. "Man-things?" He wasn't asking if they were going to be joining them, and Skritch picked up on that. He shrugged, nonplussed one way or another. The wagon, and its meager crew that was slowly assembling was something of a desperate bid for supplies. With Tradetown and Nesthome's supplies dwindling, and farms still growing yet, the Skaven and Humans had worked together and come to the dreadful, but necessary conclusion that they needed food immediately--and other communities would have some to spare. Trade wagons were put out, laden with lumber and stone to attempt to make some small food in return. However, a few wagons--this one included, had a less pleasant purpose. The Skaven and Humans that had volunteered would not be trading for food. They would be finding choice sources of food, and other material wealth, and marking them for future raids. Food would be dragged back, by either the small party, or by Skaven raiding parties, just long enough to keep the communities alive. Now, they needed only the rest of the party to arrive.
Artwork belongs to Noah Bradley; found on Deviantart. Nesthome The crawling, creeping masses breed quickly in the dark. Outside of the sun's light, sheltered from the world in their great, dank halls, the Skaven live and breed and die. Gaze upon it; the crumbling ruins of a grand city; the remnants of a once proud Empire, long forgotten below the world. Clan Patriarch: Gnaw Blackrot; King-King of Skarr Clan Population: > 24,700 (Grows by aproximately 1700 a month, and grows exponentially) Written by: Jot Notes General Overview: Deep beneath the dead, silent Forgotten Woods, the Skarr Clan work tirelessly to restore a lost memory of their ancient glories. Nesthome, named after their original city, is an ever expanding series of tunnels, chasms, natural caves and bored holes that serves as the Skaven's capital city on Terrenus. The Skaven population still needs time to grow, but as it does, the need for more space to live and work becomes more and more important. With each passing month, the tunnels grow deeper, the chasms grow wider, and the dark underbelly of the world lays bare, ready for exploitation. Geography: The underneath of the Forgotten Woods is composed primarily of clay, dirt and eventually, igneous rock deposits. While it doesn't boast an impressive amount of mineral wealth, healthy deposits of iron and coal can be found as the Skaven continue to dig. As they grow deeper, they find ever more numerous materials, from time to time. The Skaven have access to rich underground water deposits, and have even uncovered various unfamiliar ores they cannot identify. One such material includes Warpstone, which, while currently unusable, can be incredibly useful if properly researched. Cityscape: Nesthome must always expand, and in order to do so, architecture must be abandoned in favor of function over form. Prior to the collapse that destroyed it, Nesthome was once a marvelous, massive City-Empire that spanned kilometers in all directions, with stone-hewn buildings, massive spiked towers, ornate bridges and grand citadels. Now, Nesthome is a series of of tunnels and paths bored into the walls and sides of massive chasms and tunnels. Wooden bridges, supported by wooden trusses, span across long gaps, flanked by short wooden fences. Near the top-most part of the city, a large platform of dirt and soil, propped up by rickety wooden struts, leads up to the surface, and out into TradeTown, the other half of Nesthome's settlement. Population: The Skaven population of Nesthome is a fragment of its former self. When the Collapse happened, over 90 percent of the Skaven population was eradicated, buried under rock and dirt as the world collapsed on the Empire. King-King, and a small amount of his followers escaped deeper into unknown tunnels. Upon their arrival, they numbered only 700; King-King, a small fraction of Skaven warriors and scouts, the eunuchs and their broodmothers that they took care of. The population grows quickly now, with reliable access to food and water, and soon they might recover their population, in a few decade's time. Economy: Nesthome and Tradetown's primary economic resource is their access to plentiful farmland and lumber. The forgotten woods, finally abandoned to the Skaven at long last, are full of large, ancient trees made of rich, strong wood. Tearing these down and processing them makes for handsome product, which can be sold to nearly anyone for fine wage. The land leftover is arable, but growing food takes time, and while they might produce plenty some day, some day isn't today. Caste: The Skarr Clan is a Military Monarchy, where King-King rules with absolute power. His efforts to disrupt the conflict between Clans, and the forced Unity of all Clans under the banner of the Skarr Clan gave King-King nigh limitless control over the Skaven masses. Beneath him is his Apothecary, a group of well-fed, educated Skaven sorcerers, alchemists and seers, serving as his upper group of followers. You cannot move up into this rank; it is only available to those Skaven who grow horns, like King-King himself. This, interestingly enough, is actually a matter of physiology and not a hereditary trait. Skaven, in their ideal, natural state, grow to be 6 foot tall, on average. They often grow upright, have strong bones and healthy bodies, and grow plenty of horns, like hair. So, if the upper class is made of the well-fed and educated, and the lower class is full of those who are starving and stupid, perhaps something is incorrect within the Skarr Clan. Beneath the Apothecary is the Task Masters, Skaven Slavers and Supervisors, well-fed and trained in combat, subterfuge and warfare. Task Masters, Gutter-Rats, Slavers and War Bosses make up this caste of specialized Skaven aimed at performing special duties within the clan. Clan-Rats may move up into this rank through hard work and effort, given that all of them are merely underfed Skaven given food after they've grown up. They're underdeveloped and weak at times, but have the opportunity to improve somewhat, at least. The lowermost rung of Skaven society are the Clan Rats. Weak, ineffectual and malnourished, the Clan Rats is a short and painful one, filled with misery and violence. Skaven live their entire lives slaving away in the mines or the woods, or on the battlefront if they're fortunate. Despite this, they live a life full of nostalgia for a world they've never seen, and great wonder at the world they get to explore. It's a newer feeling for the Skaven masses, and almost threatens to upset their worldview; the world is vast, and its people different. Skaven could easily integrate with the other races, and build a life of their own away from the clan. Skaven, currently, do all they can for the clan, in the vain hopes that they might be rewarded with an opportunity to propogate themselves with the Broodmothers. Perhaps kept out of the caste intentionally are the Broodmothers and their eunuchs. Broodmothers are twisted, fetid, biological nests engineered to serve as Skaven breeders. They are barely conscious, and merely serve as biological wombs to rear their young. It's a twisted, inhumane design, and not many Skaven women can escape such a fate, although there are many, many exceptions. Eunuchs, in that same vein, are Clan Rats that are castrated at birth, and designated to a Brood Mother, in order to protect and care for them and their young. These Skaven are castrated in order to keep them from harming or breeding with the Broodmothers. History: Following a brutal coup between the Skaven and the former residents of the Forgotten Woods, where the Skaven emerged initially, The Skaven received unexpected help from a series of travelers along the road, who offered to help the Skaven resolve their conflicts, in exchange for lucrative trade routes. The Skaven agreed, the Fae were routed and purged from the forest, and the trade routes were established, as well as Tradetown, a settlement above ground, where humans, Skaven and other races interact, trade and coexist.
The Under-City of Nesthome Skarr Territory, Forgotten Woods Hammers and pickaxes rang out in unison, forging an impromptu tempo. The walls of Nesthome had grown taller in the last few months, to the point where now the constant ringing had depth to it. The acoustic ringing bounced off the high walls and carried throughout the tunnels, deep into the Skaven barracks and the mess hall and into out into the open air above ground. Under the fair blue skies of the clearing the Skaven made, the tempo perpetuated, with the ringing of hammers and picks being replaced with the steady striking of axes and saws against trees, accompanied by the steady crackle of controlled burns. King-King looked on from his place close to the tunnel's entrance, observing his efforts with silent approval. Four months ago, this clearing had barely existed. The Skarr had lived exclusively below ground. Only a few trees had been cleared down, then, as their numbers hadn't been greater than a couple hundred. Those numbers, and that progress, compared to the modern equivalent, were a testament to the Skarr Clan's strength, the strength of King-King's vision. Close by, a small gaggle of foremen gathered around a table. On top of it, scrawled in charcoal, was a rough approximation of the forgotten woods, namely the part of the forest Nesthome was closest to. The map was incredibly basic--it barely took note of the treeline, the size of the clearing they'd made, or even how dense the foliage was, and yet it provided a wealth of information. They were pushing deeper into the woods, now, and that meant they were drawing close to home of the forest's denizens. More blood would be spilled in the coming months, but it would all be worth it. King-King listened in on the foremen intently, then gave a few sharp orders before turning back towards Nesthome's entrance. Once the fae had been forced out of the woods, there would be no stopping them. They could clear the forest en masse, and Nesthome would span the full length of the forest's perimeter below the surface. They'd flourish once again, the Skarr clan would number in the millions, and King-King would deliver the city he'd promised his people. It wasn't far off, now. Lars exhaled loudly as he shrugged his bag down onto the ground. The nearly empty rucksack collapsed in on itself as he did so, but it took enough off his back to set down the crates he was carrying. With a grunt, he bent at the knees and finally lowered the boxes into the bed of his carriage. For the second time since he'd picked up this particular stack of boxes, he silently wished he'd paid somebody else to do the heavy lifting for him. He cast a wayward glance towards his hired guard, shooting a look his way. The stern-looking man didn't move an inch. Lars sighed, and glanced back the way he came. Only two more stacks of crates to go... Lars and Vance were both surrounded by the busy, shuffling masses of trader folk milling about in Hyperion's Market. The city itself was easy to get lost in, with its magnificent sprawling architecture, the city's rich history etched into the buildings and walls around them, but Lars had always been most at home in the Markets there. He'd been raised in a market booth for the most part, after all, and fed and clothed in similar conditions. He'd even bought his first kiss in Hyperion! Granted, his father was always there for the majority of those endeavors, which made this particular trip quite different. Lars stopped moving and admired his cart for a moment, pleased with the sudden realization. He was doing this on his own! Today marked the day that Lars struck out on his own. He'd hired his own help, bought his own supplies, and had planned out a route of his own. Fortune awaited him somewhere along the road, and, if the road ahead was willing, he'd make history here as well. Some time ago, Lars had heard a story in a tavern on the outskirts of some backwater town that talked of strange things brewing in the Forgotten Woods. The Woods were never really a concern to him, or anybody else for that matter, though there was the odd merchant that attempted to find a road through the forest. This talk described strange men moving in the woods at night. Intrigued, Lars had spent a small allowance on pursuing these rumors, paying off a few outgoing adventurers to investigate if they passed close by. On more than one occasion, they returned with beguiling tales of....ratmen. Their stories were a little jumbled each time, certainly, but the repeated information seemed to suggest that a band of ratmen had made their home within the woods, which was, as of until recently, completely unheard of. The woods were dangerous and deep, laden with beasts and fae that supposedly liked to prey upon wayward travelers. Moreover, the woods were supposedly enchanted, and getting lost in those trees could cause you to lose your sense of self, and your sanity if you were unlucky. However, if the ratmen were living in the woods, perhaps they'd figured something out. If Lars could figure it out, too, he might be able to establish some kind of road through the woods! He'd made a killing off of the trade route! However, they couldn't go just yet. Lars knew for a fact the roads weren't exactly safe these days, and though he had Vance, he doubted they'd get anywhere unscathed if it were only the two of them. He strode over to the next pile of crates and picked them up, straining as he did so. He scanned the passing faces again, hopeful that their hired help would be there soon. Maybe he could convince them to finish loading the wagon. @Bkfootball
The Skaven of Terrenus The Skarr Clan "They kill-kill our families, we burn-burn their homes! Vengeance! Revenge for Rats!" - King-King, Acting Matriarch of Skarr Clan, and head of the Skaven Triad. General Overview The Skarr clan, one third of the Skaven Triad, refers to the diminished, but quick on the rebound band of Skaven slowly putting their roots down into the Forgotten Woods. Once a single family of the warlike ratmen, the Skarr clan is now composed of multiple smaller families, and is united with two other, currently missing Skaven clans to form a single, mighty Triad. Led by their oddly charismatic regent, King-King, the Skarr stand for unity among the multitude Skaven clans, and seek to strengthen their numbers as well as their familial ties. Skaven are often touted as being cunning, treacherous kin who stab each other in the back as soon as they shake hands, making and breaking alliances constantly. The Skarr--and by extension the Triad--seeks the opposite: Skaven united, working towards ever loftier goals. Composition The Skarr clan comprises of the remnants of the former Skarr clan, the smaller family that King-King was born into. Following his ascent to power, and subsequent unification of the clans, he dictated that his element of the Triad would share the same name. Though their numbers once numbered well into the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, over ninety percent of the clan's original population is gone. At the time of their arrival in the Forgotten Wood, the Skarr numbered in the hundreds; Seven hundred Skaven strong, including their auspicious ruler King-King, and approximately a hundred brood mothers, tended to faithfully by their devoted servants. Through time, however, their numbers will swell rapidly. It will take a mere matter of months before Skaven populations outweigh all others, which of course, means an increased demand for space and resources. Skaven Brood-mothers are specifically fed and raised to become 'living' nests for their children. As a result of frequent feedings, a very specific diet and rigorous massaging, bathing and grooming, most Brood-mothers are capable of raising a litter of 8-15 pups every two to three weeks. Assuming food is readily available (including the corpses of other pups, dead Brood-mothers and even some deceased Clanrats, the mortality rate is so low that only a handful of Skaven pups are lost in a Brood-mother's lifetime. A single Brood-mother raises anywhere between 16 and 30 Skaven a month, can live for multiple years and typically gives birth to around 2 or 3 new Brood-mothers in her life. Goals The Skarr aim, first and foremost, to recuperate from their grand losses. Following this, they must expand downward yet again, and begin rebuilding their colossal subterranean city Nesthome. Nesthome is---was---the Skaven Triad's crown achievement, a grand sign that King-King's vision of a united Skaven society could become a reality. Prior to King-King's ascent to power, the Skaven were largely at war with themselves. Skaven clans were based upon their founding members, the Skaven who were strong enough to claim their breeding rights and take several brood-mothers as their own. Even then, their claim was temporary, and Skaven clanlords were forced to subjugate the weaker Skaven in order to maintain some kind of control, which unfortunately still didn't keep backstabbing and conspiracy from running rampant among the fledgling clans. King-King was born into these circumstances under the name Gnaw Blackrot, another mindless Clanrat of the Skarr clan. Under his father, he served as a warrior, striking down his fellow Skaven in merciless civil wars. He learned, firsthand, that the Skaven knew only how to stab each other in the back, and seek their own ambitions mindlessly. He could see, even then, that the Skaven lived fruitless lives, which prompted him to try and change something. He sought consul with the Skaven's blighted omen of a God, the Pale Rat. Blackrot asked for the strength to not only claim the Skarr Clan for his own, but the Strength to claim other clans as his own, without murdering or subjugating any of his kinsmen. He argued that he could change how the Skaven behave, and unite them under one name. The Pale Rat, amused with Blackrot's pleas, struck a deal with him. The Pale Rat would offer King-King not only the strength to do all he asked, but also offered him the ability to cheat death. No assassination plot, no matter how devious or cunning, could not be carried out by any Skaven from any clan. However, the one catch was that the Pale Rat would come for him, one day. He would be born into the world Blackrot would build for his people, be raised in the streets like the rest of the Clanrats, and he would eventually murder the Skaven King, and the peace the Skaven once knew would rot, just as Blackrot's body would following that. King-King agreed. What King-King and the Pale Rat never expected, however, was that Nesthome, the grand achievement he'd worked so hard to see bear fruit, would not be destroyed by Skaven, or the Pale Rat, or King-King's ambitions, but rather the growing tension of a Terrenus bristling, ready for war, claimed the city of Nesthome, and the majority of his people's lives as well. Yet King-King reigns even now, though the terms of his deal have taken on a new meaning. Blackrot cannot be slain by any Skaven assassin or coup, but Terrenus is filled with creatures that aren't Skaven. Nesthome is far from finished, now, and King-King finds himself leading the Skarr into a world where his blessing may not apply. And, of course, the Pale Rat must surely be out there somewhere, waiting for a chance to strike out. It's only a matter of time before the Rodent King finds himself in danger. Allies King-King, and the rest of the Skarr, have very few friends in Terrenus to date. Their arrival was unexpected and shocking to the nearby factions, and the Skaven have yet to make friends--or even acquaintances--with any of them. Once they have expanded their claim, however, surely there will exist the opportunity to trade for goods between neighbors, assuming traders can get past their...intimidating appearance. Prior to their arrival in the Forgotten Woods, the Skaven lived much deeper in the earth, in their grand city of Nesthome. Under King-King's guidance, the three great clans that formed the Triad all lived in peace, for a time. However, the ongoing machinations of the world above them had unprecedented effects on the Skaven settlement. Mines, dug far too deep, and the shifting of tectonic plates worked in tandem to bring about a cataclysm the Skaven could not have predicted. The world crumbled around them--homes and stores and workshops were crushed beneath stone and rubble. Scarce few survivors fled in scattered groups, in all directions. At the present, it is not known what became of the other two Skaven clans. Without King-King to guide them, do they still believe in the unity of the Skaven? Foes Currently the Skarr face a much more pressing task at hand, however. Namely: the Forgotten Forest, its damnable sorcery and the fae that live within. Before the Skarr clan can continue to grow, the fae and the forest must be dealt with, one way or another. If the Skaven can force the fae out, and cleave away the trees around them, perhaps they can establish trade roads through the Woods. This would make it far easier for the Skarr's influence to grow, and give them unique opportunities to make alliances with the factions around them. Before they can do that, however. They need to butcher or drive off the fae of the Forgotten Woods.