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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.