Tales from Elrond
Cynidicea- The Lost City
Large City * Population 8,326 (71% Human (Cynidicean), 25% Goblinoid, 4% Other)
Thousands of years ago Cynidicea was a powerful kingdom that spanned across the Desert of Desolation. Now Cynidicea is but a shadow of its formerly glory, the remaining remnants of its population driven deep underground and on the verge of extinction, the ruins of their once glorious kingdom buried by the desert sands. Few records remain about Cynidicea’s past and the course of events that led to its downfall, but one thing that is known for sure is that an ancient and terrible being known as Zargon was to blame.
An ancient and alien entity, not truly a god, but having the powers of one, Zargon came to Elrond late during the Time of Humans. It used it’s powers and godlike stature to obtain worshippers and corrupt them to it’s own evil ends. No race was safe from it’s influence but humans and gobinoids were it’s preferred servants. Wars were raged in Zargon’s name and death and destruction were products of it’s influence. Finally, an alliance of righteous people rose up against Zargon and his army of followers. The path to victory was long and costly, but in the end Zargon and its forces were defeated during the beginning of the Time of Stability. Throughout the wars against Zargon, it was discovered that there was no known way to kill Zargon the Returner, so seeking to rid themselves of this immortal evil, the victors used powerful magic to trap Zargon deep underground in what would later become the kingdom of Cynidicea.
While Zargon remained trapped in his prison, time passed, and kingdoms rose and fell. The kingdom of Cynidicea was one of many kingdoms that rose from the desert sands and after several wars with neighboring kingdoms, spanning several hundred years, Cynidicea emerged victorious. After consolidating its territorial holdings with its vanquished enemies, it became the most powerful kingdom in the region. It’s first king after this expansion was Gorm, the kingdom’s most respected and victorious general. After a very long and prosperous reign, the throne passed to his son, Thrasymachus, upon his death and Gorm’s lineage would rule Cynidicea for several generations. Civil war, political intrigue and assassination would eventually put non-Gorm descendants on the throne, one of these was a fierce and noble female warrior from foreign lands who would come to rule Cynidicea as Queen Madarua and another example was a powerful magic user and cunning halfling named Usamigaras who (against all odds) was able to convince Cynidicea’s ruling council to crown him king. These three individuals, Gorm, Madarua and Usamigaras, were the most notable and ambitious individuals in Cynidicea’s history and their efforts and the admiration of their people was enough to ascend them to godhood where they became the Cynidicea pantheon.
Zargon was not idle while Cynidicea rose to power above him. He was busy spreading him influence and manipulating choice individuals through their dreams. His efforts come to fruition when he manipulates a charismatic madman named Damodes, who starts the secret underground Church of Zargon, which over time is able to grow in numbers and infiltrate all social strata of Cynidicea. By the time of the reign of King Alexander and Queen Zenobia, Zargon has thousands of followers and is a major, though still secret, religion in Cynidicea.
During their reign, King Alexander and Queen Zenobia embarked on a massive project of constructing and expanding their kingdom underground inside a massive cavern surrounding an underdark lake. This expansion initiated trade and influence with the various underdark kingdoms, such as Gnomes and Dwarves, but also introduced new enemies in the form of Goblinoids and Drow. Despite these dangers, the might of Cynidicea was able to build a large city in the massive underdark cavern.
During the construction of Queen Zenobia and King Alexander’s tomb pyramid, it’s location manipulated by Zargon’s machinations, workers uncover a previously unknown cave underground. They also found a corroded disk, apparently made of electrum, as well as an archway embedded into the cavern wall, filled with solid rock. One of the workers accidentally breaks the disk in picking it up, and Zargon is released. Although in a weakened state, he manages to kill most of the workers. Word spreads of a deadly monster on the loose, plunging the city into chaos. Free, and under the protection of its cultists, Zargon hides in Cynidicea, becoming stronger from the victims the cultists sacrifice to him.
King Alexander and Queen Zenobia both die of a strange wasting disease, which the clerics of Gorm, Madarua, and Usamigaras are unable to cure. The public outpouring of grief is marred by accusations that the clerics deliberately let the king and queen die. These rumours are spread by worshippers of Zargon. A few years later, clerics of Zargon gain control over the kingdom, convincing the people that only they know how to guide Cynidicea through these tough times. Zargon has been stalking the city at night, killing people at random. No one is able to kill him. Under their rulership, the Zargonites are able to “control” Zargon (by feeding him convicts). The unfinished tomb of Alexander and Zenobia becomes the Temple of Zargon, and he lives in the catacombs, content to be fed by his worshippers. The Church of Zargon declares their faith to be the only legal one in Cynidicea. Worshippers of Gorm, Madarua, and Usamigaras are captured and fed to Zargon, and many more flee the city, spreading their tale. Some worshippers manage to hide their allegiances, and covertly work to overthrow the Church. Instructed by Zargon, the clerics of Zargon cultivate and distribute a fungal narcotic to the people, saying that it will calm their fears and allow them to transcend their bodies so they may enter a better world. Many citizens take these drugs, and begin losing their drive. Work becomes shoddy, the irrigation ditches are no longer maintained, and the army loses its discipline. This is part of a plan to bring the people fully under the control of the Church. What the Zargonites do not realise is that, because of the drug’s effects, Cyndicea’s days are numbered.
Less than a decade after Zenobia and Alexander’s deaths, most of Cynidicea’s outlaying settlements have been abandoned, or have revolted. Thousands leave the region in search of better lands, as well as regions devoid of Zargon’s taint. Word of this chaos reaches the Antalian people, a large tribe of barbaric desert nomads. Many of the tribal leaders receive strange dreams, in which they are told to destroy the plague of Cynidicea. It only takes two years for the Antalians to take action, a great horde of its warriors attacking the city of Cynidicea, easily overwhelming the city’s weakened defenses. The Antalians loot the city and put it to the torch afterwards. A small portion of Cynidiceans manage to flee to join those already living in Cynidicea’s underdark city. There, they begin to rebuild their kingdom, cut off from the surface world.
On the surface world, the mighty kingdom of Cynidicea has fallen and ceased to exist, its ruins eventually buried by the desert sands, but it survives in a sad state of existence, marred by never-ending civil war between the factions dedicated to Zargon, Gorm, Madarua and Usamigaras, as well as the other underdark threats. Those not interested in fighting for their survival are addicted to the Zargonite drugs, seeking to escape their harsh lives. Thousands of years have passed, their underground existence changing their physiology to better live underground. While still human, they are obviously different than the norm, they posses Darkvision and a sensitivity to sunlight. Their skin is pale and large eyes often metallic in color. Despite these adaptations Cynidicea is a slowing dying population. Wars and drugs ravish their population, and the strong disagreements in how to save and govern the remnants of their kingdom between the non-Zargon factions prevent any constructive efforts to unite against the Zargon threat and save the kingdom.