- The Refuge
- Meluan’s Gate
- Beryl’s Folly
- Bremmelton Dump
- Gallows’ Cross
- Halyar’s Retreat
The sudden destruction of the City-State of Delton at the hands of the great Colossus left thousands of Heartlanders homeless. Alone among the remaining Heartland City-States, Nexus opened its doors to Deltoner refugees. Within a few short months, a small camp blossomed into a neighborhood in its own right. Migrants from throughout the Mechanism now call the Refuge home, with more arriving every day. Some of these new Nexans have fled from danger in their home nations, hoping to forge new identities in the ancient city. Some have returned to Nexus to visit family and to help them through troubled times. Some have arrived at the Refuge seeking their fortune in the famous City of Steam.
The suburb grew quickly and haphazardly, as the location of the port was ideal for ships traveling across the Arterial Ocean. This continued for many years, and thrived under the fair but strict governance of Meluan, eventually earning herself an international reputation. In her honor, and due to many foreigners unable to pronounce her name in Neruvian dialect, the suburb was renamed as Meluan’s Gate.
However, the story of Meluan Chord does not end there.
She took a Riven husband, also an alchemist but more importantly, a businessman. He aided her in establishing the “New Town”, now referred to as Urbis Antiquitis. While this benefited Nexus, it did not bring greatness to the Riven households that funded it, and he failed to earn himself the elixir needed to extend his lifetime by another Chronicle.
When he died, Meluan Chord locked herself away in the tower for years and lived in complete isolation. Eventually, she threw herself off the harbor cliffs, a tragic event that immortalized her name and the legend of Meluan’s Gate.
Rumor and superstition still surround her demise. Locals refuse to go near the alchemical tower on the bluff where she died for fear of meeting her tortured spirit. Even increasing the reward for exterminators to rid the area of recent infestations of clockroaches, imps and other pests has not encouraged adventurers to approach.
The head engineers who worked on the original Gardenworks projects found early on that the exotic plants and vegetation they desired depended on different chemical and mineral consistencies and designed grand alchemic chambers below in order to provide the correct botanical species with the correct nutrients.
The Gardenworks was a place for parties and rich celebrations, on the first Spireday of the month the administration would open the gates free of charge and allow even the poorest Nexan citizen to explore the expansive park and observe the triumphs of technology, nature and beauty.
As the years rolled by and local economies faltered, the Gardenworks shied away from the public and relied on the more prestigious and elite to maintain it. Eventually, only those with deep pockets were able to afford its inordinate running costs. No one was surprised to see the inevitable decay of the Gardenworks. In recent years, the administration locked the gates and left the suburb to be claimed by the aggressive vegetation.
The modern consequence of such engineering is the miasmic mists that are brewed to life by the combined chemicals from long degraded pipes, mixers and dispensaries. The vegetative life residing in the Gardenworks is vicious, degenerative and horribly mutated. The sentient pests require exterminators that are extremely hard to find despite the posted rewards.
It is hard to know what will become of the Gardenworks, as the Triumvirs have yet to send a team to dismantle the autonomous alchemic chambers before the plants, or mists, spread elsewhere.
The story of Beryl’s Folly began with the discovery of an ancient underground ruin from the Era of Myth. The site had been untouched for centuries until Beryl Valsgard, a renowned Avenian eccentric, finally received government permission to excavate.
Beryl, a lucrative banker, moved to the site after years of successfully operating mining ventures in toothward Avenoss. Despite his achievements in business, his true passion lay in artifacts. This passion grew to an obsession, leading him to set up an excavation and archeological institute in record time.
The dig immediately produced amazing results, turning up a treasure trove of mythwork artifacts. This produced a great amount of hype and attracted considerable investment from researchers, universities and alchemist guilds throughout the Heartlands. In the first ten years of operation, it was an unprecedented success.
However, the excavation continued for too long, driven by an increasingly maddened Beryl who believed that the mother lode still lay further in the depths below. Eventually, the vast depths of the dig site grew to be impossible to scale back to the surface each day. Exploratory trips grew longer, with reports from the excavators becoming more and more infrequent. One day, there was no reply at all. Over the decades that followed, attention moved away from the excavation and to other research, but the massive hole and the legends of Beryl Valsgard still remain.
256 years later, Nexus is showing its age. Its once-great mineral resources have been depleted, and the mines that remain are deep and dangerous. As laborers left the City-State for healthier economies in the Heartlands and beyond, the sprawling metropolis could no longer sustain itself; ambitious public works, rich manors, and great factories lay abandoned. Many that stayed behind have turned to crime, scavenging, and mercenary work. Yet as far as Nexus has fallen, incredible opportunities remain for those willing to risk everything.
There are two notable locations in Central. First is the Nexan Archives which represented the Triumvirs’ grand scheme to amass and store the influx of information from the Heartland Conclave. During its unveiling it was heralded as a marvel of modern architecture as well as art. The highly functional building was admired by visitors from across the World Machine at the bicentennial Summit of Peace between Nexus and the Heartlands. However, a century of failing economy and interest has taken its toll on the structure, and the modern Nexan Archives have fallen into disrepair.
Along with the Nexan Archives, Central is known for the Paragon’s Gate. Generally noted as having been a poorly designed mock-ancient structure, the dwarven engineering beneath that façade has held strong for generations. Originally it was used as an underground highway that connected the suburbs of Central and Deepholm, but airship travel has made it obsolete, so the tunnels have not been used in decades.
Augustus Bremmel came to Nexus in NE 150 with a simple dream: to establish himself as the preeminent manufacturer of high explosives in the Heartlands. Bremmel rightly predicted that traditional mining techniques could no longer sustain the Nexan economy, and deeper excavations would require precision explosives to avoid tunnel collapse.
Within five years, buoyed by exclusive contracts with mining companies like Kurngos and Kin, Bremmel’s operation had expanded from a storefront in Central to a full-fledged company town. Bremmelton, as it came to be known, seemed to herald a new age in Nexan industry. Even the Heartlands Council took notice, commissioning research into the military applications of Bremmel’s formulas.
As it turned out, his formulas worked all too well. Theories abound as to what led to the fall of Bremmelton, from covert Avenian operatives to a radical faction within the Bremmelton Board of Directors. In any case, a small explosion in an outlying warehouse set off a chain reaction that completely leveled Bremmelton in the end. True to form, the Bremmelton Blast was a focused detonation, burning out almost immediately and leaving buildings at the border of the suburb completely intact. The surviving members of the Board, of which Bremmel himself could not be counted, voted to cede control of the land to the Nexan Council, who promptly opted to use it for waste disposal.
As such, a great deal of old machinery has been discarded here over the years, making it a prime location for salvaging rare materials and obscure components. Although blanketed by a noxious chemical fog and beset by a variety of dangerous creatures, it’s unlikely that modern Nexus would function nearly as well without the steady supply of mechanical detritus scavenged from Bremmelton Dump. Goblins seem uniquely resistant to the contaminants that have accumulated there over the years, and they make up most of the permanent population.
Under the guidance of Hekan Gerlt, the site developed into the open-cast mine currently known as Deepholm. It was Hekan’s skill and impeccable knowledge of mining that led to the surge of wealth that followed the mine’s opening, though many have forgotten how he played a vital role in the early establishment of Ebonwax.
In the ensuing decades that followed, the mine grew in leaps and bounds, eventually becoming recognized as a suburb, and not just an industrial pit. The waves of workers, many escaping the ravages of war across the sea found difficult but rewarding service available to them in Deepholm. Dwarves, traditionally known for inhabiting mines, also established strong kinships with their culturally varied colleagues. Some were even known to raise the orphaned children of other races if accidents occurred. Some modern day non-dwarf residents of Ebonwax still carry dwarven names, and remain passionately proud of their adopted lineage.
The leveled cuts along the open-cast mining site act almost as tree rings, counting the years it has been in operation. Even as the technology advanced, those who inherited vocational mining skills from their forefathers can still measure time accurately by them.
As the precious lode dried up, the mine was forced to expand to new directions. Vertical shafts began to litter the site with tunnel entrances and this was when problems began.
Shafts began to collapse and months passed without mineral vein discoveries. The enterprises that had long supported the mines backed out, employees were sacked, and safety was put as a lower priority as the efforts focused on extracting greater payloads. Mining continued, but at great cost of life, and the shafts began to reach into ancestral world arteries. Desolate mass graves arose around the site, exposing the capitalizing companies that sanctioned such work.
The era of Hekan Gerlt faded and Ebonwax citizens witnessed the mine slowly changing into something far darker.
The rich red stones and alabaster columns that line the entrance tell of a distant age when the fort was built, when the city guard was barely disciplined and acted without restraint. Order was needed, and it came.
The fourth captain of Ebonhold, appointed by a council of local aristocrats, was Sargayte Alekseev. A brutal man by nature, public records show that he was sentenced to hang at Gallows Cross but was given amnesty by an unknown power just before his sentence was carried out. Sargayte brought order to the district, at any cost. He was not beyond torture, imposing harsh laws and carrying out even harsher punishments for disobedience. This was only the beginning of his foul deeds.
Ebonhold’s dungeon became a place of terrifying legend, no punishment was too severe for any unfortunate fool forced to descend its steps. At the end of his station at Ebonhold, Sargayte’s own guards rose up against him, casting him into the dungeon and mortaring the door closed.
Twenty years ago, under the instructions of the then newly appointed Triumvirs, the door was reopened. The sight was reported as so repulsive and the smell so fetid and harrowing that the door was resealed instantly.
Twenty years of scrubbing later, Ebonhold now acts as a training station for new members of the city guard. However, the building containing the dungeon remains strictly off-limits.
Not only criminals met their fate in the noose, but politically controversial individuals were also put to death. It was standard in these situations for a special weapon to be crafted with the initials of the culprit along with a list of his crimes. This weapon was either awarded to the judging Triumvirs, or, as the practice grew, sold off on the black market.
One of the strangest events at Gallows Cross was the execution of Pener Lalouffe, inquisitor from Ostenia who was caught in the act of poisoning a banquette at a renowned riven household. His death led to “The Quiet Revolt” where he was posthumously canonized a saint. This act influenced a number of members from the Ostenian Church to request being put to death under the same blade as the famous inquisitor.
The gallows themselves can be viewed from a long standing government office called the Old Lexorium, where employees of the Triumvirs had the perfect vantage point to view the executions. After the abolishment of certain laws during a period of reformation, the office staff moved and the building has gone on to be the starring site for many suburban ghost stories.
The gallows are decommissioned nowadays, but the bloodstains remain for younger generations to ponder. Those brave enough to enter and search the Old Lexorium despite its well-known dangers can still find lists of names that were sent to the block.
Not every greenskin merchant was good for the area, however, and this led to increased crime. Many of the original residents of the area began to leave, and over a few decades, the suburb slowly declined in popularity.
When the greenskin population reached a critical level, the politics of their homelands became important and caused an overnight change in the suburb. It went from one of opportunity and hope to one of syndicates and gangs.
Halyar ended up being the head of one of the most dangerous gangs in the area and the power corrupted him. He was able to bully the local government, the merchants guild and the city guard into doing whatever he wished, and as a result of this his wealth multiplied rapidly.
Ironically, it was another greenskin that ended his reign – Halyar was murdered by a rival gang that was moving up in the world. However, instead of simply following the new leader, as hobbes and goblins of the borderlands are expected to do, these modern greenskin citizens felt empowered by their Nexan rights, and took to violent rioting and all-out urban combat.
Eventually, the Nexan Guard did stop the rioting and fighting, but the gangs went underground and disappeared. Without a doubt, the gangs still have a hand in the daily affairs of Halyar’s Retreat, but nowadays they conduct business in a more discreet manner.