Dominated by the great City of the Serpent Skull, Zugaikotsu, Shinigami is divided betwen War and Death. However, despite what one might expect of a land divided between the two cursed kingdoms, Zugaikotsu's influence keep the land in a relatively stable, if still incredibly dangerous, condition. Demons and hellwolves, among other equally deadly creatures, roam the countryside, constanly on the prowl.
Country/Area Name(s): Shinigami
Ruling Species: demons
Native Language: Demonic
Monarch(s): Lord Icarath (Death)
These are the cities found within this area; each one is marked on the map, and divided by tiers. The larger the tier, the larger the city - tier one may be a small village or town, while tier four may be sprawling cities of grand proportions.
Kage No Bōei:RACE: demon. LEADER: Throkh. TIER: three.
LANGUAGE(S): Demonic, Common. ALLEGIANCE: Death.
APPEARANCE: The city is located at the base of the tallest mountain in Shinigami, in the valley where the mountain range stretches the widest. Those who are unused to being enclosed in by the large mountains find the city suffocating, though its inhabitants much prefer the seclusion that the city's locasion provides. Like the mountains around it, Kage No Bōei is quite large, with the structures at the center of the town being the largest and most grandiose. The outer edges of the town have smaller houses nestled against the mountain, and scattered caves along the base serve as homes and shops for many.
CULTURE: Kage No Bōei is home to the Silus Clan, the members of which created many inventions that allowed Death to become the powerhouse it is now. The city is a massive trade center, and is nearly standalone from the rest of the kingdom thanks to the extensive exchange of commercial goods and prey within its walls. On the outskirts of town, darker dealings occur as well, such as the hiring of assassins and mercenaries. The city is mostly focused on survival and military training, and is host to a large part of the army that trains daily and works constantly to come up with ways to increase the death toll. Due to its militaristic ways, harsh punishments are carried out for disobeying laws, and it is not uncommon to see public executions. Many give the city a wide berth due to such a reputation. The ruler of the city, who is also the Silus Clan leader, answers to no one but himself and the reigning Death Lord.
KAIYO:RACE: demon. LEADER: Iothr (NPC). TIER: two.
LANGUAGE(S): Demonic, Common ALLEGIANCE: Death.
APPEARANCE: Kaiyo is a port town just off the coast of Shinigami, with a large dock for ships to come and go from all the different lands of Kurai. This medium-sized town is focused mainly on agriculture and farming, and is one of the more well-known towns in the Death Kingdom. When there is peace, Kaiyo becomes the centerpiece of trade, both within its own kingdom and with other kingdoms.
CULTURE: Kaiyo is thought to have been started by a band of pirates that settled on the land. A few scars of battles with sea monsters remain on broken buildings by the oceanside, kept by the people as a reminder of the past. Now a peaceful city, Kaiyo celebrates the time of harvest each year with a big feast for its people. During this time of celebration, blooshed and violence is strictly prohibited, and all outsiders are welcome to join in the festivities. The feasts last an entire day and night, and the people celebrate the harvest for the year and pray for the next year to be prosperous.
Ketsueki-mun:RACE: demon. LEADER: Karashi (NPC). TIER: four.
LANGUAGE(S): Demonic, Common.ALLEGIANCE: Death.
APPEARANCE: Ketsueki-mun is a massive city that is divided into two sections, one in the forest and the other in the plains of Shinigama. It is a enclosed and fortified by a wall and various wards against both unwanted entry and exit. A castle stands strong in the center of the city, decorated with regal splendor, much like most of the other houses in the city. Ketsueki-mun is second in riches and looks only to the royal Death castle itself, and just as unwelcoming to visitors.
CULTURE: The main source of income and prosperity of this city stems from the trade of both slaves and livestock. The latter ranges from humanoid to beastlike, and are traded for currency or goods at the large markets. Many go to the infamous bloodwine breweries, while others are sent to be slaughtered, often by those that cannot catch prey themselves. Ketsueki-mun is one of the few places that has profited off of the curse that requires all Death demons to kill to survive, and the entire market system is based around the need for bloodshed. Thanks to its bloody ways, the town has very few visitors.
Temple of Blood:RACE: demon. LEADER: Akivo (NPC). TIER: one.
LANGUAGE(S): Demonic, Common. ALLEGIANCE: Death.
APPEARANCE: On a small island not far from the mainland of Shinigami lies a temple with an open platform in the desert. Around the platform are columns that have withstood the strains of time, standing as strong as they were when Kurai was first formed. This monument was created as a reminder of what the kingdom stands for, and is colored black, with white accents and runes carved into the structure. For most of the year, the temple seems to be abandoned, but comes alive on the first day of each season. On these days, the temple doors open to reveal the statue of the great mother goddess, Leithas, looking out over her children; this is where the demons come to celebrate each passing season. The dark hue of the temple allows the white statue of the goddess to almost glow in contrast as celebration lanterns are lit around her face, and she seems as if she is about to walk out of the temple and among her subjects.
CULTURE: The temple is run by n'vaen demons that have shaved all the hair from their heads and bodies, and wear runes that have been tattooed onto their skin. Their only mission is to serve Leithas and present her with offerings, which include the heart and liver from their prey. The demons' worship of her is nonstop; they will take shifts to make sure that her shrine is never left unattended. During the festivals held at the change of each season, the Temple of Blood is opened. At these times, high ranking officials from all kingdoms can be found here to join in the worship. The festival is held to honor the goddess, to give thanks for the life of the prey taken, and to tell legends to the younger generations of demons in order to keep the culture alive. Such legends are often accompanied by intricate displays of magic, which seem to make the stories come alive.
ZugaikotsuRACE: demon. LEADER: Skull King. TIER: four.
LANGUAGE(S): Demonic and Common. ALLEGIANCE: Death and War.
APPEARANCE: On the western side of the mountain range in Shinigami there rests an infamous, legendary city built in the remains of an utterly massive skull. The Kingdoms of Death and War both lay claim to Zugaikotsu, the City of the Serpent Skull; it is the only place where Kingdoms intermingle without bloodshed aside from the Order-led Tower of mages in northern Pestilence territory. The skull itself is gargantuan, said to be more ancient than the Realm itself, and each side of the snake's jaws is several miles long. To the west side of the skull, War demons dwell most heavily; to the east, Death, and down the center, each lives equally.
Above, the fangs and teeth hang as the great bones slant back overhead, forming the terrifying visage of the giant skull. The great eye sockets hold towers formed of bones and populated by both Kingdoms, with a great arena at the center of what had once housed its brain. This Colosseum, as it is called, is built of thousands of skulls and rib bones, towering tall and enclosing the combatants deep within. Where the back of the skull and the few remnant vertebrae exist, a great tower is built into the giant bones, walls formed of the smaller skulls of countless other creatures. Outside of the skull, walls made of bones rise, as the fanged arches of the jaw towers above all. Carved Demonic runes line the bottom teeth, telling tales of demon bravery and heroism from both Death and War.
CULTURE: Honor and pride wreathe the city like an unseen fog; to the west, the War demons who dwell there live with the code of the samurai, while the Death demons of the eastern side are taught the ancient ways of the demonic assassin. Blood is a valuable commodity, as are human cattle, accommodating both curses equally. The best stock of human cattle is kept in stable-prisons near the Colosseum, raised for food and taught very little, with few sold off as slaves to Zugaikotsu's citizenry. Children are trained from a young age a code of honor, and to respect their sister Kingdom's people and its ways. Those of War are taught the way of the sword, and how to handle themselves against a variety of different foes. Death children are taught exceptional ways of killing, through whatever means necessary. Marriage between the Kingdoms is outlawed, and those who disobey are put to immediate death, due to the consequences of half-Kingdom insanity. Every month there is a mock battle, a contest between the two Kingdoms over which side are the better warriors. These battles are respectful and ritualistic, rarely resulting in death. The Colosseum houses hundreds to witness these feats of strength and skill, pitting the best samurai against the assassin-warriors of their sister Kingdom. War demons and Death demons live alongside one another in peace, bonding with their neighbors over their mutual curses. War demons helping Death demons find prey are not unusual sights, and Death demons giving War demons the blood from their kills is an everyday occurrence. A regular tradition in the city involves taking the skulls and other bones from the slain victims of the curses, and adding them to the outskirts or replacing lost and damaged skulls with the new.
The city is led by a single demon who is chosen by the populace for ten year periods; called the Skull King for the crown of ancient bones, topped with a dragon's skull, this leader is chosen from one Kingdom for a decade, and the other for the next. Any longer than ten years, and it seems these leaders slowly grow insane - that some ancient power attempts to take over their minds, that the Great Skull siphons reiatsu from the planet itself, and this power often attempts to manifest (unsuccessfully) in the city's leader. Most Skull Kings die very young and very shortly after their ten years is up, and a great many cannot even reach the decade mark. When a Skull King dies before their rule has ended, a steward from the same Kingdom takes their place, and leads as they would have. The Bone Crown then rests until the day a new leader is selected, glimmering darkly atop a pedestal protected by horrific enchantments to keep thieves and intruders at bay.
These are the landmarks and important places scattered through this area. They can be anything from forests and rivers to special caverns, monuments, ruins, and more.
Along the southern coast of Shinigami lies a large, pale-colored mountain range that stretches across the entire country. The mountains have forested peaks, though the trees are pale and leafless. No edible vegetation can be found in these mountains, which are often dubbed "the Teeth of Death." The predators that manage to survive in the cold climate do so by hunting each other, and only the strongest survive.
This swamp has a dark presence to it, filed with overgrown vegetation and bloody waters through which no bottom is visible. At the center of the swamp sits a lone, abandoned temple dedicated to the goddess Leithas, built with the first settlers of Shingami and forgotten over time. Abandoned after the Death curse struck, the temple seems to ooze a dark aura from its broken doors, and houses nightmarish creatures that greet any daring or unfortunate travelers with bloodlust. Around the swamp grow rare plants that can inflict the most painful deaths through poison, and those even rarer that can heal such toxins; many die attempting to harvest these coveted plants.
The Moonless Swamp is filled with thick, dense vegetation, which houses much of the food for the Death Kingdom. Though it is home to many creatures that serve as prey for the demons, it is also rumored to be haunted; many claim to have heard the voices of the dead among the dense growth of trees. The forest is rumored to have grown over the tombs of the soldiers that died defending the border, and many discourage travel through the swamp when there is no moon.
In the first years of Kurai, there was peace; but it was shortlived, and soon corrupted. When the Kingdoms rose, that of Death - led by a demoness, Kalithia, Lord of her Kingdom - sought to gather power before the others, and thus founded the Ki-Kamishio through complex experimentation and ritual. The place these experiments were held is a large stone ruin that appears abandoned on the outside; its black stone blends with the land, and can be seen only when one is nearly atop it. Once entered, tunnels descend into labyrinthine caverns, ending in various 'laboratories' that are still used to this day. The walls are never lit with proper torches, only enchanted flame or gemlights, as explosive gases may be commonplace within them - and they have had to repair such damage multiple times in their varied history.
A unique and deadly Realm, wrapped in eternal blackness with only a moon to light the moonday, and no stars to light the true night. Acid rain falls that only those who possess demon heritage can withstand, and the scent of an outsider race draws many a scavenger and usually the hellwolves, who patrol their Kingdom's boundaries. Lawbreakers and deserters are chased by hellwolves or turned into outcasts; outcasts are demons with no Kingdom who are enemies of all four factions.
Unlike other Realms, Kurai's Markers are frozen without Guardians - they are indestructible and hidden far beneath the earth's surface, needing no protection. This, however, cancels out traditional portal making and allows the Lords to control these portals within their respective Kingdoms, unless one finds one of the Hellgates scattered throughout the Realm. Around these Gates, portal-making is a free act, though they will not work anywhere away from them (barring Lords, gods and Ethers).
Kurai is a place of many wars, including both the First and Second Demon Wars in the land of Felnova. The first was started by Kirai, former Lord of War; the second was the first Demon King in centuries, who sought not only the control of his Realm, but all Realms from his place in the Silver Throne. The King has the power to command the Demon Lords and their hellwolves; as a result, many are opposed to a King. There has only been one to briefly take the Throne in recent history - the fell Chamenos Bloodreign of War blood, the darker half of the late Solan Skye Hajime.
Realm Contributors: Skye Hajime, Verridith, Fyfergrund, JPG, KawaiiKoko, and Belmont.