While most maps and atlases show a city called Lumpral and list it as the fourth largest on the planet, the people who live here know of no such city and think the idea of lumping all these different communities into one city is ludicrous. In the most common of the hundred and thirty something languages in use on this map, 'Lumpral' means 'known world' which is taken to mean the Lumpral basin. The name of this group of cities is in base six, and the count includes some cities which no longer exist except as sources of used building material.
Culturally, the area is the whole basin in miniature, with each community having a different way of life. This region is listed as one city because of the Kassikan's geographer's convention that a piece of property producing less food than its inhabitants eat is urban, and if those properties abut, they are part of the same city. That convention makes sense for the Yakhan, where all the settlements come from the same source and participate in the same culture and economy. In the Forty Cities, that convention does not make sense. Most of the people on this map do not think of themselves as urban, since the cities are a day's hike away. Many go no more than five miles in any direction from their home.
People living in the white regions of this map do grow less food than they eat, but it is just a little less, so that the white areas grow 71% of the food eaten in the white and red areas of this map. If the people in this area achieved the same crop yields as in the Yakhan, most of this map would be green with some white rings around the cities. Most of the people in the white areas do not think they are living an urban lifestyle because they are still peasant farmers by trade. In this city, the whiter the area, the more intensive the cultivation. Most of the people outside the named cities do not take city jobs, but buy staples from more distant farmers and grow produce and livestock for the cities.
In this area the cities range in age from more than twenty thousand years, to less than four thousand. Some of them, such as Honaseka and Hudon Bey have a structure and way of life that a Centorin would recognize as Kassidorian. Some of them, such as Holloreel and Nunstalle are walled cities open only to their members or business associates. The city of Penbeam is entirely owned by one man. The city of Dzenovah is an ancient religious center that most think is in ruins, and has been for thousands of years.
As we just said, each city has its own history. To go thru them all would take volumes. We will cover the history of the region as a whole.
Before the Energy Age, the area was known as the Ten Cities (actually six). Of those, Bolanda was the most important, ruling a kingdom that reached from the little Var to the Lunstran and over a hundred miles upstream. The Lunstran was dammed at the time, nine miles upstream of the mouth of the Var. Ghziehup stretched along the mouth of the Var, before it emptied into the Lunstran. One can dive to its ruins at the bottom of the lake dammed by the city of MqNeer, where it has lain since 1100bc. Ghziehup was a city like early Honaseka, all plank up and stacked blocks. The third of the Ten Cities down the Lunstran was Dzenovah, which was already thought to be in ruins by the other five of the Ten Cities. Its site has been inhabited since 24,080bc. as measured by the best instruments available to Centorin science in 4100ad.
In the age of the Ten Cities, Holloreel was newly completed in 4171bc. with stout granite walls, large, smooth-running locks passing ships easily up the Lazahn on both sides of the island. The island itself was filled with palaces and industries. Long shafts and belts carried power from the locks thruout the city. Bef Lazahn was more than ten centuries old at the time, a tottering old city that had once been great and still had missions in both deeps. Yorston Regirth was the model on which Holloreel was built, but it had grown clannish in recent centuries.
In the Ten Cities era coaches were available between cities and there were public currency exchanges in each city. The money changers in Yorston Regirth of the time extracted most of the city's tax revenue from those exchanges and the city was going to wither until that tax was overthrown just decades before the forces of Dempala entered the basin.
The Ten Cities era ended with the Energy Age. A glideway came thru the area, there was a rotary in that line that became the unofficial 'city wall' of Dzenovah thru those centuries. Dempala poured lots of construction into Dzenovah. That construction is now three layers down in the unknown number of layers of ruins that is Dzenovah today.
Dzenovah might have gone the way of Bolanda without that layer. It was the center of the region at the time, but its rulers were completely foreign. Most of Dzenovah's layers of ruins are built of the blocks of their predecessors. The ruins of the Energy Age were shipped in from outside, new.
None of the other cities of the area received any significant construction during the Energy Age. Dempala maintained a presence in Dzenovah and everyone else could catch a coach, cart, riverboat or shoe to Dzenovah. The glideway made stops in some cities on the way, and stops in the middle of nowhere that later became cities like Blubor.
The Energy Age left the area as educated and prosperous as it was. When it ended, trade and tourism over the glideway was cut off and the administrative offices were closed down. They were re-opened by the military for a couple generations but then those too were abandoned.
At the end of the Energy Age, a tall skinny kid made off with quite a bit of stuff from the abandoned barracks in Dzenovah. He had an enquiring mind and just enough scruples to keep himself from being infamous, for the time being. He carted it out to that country glideway stop out on the hills just south of the Var. A business once attracted to the cheap land lay abandoned, and he first placed his treasures in there. This kid was to become much more important in later years under the names LaunJu and Brancettrabble.
Without the garrison, Dzenovah had an artistic awakening and it remained the most important city in the region for quite a few centuries.
The dam on the Var that is MqNeer was started around 1900bc. It did not become an important city untill centuries later, it was just a few families, a lock and a water wheel at that time.
Until this time, the Nycoba did not build great cities. That did not mean they did not have kings, and by this time the king of the Nycoba was looking for a place to set up a permanent home. What better place than a boney hill top out in the hills away from all cities. The Energy Age ruins of the glideway station were a perfect foundation to put Nycoba hall on, and in 1894bc it was begun. It was adjacent to that abandoned business that Launju was in.
Under the guidance of a god who could fly, watch you when he was out of the room, and could make his troops perform like avenging angels, the kings of Blubor rallied their people until they were a force very much like that of Dempala. Twenty one generations of kings followed that god. The Empire was at its height during the third.
The Nycoba kings started out OK, but by the third they got greedy. Uniting the people of the woodlands was one thing, but uniting the areas by controlling the cities and farmlands was not the Nycoba way. When the kings started to require that those people follow Nycoba laws, their forces, and the arsenal of God Manifest, were stretched very thin. They continued to control the forests, but over the centuries more and more cities, towns and agricultural kingdoms gained their independence from the empire.
Legend has it that Launju was carried off by a dactyl in about 600bc. There is no written record, they were probably destroyed by the one starting the legend. There is some evidence he was actually attacked by a dactyl. By this time he had a pyramid built in the middle of the city. We do know that he left the Lumpral basin for the much looser environment of the Trenst Basin during this time.
After the empire collapsed, this area became the Forty Cities. The land between them was technically rural at first, but has become technically urban during the time since. The same area is farmed and more food is actually produced, but the population of the area has doubled since that time. The additional population is urban people living in the branches above the people that own the farm. They earn a living in some urban way, and the city imports massive amounts of lon from the ponds upstream on the Lunstran, as well as the local ones.
This area was hard hit by the arrival of the modern age and the sterility plague was the trigger. Honaseka was burned, MqNeer began its descent. The last government of Bef Lazahn was overthrown. Racial tensions lead to violence on many occasions. Kluboeb preachers extolled their flocks to avoid Satan's chemical extensions to life while they used them themselves.
Since then Honaseka has adopted a way of life most like the remainder of Kassidor. It is a smaller and more backward city than Kyeb, by itself, but in 4100 it has seventeen million residents. Hudon Bey is Blubor reborn in economics and Penbeam is a giant casino with barracks above, stretching four miles along a river.
There is talk, everywhere BUT the Forty Cities, of uniting the Forty Cities with tube connections. People who think like that miss the whole point of the Forty Cities. In these cities you can live the life you want to live and not have people who want to live different lives intrude. People in the Forty Cities are there because they need to know that people with other opinions are at least a day's ride away. That is unusual for Kassidor, but a lot about the Lumpral basin is.
The cities are a hodge-podge of cultures also. If you want to see everything in religious art from tackier than you've ever seen before, to the most magnificent, go to Dzenovah. You may have to blow the dust off it. Nunstalle has the finest chamber music Kassidor has to offer. Caldone has a famous black market. Watch your valuables, and if you paid a lot for it, it's probably fake. If you paid a little, it's probably stolen.
Two things that apply to the Forty Cities as a whole and have since the Ten Cities, are good intercity coach and ship service, and money changing services. Business is conducted in peace in all the Forty Cities and each of the named cities on this map not marked as ruins has data service today. Dzenovah has the most with six outlets, followed by Honaseka with five, MqNeer and Hudon Bey each with four. Until the starship age the suntower at MqNeer was the only connection in the Forty Cities region, and that didn't go into service until 1811ad.
These cities can be classified as 'closed' or 'open'. Closed cities have boundaries or even walls, membership lists, citizenship agreements and such. Those are Dolindot, Dorodel, Honrith, Holloreel, Kuntine, Nunstalle, Penbeam and Yorston Regirth. The difficulty in gaining admission to these cities varies. Nunstalle is open to all who are not on a list of those excluded for thievery, etc. The same basic principle applies to most of the others, but in Kuntine, Holloreel and Yorston Regirth you must be signed for by a member. In Dolindot the one signing for you must bring you before a neighborhood council where you will be roasted, but feted if you pass. In Penbeam all are admitted as 'customers' to the shops, casinos and sporting events but can only gain entrance to other parts of the city if accompanied by a resident.
The 'open' cities have no boundary, no official list of members and no entry requirements. From time to time Bef Lazahn likes to pretend it has a boundary, as did MqNeer until Earth's second century. Delsendenst and Demsalle have strong city business organizations and currencies that are accepted in most of the Forty Cities. There is no official currency in Caldone, where forty different scripts down to the hundredth of a penny compete for attention. Honaseka is nothing more than the people who do business along its towpath and plankwalk.
The 'closed' city of Yorston Regirth is very 'open' for business because its entire boundary is a series of rooms thru which citizens of Yorston Regirth can conduct business with non-members without the non-members getting admission to the city itself. No Centorin has yet gained admission to the city of Yorston Regirth, so we have no idea what its culture is, but telephoto lenses reveal that the citizens of Yorston Regirth do have the right to nudity inside the city.
The culture of the Highlands does not reach here. Only Nunstalle, Penbeam and Honaseka have sex clubs. In all other cities nothing more than discrete dry petting is allowed at most eating and dining establishments. Those with 'Megnish Atmosphere' will have waitresses that rub their perky breasts on you while they serve you. Entertainment is more likely to be stand-up comedy than in any other area of Kassidor. You won't really get it if you aren't a native speaker of the language it's in.
There is a cinema industry in Holloreel, MqNeer, Honaseka and Delsendenst. Companies from all those cities often shoot on location in Dzenovah. Economically cinema is the region's largest cultural enterprise, generating 1/12 the revenue that cinema does in the Yakhan megalopolitan area, where cinema is about the tenth largest cultural enterprise.
Music is seldom used for more than cinema or theatrical productions except for Nunstalle, Demsalle, MqNeer and Honaseka. MqNeer and Honaseka have major concerts like the remainder of the planet. You will NOT encounter a band from the Highlands touring in any city in this area until there is a planet-wide tube system and that is likely to be after 4500ad. Nunstalle and Demsalle have orchestras in ornate halls. Penbeam has recorded music for the co-ed live sex shows. In Nunstalle and Demsalle, the orchestra or quartet is likely to play during dinner.
Religion is an important part of the culture in many of the cities, none more than Dzenovah. The largest church in Dzenovah is the Bhah, worshipers of eternity. Their ceremonies are open to the public and they beg for donations while performing them. The bigger the choir holding a more massive note longer, the better the ceremony to the Bhah. They are performed by people who seem horribly aged, but are, of course, much older than that. They may have been practicing those rites since the Earth year was a negative number. The ceremonies are well attended and most think it proper for the poor to give a penny and the rich an iron to the church. The church undertakes as its mission, providing free medical care to the poor of Dzenovah. The average age of their following is almost three thousand years.
The Kluboeb religion is still represented in the Forty Cities, but few actually follow it to the extent that they are still ephemeral, except for a closed tribe living deep in the catacombs below Dzenovah. Many profess they wish they were ephemeral, but have contacted the species immunity complex so they do not age. One of the most extreme sects, the Hunstrikes, had their greatest temple of ancient times in the city of Nunstalle. This is noteworthy because Nunstalle is as anti-Kluboeb as the Bhah, but in a way we would call 'secular.' The temple has since been razed and its site is still combed for debris, though little remains but the hole.
There are still enough millions in Dzenovah for three other religions to have a million followers or more, and no less than nine of the basin's great religions have one of their holiest sites in Dzenovah. There are those who say humans SPREAD to the deeps from Dzenovah and that is likely because Dzenovah is at an atmospheric pressure less than twice that of Earth. The cathedralists of Dzenovah have a structure that they say has been maintained since 21,452bc. and have frighteningly intense audio-visual haunting ceremonies in it. Admission is a pricey fifty cents, but well worth it. Try not to come away believing the preacher's poppycock however, it's all acheived with very advanced animatronics and video projection technology.
You'll probably want to avoid most other religious ceremonies in Dzenovah, as in most of the Forty Cities. They are technically not open to non believers. You will muff something and be found out. They can't hurt you but you won't leave happy. There is one big exception to that rule. There are three Tahmote temples in Dzenovah. Tahmote is the spirit of life, growth, fecundity and motherhood and their sacrament is sexual union with the temple girls. There are temples to Tahmote all over the central basin and in all the Forty Cities but Klendenst and Dolindot. MqNeer has seven, Nunstalle's is the best, Bef Lazahn's is the raunchiest. It's still probably the safest religious ceremony for you to participate in.
Thruout most of the white and red areas on this map you can get by using Mythra. In Demsalle, Nycoba is preferred. In Dzenovah, Dulette is the most common language, but more languages are used in Dzenovah than the remainder of the Central Lumpral basin, 137. You can get by in 'Elvish' in Holloreel, MqNeer, Hzagart and Dzenovah, but the translator you'll hire in Dzenovah will want at least an iron a day, and he'll want meals included and he'll bring his girlfriend. The only people you will encounter who have heard Centish or English will be those you bring with you.
Dzenovah is not the only city with translators for hire, but the one where they will make the most noise greeting you at the dock. There are few signs in any language in Dzenovah, most businesses have shills out front. In MqNeer you have to find your way to a translator, but the old stone streets have signs in six languages, one of which is Kassidorian. There are a few people in MqNeer who've heard of Centorin and you may find some who say they believe in it.