The Domain of Ulkandreur


The Domain of Ulkandreur is an underground province in Usksumer, with a population of around half-a-million. It is built in a vast, natural system of caves behind a steep face of Mount Tirarf-fel, in the High Mountains. From between two guard towers, behind which are pure Urbling areas, a thoroughfare one-hundred-and-twenty feet wide pierces the rock. This passes through the first of the seven great halls – the Circle Hall, some eight hundred feet in diameter. To the left and right are general living quarter areas.

Beyond the Circle Hall the main thoroughfare turns in a curve of ninety degrees, with another thoroughfare branching out from the middle of the curve. This leads to the Second Hall – rectangular, and some eight hundred feet wide and half as long again. Most of the caves about are used as stores.

After turning, the original thoroughfare reaches the Third or Great Hall: two-and-a-half thousand feet long and two thousand three hundred feet wide, with rounded corners. The main general living areas are nearby. This is the main hall for markets and other activities. Most inhabitants of Ulkandreur do not often pass beyond it.

The main thoroughfare continues, however, to a crossroads, with all around another dedicated Urbling area. On each branch of the main thoroughfares there are three more halls, the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth: all are about one thousand feet across. (The Fifth Hall is where Alentir sits and passes the two upper levels of the Civil Service examinations.) But only from the Sixth Hall does a main thoroughfare continue. This runs parallel to that which enters the Domain. Here lies the largest of the great halls, the Seventh or Audience Hall: three thousand by two thousand feet. Along one side three huge, deep windows let in natural light. At the far end is a high balcony on which sometimes the great and the good appear (well-guarded) to acknowledge or berate the general populous. Behind is another exclusively Urbling area and then the Governor’s quarters.

There are also specific areas set aside for Civil Service living; the main ones are in the general area to the right of the Circle Hall, but outwards and high so that some even have windows. These are reserved for the higher levels. Others are between the Sixth and Audience Halls, with a few pockets deep in the living quarters beside the Great Hall.

Despite the close control imposed, and the artificial light, it is an essentially beautiful place. Although central control exists for the majority of the economy, there is enough wealth there – individual and civic – for much decorative work to be done. At lot of this consists of patterns – less subject to change-of-taste censure.

For those higher up the social levels there are places of delight and entertainment, as is also the case in a few of the other richer provinces.

There is also a slightly more prominent ‘underground’ movement – whether drugs or political: or not infrequently both – than was usual in Usksumer. Certainly under Tarondi – the Governor at the time of Alentir’s sojourn there – who, it is widely believed, takes a cut.