Mordkessel was a player-run city on the Mourning server owned by the guild Morloch's Vengeance. The city also holds the honor of being the first planted tree on the Mourning server. Mordkessel was destroyed by an alliance led by the Undead Lords in June, 2004.
Mordkessel cannot be described in a single word. It is a city, a nation, a history and a culture. It encompasses a great many peoples over a large area and a long stretch of history. Although the modern city has since been destroyed, the historic ruins of the ancient Mordkessel are still thought to exist, deep underground.
The Ancient City
Traditionally located in the southern half of Stormvald, the exact location of the ancient city of Mordkessel has never been exactly pinpointed, and the remains are thought to reside deep underground as a result of constant tectonic shifts and the massive snowfall Stormvald usually experiences. Many attempts have been made to excavate these ruins, but the discovery of a massive network of catacombs above it, laden with traps and collapsing tunnels, suggest there was some conscious effort to conceal and protect it. While the catacombs themselves have been described as near city-like, and have been the source of enormous amounts of information, they are generally estimated to be anywhere from 300-400 years older than the ancient city of Mordkessel.
The builders of the ancient Mordkessel have never been decided on. Some suggest it was the Nephilim themselves that built it, under the command of Morloch, while others say the architectural style gleaned from ancient texts and scrolls suggest Nephilim didn't have the capacity or resources to do so. This has led many to believe that the original city was built by an ancient race, long extinct.
Although religious purposes is most often cited, the evidence of why the city was originally built is also lost to time. The inhospitable nature of Stormvald, along with what would have been scarce resources at the time makes it seem like an impossible task to build and supply such a massive city.
The Modern City
Although a ruin at this point, the modern city of Mordkessel was built over the supposed site of the ancient city. Many attempts were made to excavate the ancient city, and although the uncovered catacombs ran many miles into the ground, no sign of the ancient city itself was ever discovered. When the modern city of Mordkessel was finally destroyed after a long siege, the last act of its inhabitants was to collapse the upper tunnels, using primitive explosives made of saltpeter and coal. Due to the inhospitable nature of Stormvald, no concentrated effort has been sustained long enough to re-open the catacombs.
The modern city was built in the typical style of the period, employing high stone walls and buildings constructed using much the same technology as the Northmen native to the region use to combat the year-long freezing temperatures of Stormvald. The city was built primarily through the use of slave labour. During the original incursion of minotaur hordes into the region, under new leadership, their first act was to stake out a claim over the ancient city, and purge all the existing towns and settlements in the area. An estimated 20,000 Northmen workers died during the ten-year construction period.
It was also the original inhabitants that began the exploitation of Stormvald's extensive natural resources, which made construction of such a large and modern city possible. Previously untapped due to the harsh climate, vast amounts of lumber, ore and precious metals were extracted from the surrounding areas. The damage done to the environment can still be seen through the heavily denuded forests and hundreds of abandoned mineshafts dotting the landscape. Again, slave labour was the primary source of manpower to extract these resources.
At the peak of its power, Mordkessel could best be described as a city-state, with outlying colonies and fortresses extending its influence and control over most of Stormvald Major and Minor. With the exception of dwarven outposts in the far north, at one time all of Stormvald was under Mordkessel's control, either directly or with alliances with some of the larger barbarian clans in the area. Although Mordkessel's wars of expansion and colonization off-continent brought immense wealth and power, they were eventually its undoing. Resources and manpower stretched thin, a sudden invasion of then-neutral Stormvald Minor brought multiple powers to bear against the city, eventually resulting in its final destruction.
Although the nation in its official capacity ceased to exist when the city fell, its agents and armies dispersed and covertly infiltrated other nations, most notably The Catharsian Empire, to continue the war against its enemies. Even today, the people of Mordkessel hold considerable sway over the lands of Aerynth, although they have no consolidated base of power. The prophecies of its people state that the city of Mordkessel will once again be settled by its rightful owners and the ensuing battle for Aerynth will result in total domination of the entire world.
Historians place the beginnings of Mordkessel's people in the minotaur hordes of Stormvald. Although traditionally territorial and prone to bloody fighting between clans, all the hordes were eventually united under a single banner, integrating many Northman settlements and people into its mix as well. Birthrates were typically disastrously low in Mordkessel, and deaths from exposure and fighting in the outlying barbarian settlements were common. Thus, the leaders of Mordkessel relied on the annexation and assimilation of foreign peoples to sustain itself. Through slavery and the extensive use of underground religious cults, they were able to maintain a remarkable rate of growth in population.
The cult leaders of Mordkessel were among the most effective and parasitic in the world. They were able to infiltrate nearly every major nation and centre of religion with its agents, covertly corrupting them from within and swaying the opinions of many hundreds of thousands of people throughout its history through rhetoric, manipulation and, more commonly, violence and brainwashing. With the power and reach of not just its own, but most world religions at its fingertips, recruiting willing workers and warriors became easy for the people of Mordkessel. It was commonplace in the lands of Aerynth for people, families, even entire towns, to vanish overnight, only to re-emerge as nationalistic citizens of Mordkessel.
There have been cases of captured citizens of Mordkessel being re-integrated into regular society, but most prisoners opt to go mad and commit suicide instead. Common threads in these events are the insistence of the prisoners that the city itself beckons them to return, and that if imprisoned, the call becomes too much for them to bear. It is commonly agreed upon that these effects are the result of the mass-brainwashing employed by the agents of Mordkessel. By inducing a sort of mental addiction to the city itself, they can ensure most prisoners will die outside its reach, creating a sort of security against information extraction.