The Dark Occupation
Table of Contents
The Dark Conquest
When the Dark Forces conquered the human kingdoms, they looted, burned, raped, and murdered the inhabitants at will-but only for a limited period of time. The Lords of Sin and their viceroys were too intelligent to let this continue for long, since it undercut their goal of establishing a slave population whose primary activity in life was to glorify the name of Vornoth the Walker-in-Darkness. Thus the initial carnage was squelched and instead they worked to entrench themselves in the occupied kingdoms. Thus began the Dark Occupation.
Social and Political Control
Their first focus was social control. The goblinoid victors immediately instituted martial law until the initial chaos left by the wars subsided. This was a particularly harsh brand of military rule. For example, anyone who even muttered a foul word against a goblinoid was put to death, and random humans were selected for floggings and torture daily. The orcs even ate human children, some of them while they yet lived. All of this was done in order to instill fear in the populace. This martial law was repealed after two years, but the civil laws that replaced it were hardly less harsh. The laws differed by kingdom, with the peculiarities of each Lord of Sin reflected in the laws he passed. For example, the Lord of Gluttony passed laws that made it illegal to ask about the whereabouts of any individual or to own a mirror. Still, there were certain similarities in the laws of all of the occupied kingdoms. They generally kept the existing structure of feudalism in place, but they made it much more stringent. They all institutionalized slavery in every kingdom, officially making each human either a slave or a vassal of any dark folk. The laws also legalized the social position of the dark folk, officially making humans second-class citizens in the kingdoms they had previously ruled and making certain things illegal to them. For example, humans became unable to enter into legal contracts without special dispensation, unable to bear weapons, and unable to eat foods reserved for dark folk. They needed special permission to travel any distance. The laws also made even verbal resistance to any goblinoid or orc punishable by torture, and they made rebellion punishable by death. Finally, all of the laws required worship of Vornoth and forbade worship or even mention of any other gods.
The former political structures were almost entirely dismantled. Indigenous human lords were generally executed for their part in the resistance to the Dark Conquest. Those who had not lent aid to the recently defeated armies of good were still executed as rebels and enemies of the state. Only a few native lords, generally those who had either aided the Dark Folk or who willingly offered them assistance after the conquest, were permitted to retain their lives, property, and a portion of their wealth. Generally these were minor lordlings who were often despised by the populace before the Dark Conquest. They were allowed to keep their titles and rank in order to help solidify the positions of the conquering dark folk; these lords knew the lands and people, and they could report potential traitors and help keep the populace in line. This also gave the people a semblance of normalcy, for they could still deal with their human lords-even though they knew who the real masters were.
Having effectively controlled the populace, the next focus of the Lords of Sin was wealth. On the flimsiest of excuses, or no excuse at all, the conquerors confiscated land and property, leaving the prostrate humans in a fair amount of poverty. The confiscated property was gifted to those dark folk commanders who had shown exceptional loyalty or who had distinguished themselves in battle. The most valuable property was, of course, claimed by the Lords of Sin themselves, but the rest of the property was dolled out mostly to oluks, hobgoblin, and orc chieftains. A heavy rate of taxation was established on their new human slaves, further ensuring the wealth of the conquerors and the poverty of the indigenous peoples.
The conquerors attempted to collect all of the coins of the kingdoms they occupied in order to melt them down and produce their own currency. The first gold coins struck in the name of the Lords of Sin were minted approximately five years after the Dark Conquest. The value of the original Ronk was equivalent to the weekly wage for an unskilled laborer. These high-quality coins were not struck in the Wintervale but rather in Farland, and they were made to facilitate trade and to remind the conquered people that their freedom and glory was a thing of the past. The silver coin that became the backbone of the Occupied Lands is the Skark, which was first struck 20 years after the Lords of Sin rose to power. As for platinum, its use in regards to the production of coinage has always been sporadic at best. Typically these coins were only minted and issued during times of great need, such as during events when open rebellion had broken out and the value of coins needed to be reinforced. The regular mintage of the Dugskark, the main platinum coin of the Dweller's Dark Lands, began when the Lords of Sin began to dispute each others' territories, which required huge sums to fight in the ensuing protracted wars. The Dugskark has a fixed value of ten Ronk.
Initially the Skark was minted with high silver purity, but over time it gradually lowered, finally to a quality of less than half pure. The coins were worth from a loaf of bread up to a sword or even a bow depending on their value and the time during the Dark Occupation, which still continues in the east. The platinum coins are worth the most, whereas the Uk (tin) and Glob (copper) coins were produced for the lower-classes who traded and bartered in cheaper goods.
Because of the lowered purity and thus value of the coinage, and because of the heavy taxation, the occupied kingdoms tended to suffer economically. Their economies were depressed, and since the Lords of Sin on average paid little attention to economic matters besides filling their own coffers and sending tribute to the Wintervale, the human citizens of the kingdoms suffered mightily. Although the Lords did see that their conquered kingdoms retained barely functioning economies, the only inhabitants who were not constantly staring poverty in the face were the dark folk rulers. Of course some kingdoms fared worse than others, with the economies of Daven and Zeland suffering particularly.
The next focus of the dark folk was culture. The conquerors set out to instill the idea that the dark folk were racially superior to the humans, and they hoped this idea would last in the long term. This task was not easy, for the goblinoid armies brought virtually no cultural advances to the lands they conquered; they could offer no music, no literature, no mathematics, no better methods of agriculture. The only things they could offer were better methods of making war and more brutal methods of killing, and even these things they would not teach to the conquered humans, for fear that they might revolt. Moreover, they could not even stamp out the human languages, for their own language, the Dark Speech, was often unsuitable for discussion of anything except military matters and sadism. They did insist that any human who dealt directly with dark folk on a regular basis adopt a dark folk name. They also insisted that humans refer to orcs and other dark folk as "Luz-hal" or "Great Folk" and that they bow and mutter "Ur snog ut luz" or "I am a slave and you are great" whenever a goblinoid passed by. Still, these were small and ultimately ineffectual measures at best. Thus their only method of establishing their cultural superiority was simply to repeat that dark folk were superior to humans and to reinforce these teachings with the whip. This method was only marginally successful, for though some humans chose to ape the manners of dress and the gestures of their brutal masters, many humans could see that these claims of racial superiority were empty, and they never believed them. Thus the conquered humans retained a modicum of pride in their hearts, and the seeds of future rebellion were sown.
Their last and most important focus was religion. Although the lesser dark folk lords and generals did not know it, religion was the reason for the Dark Conquest, and the Lords of Sin never lost sight of this fact. The main goal of the Dweller in the Wintervale was to spread the worship of Vornoth to the human kingdoms. As a race that he did not create, the prayers of humans were especially sweet to Vornoth, and he craved the power they brought him. To this end, the Lords of Sin immediately outlawed the worship of any other gods save the Dark Walker. Any worship of the gods of goodness would lead to execution after several days of excruciating torture, while worshipping a non-good god besides Vornoth was punishable by death after only a few hours of torture. Most of the temples in the occupied kingdoms were burned to the ground, though some were desecrated and re-sanctified to Vornoth. Some temples, however, resisted all attempts to burn them, and being near these holy places unsettled the Dark Folk so that they boarded these churches up and let them sit empty. The Lords of Sin also commanded that every resident of every kingdom had to pray to the Dark One three times per day, as well as before every meal. Every citizen also had to sacrifice a fowl or barn animal to Vornoth once per year. If they failed to do so, they themselves were sacrificed to the Walker. Thus the god of Darkness grew stronger, and his ultimate victory in the Ontological War came into sight.
Everyday Life in the Conquered Kingdoms
After the Dark Conquest, the quality of life for the average human depended in large measure on where he lived at the start of the occupation (travel of any distance was illegal; thus one stayed where one was.) Every human's quality of life suffered, but generally those who lived in extremely rural or remote locales suffered least. They still had to pay higher taxes, still had to sacrifice livestock yearly, and still had to pray to Vornoth on a regular basis, but they encountered few dark folk during their daily lives and thus were better off. True, an oluk, orc, or hobgoblin warlord, who dwelt in a distant manor or castle, owned each human serf, and these reprehensible lords were not above random acts of brutality and torture. Still, the dark folk were generally satisfied to leave the rural serf relatively unmolested if the human did his required duties.
Humans who lived in larger communities had it worse. Towns usually had a small garrison of dark folk soldiers, bullies who served the local lord. These troops gladly enforced the harsh laws of the Occupation, and they also typically took pleasure in taking advantage of their social position and abusing the hapless humans. If a town did not have a few dark folk soldiers, there were always unscrupulous and power-hungry humans eager to fill the role. For humans who lived in towns, there was thus no way to escape the ever-watching eyes of the dark masters, and town-dwelling humans spent almost every waking hour either working for the conquerors, praying to Vornoth as required, or fearing that they would be harassed, tortured, or killed for no reason.
City dwellers had it worst. Cities, especially capital cities, had large garrisons of dark folk soldiers who patrolled the streets on a regular basis. These soldiers raped and harassed humans with virtual impunity. Present everywhere in a conquered kingdom, spies were also of special concern in cities. The Lords of Sin encouraged citizens to inform on each other for a reward if there was any hint of treason, real or imagined, and in the poverty of large cities, one could not even look sideways at a passing goblinoid without being reported as a rebel. Citizens dwelt in constant fear of spies, wondering if their neighbors, customers, or even children were informants for the dark powers. The goblinoids even made it known that it was illegal to think certain thoughts, and though this was generally perceived as an empty threat by most human, the occasional use of the telepathy spell by dark folk shaman caused just enough uncertainty to keep people guessing. Crime was also an ever-present danger to city folk. Petty thieves and organized criminals learned quickly that any illegal activity directed against the dark rulers or their allies would be punished swiftly and with finality; thus they directed all of their crimes against the conquered humans. The oppressed stole from the oppressed. The goblinoid rulers cared nothing for human-on-human crime as long as it did not interfere with their activities or, most importantly, hinder their control. Indeed, the shadowy rulers cultivated relationships with certain thieves guilds in order to employ them as organized spy networks. However, if these guilds grew too bold and agitated the populace too much, the Lords of Sin would send shock troops on a surprise raid to destroy the guild and root out all its members, executing them mercilessly. The concern of the Lords of Sin was always control, and they would periodically send the message that the thieves guilds existed by their beneficence. For these reasons, life in the conquered kingdoms was a tissue of misery.