Kuu-Allaa was a Goblin city which flourished in the Barrier Range during the late First Chaotic Period of the Mage Wars. According to legend, Kuu-Allaa was a prosperous, thriving city that stood for a thousand years, before being destroyed in "a single night and a day of misfortune". Modern excavations of the site indicate it was "more like half an hour, tops."
Kuu-Allaa is estimated to have housed, at its zenith, more than eight million goblins, and is said to have produced goblin culture's finest artists and poets (sadly, no goblin poetry has yet been found, though many hope some will be discovered in the Library of Arindell). The city was the center of a vast trading hub, and sat atop extensive Carenocarbide mines. The mines were the source of all of Kuu-Allaa's wealth, and the preferred building material. The substance, when ground into a powder and mixed with water, would set hard as stone and could easily be shaped in forms.
The goblins constructed three massive ziggurats, with various accounts given of their names. The tallest was seven stories and may have been as much as four hundred feet high. The ziggurats were connected by a series of causeways that linked to the road system, all made of hardened Carenocarbide. Houses were made either of wood, mud-brick, or (for wealthier goblins), hardened blocks of Carenocarbide. Most had thatched rooves, in what the goblins insisted was "tradition". For wood, the goblins preferred eucalyptus, of which they enjoyed the smell and flavor.
The architecture was very densely-packed and layered. Roadways were often built completely over, leaving some regions a honeycomb of tunnels and structures. Though the city was highly populated, its actual area was quite small. There is no word in the goblin tongue for "building codes".
Still, the city flourished, with goblins from all over the Greater Continent putting aside their differences and attempting a pilgrimage to their jewel of a city. Few survived, and those that did rejoiced. While the urban centers were dense, packed, and filthy, the city was full of beautiful, elaborate temples, decorated with the bones of the finest enemies and the spoils of far-off lands. Kuu-Allaa was the heart of a vast empire, and the goblins wished to show their wealth by holding elaborate festivals and celebrations.
Area Outside City
Kuu-Allaa's location was on a high plateau. The region was originally heavily forested, but the goblins made short work of that. When mudslides threatened the city, they diverted and damned the various rivers that fed into the area. Surviving accounts speak of "the thirsty time", as the goblins apparently did not construct an aqueduct before cutting off their water supply.
They would eventually create a water system to bring running water to the city. Indeed, Kuu-Allaa may have been the first city in history to engineer a fully gravity-fed, indoor plumbing system, without the aid of magic. They did, however, build their pipes of solidified Carenocarbide, which was not entirely water-proof and had some unfortunate interactions with the water. In some areas, the goblins combatted this by lining the interior of the Carenocarbide pipe with perfectly safe lead.
The various changes made eventually turned the plateau into a dry desert. The goblins would periodically attempt to make the land grow again by building aqueducts and canals and planting crops. The goblins favored a spindly, barbed plant called Goubtutu, whose flowering body could be used to spin a sort of cotton, known to human traders as Fire Wool. The Goblins loved it for its water-resistant properties and for the bright colors they could easily dye it. Goblin dyes do not last long, so the cramped city often had piles of rags all about. Outside the city, the goblins would plant wind barriers of eucalyptus trees around their goubtutu fields. When these fields were inevitably abandoned, the neglected plants would break free and roll around in the wind, often being trapped in the fields and sometimes forming drifts as high as the tree tops.
The damned up rivers formed several lakes high above the city, and to prevent over-topping, the dams needed to be re-enforced. The favored material being more Carenocarbide. It could easily be carried to the work sites in small bags, and once there the bags themselves would even be made into crude forms. "Mushy Brick" construction was a popular technique. According to surviving accounts, "Green, Bubbly, Hurty Lake" was one such project, which required many expeditions and thousands of mushy bricks to keep contained.
Kuu-Allaa is said to have flourished for a thousand years. Its date of destruction being fairly well known, this would put its founding sometime around B.G.A. 3900, around two hundred years before High Tower, and actually at the end of the Age of Darkness. While very few records survive from that time, those that do confirm the city's existence. Before humans rebuilt civilization and began to settle in cities, the Goblins were already living in a vast city of millions, and already surviving through trade alone. The city's location, on a plateau high in the Barrier Range, above the Menti River near the Eol Pass.
By the time human habitation in the region began constructing cities, Kuu-Allaa was already five centuries old, with deep-seated traditions and beliefs. While likely no human entered the city at this time, they were happy to trade Carenocarbide in great amounts, and at surprisingly reasonable prices. Some historians speculate that the goblins were unaware of the material's explosive properties, and believed they were trading a cheap, strong building material. This is, however, categorically untrue; the goblins were WELL AWARE of Carenocarbide's destructive properties. They just didn't care.
In B.G.A. 3333, a large army out of Weagal headed for the Eol Pass with plans to cross the Menti and take Kuu-Allaa by force. They had captured the goblin king, who seemed willing to help them take the city and make it a puppet state under Weagal. Weagal's forces were said to number over one hundred thousand strong, with a prominent Weagalnian king and the finest equipment. They were stopped at the Menti River where they fought the Battle of Stabby Stabby Take Take! against a human army of some thirty thousand, backed by four hundred thousand goblin warriors.
Weagal pressed on and made an assault on the city itself, only to find how horribly he had underestimated its size, defenses, and the utter contempt for him by its inhabitants. Said inhabitants were belligerent and numerous.
The heads of members of Weagal's army, along with a few others the goblins collected along the way, would adorn the city for the next four centuries. As for the king, the goblins felt he was an idiot, and they'd deliberately sent him to help Weagal, knowing he would lead them to ruins. With their king dead, the goblins experimented with several forms of government, including one of the earliest democratic governments in recorded history. It is said that the goblins loved democracy: it was simple and seemed impossible to corrupt. Each goblin had two thumbs to vote with. Democracy was, however, short-lived, surviving only about three years. Its laws and decisions were successful, but with each election, the goblins had fewer and fewer thumbs among them, and by the fourth election the only goblins eligible to vote were children, or those who had neglected to vote in previous elections. These "single-thumb voters" often had a poor grasp on the issues of the day, but were easily able to swing the election owing to their thumbless counterparts.
Still, the city continued to flourish until its destruction sometime around 2900 B.G.A.
While historians disagree on the exact catalyst, the cause of Kuu-Allaa's destruction is generally described as "pretty freaking obvious". As noted historian Herbet Patric Galactis describes it: "The [city] was made from precariously stacked piles of hardened explosives, and the goblins wore clothing made from highly flammable fabrics dyed with more explosives. For wood, they favored eucalyptus [which burns easily; and once aflame, is difficult to extinguish]. They lived in a desert, and tended to leave large stacks of highly flammable things piled up against their buildings, which I remind you, were literally made of bombs. All this is happening in a city that has a tri-annual festival devoted to screwing around with fire. The question isn't 'Why did Kuu-Allaa fall', it's, 'How in God's name did Kuu-Allaa survive for a thousand freaking years to begin with?!'".
To put it simply, the entire city exploded, along with most of the extensive mining network underneath. The explosion could allegedly be heard in Weagal. To further complicate matters, the explosions broke the dams and flooded the crater with acid. While the water did put out many of the resulting fires, the acidic compounds reacted and released toxic and sometimes flammable gasses, resulting in further explosions. How many goblins survived remains a mystery, but the devastation was total.
Theories on Cause
While Galactis was happy to dismiss Kuu-Allaa's destruction as "duh", other historians have tried to find more specific information.
There are dozens of contradictory accounts, but the most common theme seems to involve a small band of adventurers. Outsiders were typically forbidden in Kuu-Allaa (in fact, not one single verifiable instance exists of anyone other than goblins there). In some versions, the outsiders merely stumble upon the city, in others they are directly attempting to plunder it. At least one instance has them desiring merely to see the city in all its glory.
Whatever the reason, this band of mostly humans gained access to the city. Again, no two accounts agree, but it seems they somehow set into motion a chain reaction which caused the entire central ziggurat to explode (when pressed, Galactis indicated that this probably happened during "The Grand Anointing, a ceremony in which the entire temple was coated in fire wine. We don't know for sure what fire wine was, but it was basically gasoline".) In most versions of the story, the adventurers had time to escape with their lives and little else.
At least one account holds that one of the adventurers was actually a Carbon, and sought to burn the city in order to grow.
The destruction of Kuu-Allaa was utter. According to legend, by the dawn of the next morning, no trace of the city remained. It is believed that after the dams broke, many massive landslides buried what was left of the city.
Its location was soon lost, though treasure hunters would seek the city all throughout the Mage Wars. For much of the Golden Age, the entire existence of Kuu-Allaa was called into question. Goblins had recently gone extinct, and scholars of the era were quick to paint their accomplishments as myth.
It was not until A.Y. 2729 that Kuu-Allaa was re-discovered. The archaeological team was mostly Alliance, but they were backed and funded by the Foundation, who were also good enough to provide advanced sensor imaging technology to gain a clearer picture of the ruins.
Excavations were severely limited; even in the modern era Kuu-Allaa's location was very remote, and the environment was still toxic. Diggers had to tunnel to reach the ruins as they were now covered by hundreds of feet of hardened sediments, and workers frequently found deposits of still-potent acid. All work halted when chunks of unexploded but still highly dangerous explosives started to be brought to the surface. All tolled, the Alliance team that discovered the ruins managed to excavate less than 1% of them.
The Gudersnipe Foundation was granted permission to continue the work, and kept at it for over ten years, still surveying less than 3% of the site. While there were no accidents in that time, the work was still regarded as "suicidally dangerous". The Foundation did, however, uncover many well-preserved specimens of goblin bones, as well as recovering a limited number of goblin artifacts. They did not discover any goblin writings, which had been the primary goal of the excavations from the start.
The area around Kuu-Allaa remains off-limits. The Alliance feels the need to protect individuals from the dangerous environment, and the Foundation hopes to one day develop techniques that will allow them to excavate the ruins safely.