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The Plutonian Shore
Built by the Romans during their rule, the Aqueducts are now occupied by the shunned followers of Pluto. There they have revived the worship of Arawn alongside their own god.
The land where the great city of Camelot stands has long been regarded as a focus for power, both political and mystical. Because of the nature of the land, many people have been drawn to that location, and a succession of cities and towns have risen and fallen on that very site over time. It was no accident that Arthur chose that very spot for the location of his city, for he was well versed in the history and legends of the land. He knew that Camelot was only the latest in the long line of important structures that once stood there.
Long before Arthur and his city, long before the Romans came to Albion, various people had settled on the land where Camelot would stand. One of the largest groups to live in and around that area were the followers of Arawn, Lord of the Underworld. They believed that the Lord of the Underworld had summoned them to that spot to act as his servants upon the land.
The Arawnites believed that if they constructed a temple to honor the Lord of the Underworld, he would open a portal from his realm into theirs. Through the portal, they could pass safely into the land of Annwn and be with their god. Even before their houses were finished, the Arawnites began building their temple. While helping with the construction, a young Arawnite named Cadfael suddenly fell through a weak spot in the earth. He tumbled a short distance, down a sloping tunnel, and came to a stop on the ledge of a large cave. The other Arawnites saw Cadfael’s tumble into the cave as a sign that Arawn approved of their building the temple. Cadfael believed that he had fallen into the cave because Arawn had chosen him to be the one to seek out Annwn.
As work continued on the temple, Cadfael took a group of Arawnites back into the cave to explore it. Cadfael believed that they would find the entrance to the Lord of the Underworld’s realm somewhere within the cave. He was devastated after many explorations of the cave failed to reveal the portal to Annwyn that he had longed to find.. He never gave up the idea that he was the chosen of Arawn, and that he would be the one to find the portal. Until he grew too frail to walk, Cadfael continued to explore the various caverns and tunnels, all to no avail..
The Arawnites continued to worship Arawn and make offerings and sacrifices to him for many, many years, until the Romans arrived. As the Romans swept through the land of Albion, they sought to bring everyone they encountered under their control. Some went willingly, but not the Arawnites. They refused to accept the rule of the Romans and their pantheon of gods and goddesses. The Arawnites swore they would only ever worship Arawn, the Lord of the Underworld. They attacked the Romans, trying to drive them from their village and temple. Angered by the Arawnites’ impertinence, the Romans struck out against them. They wiped out all but a few survivors and tore down the elaborate temple to Arawn.
Once the Arawnites were dealt with, the Romans began to build their city right over the land where the Arawnite temple once stood. The Romans, like the Arawnites before them, discovered the caves beneath the town. As they went deeper and deeper into the maze of caverns and tunnels, they encountered a large lake and many fresh springs. Knowing their constant need for fresh water, the Romans began to build a system of aqueducts through the caves. Channels and holding pools were built, and entire caverns and tunnels were lined with bricks to make them waterproof. Using a system of pumps, the Romans drew the water up from the deep underground lake and springs, through the channels, and into the holding pools. From the pools, more pumps were used to drive the water up through the complex system of channels and into the wells that fed the town.
The aqueduct system served the Romans well, for it provided them with fresh water even in times of drought. The Romans were vigilant about maintaining the aqueducts to ensure that water continued to flow up from the depths of the caves to the village. But the time came when the Romans abandoned Albion to the barbarian raiders. Those who remained tried to maintain the aqueducts for a while, but they lacked the Romans’ sheer numbers. More and more sections of the aqueducts fell into disrepair until finally the entrance was sealed and the entire system was abandoned, or so the villagers thought.
While the Romans occupied the village, many gods and goddesses were worshiped there. One group of Romans who worshiped Pluto was the source of some trouble in the village. Many Romans, including the followers of Pluto, saw the similarity between Pluto, the Roman god of the dead and Arawn, the lord of the underworld. The similarity between the two gods led the Plutonists to seek out more information about Arawn. Soon they were incorporating some of the Arawnite rituals into their worship of Pluto. This made the other Romans very uncomfortable, for they remembered how defiant the Arawnites had been. Soon, the Plutonists were being treated with suspicion, and at times, hatred. When the time came for the Romans to leave Albion behind, the Plutonists, influenced by the hatred of the other Romans and their newly formed ties to Albion, chose to stay.
After the Romans left, the Plutonists expected to live peacefully in the abandoned village, but that was not to be. The Britons who moved into the village resented and hated all Romans for what happened to the Arawnites. They threatened the Plutonists, who in turn grew to hate the Britons. Rather than be driven from their home, the Plutonists chose to seek refuge in the aqueducts beneath the village. Led by Aulus, the high priest of Pluto, the group settled into one of the larger vaulted rooms that had acted as a holding pool. In this room, Aulus and the others began to build a temple to worship Pluto, and honor the memory of the lost Arawnites. After time, though were forgotten by the villagers above, the strange combined religion that paid homage to Arawn, Pluto, and later on other gods of the underworld, flourished in the depths of the aqueducts.