Friday, December 3, 2010

Hell 101

Hell. It is kind of a big deal in The Known World.

The place used to be called Meroteth, before Kusseth conquered it and burned the history books, and it used to be the capital of The Fell Peaks. Once it was conquered, Kusseth renamed it Heke'lohl'err. They gave it that name in an attempt to grind down the populace of the city while they attempted to institute their own regime and policies. In Blacktongue, the word is a combination of three words for shit, poverty, and slaves. Cenn the Reaver, being pragmatic and straight forward thought that that was a stupid idea. He based this thought on the fact that Heke'lohl'err had far too many letters, so he removed the majority of them and called the city Hell. A word that had no meaning and amounted to gibberish in Blacktongue and was also a lot easier to say. Cenn also decided that he would run shit, at least partially, in Hell now that the gates were down.

Hell is something of an odd place culturally speaking. Kusseth did their level best to tear down the evidence of the city's native history and they have definitely force fed the citizens Kusseth culture. In the city you will finds wards of governance, Abraxens, Brasscoats, wardens, govermental liasons, and districts. Taxes too. Lots and lots of taxes. However, unlike other Kussethian cities, a lot of the people in power making decisions will have a bit of sorcery to them. This is a side effects of Fell Human nature and society, most Fell Humans have a certain amount of innate respect for those that have successfully harnessed the sorcerous power in their blood.

Is there a governor of Hell? A minister of defenses? A warden liaison? Most assuredly. Kusseth is a top heavy bureaucracy of red tape and fees and fines, so there is a governmental official for everything from, well, fuck examples. There is an official and a department for everything. Enough said. There's no real reason a one mile square portion of the city needs a mini-governor, but Kusseth has mandated that it happen, so it does, and someone gets paid to do it. Kusseth is just like that I guess.

I'll be honest, I named the place Hell because I like the word Hell and telling people to go to Hell. Go to the Abyss doesn't have the same ring to it, and the Abyss isn't a plane in my cosmology. Anyway, people say go to Hell in The Known World for the same reasons we would. Hell is a bad place. The danger of robbery isn't the main fear in the streets like it is in Kusseth City. The bards don't operate out of the place, so there aren't gangs of them running around singing, dancing, and murdering folks for money. The youth gangs are a very Kusseth thing and they never really caught on in Hell. There are thugs and ruffians and brigands and such, but Hell is a place of sorcery and it is hard to tell who can shove a lightning bolt down your throat and who can't, so there is a certain amount of wariness when you decide to rob someone. It is certainly far easier to get a job in a factory than it is to recover from the point blank discharge of a lightning bolt into your sternum.

No, Hell isn't a shithole because of crime or a lazy government that doesn't repair the city or hire lawmen. Hell is a shithole because sorcery keeps leveling the place. There are forges and factories where sorcery and industry are combined into some unwholesome union that has caused whole districts to become craters. People living within the walls of the place are subjected to constant exposure to sorcery, and that has two results: becoming a Fell Human or becoming something halfway between the Vyanth and the Eldumans. Sorcery is like radiation in that place, it is everywhere and on everything, soaking right up into your cells and making them go bat-shit crazy with the unnaturalness of it.

The walls are huge and black and soaked with the ambient sorcery of the city. There is a whole drug and sorcerous object trade based on the walls. Kusseth uses convicts to shatter and collect pieces of the wall while they prevent the walls from growing over the gate of the city. Kusseth grinds down the fragments of the wall into a powder that they sell to Fell Humans and sorcerers. This trade and sale is highly militarized and controlled, and is quite popular. The ground up powder has the ability augment the capabilities of sorcerers and Fell Humans, granting them more sorcerous power than they would normally have. There is also a huge underground trafficking ring associated with the ground up walls and Kusseth has to go to great lengths to keep the walls from being torn down by the very citizens that they (the walls) protect.

Hell has no real exports, it can't grow its own food, and it lacks the manufacturing facilities of Kusseth. There are no ores to be found beneath the black edifice of the city, the catacombs and tunnels through the black glassy stone of the city are seemingly endless and just get darker and deadlier the deeper you go, and I can assure you that it would be unwise to dig too deep or too greedily. How does Kusseth keep this hole running then? They can't grow anything outside the walls, the potatoes end up growing actual eyes and pigs that forage near the city end up looking as scaled and tailed as the majority of the residents. Hell's only exports are the ground up powder made from the walls, and sorcerous objects. All those forges with sorcerous fires used to smelt ores and those electrical lines powered by lightning bolts are used to produce the largest amount of magical items seen in The Known World. They're still unreliable as all Hell, but they can be bought for cheap and in certain markets, that is more relevant than the fact that a blade or ring might explode when least expect it.

Law and order are tenuous things in Hell. Kusseth lacks the manpower to properly police this powder keg of a city, so they're forced to rely more heavily than they should on Cenn's muscle. I'll be straight with you, they've taken the reavers for granted and just assume those deadly warriors are going to act as muscle till the end of time. Instead of properly funding the policing of the streets, Kusseth siphons money somewhere else and passes the buck on to the reavers. The reavers are violent shits that mostly hate Hell and being away from their master, so they're usually happy to bust heads and shed blood for Kusseth. Some, however, are attached to the place, they've put down roots and a fair number have developed friends and family here in Hell. These reavers are reluctant to return to their master and would probably fight like death on two legs to remain in their adopted city.

Oh yeah, the rebellion. There is a rebellion in Hell, run by a guy named Nakmander, the Last Knight of Meroteth. The guys once described themselves as working for the mob when they first got involved with Nakmander and the rebellion, and they're pretty close to the truth. Nakmander told them that he provides for his people and supports families that have lost loved ones in service to the rebellion, and that is true. Like many true patriots, Nakmander is also a terrorist. He and his rebellion finance many things, one way or another, that strike a blow against Kusseth and lead to bloodshed and destruction. Factory accidents, robberies that go "wrong" and result in dead Kusseth officials, letters and telegraph messages that never get received or reported to the proper people, armory stockpiles that accidentally detonate or go missing. Nakmander is responsible for a wide variety of shenanigans, and most of the time, the parties doing his will don't even know that they're working for the rebellion. It is all usually nine or ten steps separated from anyone directly working for the rebellion. These jobs and missions are usually filtered through a lot of gangs or crime rings, so it is pretty easy to lose track of what the rebellion is actually responsible for. Regardless, Nakmander is a fucker and his single burning desire is to bring down Kusseth and get them the fuck out of Hell so he can rename it Meroteth. Nothing else matters to him, not even his own life. He is a fanatic and is dangerous as fuck.

So there is a bit about Hell. Not complete by any means, but enough to give you an idea about what the place is about.

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