The Moon Beasts
Ships with tar-black hulls and fuligin sails descend softly from the moon: the men of Leng have come to trade.
They favor the ports of the Mare Interregnum and the city of Dis, but have been seen as far north as the border of Orca's territory and in some rare cases far inland. The wizards of Selene-Tranquility University believe they come from the far side of the moon, or perhaps the distant ulfire cities of the New Gods.
The Leng-men are short and swaddle themselves in heavy silk robes and wide turbans. Their four eyes are like beads of liquid coal and their wide, lipless mouths house splintered, yellowed teeth. They are not human. With wide smiles and bobbing heads they welcome you in, guiding you past displays of beautiful jewels and precious gems, shelves overflowing with arcane items of eldritch import. Braziers of smoky, metallic incense sit nested among ranks of dribbly red candles.
They will accept gold and other valuables as payment, but find them dull and will rarely part with anything of value in exchange. They prefer to trade in people. They will never say the word "slave" (at least, outside of Hell and a few Darvatian and Acephavaran settlements), but they will take any human offered to them. They prefer nasty ones. Petty, violent, ignorant, monstrous men. So it seems, at least. They don't itemize what they look for, they will just bob their head and say "Yes, it will do" or "No, I cannot."
In the hold of each black ship is a Moon Beast: a pallid, bloated froglike thing, pink-red tendrils cascading down from an eyeless head. These are the true masters of the men of Leng, known to the unsuspecting greater world through scattered and contradictory eye-witness testimony and written off as horrible fancies or some monstrous beasts for sale.
The Moon Beasts revel in the pain of their prey and feast upon them as they will. They have grand transformative designs for the world; these visitations are the early stages, the first points of corruption. They make alliances with Hell. The foster the lies of the New Gods' existence, softening the populace's mental resistance to their conditioning. Dis gravely underestimates the threat.
They see a future of fattened cattle and killing floors.
Leng-men and their Runaway Slaves
- A pair of Leng-men seemingly marooned by their fellows.
- Slave: Murderous, cannibalistic, obese, narcissist.
- Slave: Dazed, amnesiac thaumonaut. Nightmares of an oily, sunless city.
- Slave: Amputated, lobotomized, can neither speak nor think clearly.
- Leng-man palanquin carried by two thralls. A third slave pulls a cart of goods.
- Leng-man corpse in a gutter: the skull has been cracked open, and the brain removed.
Objects for Sale or Trade
- An opalized skull, a froth of pearls oozing from the mouth and eyes and nose. Soft blue glow.
- A string of rubies in silver settings. When lifted to the light, one might see faces frozen within.
- Ten small cubes of dark, soft matter. One is apparently supposed to eat them...
- Bones, encrusted with crystals and emeralds. Make atonal flutelike noises when moved about.
- Books, padlocked and chained. Covers of blood-red vellum illuminated in gold and silver.
- A sealed vase of milky stone, hieroglyphs painted on in black columns. Something sloshes around within.
The Socialist Necromantic RepublicNecromancy is instantaneously and catastrophically disruptive of status-quo politics. Stirring fears of dark wizards sending armies of the undead out to pillage the countryside is a stable tactic among the ruling class, despite the days of those dread sorcerers sitting comfortably in the past.
No matter. Chaos breeds opportunity, and in the wake of the war against Hell about a century back (the very same where the Sable Maid faced Darvatius before the walls of Dis) a certain heterodox mage of the lowland plains began raising the remains of the recently dead and set them to working the fields of his shattered homeland. This was the beginning of the Republics.
Today, the inhabitants of those cities pass live a life of plenty and leisure, free to pursue whatever arts, sciences, or crafts they might desire. All that is asked of them is that they learn some of the necromantic arts so as to maintain their status as equals, and vote in their local council meetings, and offer up their bones to the Republic when they die.
As for the dead, they still work without complaint. They grow the food, they maintain the roads, they shovel the snow, they clean the streets, guard the walls, deliver the mail and so on. The SNR would have spread far further, were it not for the fact that it sits on the border of Hell's territory and must expend a great deal of resources to fending them off. The city-states of the Mare Interregnum have, as of yet, resisted alliance out of distrust and envy. The northern neighbors tend to look on them more favorably.
For those citizens of the SNR possessed by the wanderlust for places abroad, they will most likely be of the inventive necromancer sort.
- A vacationing necromancer couple and their three skeleton servants.
- An entire household, pulled about by a great amalgamation of elephant bones.
- A diplomat and his aides, off to sign a treaty with a nearby city.
- An inspection and repair team, doing rounds on the plantations.
- Traveling philosophers' circus and artisans' cooperative.
- A single skeleton, awaiting new orders.
Cultural Customs of the SNR
- The Day of the Dead is celebrated on the first of every month, with a grand celebration marking the new year.
- Only ever use your grandmother's knucklebones for dice.
- Those who slack in their responsibility to vote must wear a sign with the symbol for "serf" until the next voting day.
- Visitors must leave all their money at the gatehouse when they enter the city - it will be returned to them as they depart.
- Deceased individuals are referred to as alive, but have a unique pronoun.
- The archetype of the pasty, distant necromancer in melancholy dress is actually a stock character in comedies with no bearing on reality.
|Marie Crazy Dove|
Hell is a real place. It was the first city in the world, raised just as the snows were melting. It was a city built by those who rejected Mother and Father's teachings and said "why ought we who are powerful submit to the presence of those who are weak? Why ought they take what is ours?" And so they built in the savanna a city of red stone, and named it Dis.
The ages have passed, and from them have come the Lords of Hell. Mammon. Darvatius. The Forge Baron. The Worm. Moloch. And in the city the strong devour the weak, for the profit made on a brother's suffering will buy the assent of such men. Demons of all kinds infest the city as maggots in a carcass, and men are crowded there as insects in a hive. The enslaved masses war against each other for the scraps and favor of their overlords.
Hell is constantly trying to expand across the world through conquest and guile. So far it has been successfully contained.
Districts of the City Dis
- The Worm Pits - Sewage and refuse drains down to the lower levels of the city. Hordes of scavengers out for their daily meal
- Parade Grounds - Blocky, brutalist compounds that house the legions of Darvatius. Even the other Lords hesitate to enter.
- Witches' Gallows - Every leaning corner is home to a noose. The Witch-Hunter General presides in the central courthouse, and has grown so corpulent that he is incapable of presiding elsewhere.
- The Stacks - Tenement complexes curled around the Forge Baron's smokestacks, crusted over with layers of soot and grit.
- Worm's Armory - A knotted jungle of weapons of war and the victims thereof. Demons cavort in the bladed branches of firearm trees.
- The Market of Bulls - Where slaves are sold and sacrificed beneath the gaze of the vast idol of Moloch, which is kept aflame and fed at all hours.
- Black Sheep - Carnivorous, with abrasive wool
- Long Pig - Bloated semihumans stretched out to ten or twelve feet. Will eat anything.
- Slurry-Worms - Thin, pale, live in shit. Staple food.
- Devil Dumpling - A single piece can nourish someone for an entire year, at the cost of several lives' worth of debt. Creditors aren't picky whose lives.
- Grut - A gnarled root tuber that grows in dark cracks of the undercity. Tastes like powdered glass.
- Soul-Sand - A mix of grit and dried blood, harvested from sacrificial altars. Can be baked into cakes with a bit of dirty, lead-heavy water.