City Image- Sarkushen
Of old, this city was the home of a coven of the Sarkukai, foul devotees of Sarku, Lord of Worms, the God of Rising From The Grave. Though they were driven out, the city remains tainted by the memory of that ghastly cult.
When the Great King's grandees liberated this city from the clutches of the evil cult of the Sarkukai, they renamed the place Herasayon, after the hero-saint Heras. But colloquially it continues to be called "Sarkushen", it's old name, which in the Jjakkur language of the worshippers of Sarku means simply "place of Sarku". To merchants it has become Herasayon-Sarku, in order to distinguish it from a great many similar Heras place names in the area (remnants of the old Herasorn conquest).
Like many cities where of old the name of the Lord of the Open Tomb's name was exalted, Sarkushen is located in the mountains; it lies in a vale in the eaves of the great peak Stayawar, surrounded by dry hills, and encrusts the slopes around a small lake. A road marches from out of the plains to the south over the hills up to the conquest-era walls, which were constructed to replace the original black basalt walls, carven with awful and blasphemous reliefs and symbols related to the worship of Sarku, which were pulled down and blasted apart with the explosives provided by Kaitaki sorcerors. It is a small city, and one which is dying and becoming more and more decrepit; over the generations, many free families have left the city, seeking to escape the memory of the grisly cult which ruled here generations ago.
If one were to see the city from the slopes of Stayawar, one would perceive that there seem to be two types of neighborhoods.
First, there are the two-to-three story tenements and adobe structures of traditional Herasorn construction, flat-roofed and with wooden porches, balconies, and stairs. The streets in these areas are mud, usually covered with a layer of straw in places- the streets are wide and typically organized in a regular grid pattern, characteristic of Herasorn city planning. These neighborhoods are the product of the Herasorn liberation of the city and the destruction of the Sarkukai coven. When the grandees destroyed the great ziggurats and razed the temple complexes of the Sarku worshippers, they constructed new, less blasphemous districts over them.
However, there can also be seen the strange (albeit small) neighborhoods where the fearsome, alien architecture of the constructions of the Sarkukai remains. In these neighborhoods, the structures are built from ancient dark stones, constructed in odd interlocking buildings with many nested courtyards and descending terraces. Many buildings are connected by bridges over the narrow paved alleys and lanes which constitute streets in these quarters. Walls and sometimes pavements are covered entirely in the blasphemous and frightening carvings and reliefs of Sarkukai rites and symbols and tales from the ghastly holy texts of Sarku, though when the warriors of the Great King conquered the city, many of these were defaced and smashed, leaving only those too resilient or less offensive to Herasorn sensibilities. More resembling large temple complexes than neighborhoods, these areas seem to have been constructed without concern for pack animals (some say that this is because the pack animals used by the cult of Sarku were indeed man-like rather than cart-pulling beasts).
Many of these ancient Sarkukai districts have been almost wholly abandoned. For most, the hideous carvings and foreboding architecture of these great arcades of the Worm God is too much to bear, redolent as it is with the memory of the foul rites and the terrifying magics of the Sarkukai. For some of the most pious Mitrans of Sarkushen (who cling to referring to the city by the less sacreligious epithet of Herasayon when even the lord governer calls his city Sarkushen), to even enter these haunted districts stinks of apostasy and witchcraft and participation in the zombie rituals of Sarku.
It is surprising, then, that some families remain dwelling in the dark Sarkukai neighborhoods. These live in the low-ceilinged but spacious column-studded apartments on the upper floors of buildings, or in the pillared arcades surrounding courtyards and overgrown gardens. Some of these families are simply poor, and cannot afford the rents in more savory locales, choosing instead to live as squatters in the empty apartments of worshippers of the undead; others are secret crypto-Sarkukai, ancient families of etiolated blood who have since time immemorial been devotees of the Worm God, practicing in secret and under cover of darkness in the galleries of their ancestors' temple-mansions while maintaining the semblance of pious Mitraism.
In many basements and lower floors of the city, bricked-up or boarded over or filled with rubble, there are entrances to the ancient catacombs and tunnels that underly Sarkushen. In the more respectable Herasorn sectors of town, these basement entrances are typically totally impassable. However, in the Sarkukai districts, there can be found entrances which are less destroyed. In some of the more mazy galleries of these neighborhoods, there may be entrances to the tunnels left unhurt, never discovered by the Herasorn warriors who blocked off the evil pits beneath Sarkushen. None know how extensive or how large this underworld is, but if Sarkushen is anything like other Sarkukai cities, this undercity may be extensive indeed, and filled with unknown horrors engendered by the Lord of Worms and his foul cult.
The crowning glory of the city is the old palace of the governor, a walled fortress constructed to house the lord in charge of the city. It's walls studded with classical High Herasorn statuary depicting the law-giving kings being guided by the Deities, with the symbol of the God of Gods on its great gates in bronze, the large blocky fort is a perfect example of Expansion-era militarist architecture. It is mostly square and castle-like in appearance, with the flat roofs characteristic of Herasorn architecture, its walls carven with verses from the High Book and the Tractate and its balconies decorated with statues of the old lord-governors (most descended from the line of the Heravi family).
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? Responses (6)-6
A lovely, in that disgusting evil city sort of way. Echos touches of Lovecraft as written by Borroughs or Carter.
Pulled the City Image Freetext. Added it to the codex.
We really should do more City Images. While they can be tough to write (with that focus on architecture and form to illustrate the history and society of the place), they come out so well.
It really came out that well. A dying city with a dark past, it appears the heritage of old, that was thought suppressed, will strangle the newcomers' will to live at last... restoring the original population, and the rites of the true god.
It reminds me of Technoticlan the Aztec city.
Oh yes, this WILL be used.
Excellent work Captain! Wonderful Lovecraftian vibe too!
Hoo-Yah! Great writing makes for great visuals! Good one, Cap!