The Tower of Necrology is built at the heart of the Witherdowns, Locastus's industrial district. Its 300-foot, twistedly conical bulk towers over all the buildings around it, and its jagged spires penetrates the low, chimney-fed cloud base above. At night, weird, purple lightning phenomena dance among those spires, as the Tower draws on arcane powers of the Aetherium to fuel the weird alchemies and electrothaumaturgic processes within.
The architecture of the Tower itself looks disturbingly organic, with many baroque flanges, knots and tumour-like growths protuding randomly along its length, making it appear as a gigantic tree-stump, gnarled and diseased, against the skyline.
The Tower of Necrology is the place where the corpses of the poor, and of the executed criminals, are turned into the tireless Deaders, automaton-like undead that form the base of Locastus's industrial development.
In fact, the entire building is nothing more than a gigantic, arcane mechanism, built with the express purpose of preparing and reanimating corpses to a semblance of life. Inside, the Tower is revealed to be nothing but a shell, packed solid with obscure, intricate machinery and honeycombed with hangar-like halls, low passages, rickety catwalks, massive piping and glowing puissant conductors. Every flat surface is covered in glowing Power Sigils, their combined effluence palpable as a hair-raising, tingling presence in the air.
From top to bottom, the Tower is pierced by a thick crystal spar, a dimly glowing conduit for the puissant current harvested from the clouds, and funneled down through the forest of spars and spires at the top of the structure.
Interspersed among the machinery, seemingly at random, are the glass and metal, egg-like containers that holds human corpses, curing and marinating in different alchemical solutions, on their way to becoming Deaders. Here and there, one can see figures in the grey robes, rubber gloves and face masks of the Caretakers move silently along the passages, occasionally adjusting valves and levers on the machinery or checking the body-containers.
Occasionally, one can see one of these containers being moved along a ceiling-mounted conveyor-system, on their way from one instance to another.
The air is filled with a low, humming vibration as the various moving parts of the immense mechanism pump, slide and grind against each other in an organic, peristaltic movement, and occasional arcs of puissant energy jump between conductors and spars.
Deep below the Tower is an intricate network of catacombs, containing gargantuan reservoirs of alchemical compounds, which are pumped upwards to fuel the Deader manufacture above, as well as huge, bubbling vats of asphalt, used to cover the finished Deader in.
At the lower levels of the base of the Tower are the vast ice-houses, and the hangar-sized dissection halls, filled with row upon row of metal tables, where corpses are eviscerated, cleaned and prepared before they are hung on a meat-hook conveyor belt, and allowed to ascend further up the Tower to begin the reanimation process.
These nightmarish, white-tiled halls are usually full of Caretakers dressed in gore-stained rubber aprons and bent in deep, silent concentration over their grisly work. Abbatoir trenches that run the length of the halls are filled with the stinking refuse of their dissection and the strangely sweet, cloying stink of blood, rot and faesces lies heavily in the air.
Once the bodies are gutted, cleaned and sewn up, they are taken upstairs, where they are interred in egg-like cocoons and marinated for several weeks, the puissant current run through the dead tissue restoring it to a semblance of working order.
Once the arcane process has run its course, the corpse is dried out, covered in asphalt and inscribed with puissant symbols. The finished Deader is then shipped out to do whatever job it was designed for.
The Caretakers are the operators of the Tower of Necrology, accomplished Magi and skillful engineers, one and all. Caretalkers dress in long, grey robes, long rubber gloves and face masks to ensure their anonymity.
In the poor areas, such as Witherdowns and the Maul, the Caretakers are a common sight as they, in the early hours after dawn, comb the streets for the corpses of vagrants, junkies or the homeless. They also operate various offices in those areas, where the poor themselves can come in and put themselves on a contract for a small monthly retainer, or even sell the bodies of their desceased relatives. In the Witherdowns, with its high mortality rate, there is never a shortage of bodies.
Most Caretakers are family men and women, living a perfectly normal life despite their unpleasant vocation. They are usually recruited from the Universities or Mage Academies, and see themselves as the mediators of a necessary, but unfortunately unpleasant, function. The position as Caretaker is an attractive one for the poor stipend-takers or talented middle-class, as the pay is good, and the job comes with significant benefits, such as high-level medical care and tax reductions.
Nevertheless, many Caretakers feel soiled by their cynical vocation, and attempt to absolve themselves by lending their off hours to volunteer work among the poor, old and diseased. Many Caretakers have an extensive knowledge of anatomy and physiology, and make extremely good surgeons. Unfortunately, the nature of their work also make them predisposed for drug abuse, alcoholism and suicide.
The Caretakers are also often the target of suspicions and physical violence, and the common people see them as manifestations of an opperssive government. It is not uncommon for Caretakers to be hurt or killed in their line of duty, which explains the substantial benefits that has been granted to those willing to do this unpleastant job.
The Body Praxis
Within the poverty and misery of the slums of Witherdowns and the Maul the Caretakers operate a make-shift welfare named the "Body Praxis". In effect, the Tower ensures a steady supply of fresh corpses by offering a small monthly retainer for anyone willing to allow the Caretakers to turn their remains into a Deader after death, much in the same way as an organ donor.
Those who sign the contract of the Body Praxis are fitted with a discreet, puissant bracelet which will alert the Caretakers once the wearer stops breathing, and will allow them to locate the body. The bracelet is magically fused to the life force of the wearer, and any attempt at removing it will result in the death of the wearer. There are a few, scattered rumors of people successfully removing the token without perishing in the process, but no one knows if this is really true, or just another wild legend spawned from the fantasies of the poor and downtrodden.
Among the lower and middle class, there is a certain pride in earning enough not to have to sell themselves or their loved ones to the Tower to survive. In the cramped quarters of the Witherdowns, many a nagging mother-in-law has been threatened with being sold to the Tower upon her demise.
The cemeteries of the Witherdowns are heavily guarded facilities, ringed with high fences and alarms, to ensure no grave robbers steal away the corpses of the few wealthy enough to afford a proper burial, instead of an afterlife of unthinking slavery.
The Tower of Necrology and the Body Praxis, once a hazy idea in my cluttered mind, was made clear and tangible after a brainstorming session with Mesenchymal, my evil muse.....
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? Responses (8)
A place of dire mystery, described in hideous glory. Nightmarish and useful.
An excellent place. Question - is there any of the original person's soul/spirit remaining within the husk of a Deader?
Val: I have this notion that the soul must be kept away from the Deader, otherwise it will turn into a real, bloodthirsty undead. I think the Deaders are more like golems than zombies, the makers just make use of a thing with all the right joints and so on, which would otherwise be expensive to make....
Ah, the latest addition in an expanding setting! A great one as well, I should mention that I will GM a session in the Locastus setting tomorrow and the tower will be one of the locastions featured. This write has what I expected of it when I read the headline. But I feel that it is missing something, that little extra. Hmmm(need to think about that), but still- a great submission that recives a high score from me.
Any and all suggestions are welcome!
A zombie factory chock full of lovely detail! I like the bit about the Caretakers feeling "soiled" and seeking to be absolved. Also like the Body Praxis detail. You know, I kinda agree with Mike. There is something "sexy" missing, but I dont know what it may be.
Anyway, Locastus grows, and I rejoice.
Yet another good submission. There must be a way of cleaning any soul vestiages from the body before reanimating it.
This is freaking awesome. I love it. It feels like a mix of the Mortuary in Planescape, the steampunk-ish feel of China Mieville's books, and a certain eerie, creepily morbid touch special to it. The visual image of it hanging on the skyline like a diseased, rotting tree stump is arresting, and the way the interior is described gives a good feel for it.
The aspects of how the Caretakers feel soiled, and some strive to absolve themselves somehow, gives it a more real feeling, as well, with ordinary folks trying not to let their job get to them...