Wednesday, 7 December 2011

damned city: oroguida

Oroguida is isolated from the Avernine by tar pits and quicksand banks fed by the Fiumorte.  The safest routes to Oroguida are by Occidua in Riccoferro and The Black Road in Animardente.  Boardwalks and stone piers keep Oroguida from sinking into brackish wetland that floods every autumn and winter.  Mud and water seeps through corrugated roads and boardwalks.  Dykes to limit flooding form canals by the boardwalks allowing barques and skiffs to move chattel.  The clink of coins and chains is ever-present.  Gold is the lifeblood of Oroguida.  It flows from a brisk slave trade as well as transfer of goods and individuals.  Status is conferred by visible gold or slaves.  Ostentatious wealth is preferred, vulgarity is expected.  Mercenaries in coin-riveted brigandine guard sedan chairs bearing bejewelled merchants with golden smiles.  By contrast, slaves bearing the sedan wear loincloths, manacles, whip scars and owner's brands.  Labourers may own a nose ring or gold medallion.  Artisans wear two or more rings with medallions or bangles.  A guard usually has half a dozen arm-bangles.  Some unwed women wear gold coins in head-dresses with charm bracelets. 

Near Occidua, a ghetto called Catenae grows around imported waterwheels.  Chainmakers forge chains using Riccoferran iron and scrap metal for anchors, shackles and weapons.  Mercenaries skilled in flails and spiked chains work out of Catenae, these _catenisti_ are the nearest thing to elite troops found in Oroguida.  There is a sizable drydock in Catenae that services the skiffs and barques plying canals transporting goods and people.  Tumulurbem stands between Catenae and the House of Hands.  Founded from an old village built on ancient ruins, explored by those seeking easy gold.  Flooding, unstable walls and degenerate mutants make this difficult.  There is gold but it's far from easy.  Pre-human gold idols found underneath are quickly smelted into gold ingots to avoid bloody reprisals.  Tumulurbem markets sell assorted supplies to explorers.  They also warn explorers balliffs will seize loot unless they are affiliated to a licensed business.

At Oroguida's heart is the House of Hands, a ten-towered structure resembling two grasping hands.  Here, the Aliquamante, a council of thirteen oligarchs preside.  Clad in hooded samite robes with gold masks of angry medusae, they are part syndicate, part priesthood.  They provide judgements and license trade in Oroguida for 10% of assets or income, whichever yields more.  The leader is The Wolf, a corpulent captain clad in gold-coin brigandine whose word is law.  Mercenary bailiffs enforce this by seizing goods and chattel.  The House of Hands watches over three great boardwalks with their attendant canals.  Slaves toil on windlasses to pump water out of the cellars.

Carnefossa deals in pigs, slaves and vice.  The branching southern canal links to the Fiumorte and sees traffic from Bacino and Perlanero.   The Wolf's bailliffs are particularly active in Carnefossa.  Nearer the House of Hands, the stink of swine, canal water and unwashed bodies fades under perfume.  Yet the stink never truly dies.  Further to the south, it grows to fill the nostrils.  Pig pens and cesspits are dug under boardwalks, sometimes used as prisons or slave holding pens.  Biting flies attract a variety of frogs, some poisonous.  Brothels, drug dens and wine houses riddle Carnefossa.  Streetwalkers work from the canal edge to alleyways within the shadow of the House of Hands.  Some use parasites and poisons to enhance their appearance, trading health and longevity for potential wealth.

Lacunero, a slum with a pall of brown smoke reaches east to tar pits bordering Animardente.  Near the House of Hands is the Black Alley where alchemists sell alchemist's fire, pigments and exotic metals.  Other streets near Black Alley Further along the great canal, smiths forge shining blades of stainless steel and potters sell enamelled clay.  Clay and stone is quarried  from flooding pits.  Furthest away, and close to the tar pits, residents mine bitumen for mortar, sealant and adhesive.  Watch towers keep vigil for caravans from Animardente.


  1. Wow! Very evocative. The names I really like too, because they seem to "fit" together, but don't seem to be the typical fantasy sort (having an Italianate feel).

  2. Thanks! More coming, these were partly-inspired by your Hell Syndicate post...


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Greatest Hits