Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Vézhok, capital city of Tarush Noptii

Vészok is the capital city of Tarush Noptii, and is notorious for several distinctive features.

As one approaches Vészok, one sees a massive fogbank, about thirty miles away from the city center in every direction. This fogbank stretchs up like a cloud wall to a height of many hundreds or even thousands of feet into the air. Passing through the fogbank is a relatively quick and painless procedure. The bank is extremely thick and visibility is sharply reduced for about a mile. It is so dark that it appears to be night inside, even at mid-day.

Once past the fogbank is where the really bizarre features start to take shape. The fogbank ends, and one walks out under the open sky again. It is frequently overcast inside the circular fogbank, but not always. It is, however, always night. Even at mid-day without a cloud in the sky, the vault of the heavens is pitch black and stars can be seen wheeling overhead. Strange stars, often, that do not match the constellations elsewhere except at Vészok. The moon often rises and sets on a different schedule than elsewhere, and the mares on the moon have a completely different pattern here, sometimes showing the "old" pattern of the moon before it resembled a skull.  Sometimes it looks like a totally different moon altogether.  There are even reports that at odd or unusual times there is more than one moon in the sky.

No plant life can survive in this 60 mile diameter circle centered around Vészok, of course, although black skeletons of old trees and dried brown remnants of grass still cling to places off the roads that are not trampled or broken by the passage of time. Strange, and occasionally phosphorescent fungi grows in strange patches as well.

As one nears the city itself, the ground starts to slope upward. Vészok is built around the rim of a large crater, nearly a mile across, and in fact, the buildings go all the way over the edge, and are carved into and hang from the sides. The inside of the crater is a vertical shaft, descending into pitch blackness. Nobody known today has ever descended into the shaft and returned. Legend has it that the crater is the mark of the fall of Tarush, a god of death, from the heavens to the material world. The first vampires were those champions who went to ensure Tarush remained sealed and defeated in one place, the Primogenitors. This, however, is legend. No confirmation of these rumors exist, and if Tarush exists, no one has ever seen or heard from him. Certainly, however, some supernatural power hovers over the site, causing the bizarre stars and constant nightfall that make it the perfect environment for a capital of vampires.

Vészok is a large city, of well over 100,000 regular inhabitants, and tens of thousands of temporary inhabitants at any one time.  While the fact that it is ruled over by and preyed on by vampire overlords is well known, in reality, that doesn't necessarily mean much to every day, regular life.  There are only a few hundred (at absolute most) vampires in the city, so one takes ones chances on being hunted, but with some suitable precautions, the risk is relatively low, and the Tarushans find that they like the enforced peace and prosperity that strong rulers bring, and can take the risk of vampire attack as the cost of such long-lasting peace and prosperity.  Outsiders, of course, say that all livestock feels this way, and it is a deal with the devil that is never worth the cost.  Tarushans, they claim, are only trying to validate the life that they have and can't do anything about; but living in constant fear is never worth the cost.

Vészok is quiet.  There is little crime (since convicted criminals are where the vampires hunt first--a concession towards efficient management of their chattel amongst the humans).  Valuable travelers from outside--merchants, caravans, and their entourages, are given small brass tokens that mark them as Untouchables--vampires who feed on them forfeit their life and estates to the Ruling Council.  While all of the Vampire Houses have their own estates and holdings in the city, the Ruling Council also has it's own, unaligned brigade of Untouchable soldiers, who patrol the streets and keep the peace.

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