Friday, February 17, 2012

The Seven Cities: Lychgate

Lychgate is one of the more powerful of the Seven Cities, and it's position at the edge of the Long Swamp, where the Lesser Dark and River Deep merge into the Dark River, makes enables its magnates to control almost all the trade in the Dark Country.  The skyline is dominated by the Cathedral of St. Gax Lawgiver that was originally built when the Sword Brothers founded the city.  

The cathedral does not resemble its Western counterparts, rather it appears more like an enormous version of the fortified churches established by the Sword Brothers throughout the Dark Country and the Desert Lands.  It is squat but bulky, and a combination of defensive towers and the city's inner wall make the cathedral an imposing sight for those new to the city.  The other buildings are mostly in the typical Western style of wood and whitewash.  They huddle together next to twisting streets, their roofs obscuring the sky in some of the slummier districts.  Fire is a common problem, but not common enough to prevent Notker from publicly burning "Enemies of the Law" in the various squares.

The farms and thorps that lie in its shadow are some of the few truly settled areas in the Dark Country.  Still, a trip to the Long Swamp or a day’s ride to the Witchwood would quickly dispel any sense of civilization one might have within the city walls.  The majority of the populace within the walls are middle and upper class merchants as well as exiled nobles and priests from the West.  The peasants whose farms dot the surrounding countryside cannot afford the 2gp per leg entry tax required to entry the city.  Froglings too are forced to remain outside the walls, though this is because of the bigoted zeal of the Bishop.


Lychgate, like all of the Seven Cities, is very much defined by the man who rules it.  Notker the Unshaven is the worst sort of bishop: officious, domineering, irritable, and most of all loud.  He has recently sustained a number of personal insults that he believes originated from a secret Satanic society bent on obstructing the will of the Law.  While his lieutenants and cronies do not share his paranoid suspicions, they know that to keep their positions they must find suitable scapegoats in order that Notker might vent his rage at someone other than themselves.

His chief lieutenant and marshal, Lord Eckhard, was recently sent away from the city to serve as the "governor" of Nightwick Village.  The Bear is a grumbler, but his sense of duty and his fear of the Bishop's anger made him go.  In his absence, Bader the Badger -- the leader of Bader's Boys, a mercenary company with low moral standards -- has filled the void left by Eckhard.  He lacks the scruples of his predecessor and is both a sycophant and a sociopath.  In his zeal to please Notker the Unshaven he has butchered many an innocent.

Notker's suspicions are not entirely without cause.  While the other cities have mostly stamped out paganism within the shadow of their walls, the Bishop's overzealous pursuit of enemies has galvanized those who might otherwise have been converted.  The people whisper of a messianic figure named Yim Yimsley who will overthrow the tyrannical Church of Law and return the people of the Dark Country to the Old Ways.  None know his true identity. Some say that he is not truly one man, but several who take up the moniker whenever the innocent people of the Dark Country are threatened.

1 comment:

  1. Nice city/political/intrigue setup. Also, great pic for Notker :)