The City of Scales

The City of Glorious Scales

Nestled in the broken folds of a black land along the curving shore of a cursed river, beneath almost perpetually gray skies and the towering triple peaks of long-smoldering volcanoes, lies the terrible city of Yeshlem. Here, the serpent-god rules, and his coils wrap tightly around the people of the land.

The city of Yeshlem-Above lies mostly in ruins, populated by half-breeds and human slaves who are bred into the squalor of its broken streets, while the serpent-blessed have burrowed tunnels and chambers deep into the heated ground of Yeshlem-Below. This is their city–carven from the volcanic stone skillfully, if hellishly and inhumanly.

The tunnels of Yeshlem-Below are not crude tunnels burrowed in the earth, but works of art and architectural design worthy any intelligent, civilized race. Featuring rounded walls and circular chambers with numerous low, quiet nooks, gently curving and spiraling layouts, the whole is the domain of the serpent-blessed, and only tread occasionally by the human feet of cultists come to see their god.

The Serpent-Lands

There are greener lands beyond the city, populated by numerous destitute villages located far from the smoking calderas. These village-tribes are scattered around the rocky desert that stretches out from the city, and they fear the snakes that rule the land, for the serpents demand tribute and raid mercilessly and regularly for human cattle, slaves, and breeding stock.

This is the world, for beyond these lands lie nothing more than endless, deadly plains of gray ash where unquiet spirits dwell, or the frozen fields of poisonous ice from which flows the unclean river of Sseshtos.

Even though this is the world, there are legends of a better life in the fabled paradise known as the Valley of Tears, where no serpent dwells and men live under the protection of benevolent gods. None know where this place might be found in the deserts, though some fools say it lies beyond the edge of ash and ice, and many cross those borders to die.

The Cultists of Yeshlem

The city of Yeshlem is peopled by cultists who mindlessly worship and serve the serpent-blessed and their god, raiding the villages of the deserts for women and children who will be broken to serve as breeding stock, enslaved and abused, or raised in the terrible city as the next generation of cultists, madmen enslaved to the will and pleasure of the serpent-god, human cattle uplifted and glorified to their service.

The most fanatic of the cultists are given strange powers to strike down those who defy the serpents’ will and to spread the will of their serpent masters across the wastelands. In the deserts, their word becomes law, for their justice is swift and cold, their desires are merciless, and their interest as deadly as the poisoned bite of a serpent.

Of them, the Priests of Fire are the most deadly and insane, devoted to bizarre rituals of blood and flame, and sacrifices they pile high upon their bronze altars as offerings, or for use in the horrid craft of the serpent-blessed sorcerers.

The Guardians of the Land

There are hunters, shepherds, and mad wanderers who claim to have been blessed by invisible spirits of sun, sand, or wind while dying in the deserts; one even claims the oasis of Kehm spoke to him! Despite their obviously sun-induced madness, these men and women wield strange powers unheard of outside of the serpent-blessed, and so represent a threat to the power of the serpents of the city and their claim to godhood and rule.

copyright (c)2005-2009 Raven Daegmorgan
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