Nexus

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Nexus, also known as the City between the River Harlot’s Legs and a hundred other, less complimentary names, is the largest city in the Scavenger Lands, and possibly in Creation. It is known for being the centre for trade and commerce in Creation, and for being a haven for free trade, and the headquarters of the Guild. Nexus sits at the confluence of the Yanaze River, the Gray River, and the Yellow River, some six hundred miles east of Lookshy.

While the Imperial City may well be wealthier, that wealth is concentrated within the hands of the Scarlet Dynasty, while in Nexus, millions of talents of jade and silver change hands every single day. It is a chaotic and confusing place, a city with many rules but few laws, where an ignoble death lurks around every corner.

Contents

[edit] City Lore of Nexus

[edit] History & Geographical Details

  • Located at the fork that joins the Gray and Yellow Rivers into the Yanaze; called the Threshold Jewel, or the River Harlot’s Legs
  • Over a million people population
  • Nexus was founded by the joining of several small villages and townships in the swampy river delta who joined together after the Contagion
  • The countryside around Nexus has almost no villages or towns; instead, there are inns and teahouses every five miles along the three roads that lead into Nexus. The countryside itself is swampy land turned into rice paddies, manned by chain gangs of slaves.
  • The city of Nexus has a variety of First Age flood-control mechanisms in place along the rivers it borders, opening sluice gates to channel flood waters away to the paddies.
  • The western end of the city was once swampland. Now, a number of canals crisscross the western part of the city. The city boasts a single massive canal, the Grand Canal, through which barges pole their goods and the other canals drain into. Traveling the canals is hazardous and exciting, as the waters are shallow and quick-moving, and everyone is in a hurry.
  • The city is filled with a fetid black fog that is a mixture of swamp miasma and the filth from the forges and industrial areas.
  • Nexus has an entire subterranean part of the city called the Undercity, which runs beneath even the canals, and is a remnant of Old Hollow’s architecture.
  • The city also maintains a pulley-car system of public transportation, with cable-cars run by teams of pulley-workers in the Undercity below the lines.
  • Originally the city of Hollow, in the days before the Anathema were destroyed, largely destroyed during the war to put down the Anathema
  • In RY 52, an entity called the Emissary appeared, claiming it spoke for the Council of Entities, who laid claim to Nexus. Those who opposed the Emissary and Council died in horrible supernatural ways.
  • Ten miles away from the gates, along the three roads out of town, stand the Stones of Exile – those banished by the Council must be beyond those stones by the time their exile begins. They are littered with the corpses of those who nearly made it, but did not.
  • There is a mechanism that can raise a massive dam from out of the Yellow River. Doing so would cause a huge lake upstream and drown Great Forks beneath 50 feet of water, so it is forbidden to activate by the Council. The dam that once spanned the Gray River is long destroyed 30 miles south of Nexus.
  • The city’s districts are:
    • Nexus: geographical and commercial center of the city
    • Nighthammer: working class neighborhoods interspersed by foundries
    • Cinnabar: the cultural center, with mercenaries, schools, monasteries, libraries and shopping areas, and middle-class row housing
    • Bastion: the estates of the wealthy, filled with First Age buildings and guarded by mercenaries who keep undesirables out
    • Firewander: the Wyld zone, around which many of the city’s unfortunates live as close as they dare
    • Sentinel’s Hill: a buffer zone between Firewander, filled with narrow streets and strange First Age tombs of the Anathema, plus ethnic neighborhoods of Forkstown, Calintown and Maruktown
  • Firewander District was once the center of Hollow, turned into a Wyld zone in the city by the detonation of a Wyld-weapon in the last days of the Great Contagion
  • There is a jade glyph set in the Gray River 400 miles south of Nexus that is rumored to prevent storms from flooding the Yanaze. No one knows if this will disrupt river traffic, so no one has tried to activate it.
  • There are six tombs in Nexus, where the corpses of Anathema were interred. The Council decreed that attempting to open or loot the tombs was punishable by death or exile. They are: the Tomb of Candle-Eyed Skulls in Sentinel’s Hill, the Tomb of Red-Hot Iron beneath Nighthammer, the Tomb of Keening Spirits in Firewander, the Tomb of Singing Blades in Bastion, the Tomb of Ice and the Tomb of Night, both beneath Nexus.

[edit] Government & Mercantilism

  • Ruled by the Council of Entities, who claim to rule by “suggestion.” They uphold the Dogma and are responsible for writing the Civilities.
  • There are two kinds of law: the Dogma, which is the city’s permanent law; and the Civilities, which are the public decrees obeyed as law, but which may be altered or eradicated entirely through the passing of new Civilities.
  • Nexus is the headquarters of trade, with influence reaching all over Creation. This is due to its status as the home of the Guild, which is only possible thanks to the Council’s insistence that nothing inhibit trade.
  • There have been a number of Councilors through the years, though it is not hereditary. Some have been mortal, others spirits and yet others Exalted or god-blooded.
  • The collaboration of the Council and the Guild is a natural one: the Council supports minimal government, maximum revenue and unlimited free trade, where the Guild breaks down trade barriers, disrupts small governments that stand in the way of trade and work to make huge profits.
  • The Dogma is: No taxes shall be raised, save by the Council; None shall obstruct trade; None shall bring an army into Nexus; No one shall commit wanton violence; None may falsely claim the Council’s name or sanction; None shall harbor a fugitive from the Council’s wrath.
  • Nexus officially has only two punishments: death and exile.
  • Nexus is well known as a site for purchasing slaves and hiring other labor, including mercenary companies.
  • There are nine positions on the Council: three in charge of trade and foreign policy; three in charge of public business and domestic policy and the three who tend to the city’s health.
  • A significant chunk of the city’s populace work clandestinely for the Council, acting as spies on their neighbors.
  • The Guild was founded in Nexus in RY 110 by the joining of the largest trade families and consortiums in the city, who saw that they stood no chance of controlling the city due to the Council so they sought power elsewhere.
  • Nexus’ power extends 30 miles outside of the gates of the city, in a subtle arc marked by a line of crudely carved statues of the Emissary.
  • A fee of 1 silver dinar is assessed on each person or animal entering Nexus, and a tax of 1 dinar per 10 dirhams of value on cargo is assessed as well.
  • The Civilities are vast, variable and wide-ranging, and codified in the Incunabulum.
  • The Big Market acts as a show-house for trade cartels to show off the goods they are offering in huge purchase quantities, while the Little Market acts as the normal bazaar where typical trade happens.
  • Nexus has some of the most extensive and technologically advanced forges and smelters in Creation.
  • Nexus is also home to more than 40 banks, including at least five that have been in existence for more than a century. These institutions offer currency exchange, insurance, credit lines and loans in addition to simply rending out vault space.
  • The three Foreign Policy Councilors are:
    • The August Councilor of the Eclipse who runs the docks and waterways, and manages their taxation
    • The Midnight Queen who manages the Councils informants and spies
    • The Dawn Sergeant who deals with mercenaries and tends to the city’s defense.
  • The three Domestic Policy Councilors are:
    • The Evening Master who tends to secret and public business, as well as educational institutions and archives
    • The Midday Husband who oversees the city health, artistic endeavors and public entertainment
    • The Minister of Ways who oversees taxation and the District Assayers.
  • The three Civil Policy Councilors are:
    • The Emissary, a tall, androgynous figure in white robes and a silver mask. It acts as the public face to the Council. It has never been bribed or visibly wounded.
    • The Astrologer who tends to the supernatural concerns and is always something of a prophet or sibyl
    • The Doctor who speaks for the city’s common folk and oversees harmony in the city.
  • The Emissary always publicly cites the Dogma or Civility it is invoking before executing anyone.
  • Enslavement is illegal in Nexus. This does not automatically render slaves free when they enter Nexus, however; it simply prevents the taking of slaves while here. If a slave manages to escape while in the city, it is forbidden to recapture them, as they have won their freedom at that point. Indentured servitude is legal, however, so many slaver-owners have their slaves sign contracts of indentured servitude outside of the city gates, and then hold on to them to protect their rights.
  • The Emissary is usually found in the Council Tower in the mornings, and then travels to the Council Offices to announce new decrees. Then, it harshly judges cases brought before it in the afternoon before retiring for the evening.
  • The Emissary occasionally disappears, usually reappearing violently in the midst of conspirators or criminals.

[edit] Military History & Strength

  • Nexus is well known as the home to a variety of mercenary companies. About half of them are based entirely out of Nexus, though larger companies simply maintain a hiring office in the city, so as to avoid the prohibition against armies in Nexus.
  • The city’s order is provided by mercenary companies hired by the Council. As a result, many mercenary companies have offices in Nexus. They never move through Nexus in formation except when they are hired by the Council.
  • Nexus’ local mercenaries include:
    • Hooded Executioners who hold the most contracts for police work in Nexus and specialize in light infantry units and mixed units of light and medium infantry, with slingers, archers and medium cavalry
    • Bronze Pioneers specialists in urban combat who hire out in units of heavy and light infantry, archers and cavalry
    • Nightarrows a well-liked group who carry out Council death sentences when they’re not guarding the city’s parks, who hire out in units of medium infantry, archers, mounted archers and mixed units of slingers and javelineers
    • Nighthammer Iron League known as the “people’s mercenaries,” most often hired by citizens, and made up of only light infantry
    • Iron Brotherhood a Dragon-Blood led company hired out by high-prestige clients, who hire out in units of archers, light infantry, medium infantry, heavy infantry, medium cavalry, light cavalry and special units of seize engineers and martial artists
  • The city’s walls are of Second Age construction, though the Council is well-known to have First Age armaments with which to defend the city.

[edit] Martial Arts World

  • The rough streets of Nexus occasionally spawn fight clubs, impromptu organizations that form to hone the street fighting skills of its members. In these places, it is possible to find practitioners of all manner of martial arts – primarily First Pulse Style, but also Even Blade, Five Dragon, Jade Mountain, Seafaring Hero and other styles.
  • A mercenary company in Nexus called the Iron Brotherhood practice the Crimson Pentacle Blade Style.
  • Nexus is home to a temple of Ovanda, the Great Forks sex goddess whose monks practice Orgiastic Fugitive Style.
  • Rumors have that terrible warriors – Anathema, demons and other creatures – sometimes find their way into the fight clubs, wielding esoteric and unholy martial arts against which most martial arts stand no chance.

[edit] Spiritual, Religious & Supernatural

  • Nexus is home to quite a few academies of occult and thaumaturgical knowledge.
  • The city of Nexus has a variety of First Age flood-control mechanisms in place along the rivers it borders, opening sluice gates to channel flood waters away to the paddies.
  • The Firewander District is a zone of raw Wyld power, generally avoided by those with good sense. Despite this, there are many desperate or insane people who have gone into it and become warped by the Wyld.
  • Many Dragon-Blooded outcastes call Nexus their home, as it is an excellent place from which to find work suited to their tasks, with people who can pay for those talents.
  • Members of the Immaculate Order are welcome within the city individually, but they are forbidden from establishing worship or preaching their creed here. This applies to the Immaculate Orthodoxy of Lookshy as well.
  • It is home to few temples, and the people here are notoriously unconcerned with matters of prayer and gods.
  • There are six main tombs in Nexus, which seem to have their own intrusion-prevention methods.
  • It is known that there are unexplored sections of the Undercity which contain ruins of Old Hollow. Many of the people who go exploring those areas do not return; occasionally, demons, First Age automata or other things emerge to kill and cause chaos until they are contained or dealt with.
  • There is a mechanism that can raise a massive dam from out of the Yellow River. Doing so would cause a huge lake upstream and drown Great Forks beneath 50 feet of water, so it is forbidden to activate by the Council. The dam that once spanned the Gray River is long destroyed 30 miles south of Nexus.
  • It is also known that more than a few Fair Folk dwell within Firewander proper.
  • The Tomb of Candle-Eyed Skulls on the side of Sentinel’s Hill is a broad plaza ringed with an iron fence surrounding a three-story structure made of human skulls whose sockets house flames at night. Intruders during the day simply die, crumbling to dust, while flames shoot out to consume those who intrude at night.
  • The Tomb of Singing Blades in Bastion is a faceted diamond dome ten yards high, with an orichalcum door in its western side, and a spike of orichalcum crowning it. When storms break overhead, lightning is attracted to the spike. Those who approach activate a swarm of shrieking adamant daggers, which cut intruders apart.
  • The Tomb of Red-Hot Iron beneath Nighthammer is made of firebrick and forms the foundation and heating coil of an iron smelter built above it. It melts tools and weapons, even those of First Age design, and instantly carbonizes flesh and other organics.
  • The Tomb of Keening Spirits in Firewander is a plain vault of gray stone, surrounded by chanting specters who attack those that approach within 20 feet, consuming their life Essence.
  • The Tomb of Ice is a structure of blue ice beneath Nexus District. Tools that touch its surface shatter from the cold, and living beings are flash frozen.
  • The Tomb of Night, also beneath Nexus, is a 100-yard radius of darkness no light can pierce. Sound within it is muffled as well. Those who enter the darkness fully never return.
  • There is a jade glyph set in the Gray River 400 miles south of Nexus that is rumored to prevent storms from flooding the Yanaze. No one knows if this will disrupt river traffic, so no one has tried to activate it.

[edit] Criminal Element

  • Crime is a difficult endeavor in Nexus – most victims are individuals, due to the fear of breaking the Dogma. Criminal organizations that form invariably are destroyed by the Emissary.
  • There is a small but growing faction of individuals seeking to free slaves brought into Nexus. They call themselves “the Liberating Ones,” and they ride a line between being legal and impinging on the Dogma, so they only steal slaves that have already been sold, rather than those intended for sale.
  • There is a man who is simply called the Spider of Nexus, a notorious underworld figure with a vast network of spies said to rival that of the Council (or perhaps to be part of the Council’s network). It is said that he avoids notice by remaining completely anonymous; no one knows what this Spider actually looks like.

[edit] Districts of Nexus

[edit] Bastion

The well-to-do and well-connected of Nexus reside within; any others would do better to stay out. The place where the rich and powerful of Nexus come to live and play, Bastion is a district of large mansions, open parks, clean streets and frequent patrols by well-paid mercenaries. High enough above the river that it doesn’t get flooded, and far enough away from the centre that the smells don’t carry in, even the servants who live here do so in conditions that would make many in other parts of Nexus green with envy.

  • Bastion Road: A mercantile street with a large number of very high priced boutiques and expensive shops.
  • Brindel Way: A dead-end street with more than 100 houses, no one seems to know anyone who lives there, however.
  • Embassy Row: Many of the Confederation and Hundred Kingdom nations have established embassies here.
  • Great Forks Gate Bazaar: Like Bastion Road, Great Forks Gate Road is a mercantile street with a large number of very high priced boutiques and expensive shops. In addition, however, the bazaar grounds just inside the Great Forks Gate also serves as a market for specialty labor: all manner of craftsmen and skilled workers set up small shops here, offering their services to the great houses of the district.
  • School of Philosophy: The most expensive and elite of the universities in Nexus, the School of Philosophy has some of the wealthiest students and most adept instructors in the city.

[edit] Cinnabar District

The cultural and military centre of the city, Cinnabar lines the river and floods regularly. A riverside district, Cinnabar is home to art galleries, public ballrooms, festhalls, theaters, small stadiums, parks, schools, monasteries, libraries, shopping areas, temples, restaurants, teahouses, and cafés of highly variable quality, as well as being the site of annual and severe flooding. It also houses most of the mercenary companies who call Nexus their home, each one generally based within a fortified compound, with walls higher than the worst floodwaters. The residential areas here tend to be rowhouses and small-scale estates modeled on those in Bastion for the slightly better-off.

  • Nexus Library: Perhaps the only free thing in the city, the library is open free of charge to any citizen of Nexus (although proving one's citizenship can be difficult without money for bureaucratic paperwork). The city's bureaucratic archives are kept here, and are off-limits to those without a permit from the District Assayers.
  • Parko Llana: The city's largest park, it is divided into formal gardens, concert lawns, a botanical garden and athletic fields. The houses in the immediate vicinity are highly prized and very expensive. The western end is a neighborhood of artisans, poets, sculptors and others of high art, while the eastern area is home to the moderately-wealthy and the mistresses of the very wealthy.
  • The Player's Menagerie: A large theater and acting school. They perform a wide variety of classical and modern plays, operettas and musicals, tending toward the more ribald and the risque over the dignified.
  • Plaza of Rebirth: The city's largest public assembly hall, it features smaller halls that see use as reception halls for weddings and coming of age parties, while the main hall is used for large public parties, dances and performances, as well as a dueling ground, gladiatorial arena and a venue for athletic competitions.
  • The House of a Thousand Gems: One of the Courtesan Houses of Cinnabar, the House of a Thousand Gems is known for the artistic integrity of its courtesans. Each of them is not only a work of art herself - she is capable of either performing or creating some of the finest art to be found in Nexus.

[edit] Firewander

The epitome of urban nightmare, the Wyld zone at its heart still spits out horrors to plague the city. An urban hell of rickety buildings, makeshift stalls, gang warfare, Wyld-spawned monsters and worse, Firewander is generally inhabited only by those who have no choice in the matter, either through poverty or violence. Scant trade occurs here, and most of that would be illegal anywhere else in the Scavenger Lands and is frowned upon by the “upright” citizenry of Nexus itself, but the denizens make do with what they have.

  • Brookside: A small section of affluent houses set apart from the rest of Nexus by waterways that aren't accessible by foot, Brookside isn't on the way to anything and hard to reach, so most people simply never think to visit the place. Which is just the way its citizens like it.
  • Filth: A loose collection of drug dens, whorehouses and pleasure stores, with a reputation as a place where anything goes.
  • Old Provincial Capitol: Only a golden dome can be seen above the twisting Wyld energies that manifest as flame, smoke and lightning. This is the heart of the Wyld zone.
  • Tellnaught: A beacon of decency in Firewander, Tellnaught's citizens - all hardworking honest folk - collected money among themselves to build a small wall separating their neighborhood from the rest of Firewander's squalid debauchery. Now, they all contribute to a mutual defense fund to hire mercenaries to patrol the walls and keep the filth out.

[edit] Nexus District

The commercial and entepreneurial centre of Nexus, more silver pieces change hands here in a day than there are stars in the sky. Home to the Big and Little Markets, the Nexus district is where the real business of the city gets done. Home to the headquarters of the Guild and innumerable other trading companies, merchant organisations and caravan masters, if Bastion is where the rich and powerful rest, then the Nexus district is where they work. Nexus also has a reputation as the place where nightlife can be found.

  • Big Market: The massive market where huge amounts of goods are bought and sold, generally by business owners and caravaneers, who then break the lots up into smaller parcels for sale.
  • Brood Market: The market where animals of all kinds are sold.
  • Coffleblock Market: The city's massive slave market.
  • Council Building: The building where the Emissary makes his pronouncements. A heliograph on its roof is often used to transmit messages to the Council Tower on Sentinel's Hill.
  • Diamond: A small, well-guarded street of jewelers and gemcutters.
  • Dyer Square: Originally an area of town for dyers, it has now become a major mercantile row.
  • Gongfang Row: A street made up primarily of insurance agents.
  • The Harlotry: An expensive red-light district filled with pleasures for nearly every palate.
  • Imperium: The market where Realm merchants set up their wares.
  • Little Market: The tremendously-size bazaar filled with all the products in Creation, it seems, and thousands upon thousands of people. It is easy to become lost here.
  • Nexus Pool: The protected dock system that bustles with shipping activity.
  • Night Market: The market, which is only open at night, where the things the Council has forbidden to be sold during the daylight hours are sold.
  • Paper Lane: A street where paper and book merchants and craftsmen predominate.
  • Sawdust Square: Area with a high concentration of wood-workers and carpenters.
  • Yinhang Square: The massive square in the center of which rises the Guild headquarters, towering over the city around it.

[edit] Nighthammer District

The noise of forges, smithies and other manufacturing processes resound night and day throughout the streets of Nighthammer. Industry rules in Nighthammer, a place where three or four times a day thousands of workers travel to and from their places of work within the forges, smithies, looms and others factories that produce the thousands of tonnes of goods that pour out of the city and into Creation on a daily basis. The air here is thick with smog and the rivers are heavily polluted by toxic effluents, both by-products of the production that brings so much wealth into Nexus.

  • The Arsenal: The site of the city's main weapon manufactories. Nearby is the Iron League's parade grounds.
  • Fishmarket: Right beside the Nighthammer Pool, the Fishmarket is the largest place for purchasing fish and other foods, from both river and ocean.
  • Lookshy-Town: A small community of Lookshyan citizens built up around the Seventh Legon's embassy and purchasing agents offices. It also boasts a small landing areas for skyships.
  • Nighthammer Pool: Larger than the Nexus Pool, Nighthammer is also shallower. Most of the ships here carry ore in and iron goods out.
  • Nightside: Beside the Nighthammer Pool, Nightside is a tenement ghetto that sees frequent flooding and the filth from the nearby smelters and forges.
  • Riverlaine: A low-rent area of town adjacent to the River Park. Most of the lower-levels of the buildings here are abandoned and rotting thanks to the frequent floods.
  • River Park: The least-patrolled park in Nexus, it is also very vibrant and wild, thanks to the frequent flooding that happens here.
  • Sijantown: A small community of Sijanese, the dead of Nexus are usually brought to Sijantown in preparation for transport to Sijan proper. A small branch of the Mortician's Guild of Sijan operates out of this area.
  • "University of Nexus": A failed attempt to establish a place of learning and perhaps clean up the area around the Nighthammer Pool, these buildings are now all but abandoned in any official capacity. Out-of-work scholars and students with little money do meet here daily, however, willing to teach those who come to them in exchange for other teaching or survival goods.

[edit] Sentinel's Hill

A crossroads of most of the city of Nexus, Sentinel's Hill acts as a buffer between Firewander and most of the rest of the city. Once a No Man's Land, it has slowly become filled in with tenement buildings, apartments and townhouses. Many of the streets are just wide enough for foot traffic.

  • Forkstown: A small ghetto for citizens from Great Forks.
  • Calintown: A small neighborhood of Calinti.
  • Maruktown: A small but prosperous neighborhood, with a large horse market at its center.

[edit] The Undercity

The Undercity of Nexus is a series of caves and tunnels under Cinnabar and Sentinel's Hills. The black fog of poor man's breath clots and taints the air underground. The poor and those who are just scraping by live and work down here. Small, toarchlit markets thrive in the sunless enclave. Three main routes make get around underground strait-forward.

[edit] Government

Nexus is rules by the Council of Entities, a group shrouded in mystery. Theirs is the power to add and modify the Civilities of the Incunabulum. Their edicts are enforced by the mercenaries of the city and the mysterious Emissary.

  • Brueghel, the Evening Master; member of the Council of Entities in charge of secret and public business as well as the city archives, libraries and the licensing of teachers
  • Ephiselle, Midnight Queen; member of the Council of Entities in charge of spies and informants
  • Hayle, the Midday Husband; member of the Council of Entities in charge of public entertainment and the city's overall good health
  • Kratz, the Astrologer; member of the Council of Entities with curiously undefined responsibilities
  • Master Gen, Minister of Ways; member of the Council of Entities in charge of the district Assayers
  • Pellicia, Dawn Sergeant; member of the Council of Entities in charge of the city's defense
  • Thalevar, August Councilor of the Eclipse; member of the Council of Entities in charge of docks and waterways
  • Udelph, the Doctor; member of the Council of Entities that represents the common people of Nexus
  • The Emissary, Mysterious enforcer of the Council's will

[edit] The Incunabulum

The body of rules that passes for law within the bounds of Nexus, the Incunabulum consists of thousands upon thousands of pages, all carefully indexed, as each new edict by a member of the Council of Entities must be checked against every previous entry, and any previous edicts that it contradicts are removed. It comprises the Dogma, the six unchanging rules of Nexus; its capital crimes, enforced by the Emissary; and the Civilities, the chaotic and ever-changing body of rules, great and small.

[edit] The Dogma

  • No taxes shall be raised, save by the council.
  • None shall obstruct trade.
  • None shall bring an army into Nexus.
  • No-one shall commit wanton violence.
  • None may falsely claim the council's name or sanction.
  • None shall harbour a fugitive from the council's wrath.

[edit] Organizations and Factions

[edit] The House of a Thousand Gems

One of the premier Courtesan Houses of Cinnabar, the House of a Thousand Gems is run by a woman who is called the Jewel-Matron and always has a personal name of a gemstone of some kind; currently, it is run by Jewel-Matron Opal. There are six Arts within the House, each one named for a gem. These Arts involve years of study and mastery, with those studying them adding the name of the gem to their own names (usually performance names, rather than altering their personal names). These Arts are:

  • The Sapphire Arts: Among the most prestigious and grueling of the Arts, Sapphire performers are also the most sought-after. These courtesans are best known as dancers and performers, drawing the eye and evoking passions through music. They are also known as skilled conversationalists - in many ways, their art is not a singular thing, but the art of entertainment as a whole, whether personal or for an audience. Though the vulgar often assume that the Sapphire courtesans are prostitutes, that is not the case - no patron may command their intimacy, though they have been known to grant it to those patrons whose company they genuinely enjoy.
  • The Emerald Arts: The Emerald courtesans are preeminent poets and authors, studying the arts of not simply composing with the written word, but of crafting that word in beautiful form. They are also the finest calligraphers and illuminatrices in the House of a Thousand Gems, and it has been in vogue for at least a generation now to have wills and other public proclamations read by one of the Emeralds.
  • The Diamond Arts: Diamond courtesans specialize in pleasing the ears not of mortals, but of the gods. They are well-known for their efficacious prayers and hymns, and many temples in Nexus hire choruses of Diamond courtesans to perform the prayers of their gods on festival days. They also are impressive religious historians, and many of them demonstrate a talent for writing new prayers.
  • The Ruby Arts: Passionate and brash are the Ruby courtesans, most of whom are actresses in the Nexus operas. These operas almost always tell tales of great deeds, stirring heroics and epic warfare, so the Ruby courtesans are known for their acrobatic arts that mimic flashy fighting arts. Their fight scenes, generally performed with the help of rope-rigs and other on-stage trickery, are always impressive and stirring to watch. Outside of the opera, Ruby courtesans are well-known for their fire-spinning, fire-dancing and theatric battle scenes played out for audiences, as well as complex acrobatic shows.
  • The Amethyst Arts: The Amethyst courtesans have a well-deserved reputation as mourners and memorialists, hired to make extravagant shows of grief at funerals, to sing dirges in praise of the dead and to write heartfeld homilies and memorials for them. It is almost unheard of for the funereal of a well-off individual in Nexus to not have one of the Amethyst courtesans, elaborately veiled, to see them onto the Black Barges.
  • The Onyx Arts: Fear and pain are the specialties of the Onyx courtesans, who specialize in elaborate domination and torture performance art and play. They are not prostitutes any more than their Sapphire sisters, though their services are in much demand by those who find sexual excitement in such. The Onyx Arts specialize in intimidation and the creation of an atmosphere of fear - some government and Guild officials have found that hiring an Onyx courtesan to terrorize and question a victim is at least as useful as hiring a professional torturer.

[edit] Martial Arts

  • Dedicates of the Ovanda Sutra: Originating in Great Forks, the Dedicates study the scriptures of the sex goddess Ovanda, who teaches that extreme indulgence is just as spiritually demanding as asceticism. All her monks study the Orgiastic Fugitive Style of martial arts. Her worship has proven popular, given the holy lovemaking techniques her Dedicates share with everyone at the holy brothel-temples established in her name in Nexus, Great Forks and along the Grey River.
  • Fight Clubs of Nexus: The rough streets of Nexus boast more than a few impromptu organizations meant to do one thing: hone the street fighting skills of its members. Sometimes the fights are for money, but only one thing is important - developing skill. These clubs are an excellent place to contact martial artists of a variety of different styles, among them Even Blade Style, Five Dragon Style, Jade Mountain Style and Seafaring Hero Style. But the style most commonly found - even more than all the others put together - is First Pulse Style, which was developed in Nexus.

[edit] Children of Transformation

One exceptional Wyld cult called the Children of Transformation has grown up around the Firewander district of Nexus. Remarkably, this cult has existed for almost a century, concealed by the anonymity provided by Nexus’s poorer districts. The cult members seek personal power through careful exposure to the Wyld. The cult’s founders learned the secrets of vision-questing and power-questing from ancient, forbidden books. Members use the power of the Firewander Wyld pocket to awaken their Essence and give themselves several discreet but useful poxes.

Unlike many such cults, the Children of Transformation have no interest in proselytizing. However, any person who uncovers their activities receives the choice of joining them or dying. People who join are taken into the Firewander district and forcibly transformed by a skilled power-quester. The new recruit is given at least one obvious but concealable mutation to ensure that he faces the same fate as the rest of the cult if he betrays it.

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