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Lilypits-0

Affectionately called The Lily Pits, the tail end of the behemoth that lies submerged is host to the slums and the shady underbelly of the city. The Lily Pits are below the water line and the heat and humidity from upper levels seems to be drawn here as if by magic. The ceiling grows sickly yellow stalactites, wood and food rot at increased rate and the air is thick with the stench of sewage. The place is built at certain places all the way up the ceiling that hangs a lot lower than in other districts, usually tinkered together from driftwood and clay brick. Many of the petrified walls remain untouched by magic and make the Pits into a labyrinthine maze where the appearance of a new building on one of the narrow alleys might mean a five minute detour to get where you were going.

The most defining aspect of the Lily Pits are the scrapers. The Augurs hire poor people to harvest the Essence-infused secretions from the petrified organs of the behemoth under strict surveillance, for the mysterious powers of the Essence humors cause distortions in magical beings and enchantments. These harvesting camps have a compulsory security check on both entry and leave and only those who’ve proved their trustworthiness over the years are spared an intrusive inspection. Still, smuggling even a finger’s worth of the rare behemoth dust from the harvesting camps is a lucrative opportunity that might let a resident move up to live in the Haunches with their family. The risk is high, though. Those who get caught are never heard of again.

The despair of the Lily Pits is almost tangible. Disease and infections are constant companions to its thousands of residents, not to mention the far more sinister and intelligent threats that lurk in its shadows. Demon cultists recruit or kidnap the careless, preparing midnight sacrifices for their dark masters for the promise of power and wealth. The rumors of a black fog that eats a man’s soul are countered by writing secrets onto tiny scrolls that are left by front doors so that the fog does not come to visit the houses at night. Even more alarmingly this seems to work, for in the morning those scrolls have burned to ash and the residents remain unharmed. Ordinary cutthroats and muggers lurk in the darkness as well, waiting to ambush easy marks. These robbers sometimes pour acid on the nuga-centipedes lighting certain alleyways to hide their presence, making the clap of hands to try wake the nuga of a dark path a commonplace sound in the Pits.

Tucked away next to one of the harvest camps is the Strategist’s Respite, a cramped game room filled with sweating elders too weary to work playing a lightning-speed version of Gateway while munching on roasted pistachio nuts. The proprietor is an overweight middle-aged man by the name of ”No-No Please”, for those seem to be the only words has picked up in Flametongue in all his years. Unknown to most, No-No is actually a former Guild enforcer, a directional champion of sumo wrestling and the bouncer of a secret tea house frequented by criminals, cultists and even Anathema.

The headquarters of the cult of Meherest are hidden away in the very tail end of the behemoth, led by a giant of a man who goes by the pseudonym Easy Dog. He wears colorful make-up on his eyes and lips and carries at least two hookahs on his back, their mouthpieces and tubes often slid through his large brass earrings to stay in place. His hair color and style change daily, as does his ostentatious attire that often mixes Dynast martial fashion with tribal islander themes. Meherest is a strange and uncommon demon and most sorcerers are not even sure of its circle. The only thing they are sure of is that Meherest loathes the idea of any other demon walking in Creation and commands its followers to find and slay them wherever they might rear their ugly heads. Easy Dog and his followers are more than happy to oblige, sometimes even cooperating with the Immaculate Order to do so. When asked how he feels about the Immaculate Order, Easy Dog often simply blows smoke at the asker’s face and smiles enigmatically.

One of the harvested substances is an ingredient for a drug called Amaranthine Behemoth Dust, commonly known as ”rant” in street trade. It is a type of calcified residue scraped from the secretions of the beast’s petrified livers and distilled into fine powder by the city’s sorcerous alchemists. The dust is a powerful narcotic that enhances the mental focus and physical prowess of its user for very short bursts while instilling a sense of overwhelming confidence. The drug is usually administered either by snorting or mixing the powder with liquids. Long-term use causes irreversible brain damage and internal bleeding, and there are rumors that even in moderation its users start experiencing hallucinations often taking the form of disembodied, paranoid whispers. Amaranthine Behemoth Dust is the invention of the powerful sorceress Nellens Juuka, the Grand Aruspex of the Hall of Aruspicy. Some whisper that House Nellens might be stockpiling the drug to empower an entire mortal army to match up to the might of the Realm’s other legions.