Rise of the Fallen
The metropolis of Corso is enormous, with a population of over 500,000. The city also hosts the Tower of Reconciliation, home to the self-proclaimed empress of the Nightland— Nulumriel—as well as the Order of Reconciliation. Despite the dragon’s presence and supposed rule over all the Nightland, sometimes Corso and the metropolis of Cryserech engage in brief conflicts over squabbles among feuding nobles, which are more than skirmishes, but less than all-out war.
Corso’s architecture is grand and imposing. The city is composed of two main sections. The raised portion is known as High Corso by locals. On this upper tier, nobles keep palatial fortresses near the city’s center, around the Tower of Reconciliation.
Black stonework columns, arches, colonnades, domes, and spires are everywhere, as are high lamps that burn with bright red flames and provide illumination. The main streets are raised on those same stonework columns and arches, as well as by massive sculptures carved to resemble great beasts bearing the load. In addition to those, Corso is famous for its many sculptures of dark stone scattered here and there (and relief carved onto walls and buildings) depicting seraphs or other divine entities. Often the sculptures stand 20 feet (6 m) or more in height, and are incorporated into surrounding structures. The sculptures have endured since the original founding of the city, which some suggest may have been well before the Divine Age, because few know exactly which dead gods the sculptures are supposed to depict. Some of the sculptures are warlike, others shockingly lewd, and still others sprawled as if enduring ultimate heartrending grief.
The people of Corso, in their fashionable long dark coats, scarves, and tall hats (accompanied as often as not by personal slaves in simple grey robes), take the main roads. only fools risk a run through the slum wards beneath. Foot traffic is thick, but elephant-borne carriages and buffalo-drawn hansoms are also common. An elephant carriage can reach most destinations in High Corso for just a couple of moons.
LIFE IN CORSO
Perhaps it’s Nulumriel’s presence that makes Corso a place where depravity— torture, cruelty, and public executions—is almost always visible along the wide, raised city streets lit by flickering red lamps. Those who anger the wrong noble can expect reprisals, harassment, or even lifelong enslavement. What was previously (before the Fall) considered illegal, immoral, and despicable is now permitted in Corso, if the appropriate indulgence is paid. Seraphs of sin, nefar, and lesser dragons sometimes walk the streets, and are not attacked by guards of the City Watch on sight. Likewise, slavery, public sacrifice, and torture are all permitted, if the indulgences are paid to the City Watch.
The degree to which another individual is inconvenienced sets the indulgence amount, but if the fee is paid (and such fees are often paid in advance), the act is not considered criminal not paying the fee becomes the only unlawful behavior. The City Watch enforces what few laws exist, and more importantly, the payment of fees. Often, City Watch enforcement includes protecting slavers from itinerant do-gooders, guarding legally paid public torture events, and executing enemies of the city (of course, “enemy” of the city is a murky concept that can be defused with enough coin).
As might be expected, indulgence fees are ultimately collected by Nulumriel, who pays them back out as bribes to keep her empire afloat.
Regular citizens are not usually targeted as victims. Mostly, victims are selected from visitors without connections, and from the lower classes who have the sad misfortune to inhabit the slum wards of Low Corso. These desperate souls are considered a resource by slavers and others who have a use for living bodies. They live in fear of being legally acquired during raids.