The History of Uncity

Uncity is as old as time itself. The precise date when it was built of course can never be known, but for as long as death has existed, so too has Uncity. Who built it too is a matter of conjecture, and one which has caused religious conflagrations across Bratsk’s history. In a sense then, Uncity has no history of which to speak, since it is in a very real sense timeless, the obverse side to life. But in the stones that make up its streets and buildings, the billions of souls that have stayed here, walked here, and moved on from here, the city is a part of history too, the ultimate setting against which the purgatory of their present and the judgement of their future has played out. Every being that has ever lived and died has resided here at some point; for some, their sojourn through Uncity lasted a matter of days, whilst for others, it is a question of decades, if not centuries. Quite how the Court of the Abiding Veil decides who remains and who passes on is not known—it is a mystery which only the Lords of the Court are privy to. Kings and queens, noble leaders and common folk, those destined for greatness and those destined for the ordinary—none of that matters in Uncity. Each soul here is worth precisely as much as another, which is to say, not a penny. Uncity is the great leveler, the apostate of difference and hierarchy. Before the law, each soul’s deeds in life are the only things that carry weight. The tyrant and the pauper meet in the streets as precisely equals, and the ambition, desire, and striving that marked the character of their morality in life no longer has any relevance. Only death can establish such equality, and it is only as a soul within the walls of Uncity that one truly understands this.

It is true that one day is much the same as any other in Uncity. The events of the Tumult however, which took place in 1519 and lasted approximately nine months, temporarily changed all of that. In a way, the daemons of the Seventh Gate that entered Uncity shook it from timeless torpor and plunged it into crisis and chaos, the essential ingredients to the production of history. The reasons for the Tumult have been explained elsewhere, but what has not been illustrated are the events of those nine months. The daemons that broke through were not as souls had imagined they would be, nor what the religious authorities had anticipated in any of their holy works littered across Bratsk. Human in body, in speech, and in character, there was nothing to distinguish the devils from ordinary souls. Only, of course, this was a mere disguise, one affected by an insatiable hunger known only to the beasts of the afterlife.

And the daemons played their role well. Within a month of realising they weren’t about to be disemboweled or eaten alive, the souls of Uncity soon became used to the daemons’ presence. Within two months it was hard to distinguish who was soul and who was fiend. The devils insinuated themselves within the community of souls, lived amongst them, passed the long, starless evenings together, shared secrets with them, spoke intimately to them. Soon, many souls felt these so called daemons were, quite frankly, more preferable companions than some of their neighbours and work colleagues.

It started with mischievous whispers, initiated by the devils but designed to set soul against soul. A rumour, a slur, a slight, a religious or racial comment—the daemons knew what it took to sow the seed of discord among humans and turn upon each other. And it didn’t take much. Whispers and slights turned to openly spoken words of animosity, words to action, action to conflict and social disturbances. Betrayals, denunciations, spitefulness, retribution—how little it required for souls to hate each other as much as they had in life. Any self-improvement or ‘soul searching’ folk had achieved in Uncity in preparation for their departure through the Gates came swiftly undone. And the daemons never intervened. They didn’t need to. They lit the spark that caused the fire, providing a context, a justification, for the sinfulness native to the heart of humans—their weakness, their fear, their prejudice.

Within four months of the daemons’ arrival, the Warden’s Prelacy was unable to control entire sectors of the city. The Disciplinarium became dangerously full until, aided by their daemon friends, prisoners openly revolted, tore down the walls of their cells, and broke out, spilling into the city to join the river of chaos drowning the city. After half a year, Uncity was alight with anarchy, each day testimony to the fact that even in death humans were incapable of real change. They were unrepentant for the deeds they had committed in life. They must have been, for they repeated them all here once again. Attacks, reprisals, abuses of all kinds; Uncity became a mirror image of events in Bratsk and the war that waged between Blood Neprev and the Sakr. Marauding groups of vigilantes rooted out those they despised and threw them through the Seventh Gate, extrajudicial executions that made a mockery of the Court and the Veil. If they could have committed murder, they no doubt would have, but since souls could not die—at least not in the traditional sense—they contented themselves with beatings, torture, and enslavement. And those who refused to fight back? Who were essentially good in life and remained so now? They went the same way as all victims.

In essence, for a period of three months, the souls of Uncity did the daemons’ work without the latter ever having to lift a finger. By the time the fiends returned through the Seventh, taking with them chain-gangs of souls the length of the city itself, over a million souls had been summarily executed by their own kind, turfed out of Uncity and jettisoned through the Seventh Gate. Another half a million or so were led through by the retreating daemons, who, sensing the power of the Veil beginning to restore itself, quit Uncity and returned to their natural habitat, the afterlife of The Daemon’s Pleasure.

After the rapture, all eyes turned to the Justicer who oversaw the transmigration of souls through the Gates-Lauretrec. He was to blame, for over the past one hundred years it had been him, and no other, who had had executive control over the Court. A rebellion of sorts took place, led by a savant of the time, Moimir, who for the first time in recorded history did away with the notion of the Seven, and turned justice into a bureaucratic machine in which justice was dispensed via a number of tiered institutes. Whilst more accurate and far less prone to abuse, the system caused other problems. The gears of the new system were slow to work, meaning that more souls remained at any one time in Uncity, leading to overpopulation and terrible conditions. This in turn caused social unrest within Uncity.

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