Please find attached a first draft of the introduction to Traveler’s Handbook: Hellsport. I anticipate your comments and criticism, but bear in mind that I mean no insult–I believe that I qualify my criticisms of the consistent obesity of the rulers. They are leeches, one way or another. Perhaps I should work that image into the rewrite.
Vannilisp Tar, Traveler
Hellsport: An Overview
Reasonable travelers do not come to Hellsport. Respectable citizens of the Southlands have no reason to visit Hellsport. Hellsport: the name is enough to ward away the sane. This is by design, and the design is formed by the action of history.
This salted city on the westernmost finger of Cammaris wasn’t always exactly this way: corrupt, eaten, pillaged by a cabal of fat wizards. But one does not speak this way of the rulers of Hellsport–no, they are the Princes of Hellsport, formerly the Princes of Wedgewood, formerly students of Wedgewood Academy, when such a place existed except in name.
I’ve been to Hellsport. Before it was Hellsport, when it was Jannyn, a city consecrated to Paltin and governed by the Paltinian Virtuous Codes. And it was stuffy, and the bells rang at every hour, then fell silent at dusk, and the Dark Patrollers came on duty and curfew was imposed at the rising of the Six Sisters every night except for the sixes.
Jannyn then, Hellsport now, is a city of superstitions. I’ve been to Hellsport since the Princes have instated themselves. I’ve witnessed the reversals: from discipline to debauchery, from sanctimoniousness to sacrilege. But the superstitions stay: the power of numbers, the selling of charms in the streets, the prayer beads and fasting and blood sacrifice and cannibalism–it’s all of a piece, you see. Superstition, stupidity, and nowhere is the light of reason. No science as you see in the colleges of Nocren, Badtisof, and the southeast Cammarisian cities now that the Iba Divide has been bridged. No technology.
An abundance of superstition. But I am being unkind, for superstition is fertile ground for breeding power. And Hellsport, formerly Jannyn, craves power. The city itself does: the citizens, bent with holy books or salacious with vampiric dreams, decline themselves to empower their rulers.
And notice how the rulers have always been fat–not in a healthy way, not in a way that suits the powerful or beautiful, but in a corrupt, uncontrolled way. The Priests of Paltin and their figureheads were never robust. The so-called Princes of Hellsport hide their bulk in shadows and indigo robes. This is pompous bulk, excess in excess of excess. And one wonders; for all their proclamations, mere blood and bone and essence of shadestuff could not stuff them so. I think they are eating their citizens.
I’ve been to Hellsport. I’ve survived, but I’m famous and benefit from a level of social immunity. I’ve seen the princes and, as a child, saw the priests. They do not interest me, so let me set them to the side.
Let us visit Hellsport and mingle with the unfortunate citizenry, the poor souls and fools. But not all are poor; perhaps most are not fools after all. People live in Hellsport; they struggle and laugh and work, play, love, and rest, despite the dour political climate and the tyranny of gluttons. How much superstition holds them? And how long can superstition hold? Let us consider.