Voyage into Oblivion
…Lichden, that great golden city, seems to shine in the morning light. Though the usual people smells of shit and rot fill the air, still the city glows with a radiance unmatched anywhere else….
Lichden is the capital city of Zusamul, a country located within the continent of Iosco. Lichden is nestled in a valley between the Drakesmouth River and Mount Langren. Lichden is roughly translated as “valley of light.” It is the largest city in Iosco and is a major center of trade because of its location on the Drakesmouth River.
Before the rise of necromancy around 1200, Lichden was a modestly sized settlement. Trade was still important in Lichden in its early days; due to its proximity to the mountains, several mines were established near the city and ores and wood were sent to other towns downstream. During the Era of the Dead , however, Lichden’s population exploded. This was mostly owing to the fact that the prominent Brother Nathaniel , founder of the Church of Unity, found his faith on Mount Langren. As a result, Lichden became a safe haven. At first, Nathaniel struggled to fend off the hordes of dead. But as his faith grew and he gained more followers, Lichden became unpenetrable.
Lichden’s defenses against the revenants was strengthened when Nathaniel and his band of followers exhumed the dead in the graveyards within city limits and created a catacombs outside the city. As a result, no necromancer could create an army large enough to overtake the city from within, as had happened in other towns. Until the dead were fully eradicated in Zusamul, it was a prime location of residence because the presence of the Church of Unity ensured the safety of the citizens of Lichden.
After the Era of the Dead, Lichden continued to thrive. The Most Benevolent Johann directed the creation of a castle for the leadership of the Church of Unity along with a grand cathedral for public access. Both the cathedral (the House of Brotherhood) and the castle (Lichden Castle) remain standing to this day.
Though Zusamul was originally part of a monarchy, after the Era of the Dead when the king and queen were unceremoniously made into a revenant’s dinner, Zusamul became a theocracy. The Most Benevolant leader of the Church of Unity rules over Zusamul and resides in Lichden. Citizens of Zusamul come from far and wide to have their problems heard by the Most Benevolant ruler. The current ruler of Zusamul is the Most Benevolant Celestine, an austere man who believes ardently in the burning of heretics that refuse to reform.
There is not an organized police force in Lichden per se, though clerics do have the authority to punish wrongdoings against the Church of Unity. Petty crimes such as thievery are usually settled by a paid third party. If a stolen good is sold to a bank, the owner can buy it back for a nominal fee. There is also a guild of thieves that operates under the front of a “stolen goods return service” that will sell back the items they stole to their owner. Frequently, the group’s leader, Maggie Magpie, will seek out the victims personally to extract the guild’s return fee. Curiously, though most citizens are aware of this practice, Maggie Magpie’s band of thieves has never been caught. To keep under the radar, Maggie will sometimes turn in one or two of her poorer performing members. Thieves that are caught are branded on the face with a “T” and sentenced to years of hard labor at the mines in Mount Langren.
More serious crimes, such as murder, are usually taken on by bounty hunters that are hired by relatives of the victim. A large billboard with bounty postings is located near the center of town. Though the Church of Unity frowns upon retributive killing, they continue to allow the existence of the bounty board.
Crimes against the Church of Unity are taken very seriously. If someone is believed to be a heretic (as in, someone who does not follow Semevo), they are taken to the House of Brotherhood for Reunification and are branded with an “H” somewhere on their body depending on the seriousness of the heresy. A necromancer is likely to be branded on the face, for example. If the individual is a repeat offender, then they are publicly burned at the stake. Suspected practitioners of necromancy are not given the opportunity for a second chance and are burned at the stake after receiving a trial.
Finally, there is a force of archers and spearmen that guard the city. They are posted mostly around the city walls, though there is a large contingency surrounding the House of Brotherhood.