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Necropolis: Oakley, Kansas

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  • Necropolis: Oakley, Kansas

    I was poking around the labyrinth of my files the other day and realized I had a few necropoli that I'd never used for anything. I figured the Halloween season would be an appropriate time to share them with the three of you who still read this forum.

    Enjoy.

    - C.


    Oakley, Kansas

    Under a leaden sky, the West Kansas Shadowlands stretch beyond sight. No Sunless Sea kisses this shore; the Great Plains Tempest is an unending swath of tinder-dry grass and mold-blackened grain. Maelstroms here are horizon-to-horizon scythes of dust in the hands of angry Rocky Mountain winds, tornadoes that moan out the Labyrinth's hunger, or cold wildfires devouring all before them. Every working of humanity reflected in the Underworld is tiny, exposed, isolated, vulnerable beneath the perpetual clouds.

    When wraiths speak of Necropoli, they speak of the world's great cities. But people die in small towns, too. Oakley is archetypal of the rural Necropoli that dot the Hierarchy's map (when it bothers to put them on the map), a tight-knit and tradition-bound collection of wraiths watching over their mortal legacies and families.

    Oakley holds 2,000 living residents, a number that's held steady for more than a half-century. It sits at the junction of three counties, and 90% of their land is agricultural, making it the local economic and social hub. Where the Quick gather, so do the dead, and the Fick Fossil and History Museum and City Library in Bertrand Park is the occasionally-beating heart of Oakley's wraithly scene (though Enfants prefer the less-formal atmosphere of Don's Rainbow Drive-In). The Fick is the town's nominal Citadel, though it's neither well-reinforced nor defensible; most wraiths prefer to hunker down in residential storm cellars when the weather turns.

    Theoretically, Oakley is a Hierarchy Necropolis. In practice, the only local wraiths who take Hierarchy citizenship seriously are the grizzled "Anakerns" of the governing triumverate: Ora Spellmeyer (d. 1884, complications from a bullet acquired in the War Between the States), Benito Escarrá (d. 1925, drunkenly fell into Gove County's first self-propelled combine harvester), and Lilac Atteberry (d. 1908, married beneath her station to a husband who poisoned her to inherit her family's ranch). They hold Citadel meetings on the first Monday night of every month, enforcing Robert's Rules of Order with a formality that Stygia's most punctilious parliamentary popinjay could not surpass. No military garrison exists, but the artifact air raid siren atop Logan County Hospital can summon the militia from thirty miles around, and there's no shortage of relic hunting rifles and wraiths who grew up putting meat on the table with them.

    Outside these rusty mechanisms of empire, wraithly existence is a matter of individual interests. The Dictum Mortuum is a dead letter – indeed, many ghosts here don't actually know what it is, only that the Anakerns pound their fists on it when someone does something they don't like. Restless think nothing of reaching across the Shroud to counsel their mortal descendants, keep the family farm in the black, or discourage the wrong sort of visitors from staying. This isn't to say that hauntings are overt; wailing, chain-dragging materializations are Just Not Done. Proper Midwestern Protestant sensibilities require subtlety and discretion. Feuds can stretch on for generations, though, and the smaller the stakes, the more vicious the tactics.

    On the mortal side of the equation, this cultural heritage means families simply don't talk about the ghost in the old farmhouse to outsiders, and even their private conversations are oblique. Consequently, few residents and exactly zero outsiders realize the full extent of local ghostly influence. The second sight runs in the Logan County MacDaniels family, probably from their Wazhazhe (Osage) werelynx blood, but they just nod knowingly and respectfully when they pass a ghost on the street. Dr. Susanna Hogarth is the new minister at Oakley Wesleyan Church, and with the aid of two predecessors who haunt her parsonage, she's counseling several families through trouble with ghosts who can't adapt to modern times. The kids in the high school history club have been close to the truth for about a decade, but the most dangerously perceptive seniors always get convenient full-ride scholarships to out-of-state colleges.

    Because Oakley's wraiths have been haunting the city and surrounding plains for so long, they've become very, very good at it. Any Hierarchy official worth his mask would have zombie kittens if he saw the practices that have become ubiquitous here. Every Restless is adept in at least one or two Arcanoi that violate the Shroud. Moreover, several arts unique to the region enable wraiths to possess animals, affect plants and weather, and inhabit buildings or tracts of land. Practitioners don't realize how rare these talents are or how much attention they would attract if word got out.

    Outsiders arriving in Oakley find a gracious, if reserved, welcome, provided they don't bring trouble with them. A lack of local Fetters means few strangers settle down here (most recently the Alchemists who moved into the old grain silos on the north side to experiment with the Underworld ergot that grows on the local Tempest-wheat). Should the Hierarchy take an unkind interest in Oakley, it would find surprisingly aggressive resistance, not least from the Anakerns who won't take kindly to big-Necropolis bureaucrats telling them how to run their town.


    Clayton A. Oliver | Formerly Ubiquitous

    When the half-light starts to rise/And the long gone come back again
    After the shortcuts and the highs/Comes the pain
    And the rain

  • #2
    Interesting why did you chose the city of Oakley? Is there any interesting things you found out about it.

    Comment


    • #3
      Geography and size, mainly. I wanted a small Midwestern or Great Plains city that the Hierarchy wouldn't have a lot of reason to be interested in.

      Also, it amused me because it's pretty close to the fictional location of Jericho, Kansas.

      - C.


      Clayton A. Oliver | Formerly Ubiquitous

      When the half-light starts to rise/And the long gone come back again
      After the shortcuts and the highs/Comes the pain
      And the rain

      Comment

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