The First City
The First City, also known as the City of Glort is a mythical city located in The Fourth History of the First Fansus. Founded by the Hour themselves, it serves as a meeting place for the Hours and their agents.
The First City is officially the city of the Hours, but to the knowledge of historians one of the 30 have not stepped foot in it in centuries, likely to avoid inciting their peers. Instead, each Hour is content to send a an ambassador to speak in their stead, usually one of their most trusted Names or in the case of The Maker most trusted Long. Each Hour has embassies in the First City, but matters of city government as well as negotiations between Hours traditionally take place in The One Sanctum.
There were originally twenty-one ministers, but following the death of The Great Serpent, the loss of the 21st minister, and the arrival of nine new gods-from-nowhere, there are now twenty-nine ministers. The Gods-from-Nowhere are not acknowledged as "true" Hours, and so their place in the city is unclear. The representatives of most are considered unwelcome at the One Sanctum.
The do not convene their own convention against the One Sanctum within The Temple Nil. There is no Temple Nil.
In accordance with the Sacred Truce of the Serpent, physical conflicts between Hours are strictly prohibited, including those committed by proxy through battles between congregations. While the Hours tend to adhere to this rule, fights between mortals and Long of each Hour do sometimes occur on an individual basis without sanctioning, and are dealt with accordingly. Crime does exist, and is dealt with by the city guard and the Watchers, animate statues of The Bright-Delver.
The First City is unique in all the Histories as the only place where the existence of the Hours and the Mansus is openly acknowledged. In fact, many Long are open citizens of the city, and intermingle freely with mortals. Many Hours have temples here, and their worship is practiced openly. Except the Nowheres, whose worship is restricted to the Temple Nil, which does not exist.
Most citizens of the First City feel no reason to venture into the world outside. Those rare few that do are often shocked to see a world that not only lacks the supernatural occurrences that are commonplace, but does not acknowledge the existence of the gods at all.
Travel to the First City is easy, to those that know where to look. The city simply is, and mortals may come and go as they please. A protection has been placed on the city to protect it from the prying eyes of the Suppression Bureau and like-minded groups, although arguably the city's inhabitants and the Bright-Delver's creations would be enough on their own to repel any mundane invader. But while travel to the holy city is a relatively simple matter to those who know where to look, locals and servants of the Hours are notoriously protective of the holy sites of their gods, making detailed explorations into the demesnes of each Hour difficult. FNORD
- The One Sanctum- Meeting place of the 20 Ministers and the seat of government of the First City. Where the representatives of the Hours administer the justice of the gods, hear audiences, and settle disputes that occur between their patron Hours in either the Mansus or the other Histories.
- The Scarlet Queen- A gentleman's club of ill repute in the more high-end district of the City. Frequented by Long of numerous principles, the club caters to all manner of tastes, both refined and depraved. Rumored to be frequented by the Name of The Peacock with the most distinguished tastes.
- Heritage Valley- The gated community home to the devotees of Old Tarnished. As the Golden King's followers usually tend to be some sort of puritanical supremacist, they choose not to interact with the rest of the city in favor of living in a microcosm of the Golden Empire. St. Pizarro's Cathedral is at the center of the community, a gilded monstrosity of a church that towers over the surrounding buildings as a result of a feud between the Imperials and followers of the Apple-of-the-Eye. Both churches are convinced they serve the more glorious Hour, and as a result are constantly expanding and "beautifying" their respective temples in an effort to outdo the other.
- The Temple Nil- Everyone in the first city will tell you: there is no Temple Nil. It is not the hidden church of the Gods from Nowhere. It does not manifest when the clock strikes midnight. It is not where the acolytes of the forbidden gods in the underbelly of the city gather to commune with their masters. It is not where the Nine Emissaries of Nowhere meet to coordinate their efforts against the One Sanctum. They do not disclose forbidden knowledge those who manage to seek them out. You should not investigate this.
- The Bounty Office- The local outpost of the Ferryman's bounty-hunters from The Collections Office. Assists in hunting down and exterminating dangerous Mansus creatures that occasionally get loose on the city's underbelly, as well as bringing in rebellious Long. As a separate organization from the city watch and the Watchers, they can sometimes be hired for private security or muscle, as long as they're not involved in any sort of theft.
- The Guard Headquarters- Exactly what it says on the sign, typical of a place where the Wyrmspeaker spends the majority of their time. If a crime has been done, or a menace needs to be put down, this is where citizens go. Annoyed restaurant managers sometimes can be found here, reprimanding the Anaconda's representative for their habit of dining and ditching, if the managers are lucky enough to find them and bold enough to scold them.
- The Department of Home Affairs- The Department is where the much of the everyday drudgery that comes with a place like the First City is done. It doubles as a temple to The Vizier, the Hour of order and paperwork. In his name they record all that goes on in the City, no matter how insignificant it may be. From rain to dirt to relics, if it passes through or happens in the First City, a record can be found in the Department's archives.
The Twenty Ministers
The masters of the First City, Representatives and usually Emanations of the Hours. The minister of the Great Serpent once held seniority over the others, but vanished following the Segmentation of the Serpent.
- Jonquil represents The Apple-of-the-Eye. He doesn't seem to care much, but he gives out citizenships and architectural positions like cheap cigars. Occasionally, something will catch his interest, and he will demand his Hour have it. His adamant position of support for the Assemblage of Holy Vessels is largely secondhand.
- The Wyrmspeaker represents the Anaconda. It's unclear whether this was a mercy or a punishment for them. It appears that their orders are primarily to keep the other Ministers in line, something which they are more than capable of performing. The Wyrmspeaker never provides citizenship, but does manage the city guard along with FNORD. The Wyrmspeaker was once sanctioned for biting.
- Actia represents The Bright-Delver. Her duties are that of mediator and peacekeeper, as well as assisting the upkeep and maintenance of the city. After Jonquil, she is the most likely to offer newcomers duties and citizenship, although those who take her offers often find themselves working harder and longer. She has never ventured into The Temple Nil, of course.
- The Harvester is nominally represented by the Maw-of-Thousands. It, despite the name, is a rather harmless little automaton, a short little cylindrical machine who was once the Harvester's pride, built as a smaller version of itself, to devour that which was below its notice. It inherited its father's belligerence but none of its might, and eventually its father abandoned it in disgust and sent it as an envoy to the First City to show his contempt for the City. This turned into a blessing when the Harvester's madness grew and it devoured all its minions, but the Maw. Despite its attempts to recall the Maw, its lack of an envoy at the City apart from the Maw renders that impossible. The little Maw was the minister Elaine was sanctioned for biting.
- The Chancellor represents The Vizier. The First City is one of the few places that acknowledge the Vizier as an Hour, though the carefully constructed fiction regarding the Peacock is given lip service in public. They have a reputation as a canny negotiator, working to maintain what little direct influence their master has in the Mansus. The Chancellor is assisted by Leo, his aide-de-camp. Leo doesn't say much to the other Ministers, but he'll often be seen whispering some pertinent fact into the Chancellor's ear.
- Officially, the Young Man is The Peacock's Minister. In reality, while Romeo is charismatic enough to give a decent performance, he lacks the focus to actually perform any duties of note. He does however oversee the city's holidays as the Master of Ceremonies, where he does an exceptional enough job working the crowds he maintains a devout following despite his flaws.
- Hamelink represents The Diagram. He is only mortal, but he possesses enough understanding of the Diagram to approximate optimal actions. He befriends people easily, makes enemies only reluctantly, and always knows what tea to serve to a dear guest. Every few months, he will push for a tax of love stories from incoming visitors. He is busy with matters of mortality and inheritance. He lacks children.
- The Silver Regent is the representative of the Golden King. Originally the Golden King's representative in The Golden Empire, the Regent's failure in the campaign of FNORD resulted in his retirement to "a position of honor" as the King's representative. He advocates for the rights of human citizens, and contributes to the training of the city watch in the hopes of suppressing the literal monsters lurking in the city's underbelly.
- The Pale Lady is the representative of The Ferryman. A target of frequent assassination attempts, it only made sense to appoint her to an office that came with the bonus of the protection of the Great Serpent's truce. She oversees fair trade and the collection of the Hours' tithe. However, with compassion uncharacteristic to a Long -let alone a long of the Dolomedes- contribute the lion's share of the tribute owed to her to charitable causes, foremost among them maintaining the temples of the The Anvil and The Maker. It is for her past and her continued good deeds she is one of the most popular minsters, despite her current master.
- The Cuckoo is represented by the Skin-Tailor, a massive humanoid insect. In his mortal life, he was a charlatan and social climber that enjoyed leeching off the fame and status of others. The Tailor continues this trend by being at the foreground of the city's fashion and fine dining crowds. He's also a honest, upstanding investor who has aided in the startup of numerous businesses around the First City. Pay no mind to the fact most of those businesses were eventually revealed to be scams. No one can prove he was in any way aware of that fact. No one alive, that is.
- The Engine of Cycles is represented by the Mark 2 Version of the Humanoid Interaction Module. The Engine is change, improvement and upgrade, and not even it is exempt from its own power. One day, it hopes this will be part of it. For now, this vat-grown cyborg represents the Engine in Shesha. When it came, it was awkward, functioning as a stereotypical robot in social interactions, but its nature built into it by its creator and the thing it would replace was to grow and learn. Now, it smiles, and it thinks, and it schemes and it plots and it speaks with so charming a tongue! Surely something like this would never be an appendage of something hostile
- The Architeuthian is represented by Father Douglas, a being not quite mortal, but not quite Long. It is believed that the Squid shaped him specifically for this purpose. While many know the Squid for his ruthlessness and intolerance of treachery, Father Douglas strives to teach others of the benevolence and glory of the Dweller in the Depths. He preaches of the immense catalogs of knowledge within the Aquarium, of the lessons taught to those dedicated to Him, of the beautiful changes He can bring. While the Hours and their servants are forbidden from warring with each other in the First City, Father Douglas's mass sermons serve a similar purpose, attempting to build an 'army' of sorts in service of the Architeuthian within the First City itself.
- The Meatgrinder's representative is The Shopkeep. A formerly human long who pledged himself to the Meatgrinder. In his endless transformations by the Meatgrinder, he eventually set upon a form that he enjoyed more than any other. A short, elderly-but-plum gentleman wearing a butcher's apron - anchored into his shop by his feet, which merge with the ground. Huge hunks of meat hang from the walls around him, unclear what form of livestock they came from, and grow back rather quickly when they are sliced from the wall and purchased. The meat is delicious but unidentifiable, and the walls of the Shopkeep do seem to sweat and grow, in harmony with the Meatgrinder's condition.
- The Snow-Stained is represented by the Chair-Leg, a seemingly inanimate bit of repurposed furniture. Its attendant, a scholar by the name of Andriff, insists that it is as sapient as the Bully's Stick itself, and that it's just very difficult for anyone to understand what it's saying. For the most part, the attendant speaks for the chair leg. Many political observers suggest that this choice of representative is a deliberate insult on the Stick's part, both to the council itself and to the so-called "new school" of occult scholasticism, which Andriff belongs to.
- The Caladrius represents themself with FNORP
- FNORT, FNORD's cousin twice removed
- FNORE, FNORT's best friend and FNORD's former roommate.
The Nine Emissaries of Nowhere
The Nowheres are not acknowledged by the proper Hours. That does not stop their influence from being felt even here, and they have sent their emissaries to represent them, even if none care to listen. For now.
- The Prince represents The Insidious in all matters of politicking. He is a canny manipulator, uniting the Hours from nowhere as often as he sets them against each other for political gain. He doesn't mind that the Nine Emissaries aren't yet recognised in the city, instead taking advantage of the situation in order to create a network of Long spies. The time will come for The Prince and those who stand with him.
- With Romeo incapable of performing any real government role, the The Lady in Red is the closest the Peacock has to an official Emissary to Shesha. The Lady spends little time in the city, but secretly owns numerous prestigious high-end salons and gentlemen's clubs in a bid to slowly corrupt the city's most influential Long to the side of the Peacock.
- The Deep-Venturer represents the Snake-Tail with Appendages The Deep-Venturer was once a human until one day, it retroactively never was but what it is. In the Tail's service, it immersed itself deep in Nowhere, changing to something alien, even by the standards of the Snake-Tail's minions, who look upon it with unease. It ventured far below the depths of the Temple Nil, seeking deeper darkness and greater openings until it emerged. It shared its patron's distaste of reality and it was due to this that its patron assigned it to this little outpost of Nowhere. Some whisper that this show of benevolence however is just a front and the Venturer is tainted, strange, and warped enough that even the Tail recoils at it. Those people are very quickly erased. But it is true that despite its comfort in Nowhere, the Tail only sends messages to the Venturer by courier...
- The Germane represents the Mendicant Without: The Mendicant Without appoints no representative, and cares little for the affairs of the First City, yet its chair is not vacant. Ever the last to arrive and the first to stand, the Diffuse who styles himself the Germane never misses a meeting. Possessed of mirth, energy and passion unbounded, he acquires opinions and discards positions as suits his mood. There is more to him, of course, but, as he'll tell you, he's not here to talk about himself.
- The Muck Heels represents The Stomping Sands. The Stomping Stands speaks no mortal words and bears no mortal body, yet in the Temple Nil gather stray footprints that bear his oppressive tread. Unlike the common treads of the Rising Pulse, these leave a marked inky blackness that fills their prints. It is unclear if these are even emissaries at all or the Sands itself, but the prints do not change and the sound of their march does not cease. With them its will is made clear to those who match their beat, it wishes to hunt unending, to stomp unending, and it asks only that all join its stride.