“On the Issue of the Black Canals” by Aldo Borgia, Amyrian noble
Allory’s sewers were the metaphorical birth of the Black Canals, created in a great feat of engineering and infrastructure in order to minimize the impact disease had on many of those in the city. Finding its importance first and foremost as a meeting ground for rebels under the guidance of Amelia Fomeux, it eventually evolved into a home for societal outcasts as whole in time; the lowest of the low scavenged here for treasures among the trash discarded to the undercity. Today, it holds a great diverse population under the noses of the oppressive Amyrian government, collaborating with moles in the city guard and military to avoid the law like the plague. Disease runs rampant due to poor living conditions, though these people form a tight-knit, caring community, unlike the residents of Butcher’s Block, which has a reputation for being much more violent and cutthroat.
Originally the sewers built by the city of Allory, the Black Canals are on the antiquated side, though have since seen expansion and repair over the years. Their origin lies hundreds of years ago in the construction of Allory, building an expansive webbing of underground canals and narrower tunnels, as well as grand cisterns to house water and keep the above city cleaner. It was constructed over years, with initial tunneling, mining and cutting into rock with mere tools, though in later years, explosives were used to expedite the process. It remained largely unpopulated at first, but in the years preceding the Great Convergence, Amelia Fomeux’s band of societal outcasts would often crop up underneath the city of Allory in what would eventually be named the Black Canals.
Here, some of her rebels would plot while traveling to different locations of the city in a quicker manner by using these tunnels, whose winding expanses became very familiar to them. They used these tunnels to have secret meetings, and to move people around in secret. In the year of 205-E3, large groups of rebels emerged under Amelia Fomeux’s instruction, and would assist her in the process of burning down the Port of Allory and making off in the Amyrian Armada’s ships. The process repeated of rebels climbing up ladders to the surface and carrying out raids of the city of heightening extremities, until the Human Convergence finally took place. The city crumbled, however the sewers remained largely intact, leading to the increase of population beyond rebels to include mere citizens seeking refuge, including a sizable group of Riverfolke who had assisted in the great act of arson. Thus, the Black Canals were born in name and population, which remained steady throughout the years, acting as a grouping of societal outcasts, rebels, and simple scavengers.
At the center of interlinking sewage systems underneath the city of Pallomaire, a grand cistern arches, enough to host an entire population of scavengers and criminals escaping their pasts. Boats float amongst the sewage and rubbish, pushing them aside as they row along and weave between the great pillars hoisting up the ceiling. These pillars are oddly ornate in design, with ridges embedded, and statuettes hosting them, though they are darkened and streaked with brown hues from decay and age. They are often adorned in contrast with bright, whimsical graffiti, and clothes lines are drawn from pillar to pillar, proof of human life teeming underground. Expansive grates on the ceiling allow light and rain to trickle in, the sound of footsteps and talking of those lucky enough to call the surface their home echoing down into the crowded cistern below.
Although the cistern is the predominant center of the pseudo-district’s population, man-made subterranean canals expand outwards into the sewage system, with lower ceilings and occasional divots in the walls are mined into little caverns for people to call their home. These little holes in the wall are unreliable places to live, however, and often cave in, otherwise collapse, or even flood during great storms, sometimes all at once, leading to an untimely demise. The piles of rubble that follow are often looted, as the Black Canals gets its primary reputation from its scavengers of trash. Even the clothes the demised wear are stripped and reused or sold.
Although the cutthroat nature of Pallomaire as a whole holds true, the people themselves are prone to living communally, albeit competitively. Little violence is found and the area exists as something of a neutral zone between gangs, though anyone spotted with valuables openly are at risk for muggings. Overall, the inhabitants of the Black Canals primarily exist as an eccentric sort, magically inclined and artifact driven. They have a sense of unity for being ostracized from society, whether it be due to a criminal past, a mutated appearance, an affinity for the occult, etcetera. However, plenty are not bound to purely the underground, and some of those who can pass more successfully as a pious Amyrian travel upwards to spy on the guards who occasionally send patrols down below. Thus, the Black Canals remain safe and aware of any incoming soldiers and guards seeking for any sign of ‘misguided’ individuals, thievery, and illegal or exotic substances and even animals smuggled in through sewer entrances. When word spreads of an incoming group of officials, the cistern and attached canals fall silent, all inhabitants steering their vessels to secret alcoves in the maze of tunnels.
Points of Interest
- Chaloupe Doente: Oddly enough, the Black Canals are host to a semi-healthy Riverfolke population, and upon this barge dubbed the Chaloupe Doente, many of these Swamptongue-speakers call their home. Despite the limited space in the cistern and canals, this barge is captained by one skilled Riverfolke capable of steering the boat in tight spaces, though often it remains anchored. Open to all and with friendly hosts, many celebrations find themselves held upon this barge, nights of revelry common with music and the stench of stemweed clinging to the air.
- Ovidia’s Laundry: Although it maintains a front cleaning clothing that is frequently soiled and dirty due to the location in the sewers, this dive into the cistern’s wall, behind a tightly sealed door, is a basement filled with the stench of Priest’s Breath stemweed and opium, as well as other illicit substances. Although most know of its secret, it retains its front as to easily hide from incoming guard patrols.
- Kay Bèt: Cages stacked on top of each other almost seem to threaten this boat to sink. Exotic animals within these cages emit strange noises, attributing only further to the dense sound that fills the Black Canals. Beasts of ranging sizes sourced from all over the world and smuggled in, Kay Bèt is the boat that carries these creatures through the canals to contribute to the illegal pet trade. Originally manned by Riverfolke, now a great range of folk care for these animals and stealthily maneuver the boat through the undercity to illicitly trade with Pallomaire’s eccentric collectors. Biologists, nobles, zoos and even universities are frequent customers.
- Tacitus Trench: A great pit mined into the walls of a canal marks the location of this mass grave, and without the space for even as much as a simple coffin, the deceased are thrown in, disheveled and eyes still open from the moment of death. Despite the risk of disease and sickening stench emanating from the area, it is common for these bloated bodies to be trudged through and searched for jewelry and the like.
- Novarum Hall: Secluded and in decay, this hall has seen new use by rebels collaborating underneath the surface of Pallomaire, as is tradition for this cavernous room within the black canals. After all, it predates the newer city of Pallomaire, and finds its origin in the sewers of the city of Allory, where the Val’korei and others would plot just below the noses of those higher up, both literally and figuratively.
- It is rumored that a powerful necromancer roams the undercity, though his face is never shown; instead, his subservient corpses act as treasure collectors for the man, hauling back goods to wherever the man may lurk. This mystery has grown to such prominence that a superstition has emerged surrounding unusually droll individuals, often dubbed the necromancer’s lackeys due to the belief that they are mere unliving husks of men.
- Traversing through the undercity is a sizable group of massive rats, proving to be quite the hostile force. Often, their numbers are so grand that they form rat kings, a conglomeration of rats intertwined together in knots by their tails, which scuttle along erratically before eventually starving to death or being put out of their misery by the residents of the Black Canals. Eventually, when one looks into the depth of the dark waters of these tunnels, they may find a rat king sunken to the bottom, tails still twined to one another.
- Although Amelia Fomeux was never recorded seen under the city of Allory in what preceded the title of the Black Canals, it is rumored that she, with her great navigational skills, was the one who mapped out the sewage system herself for her group of rebels that collaborated with her from the enemy’s location. To this day, the map still exists- however outdated it may be, it is reliable enough as a baseline.
Affiliation: Amyrian Empire
Still in Use: Y/N
Accessible To: Impoverished commoners of Pallomaire