"Freygate, The Risen Collective"
Located between the cities of Rook and Oriar, Freygate is a densely populated city just large enough to warrant the term. Previously a somewhat xenophobic city that didn’t wish to deal with Rook, it’s fortunes were changed when a group of prominent heroes stumbled upon a plot that saw upwards of 67,000 people die, rendering the city a veritable wasteland of flesh. Abandoned by it’s former government and ruler, the site was visited and subsequently taken over by a charismatic individual by the name of Tharrus. Under his rule the city has practically been brought back to life, with supposedly all the denizens of Freygate having their natural place due to most roles being appointed to the citizens by the bureaucracy maintained by Tharrus. This system is clearly not without it’s faults, and through the cracks there exists a sizable and ever growing number of citizens without any clear role, increasingly preying upon travellers or seeking their fortunes elsewhere.
A sizable number of Dhampir dwell within Freygate, created by Tharrus from the remnants of the previous population from earlier times. By far the most common of the denizens within the city, the Dhampir tend to look somewhat like the Nosferatu of old due to a quirk of Tharrus’ aesthetic preferences. Nevertheless they vary widely in terms of personality and approach, with most having only fragmentary and often conflicting memories of their past life, or lives in some cases. These Dhampir are the ones most likely to openly interact with visitors and travel the trade routes, due to generally looking the most ‘human’.
The rest of Freygate’s population is filled with a bewildering array of both corporeal and incorporeal undead - experiments from Tharrus to create undead with a sentience of their own, rather than simply enslaved to another’s will. This has generally been successful, though some of the more simpler forms, such as skeletons and zombies, often complain about their lot in life due to being unable to gain enjoyment from some, if not all, of their various senses. Much of the City Hall’s employees tend to be zombies for this very reason, as Tharrus felt that grumbling middle management suited the perception of the city itself. Overall, it is the non-Dhampir population that provides the most contention for Freygate with the outside world, as many either don’t agree that undead with sentience is a ‘good thing’, or disagree about undead not necessarily being evil.
The most accurate way to describe Freygate’s political structure would be to term it a dictatorship. Tharrus is ultimately in charge and his decisions are taken as law. With the power to both create and unmake it’s population, Tharrus tends to view his citizens as valued individuals but ultimately expendable if they don’t follow his overarching vision for his city. This generally lends the city, and especially City Hall, a somewhat morose outlook on unlife since it’s widely understood that stepping out of line excessively often also means stepping out of existence.
Since the Dhampir are the most stable of Tharrus’ creations, they are treated with a greater degree of care and freedom. Due to their ability to mesh more with surrounding cities and towns, they are rarely destroyed for not following the guidelines of the city, instead moving afield to search for new homes. In this manner dissatisfied Dhampir tend to be the envoys and diplomats of Freygate, lending their views and opinions on their homeland to the surrounding areas they take up residence in, or trade with. It would thus be fair to say that most of the perception of Freygate is that it is a bleak, unforgiving place ruled by a smiling tyrant, polite to all that follow his wishes.
It is due to this then that since it’s return, Freygate’s allies have slowly but surely distanced themselves from the city. With rumours abound of how the dead openly walk the streets and how visitors or delegates often go missing, most neighbouring towns have no wish to be linked to Freygate at all. Tharrus takes this all in stride, either not understanding the underlying reasons for why his breakthroughs aren’t appreciated or simply not caring. Either way, the city of Freygate essentially stands alone.
Due to the political climate within the city, it is unsurprising that a resistance of sorts has arisen, led by one of the first ‘successful’ creations, Kiselda. A banshee created from the remnants of dead clerics, her leadership and organisation have been a thorn in Tharrus’ side ever since she went rogue, shortly after learning of the true nature of the city and it’s status as a grand centre for undead experiments and research. Leading several cells spread across the city, each organised by a competent and highly intelligent undead creation in it’s own right, Kiselda often comes in to conflict with adventurers working for Tharrus but is always more than agreeable to help those against him. Whether those against Tharrus are comfortable with the aid from a banshee is another matter entirely.
Considered amusing by some, Freygate is effectively spiritually barren even considering it’s inhabitants. The city has no organized religion and no real unorganized ones either. With the populace largely being created by a single individual with impressive necromantic power, most don’t give consideration for what may pass as an afterlife, considering their current existence to effectively be it.
Those Dhampir who move outside of Freygate or who deal with travellers quite often develop a faith in an ideal or divine, having a mental structure greatly more similar to other mortals. It is the lack of exposure to such ideas and materials that results in the dearth of religion within Freygate. This is also exacerbated with one of the main laws of Freygate - with the exception of the purpose of healing, divine magic is frowned upon in Freygate and necromancy is entirely outlawed, with the exception of Tharrus. Any who tend to find inpsiration via divine means quickly find themselves being unmade by Tharrus, under the guise of security for the continued existence of Freygate.
The city tends to have a very low incidence of crime, due to two reasons. The first is the nature of the city guards - relentless wights under the overall control of The Harrower march through the city at all hours. Should one find anything relevant or out of sorts, The Harrower can instantly move his consciousness to the wight in question, creating a quick and reliable method to find, track and ultimately apprehend criminals. The second, and more unsettling, reason is that many of the crimes committed by the undead of Freygate leave no trace of the victim. The criminals themselves tend to be uncreated or repurposed for other means.
As expected for a city of the dead, the eating habits are different to a great many other cities. The Dhampir favour normally cooked meals though the meats may be of questionable or cannibalistic origin, since Freygate doesn’t let much of anything go to waste. Visitors are often asked if they want local or imported cuisine, since many of the Dhampir population understand that some may disagree with eating meat that would have been part of a valid conversational partner.
Most of the rest of the population tend not to require sustenance in the same manner, though some of the more voracious undead such as ghouls have special provisions within the city. The more unsavoury methods of feeding tend to be kept out of the public eye more as a means of politeness rather than necessity. After all, those visitors who object most strongly tend to help contribute to the system as a whole.
Before it’s resurgence, Freygate was a city mired by corruption and infighting. Various subsets of the city were at outright war with each other, albeit not visible from the surface. Much of the ruling council were bribing and in turn bribed by their peers to turn a blind eye to the backstabbing and rife injustice within the city. One man amidst all this turmoil saw the greatest chance for personal gain and enacted a plan that spanned over four decades of his life.
Building summoning circles and arcane runes into the foundations of the city itself through a long series of construction projects, the man seeded the city with the opportunity for great upheaval and sacrifice to the scion of his beliefs - Asmodeus, the Lord of Hell. Through a series of minor border wars and altercations, this man amassed enough divine might to achieve a form of transcendence that he shared with his inner circle of loyal men at arms. Though outwardly normal, each of the men in his immediate employ, as well as himself, harboured the melded soul of a devil, their fiendish natures concealed to further his plan.
Once the great ritual was ready, he waited out of curiosity to see if any of his rivals had any inkling of the sheer scale of the calamity that would befall the city. Disappointed by their lack of foresight, the man finally enacted his plan after a group of adventurers from Rook stumbled on to his plans whilst pursuing another task entirely. In the ensuing aftermath, what little population that remained alive and unclaimed by Hell was ferried away by the heroes of Rook as the man and his entourage, all elevated to full devils by the scale of their machinations, brazenly walked free and unmolested to relocate elsewhere now the city was of no use.
In the coming months several squatters started to take residence within the gutted remains of the city and it wasn’t long before Tharrus came across the veritable goldmine of flesh in his travels. Already experimenting with creating undead from the fragments of souls in the aether between planes, such a site filled with the broken remnants of the lost and the damned lit Tharrus’ mind alight with the sheer possibilities of what he could create.
It wasn’t long before the city was teeming once more, though now with the souls and bodies of the dead, pieced back together with Tharrus’ necromantic might and experimentation. Though effectively a travesty against the natural order, Tharrus has thus managed to fend off aggressive advances from righteous individuals crusading against the undead to emissaries of the Boneyard, the psychopomps themselves. How he has managed such feats is unclear, but rumours abound of the deals he has struck for forces both light and dark to maintain the integrity of his pet project. Thus far the city of death is holding though many conjecture there can only be a limited number of reasons why a man would create a vast legion of the undead and it is a mere matter of time before the city boundaries of Freygate crash down to unleash the creations within.