Hidden Naresh is a city located within the Black Riage.
Background[edit | edit source]
Deep in the Black Riage, tucked away as if by accident, like a cheap ring fallen from a finger into the depths of a pocket, rests Hidden Naresh. With around 1,000 inhabitants, Hidden Naresh is a toadstool of a city, growing in the dark, sucking nutrients from the world around it, poisoning the air and the minds of its inhabitants with every passing moment of its existence.
Here the light is low, and the moral more so. Yet in order to pass through the mountains on this route, you must also pass through the morass that is Hidden Naresh.
This is how Hidden Naresh eats you alive: enter from the west, the land of the Steadfast, where most is clean and kind and light, where there is rule and law that can be grasped by even the simplest of minds. Leave behind the light, the law, the living. Enter the world of the dark, the destroyed, the dead.
The gates of Hidden Naresh stand pale and phosphorescent in the darkness. Near them, and you'll see the faces of those who serve as gateposts. Nearer still and you'll see the holes that line the luminescent bodies, row upon row of perfect dark wells within the flesh. Too near, and you'll see that the holes aren't empty. Inside each one,a worm-like critter wiggles and pulses, thrusting its pale head into the world, blind eyes and open mouth searching the air from inside its black den. Don't look into the gaze of those who stand at the gate, for they're also filled with a black emptiness, with wriggling grubs for the whites of their eyes.
As you attempted to pass between the gateposts, the worm-things extend farther from their body caves, brushing against your hands, your wrists, your face. Don't harm them. Let them seek comfort in your touch. IT's been so long since they've had skin to brush up against.
You may pass if you can stomach the understanding that this is just the beginning. That your travels will get worse before they get better. That it's not your body that's in danger, but your mind your very sanity. This is the dark legacy - the deadly promise - that is Hidden Naresh.
Step farther, come inside. Here, you'll find the stench of growing and dying things so ripe that you wonder if a death from lack of air would be preferable to being alive and breathing this foul exhaust. Beneath your feet, mud sucks at your steps, as if seeking to drag you into the depths. The wooden walkways, of which there are few, sag with rot and mildew. Structures are built into the mountain crags, atop the rotting skeletons of other buildings, from hanging tendrils high above, and even on stilts that sink deep into the muck. The black liquid that runs down the stone and across the toes of your boots is thick and viscous. Mushrooms and fungi line every surface with ghostly, pale bodies.
When your eyes adjust, you'll see that what first appeared to be a city empty of life quickly becomes a city of moving, breathing shadows. Tucked into every bit of blackness is a pair of eyes, a dirty mouth, groping hands. A few are human, although the dirt and darkness make it hard to tell. Others are clearly something else, a fact easily discovered by a rusted squeal of metal, a slither of tentacle, a clack of bone on bone. Some might offer wares, while others beg for an offering of food or drink. Sex is easily had for sum, should you dare to risk it, as are creatures and trinkets. Most abundant are offerings of mycos - any number of mind-altering and mind-enhancing drugs made from the mushrooms, fungi, and algae that are both wild-growing and cultivated in the city. Perhaps the cheapest thing in Hidden Naresh is your own death, proffered up for little more than what you might have in your pockets.
If you see red and blue lights glowing in the darkness, they may call like sirens, urging you forward so that you might see something at last, but don't follow them. These are the algae farms, stagnant pools of liquid where the most potent of mycos are grown. Along the surface of each pool, blue and green and purple strains of algae thrive beneath the red and blue lights. Sharing the pools with the algae are the worst of the mycos addicts, barely cognizant creatures who longer notice or care that they've become little more than living fuel to power the lights embedded in their bodies.
Ask anyone on the street who rules Hidden Naresh, and they'll say "No one," or perhaps "Me". But in truth, the city is ruled by The Sorcan, a man so riddled with implementations and upgrades that it's almost impossible to tell whether he's truly - or ever was - human. He gives off a weird glow, sometimes yellow and sometimes orange, but it's hard to say whether it comes directly from his skin or his biomechanical parts. He is often found traipsing the rotting wooden walkways of the city, followed by his harem of Nibovian wives, who protect him in return for the safe space and fertile men he provides.
The Sorcan isn't ruthless, for to be ruthless one must care, at least even a little. Instead, he seems entirely unconcerned with the rabble and filth at his feet. Rumor hints that doesn't sleep with his Nibovian wives, nor with any other creature that inhabits the town, that he doesn't eat, and that he does little in the way of ruling. He seems utterly content to let the city grow as it will and exist as it will, as long as he can walk the darkness and retreat to his simple stone house in the city's south end. There are those who say that The Sorcan has fallen to the power of the mycos, and perhaps he has. But other whispers tell of darker attractions within the city that hold his attentions.
Perhaps, if you've made it this far with your mind and body intact, you are the person to ask him. Perhaps he'll even tell you.
Miscellaneous[edit | edit source]
The guardians of Hidden Naresh are humans genetically modified to be hosts of poisonous worm-like creatures. The guards are level 4, and the worms' poison forces a Might defense roll. Failure results in moving one step down the damage track.
References[edit | edit source]
- Cook, Monte, et al. “The Beyond.” Numenera Discovery, Monte Cook Games, LLP, 2018, pp. 173-174. Numenera. ISBN 978-1-939979-77-3
- Cook, Monte, et al. “The Beyond.” Numenera Discovery, Monte Cook Games, LLP, 2018, pp. 173. Numenera. ISBN 978-1-939979-77-3