Locus Santa Filomena

From Familia Niveum

One night, a nondescript stranger took residence in a little town. To each of them, one per night, he made a simple and ridiculous claim: he was a god, and that little town was to be his earthly kingdom. Each of them argued andremonstrated with him, but by dawn, his golden tongue convinced them of its truth. When the last person in that place believed it, it was true.



Locus Santa Filomena encompasses two settlements. Above the ground lies its namesake city, Santa Filomena. Far below the city, in caverns beneath the Earth, lays Corte AmĂȘndoa, a faerie stronghold. At first glance, they seem like separate worlds, but this appearance is deceptive indeed.

Santa Filomena is nestled in a bowl of tall hills facing a small bay. When the chancel was created in the early fifteenth century, Santa Filomena was a tiny port town serving a region of Portugal known for its orchards. However, it has grown and changed with the times. It now spreads over all theenchanceled land. Modern and bustling, this city is home to some three hundred thousand souls. Its architecture is a riotous profusion of styles. Ironically, the port- the entire reason for the town's founding- is long since abandoned, closed by the enchanceling. There is a sky-scraping Downtown district in roughly the center of the city, industry is concentrated in the southern and southwestern portion, and the northwest (especially Bayfront) has the greatest concentration of entertainment and retail; residential areas and parks are scattered everywhere. The above areas are only rules of thumbs- zoning ranges from sloppy to notional.

The nature of the environment around the city has traditionally changed with each new generation of Powers. At one time, it was permanently summer; another generation saw the sun and moon meander about the sky on no set schedule or track. The flora and fauna, too, changed greatly. In this generation, a Familia Caelestia largely focused elsewhere have allowed it to drift back to its essential nature as an orphaned part of Earth. The only remaining deviation from this theme of miraculous origin is the bay. No murky inlet of the North Atlantic, it is instead clear, fresh, and sweet, a perfect aquifer and recreation area. This is the result of a blessing secured from the 118th Domina of Lakes, in return for services rendered by the second Marquis of Inquisition.

Os Corte AmĂȘndoa ("The Almond Court", named not for the tree's fruit but for its blossoms) is a faerie stronghold. It was once part of the vastunderground network of hidden settlements known to mortals as "Underhill," but was caught- quite by accident, it seems, though none can ever be sure with The Forgotten God- in the energies which enchanceled the city above. Accidental or not, almost as much of the chancel lies below as above. The Court's population lives in five large caverns (several hundred feet tall each). Their ceilings are studded with illusory stars which give enough light to find a path by. A sixth cavern, also starlit, holds an underground lake. The Court proper, where the royalty reside and host their entertainments, is a seventh cavern lit by a false moon. It is breath-takingly beautiful, and lights the cavern as as brightly as the western sky a minute before sunrise.

In addition to the seven central caverns, miles of tunnels and tiny caves just large enough for one or two strange creature to take residence in honeycomb the ground. Many of these link to the city above, emerging in everything from busy subway interchanges to private basements. Some of them are clearly marked and heavily frequented.

Entrances and Exits

It is trivial to exit the chancel. Walk far enough from the center of the chancel- these days, to the city's outskirts- and you will begin to feel an intense prickling sensation along your skin. Ignore it, keep walking, and soon you will experience a sensation of intense disorientation. Upon regaining your bearings, you will find the city you were just in is nowhere to be found, nor are the hills, nor the bay; you are on a nondescript portion of the Portugese coast, in an almond growing region long on orchards and short on people. Enjoy the walk to civilization.

There is, however, another way to get out, one that DOES allow for re-entry. It lies Underhill. Over the years, the Nobilis have found reason to close off many tunnels. The mechanism for doing so, laid down by an early True King called Patrick the Tyrant, has been to warp them so that instead of leading to their own destination, they instead deposit one in similar tunnels on Earth. The magic has proved symmetrical. Walk into any tunnel on Earth which you are not supposed to be in, and loudly pronounce your intention to go where you please. That tunnel will deposit you in Locus Santa Filomena, in some side passage.

Tunnels used to be relatively rare, and gaining access to a forbidden one difficult (being as they were forbidden.) However, in the modern age, one need merely be a pedestrian in a tunnel reserved for vehicles, or a private citizen in an unguarded utility access tunnel. Intentional access to the Locus is easy and convenient to every major city on earth, as well as many rural areas. A fair stream of people wander in, too, but only a few dozen a year actually enter chancel life; most get spooked back down their entryway by its darkness, changing nature, and indeterminate length. Most of the rest get lost Underhill and wander out some other forbidden passage, emerging hundreds of miles from their origin with a wild tale. A few get hit by trains.

Chancel Life

The barrier between Locus Santa Filomena and the outside world, and a long tradition of demigods meddling with local reality, has shaped the chancel's culture. The locals speak their own language, lengo, and have their own art forms. That is not to say it is a total divide- there are a few hundred agents today (up from a double handful, in elder years) who regularly traffic with the outside. They deal in all sorts of things, but especially artistic goods- books, movies, and paintings are all "laundered" into the outside. In return news, technologies, and most importantly all of the city's food are imported from outside. Still and all, the agents are only a tiny percentage of the overall population; most Filomenos have never been outside, and may have a decidedly warped view of it.

The putative divide between Santa Filomena and Os Corte AmĂȘndoa, by contrast, is deceptive and quickly breaks down when examined closely. In truth, there is heavy traffic between the two, in goods, ideas, and even people. Passage between the two is easy. It's traditional to take a leisurely, enjoyable stroll through twisting passages full of strange wonders. There are, however, high speed elevators for the hurried or infirm. Indeed, the two cultures could not live isolated from each other, as both magic and technology are essential to making two dense cities livable with little in the way of external resources.

Magic and technology blend indiscriminately in the chancel, but this is not immediately apparent for a very simple reason- the inhabitants have chosen to make sure of that. This is for a number of reasons. First, it is aesthetic. Each side of the Chancel's population is proud of its heritage (has complexes about it, one might say) and wishes to present its own traditional face. Second, it is for reasons of comfort- humans are never quite comfortable with magic things around, and faerie shiver uncomfortably at the blatant presence of technology. Third, it is artistic- artfully masquerading or remaking one thing as another is a beloved game, called jumende and pursued with artistic fervor.

"Artistic fervor," indeed, is the essence of the combined Chancel culture. Faerie folk have an ancient tradition of viewing the whole world as their canvas, using illusion to draw over it in artistic and pleasing shapes. Humans, meanwhile, have a history of molding reality in truth- not just illusion- and wanting everything done in a hurry. As the two outposts of these respective cultures found themselves isolated together, these threads merged together into the jumende idea.

Jumende is an all-consuming thing above and below. Entire city blocks or caverns might seem transported from one place and time to another overnight, as all their facades are changed- an introduction of illusory magics and display screens can compound this rate of change a hundred times, causing things to seem different from one glance to a next. More fundamental changes come swiftly too, and a map of the city is best used as toilet paper by its tenth birthday. The frenzied pace of jumende sets the tone for all of life, above and below. The cityfolk are generally anarchic, with a community based, but no-nonsense, take on dealing with antisocial behavior.

As for the precise relationship between above and below, it is- prickly. For the most part, humans and faerie find each other insufferably rude. Further, each race brings out every bit of arrogance or insecurity in the other. Humans are intimidated by the innate magics and artistic perfectionism of their counterparts; Faerie deeply resent the blistering pace at which Humans can generate and adapt new ideas; each has contempt for the inverse qualities of the other. Still, this resentment gives way to respect with effort. As much as they hate dealing with their counterparts, the people (in the general sense) of Locus Santa Filomena are still attracted to each other's ideas and unique talents. They work together on what amounts to day passes, with the occasional special individual taking a permanent place in the other's society.

Important People

Prince Gereban

Gereban is the ruler of the Almond Court, and an Erus of the realm. He is a distant, preoccupied lord with little time for his subjects. This is fair enough, as his subjects are distant, preoccupied servants with little time for their lord. He is called upon mostly to adjudicate disputes and to deal with Upside on the Court's behalf. He is rude by human standards, and supercilious, but known for being fair, honest, and surprisingly open-minded.

Gereban is seven feet tall, with black hair and eyes. His feet never touch the ground. His dress is always absurdly expensive but otherwise changes day to day, being supplied by Faerie artists. He usually wears a long silver sword at his side, but does not take it with him when dealing on the surface.

Lord Mayor Jacobin Acavas

Lord Mayor Acavas is the chief administrator of the human government, and the realm's other erus. He is some two hundred and fifty years old, having had his life extended by Erushood. Though technically Santa Filomena is a democratic city state, the Lord Mayor serves at pleasure, and the people have not seen fit to recall Acavas in the past one hundred and eighty two years. This endorsement really says everything about his character. Still, for all that he is upright and diplomatic, he is also a fellow who has been getting his way for a very long time...

Acavas is a grey haired, bespectacled gent who stands all of five foot two ((1.57m)). He is quick on his feet- or rather the balls of his feet, as he has a distinctive rolling gait that rarely has them flat on the ground. He dresses richly by the standards of the pre-war British, which is unusual for Santa Filomena inasmuch as any eccentricity can be.

The High Court

A few amongst the Faerie have greater magics than their compatriots. These are called the High Court faerie; the rest are called Low Court, only in the context of distinguishing them from High. A High Court faerie can make enchanted items, cast spells of destruction, and create illusions so powerful that they actually work as what they seem, until they are penetrated. Unlike the common magics of the Faerie, High Court works crumble outside the chancel. High Court fairies are the nobility of their people.

The Great Artisans

Human and faerie share jumende between them, but it is the humans who truly exemplify it. A few among their number express the power of the idea so strongly that they can create fantastical things that work without magic, yet are indistinguishable from it. These devices are equal parts technology and expression of the Chancel's nature. The creations of a Great Artisan do not work outside the chancel, and can come only from their own hands. Explanations are simply full of absurd contrafactual principles and ridiculous diagrams. Attempts to remove the devices leave them inert, or downgrade them to their closest purely technological equivalent. Great Artisans are not automatically granted respect, but usually have good success at earning it.

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