Originally written by the people from the Lathe Exalted MUSH, found here.
You guys are all sorts of awesome and my players love what you've done with the place


A grotesque and petrified husk towers, mountainous, over the hills of a small isle north of the Bay of Kings. It is all that remains of an ancient primal spirit, slain by the battle-arts of the Solar Exalted in forgotten antiquity.
The people of Lathe have hollowed out the cavernous recesses of the stony cadaver and built their city within and upon its obdurate flesh and granite bones.
Sorcerer-architects hollowed the chambers, careful to preserve the Essence humors of its mystery organs.
Its heart has become a temple, its stomach a consortium for alchemists, its lungs an amphitheater. An orrery has been carved into its mind, and here the Sidereals reference the
night sky and the heavens of old.
Lathe is a vital Realm port. The city is a major gateway to the Cinder Coast, and the last port on the southern route to Faxai. It has also been plagued by Yozi cults and demon
worship since time out of mind.
The Immaculate Order has a major temple in the city, and the monks who dwell there are specialists in demonology, the occult, and exorcisms.
Though the Realm has done its best to suppress demon congress in the city, the Order knows that they would have to burn the city to ever fully erase it.
Instead, the Order ignores the least dangerous heresies, and uses connections within
the cults of Lathe to keep abreast of diabolic activity and news from Malfeas.
They have even at times aided and been aided by the demon slayers of the Meherest cult.

The City of the Corpse

The city of Lathe is a major metropolis in the southwestern Cinder Coast, built on a large volcanic island north of the Bay of Kings. The main portion of the city is hollowed inside the husk of a gigantic primal spirit slain in antiquity that has turned to stone. The behemoth is a staggering four miles long and slightly arthropodic in shape, a monstrous centipede of segmented carapace with over-sized pincers and a mane of jagged spines.
It lays curled about the large volcanic island’s highest peak - Mount Valiant - with its head at the edge of the basin and its serpentine bulk spiraling around the mountainside until its tail disappears into sea. The carcass is partially encrusted in volcanic ash from previous eruptions, but what truly keeps it affixed to the now-dormant volcano is a massive spear hundreds of yards in length that has nailed it into the cliffside through its thorax and heart. The spear’s shaft is wrapped in pieces of red and white cloth along its entire length, but sometimes when the wind blows strong and shoddily fixed strips of cloth tear loose, one can see it gleaming with the brilliant gold of orichalcum.

Lathe is separated into six districts, five of which are inside the carcass and one inside the volcano. The districts are connected by sloping ramps, tunnels carved into both petrified behemoth and the mountainside, sluggish stone elevators powered by magic and wide openings between layers through which dynasts and sorcerers flit on wings and gusts of Essence.


Hollowed into the primal behemoth’s head lies Whitecrest, a district named after the ancient observatory carved from raven-black basalt into the shape of a woman’s head that bears a defaced white emblem on its forehead. From the back of the observatory’s statuesque cranium juts an enormous telescope that uses the beast’s crystallized central eye as a magical lens that according to legend allows the astrologers to see the skies of ages past. The observatory is protected by a hundred different magical safeguards and the few intruders who’ve managed to bypass the wards have returned shredded to pieces as if torn apart by a hail of invisible arrows.
Only a handful of the highest ranking sorcerer-astrologers are allowed inside the main observatory after a long-winded bureaucratic process that can take years. Rumor has it that the basalt head also houses a wondrous First Age orrery that can be used to perform powerful astrological magic of potency unheard of in the Age of Sorrows.

Several other smaller observatories dot the cavernous district with their telescopes protruding through the skull, surrounded by opulent mansions and libraries built from ebon wood, magically shaped basalt, smoky grey crystal and purple marbled silk.
Known these days as the Hall of Aruspicy, the establishment is the most prominent sorcerous academy in the South-West of Creation, its students numbering in hundreds. From lowly mortal thaumaturges to potent Dynast sorcerers, the institution’s ranks have grown over the centuries and the originally astrology-focused academy has taken on a wider approach to sorcery and the mystical.


Inside the volcano rises a magnificent display of sorcerous craftsmanship aptly known as the Caldera. Built on top of the lake that has formed in the basin by the means of ingenious architecture, the district has the widest surface area of them all – large plazas of white volcanic sillar stone are supported by dragon-shaped pillars and awe-inspiring archworks that shoot up from the lake and the sides of the volcano.
On top of these layered platforms the rulers of Lathe have built their palaces and stunningly high towers, taming the scalding geysirs of the lake within elaborate fountains and waterfalls that flow from one level to another.
The Caldera is home to the most affluent and important citizens of Lathe and plays host to the satrap’s residential palace, the Museum of Imperial Art and the grand châteaux of the Great Houses. An artificial tunnel from the volcanic lake leads out to the shore and thus a harbor has been built under the platforms to anchor the vessels of the Imperial Navy and the personal vessels of the Dynasts. Only a few others ships such as the one owned by the god-blooded proprietor of the museum by the name of Alabaster Brush and the most important ships of the Guild are allowed to make port here.

House Cathak, Peleps and Nellens are the most prominent of the dynastic bloodlines in Lathe, with House Ragara and Cynis owning smaller enclaves closer to the edge of the volcano.
House Mnemon used to control a magnificent fortress in the center of the Caldera by the virtue of the former satrap being of their lineage, but during a tragic event two years ago the entire section that was once dedicated to House Mnemon was reduced to rubble, now growing algae in the bottom of the lake.
Nobody knows exactly what happened, but the vague idea is that the satrap was in league with dark forces and tried to summon a powerful demon on Calibration, which led to the Hall of Aruspicy, the Immaculate Order and all of the dynastic patricians of the other Houses to join forces and try to stop the ritual.
They succeeded, but House Mnemon was wiped from Lathe in the process. They have not returned since, which makes conspiracy theorists speculate that it was all a carefully orchestrated coup and if the scions of Mnemon were to return, they would be welcomed with drawn swords rather than open arms.

Many of the Caldera’s residents frequent the House of Eight Glows, a large tower in the eastern side of the basin. Each of the eight floors of the establishment are themed differently based on the various directions of Creation. For example, the fourth floor is themed after the riches of the Dreaming Sea and prominently features the architecture of the Prasad Empire as well as the wyrdlights and cold fire of Ysyr. On the seventh floor patrons can listen the stories told by authentic monster hunters of Whitewall while staving off the magical cold by a roaring bonfire. The House even presents the option to try and make love to an oath-bound and cold iron-shackled raksha from the frozen taiga. No matter where you are from, the House of Eight Glows aims to make travelers feel like home and offers to others the experience of new cultures without the need to travel.

Cathak Ogata is the fire-aspected satrap of Lathe.
He only took the position recently, after his predecessor’s untimely retirement, and is determined to set a strong example to the people of the city. He is convinced that he will be the one to utterly exterminate the demon cults, and his refusal to abide even the slightest deviance has earned him enemies among the people of Lathe and the native Immaculates.
Ogata is a proud, conservative and temperamental man with long pitch-black hair streaked with fiery red stripes. He keeps his long moustache and goatee meticulously waxed and staves off the signs of aging with the help of Lathe’s finest alchemists.

Jagamaru, "The Tiger of Lathe”, abandoned the Immaculate Order to directly serve Ogata, who he views as a stronger and more zealous leader. Jagamaru still follows the Immaculate Philosophy, but sees the Order itself as being weak and impure in its faith due to their occasional cooperation with the demon cults of Lathe.
Jagamaru wears an exquisite armor of black jade studded with rubies and wields the fearsome “Talons of Heshiesh”, red jade dragon claws forged by Cathak smiths and gifted to him by Ogata. Despite abandoning the ascetic ways of the Immaculate Order his spiritual enlightenment has only increased according to his own words, and he slaughters the unworthy with an uncommon mastery of the Water Dragon Style.

The siblings Jennai and Haspa of House Peleps Tedon are the Imperial Navy’s representatives in Lathe. The Realm Navy consists of stationed Dynasts and soldiers of the Blessed Isle and they tend to consider the natives inferior, regardless of their actual status. Members of the Imperial Navy tend to stick to themselves for the most part, but show up in galas and other important social functions decked in finery and elegance that makes many Dynasts in Lathe envious.

The Satrap’s Guard is a well-trained fighting force that routinely trains with both Ogata and Jagamaru. They wear black and red lamellar in the colors of the satrap and partially in imitation of the satrap’s formerly Immaculate champion who leads them in the field as they hunt down cultists and other undesirables.


The Heartworks are Lathe’s spiritual and cultural center, a highly vertical and open cavern within the rib cage of the petrified behemoth.
The outer carapace of the beast has collapsed into an opening to the world outside some hundred yards tall, a yawning hole through which the enormous Spear of Triumph enters the carcass. This opening makes the district one of the few places in Lathe that benefits from sunshine and fresh air, and thus the Heartworks maintain great popularity among the rich as a place of residence. The Heartworks contain many locations of wonder from a wide open-air amphitheater shaped inside the beast’s ruptured lung to the many-storied garden monastery of the Immaculate Order that borders the Order’s public temple.
Marble-paved roads and bridges criss-cross the district at various heights and lead to carefully supported platforms that play host to manors, theaters, libraries, bureaucratic offices, carefully tended parks and even an artificial lake inhabited by colorful birds and dragonflies.

The greatest attraction of the Heartworks, though, is the mighty spear that pierces the husk’s massive tubular heart. The heart itself hangs suspended by stony veins above the district, its surface riddled with beautiful stained glass windows depicting numerous warriors in colorful armor.
A wooden bridge from the sloping ramps of the beast’s ribs leads to the entrance of the Temple of Triumph that has been carved inside the heart, a sacred sanctum to a god that has been missing and silent since time immemorial.

The Immaculate Order’s version of the temple’s origins speak of twenty heroic Dragon-blooded champions who with ancient magic combined themselves into one giant warrior. This merged champion then ripped a vein of magical metal straight out of a mountain and hurled it at the rampaging primal abomination called Heart-Cleaving Lathe, pinning it to the volcano with the power of the Five Immaculate Dragons. Mela’s breath gave the spear its speed as Daana’d’s fury kept Heart-Cleaving Lathe from leaving the island, Sextes Jylis’ jungles wrapped around the primal spirit’s hundred legs to keep it still while Heshiesh’s flames erupted from the volcano to scorch the monster. Pasiap himself finally appeared, turned the beast to stone and sealed it inside a sarcophagus of earth for all time. The native tribals of the area have a different version of the events and speak of an islander woman by the name of Thousand Song who with golden light slew the spirit - an oral tradition the Immaculate Order has tried to make them forget. Regardless of the truth, the Temple of Triumph is unanimously accepted a sign of victory over insurmountable odds and overwhelming obstacles. The Immaculate Order stresses strength in unity and a local tradition has formed over the years that suggests that whenever a new citizen arrives to Lathe, they give an article of white or red clothing to be wrapped around the spear’s shaft.

The Immaculate Order in Lathe values piety, not zealotry.
The highest ranking Immaculate, the air-aspected High Priestess Mistral, knows the value of moderation and patience and actively bestows her wisdom to those under her command. Rather than purge the demon cultists with a heavy hand, Mistral would rather set a good example and show people the virtues of the Immaculate Dragons. A cult brutally purged with sword and flame will always spring back up, but teaching people the truth and wisdom of the Immaculate Way will turn them to the side of righteousness forever. This approach takes time, and sometimes seems intolerable to those who lack wisdom, but it is the surest way to cure Lathe. Even with such a reserved attitude, the Immaculate Order won’t hesitate to eliminate anyone who actively threatens Lathe, including rioting cultists, predatory raksha, rogue demon summoners and, of course, Anathema.
The Demon Slayers of the Cult of Meherest that inhabit the submerged levels of Lathe might not be followers of the Immaculate Dragons, but the Order finds their paradigm similar enough that they are willing to cooperate with them when it comes to the threat of Malfeas. On top of that, the Immaculate has devout followers in all areas of life in Lathe, acting as informers for the Temple about the comings and goings of the various factions.
The Immaculate Order has become slightly more popular since Satrap Ogata and Jagamaru started throwing their weight around, as the people have begun to see how inoffensive the Immaculates are in comparison. Skeptics still suspect that the two groups are secretly working together to show the Order in a more positive light.

Jade Soma District

The Jade Soma District, thus named by the former satrap because people kept calling the district “Bowels”, is Lathe’s commercial center.
The district is dominated by a spiraling ten-story high tower of granite intestines known as The Alembic, home to a consortium of alchemists living in the labyrinthine tubes, chambers and alcoves of the beast’s former stomach.
One can find a concoction or an elixir for every ailment, illness and desire imaginable from its little shops, the sound of bubbling distilleries and the grinding of mortar on pestle filling the air. Some alchemists are willing to part with forbidden thaumaturgic alchemical knowledge passed from father to son at exorbitant prices, some simply specialize in selling laxatives or aphrodisiacs. The Alembic reaches the ceiling of the cavernous district and is the easiest way to reach the Heartworks if one cannot fly.

The rest of Jade Soma District focuses on trade and entertainment.
One of the more curious residents of the Jade Soma District is an orange-haired and ebony-skinned jadesmith that goes by the name of Cinderlock, supposedly blessed by Holamo, the God of Merged Jade.
Holamo is the patron of jade alloys, a technique popular in ages past that has slowly faded from memory. From what people have managed to squeeze from the usually stoic Cinderlock, she was sent to revitalize and spread the word that the techniques were not lost.
Cinderlock is a solemn and eccentric person, working her miraculous crucible only at night while producing weapons and armor that match the skill of the Blessed Isle’s best. She doesn’t take commissions paid with money, forging artifacts only to those who bring her the raw materials as well as something that piques her interest, whether it is a rare ingredient to use in the forging, a special need for the piece or simply a story that she finds intriguing. For now, she’s been working on equipping the new satrap’s chosen few with armor and weapons of red and black jade, often bearing symbology that hearkens to the meeting of water and fire of the volcanic island and the joining of the South and the West.

Naturally other skilled craftsmen and artificers reside in the Jade Soma District as well, their workshops surrounded by auction houses, high class lounges, inns, tea houses, residences and boutiques.
Most merchants and traders prefer to stay in the safe hospitality of the Jade Soma District instead of the bunk houses of the Haunches below, even if the prices are bloated.
Those offering the services know that Lathe is the last port before the long and arduous trip to The Caul and travelers will want to pamper themselves before they set off, even if it costs a little extra.

One such location for luxury is the The Sapphire Font.
The Sapphire Font advertises itself as a tea house and spa, though it really is more of a glorified bath house-brothel that serves mango wine laced with cocaine from tall cups. The marble building’s main hall contains a large serpentine swimming pool that snakes around pillow pits where patrons can sit and drink, the pool itself filled with half-naked youngsters who are paid to lounge around under the spa’s artificial waterfalls and act as eye candy. These attractive boys and girls will scrub the backs of patrons who decide to wash up and with the right price will accompany them to the private grottos the pool leads to for whatever pleasures they wish to indulge in.

The Haunches

The Haunches is a district just above the water line before the husk’s tail disappears underwater. Its side has been chiselled open by industrious labourers, fifteen archways each twenty yards tall leading in and out of the city proper. Five of them lead from private piers to a reputable and walled-off section of the Haunches reserved for esteemed guests and deliveries meant for the upper levels of the city.
The rest of the piers connect to the Blue Esplanade, Lathe’s beating heart of petty trade.

Where the Jade District is more about exquisite wares, the Haunches is the place for mundane commodities. Cobblers and flute-makers hawk their wares next to the stalls of fishermen and fruit pickers from the nearby islands.
Cheap bunk houses cater to the clients of street prostitutes as well as poor travellers in need of sleep and the crowds are seeded with cut-purses and orphans who pester newcomers for coin.
The vast majority of ordinary people in Lathe live in the Haunches, its residential areas built in multiple stories to accommodate everyone. Street kitchens and noodle bars are mixed with open-front workshops and seedy sailor bars and though poverty runs rampant the people here tend to smile more than frown.

One of the local inns of note is called Little Dreams, set aside from the docks but still quite popular. The inn is run by a wily shark-headed beastman who goes by the name of Foshoro. Foshoro was reasonably wealthy and important under the old satrap’s regime until Cathak Ogata seized power and stripped the mutant of everything he owned. Luckily the beastman had a few secret stashes set aside for such an occasion and he used them to get back up on his webbed feet.
He makes a modest living with the inn, but his real income comes from the secret gambling den and tea house one can access from the inn’s basement. He is locally known for his charitable ways as he tries to enrichen the poor communities of the Haunches by funding schools, healers and starting entrepreneurs from his own pocket.

The Lily Pits

Affectionately called The Lily Pits, the tail end of the behemoth that lies submerged is host to the slums and the shady underbelly of the city.
The Lily Pits are below the water line and the heat and humidity from upper levels seems to be drawn here as if by magic. The ceiling grows sickly yellow stalactites, wood and food rot at increased rate and the air is thick with the stench of sewage. The place is built at certain places all the way up the ceiling that hangs a lot lower than in other districts, usually tinkered together from driftwood and clay brick.
Many of the petrified walls remain untouched by magic and make the Pits into a labyrinthine maze where the appearance of a new building on one of the narrow alleys might mean a five minute detour to get where you were going.

The most defining aspect of the Lily Pits are the scrapers.
The Augurs hire poor people to harvest the Essence-infused secretions from the petrified organs of the behemoth under strict surveillance, for the mysterious powers of the Essence humours cause distortions in magical beings and enchantments.
These harvesting camps have a compulsory security check on both entry and leave and only those who’ve proved their trustworthiness over the years are spared an intrusive inspection. Still, smuggling even a finger’s worth of the rare behemoth dust from the harvesting camps is a lucrative opportunity that might let a resident move up to live in the Haunches with their family. The risk is high, though. Those who get caught are never heard of again.

The despair of the Lily Pits is almost tangible. Disease and infections are constant companions to its thousands of residents, not to mention the far more sinister and intelligent threats that lurk in its shadows. Demon cultists recruit or kidnap the careless, preparing midnight sacrifices for their dark masters for the promise of power and wealth.
The rumours of a black fog that eats a man’s soul are countered by writing secrets onto tiny scrolls that are left by front doors so that the fog does not come to visit the houses at night. Even more alarmingly this seems to work, for in the morning those scrolls have burned to ash and the residents remain unharmed.
Ordinary cutthroats and muggers lurk in the darkness as well, waiting to ambush easy marks. These robbers sometimes pour acid on the nuga-centipedes lighting certain alleyways to hide their presence, making the clap of hands to try wake the nuga of a dark path a commonplace sound in the Pits.

Tucked away next to one of the harvest camps is the Strategist’s Respite, a cramped game room filled with sweating elders too weary to work playing a lightning-speed version of Gateway while munching on roasted pistachio nuts. The proprietor is an overweight middle-aged man by the name of ”No-No Please”, for those seem to be the only words has picked up in Flametongue in all his years. Unknown to most, No-No is actually a former Guild enforcer, a directional champion of sumo wrestling and the bouncer of a secret tea house frequented by criminals, cultists and even Anathema.

The headquarters of the Cult of Meherest are hidden away in the very tail end of the behemoth, led by a giant of a man who goes by the pseudonym Easy Dog. He wears colorful make-up on his eyes and lips and carries at least two hookahs on his back, their mouthpieces and tubes often slid through his large brass earrings to stay in place.
His hair color and style change daily, as does his ostentatious attire that often mixes Dynast martial fashion with tribal islander themes.
Meherest is a strange and uncommon demon and most sorcerers are not even sure of its circle. The only thing they are sure of is that Meherest loathes the idea of any other demon walking in Creation and commands its followers to find and slay them wherever they might rear their ugly heads.
Easy Dog and his followers are more than happy to oblige, sometimes even cooperating with the Immaculate Order to do so. When asked how he feels about the Immaculate Order, Easy Dog often simply blows smoke at the asker’s face and smiles enigmatically.

One of the harvested substances is an ingredient for a drug called Amaranthine Behemoth Dust, commonly known as ”rant” in street trade. It is a type of calcified residue scraped from the secretions of the beast’s petrified livers and distilled into fine powder by the city’s sorcerous alchemists. The dust is a powerful narcotic that enhances the mental focus and physical prowess of its user for very short bursts while instilling a sense of overwhelming confidence. The drug is usually administered either by snorting or mixing the powder with liquids. Long-term use causes irreversible brain damage and internal bleeding, and there are rumors that even in moderation its users start experiencing hallucinations often taking the form of disembodied, paranoid whispers.

Life in Lathe

Work in Lathe comes in many different forms.
Beyond providing basic services and trade, many come to Lathe to work as "scrapers”, manual workers in the Lily Pits removing layers of calcified perspiration from the surface of the various Essence-infused organs of the petrified husk.
Exposure to this “behemoth dust” causes sorceries to distort and the corporeal forms of spirits to grow unstable and dematerialize, and thus mortal labor is required. It is not completely harmless to mortals, either, and various respiratory and skin problems tend to be common hazards of the trade. Lathe has a reputation of being a city that loves storytellers, actors and other forms of entertainment, which makes it a popular detour for wandering theater troupes, poets and musicians.
The Haunches are proud of their thriving circuit of brutal gladiatorial combat where martial artists get to beat each other into a bloody mess before the referee intervenes, whereas the lounges of the Jade Soma District organize more theatrical combat demonstrations where nobody gets hurt.

Lighting in Lathe is based on sorcerously bred foot-long centipedes known as “nuga”, enchanted to be strongly bioluminescent in a full spectrum of bright aposematic colors. The nuga are placed in translucent glass containers and act as lanterns, reacting to the vibrations of sound in the air by moving into an upright position and glowing brightly. They wake up to sounds as faint as footsteps on stone within five yards and can be roused from further away with a clap or a shout. Repeated strong vibrations, such as rhythmic drumbeat or clapping, make the nuga sway from side to side as if dancing - a past time popular among children. The nuga are sustained by the lingering magic of the husk and require no other maintenance, making them an excellent replacement to the dangers of using fire as a light source in a city so overbuilt and crowded.
As a secondary function, nuga cleanse air at a rapid pace, keeping the cramped quarters of the cavernous districts habitable. According to a story circulating in the Lily Pits a lucky scraper eluded suffocation for three days in a completely collapsed tunnel because he had three nuga with him. Any poisons or impurities in the air are forever stored in the nuga’s body, making older or more exposed nuga extremely infectious.

Lathe draws more on the South than the West, most of its original population having migrated from the deserts in ages past.
Flametongue is the lingua franca among the common population, though most in Jade Soma District and above speak High Realm. Many of the traders know Riverspeak on top of that to barter with foreigners and an influx of immigrants from The Caul brought by the trade routes add a touch of Seatongue to the mix.

Lathe’s cuisine consist primarily of spicy rice-based dishes served with fish and seafood, chicken and eggs, crickets and mealworms.
Mealworms are also dried and ground into flour that is mixed with wild corn and seaweed to bake a greenish flatbread called “chupo” that is eaten during holiday celebrations. The northern shore of the island hosts extensive underwater kelp farms, enhanced by the sorcerers to be both nutritious and delicious.
Coconut milk is the most popular non-alcoholic drink after spring water, and adults tend to partake in the local mango and rice wines.

Fashion varies based on district and social standing, but the people of Lathe prefer loose and light clothing to keep away the heat and humidity of their city.
Commoner men tend to wear colorful sarongs, loose shirts and tunics of imported cotton. The higher class of the Jade Soma District and above favor embroidered silk kurtas with cufflink-style buttons of jade.
Wealthy women like to wear one-piece cheongsams with high collars that open from the throat to reveal décolletage and accessorize with scarves, veils, jewelry and flowers. Dynastic scions usually adhere to the latest fashions of the Blessed Isle and generally display a more martial style even in formal gatherings, wearing segments of beautiful jade armor over flowing gala robes and ceremonial scabbards for their daiklaves.

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