Nkolo

Population: 1,231,639

A city openly ruled by a cabal of liches, Nkala is a city where the dead are held in higher regarded than the living. The citizens are taught that life is just a transient stage, while death is eternal, and one's effort in life will determine one's position in death. The lowest rung of death - those who didn't contribute much to the city - are the reanimated zombies, carefully preserved with embalming fluids to protect them against decomposition in the tropical climate. Above them are the ghoul and mummy shock troops, ready to defend the realm, and the incorporeal undead and the vampires who serve as spies and secret police. At the top are the liches, and only the most powerful and loyal spellcasters among the living are taught the techniques to join their numbers.

Despite the large number of undead they are rubbing shoulders with, life is not actually all that bad for the living. Zombie labor provides for many of the material needs, and the relative prosperity of the city is shared by those citizens who toe to the line. But anyone who threatens the status quo is punished harshly, usually by being fed to one of the undead who still require sustenance of sorts. Thus, people in the city are careful in what they say at all times, since they never know who - or what - is listening.

The city controls a fairly large territory, much of it filled by zombie-staffed plantations and minor client villages. Nkolo doesn't generally act aggressively towards its neighbors, but if any of its neighbors provoke it, retaliation is swift and final, with the offender being incorporated into the city's protectorate. Coupled with the fact that it has never given up any of its territory, the protectorate has grown slowly but steadily - and never faster than the population of Nkolo could support. The more paranoid observers worry that sooner or later the city will control the entire region, and wonder how many of the conflicts that lead to further conquests were actually secretly instigated by the rulers of Nkolo…

Nkolo and most of its client villages follow the same basic layout: A large central pyramid which serves as the center of government and ceremonies as well as housing for most of the more senior undead surround by major streets and districts arranged in a star pattern around the pyramid, which in turn are surrounded by an outer wall - though Nkolo itself has grown so large that several smaller pyramids are located in the outlying areas which in turn have smaller districts surrounding them. The districts are organized by the profession of the inhabitants, and the residents wear clothing with intricate colored patterns corresponding to their professions. Visitors are required to wear bright red sashes at all times while outside.

In recent decades, Nkolo has become the main producer of rubber in Malundi, with most of its exports going to the Flannish Cities. This has brought the realm enormous wealth, though their industrial customers don't like to draw attention to the fact that the rubber was harvested by zombie labor.

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