Looking at Hyperborea again. Been a long time since I touched it. I have a lot of material in Google docs still begging to be assembled into some kind of usable form.
The city of Kingsmouth is like industrial London if it ran on whale-oil and was run by Cromwell if Cromwell was also Stalin. Probably. I've culled some material from this old post, which now seems very overwritten but still has gems. Work in progress but I expect you can find a use for it.
- The Brown Beast. Pub at end of pier. Trapdoors in floor for surprise disposal of rowdy patrons. Trained seal assists one-armed bartender. Serves thick red ale that tastes of iron, and wafers of revelation - chunks of ship’s biscuit infected with hallucinogenic mold.
- The Mermaid. Spacious tavern for playwrights and philosophers. Serves ice wine, roast bear, skry, hairy lobster and cloudberries. Courtyard where illicit satirical skits are performed, under the protection of the hairy-armed and crooked local magistrate.
- The Bitter Draught. A tavern so small only one person can fit inside it. Serves thimble-sized glasses of a pale green sticky substance that induces drastic and permanent personality changes. Widely rumoured to have a trapdoor in the floor that leads to secret tunnels. Doesn’t.
- The Pale Whale. A narrow alleyway roofed over and turned into an ale-hall. The slops of all the drinks are poured into the gutter that runs down the middle, beneath the arching skeleton of the whale that killed the greasy bartender’s brother. Drunkards with straws plague the downhill roads.
- The Yellow Sign. Cozy hole-in-the-wall that sells tiny cakes and kaf, a stimulating black nectar from the underworld. Owned by the Zulshibani ambassador, who lounges in a silk robe on one of the overstuffed couches, reading and gossiping about politics.
- Glimselby Hall. Fire-gutted galleon hauled halfway up a hillside. Crammed with beggars huddling together for warmth, sometimes fed by smug nuns who make them pray for their daily bowl of oatmeal. Killer called the Bittervetch haunts the nearby streets.
- The Dry Magazines. Abandoned warehouses, their contents untouchable due to complex legal dispute. Guarded by pack of disciplined law dogs, bred by solicitors to prevent theft. Squatters in roof. Something nasty imported from Zulshiban growing in the cellar.
- Horeb’s Hole. Warehouse cleared to make space for primitive menagerie and bear-baiting ring. Horeb pays well for exotic animals to set his dogs on - tigers, white apes, sea scorpions and baby mammoths. He’ll give his gold tooth to anyone who can fight his prize bear, Muggleton, bare-handed.
- The Rindelstraat. Trench of burning effluent runs between canvas stalls of jabbering speculators, buying and selling shares in trading voyages and adventuring companies, dabbing scented oils beneath their noses and using sign language to cut through the din.
- Reprimand Square. Stage for public tortures and humiliations. Petty thieves, naked and frostbitten, dangle in iron cages. Children poke them with sharp sticks. A monarchist hangs over a fire-pit, pleading for mercy as vendors of honey-roasted nuts prepare for the evening’s burning.
- Disputation Square. Actually a pentagon. Overrun by dissident preachers and philosophers all screaming at each other, teetering on stacks of furniture to get more height. Disguised police agents hang around, egging them on and taking notes.
- The Grabyard. Empty gravel-strewn lot where bare-knuckle boxing matches are staged every Sabbath morning. Current champion is a skraeling harpoonist who proudly brags that the mouse is his spirit animal. Warehouses on either side contain gyms.
- Oosenkrupp Manor. High on side of black hill, overlooking the icy bay. Home to mad old woman, last scion of wealthy family, who fears thieves and spends all her money rigging the house up with diabolical traps. Also two cats named Greesome and Flitterkins.
- The House Of Love. Sprawling thick-walled mansion complex, home to secretive sect of fur traders. Members are blonde, fat-faced, wall-eyed and prodigiously strong. They all claim to be married to each other, which is only not illegal by virtue of being nonsensical.
- Cathedral of Saint Yonah. Fills up every Sabbath morning with hymn-singers and flagellators in wire gloves, bleeding into collection bowls. Stained glass tells the story of Yonah and the whale. Only those lost at sea can legally be buried in the somehow-haunted crypts.
- Akrabbim Station. Bustling central watch-house with half-drunk, well-meaning captain presiding over the bullpen. Crooks dragged in by their ears and hurled into filthy, overcrowded holding cells until the magistrates sort them out.
- Blackbride Hospital. Theatre that evades the law against drama by pretending to be a lunatic asylum. Official story is the players are madmen, being exhibited for educational purposes. Employs several dozen actual madmen to keep appearances up.
- The Hierophant Club. Plush armchairs, deep liquor cellars and armed guards to keep the riff-raff out. The retired explorers who attend the club have a love of extravagant wagers, which leads to attempts at bear-wrestling and flights across the ice in burning balloons.
- The Ivory Tower. Lighthouse at bay’s end carved from ribcage of unspeakable leviathan. Base of secret police. In times of chaos its guttering red flame can be fueled with oil from the witch-whale, creating a brilliant white light that reveals everyone’s inmost sins and secrets.
- Flaywhistle Palace. Meeting-place of the Kingsmouth Parliament, presided over by First Citizen Praise-Poverty Vandersmeer. Home to King Jasper Stuart before the revolution. Smoke-stained debate halls and MPs’ offices in rust-spiked turrets with private balconies overlooking the sea.
|look at all these illustrations by the perfect genius gustave dore