Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Silas Gromff and the Midwives' Rebellion (Wermspittle)

One of three surviving certified-authentic Haemotypes
depicting Silas Gromff (right)
and an unidentified Medium (left)
captured during the early days of the Rebellion. 
First they hung all the lawyers. Technically, the Blue Tuques did the hanging. The Midwives just took advantage of it. It still hasn't been conclusively proven that they were the ones orchestrating things, but most suspect them and the rest blame them.

Hanging went out of style in Wermspittle after the nooses started to take on a grim unlife of their own and the Alraunes and Mandrakes cultivated and unleashed by the Midwives who harvested the spilt-seed of the hanged men became numerous enough, powerful enough to stake-out sections of the Burned Over District as off-limits to those not of their kind. And make it stick.

What was done to the bodies of the few women hanged to death upon the gallows doesn't bear mentioning. It was the last-straw, even moreso than anything ever done to a bunch of lawyers. That one revelation proved too much, even for the folk of a place so steeped in misery and the macabre as Wermspittle.

A firestorm tore through Wermspittle. Overnight mobs stoned, tore to pieces, crucified and impaled scores of Gibbet-Men, Blue Tuques and Midwives. Bodies and pieces of bodies were strewn through the streets and across the walls like grotesque garlands conceived in the feverish mind of a pig-eyed butcher. It was horrific. It was also the start of a war. A terrible war of ever escalating atrocities that has never quite gone away nor fully ended. Echoes of it still reverberate through the corridors of asylums turned torture-parlors, shadows of forgotten massacres slither across nondescript garden walls, and the dead still mutter darkly in their graves of dreadful wrongs and worse revenge. The Midwive's Rebellion has left an indelible mark upon Wermspittle. A deep, livid scar that will never heal, but always seep a little blood like some lingering stigmata.

Ruthless Retribution
Not even three weeks into his new job as the non-appointed Grand Marshall of the Sewer Militia, Silas Gromff found himself up to his hips in angry mobs and a full-blown rebellion. Already facing an impossible task in coordinating the defense of the city from threats his spelunker-scouts had discovered mustering in the Deep Below, Silas Gromff acted decisively and ruthlessly to end the Midwives' Rebellion before it could jeopardize everything. After the negotiations broke down and his representatives were disemboweled to make Gutworms, it was abundantly clear that there was no way to negotiate with the possessed and mad cackling hags who led the rebels. Drastic steps were called for. So Silas Gromff took incredibly drastic steps, as only he could.

Gromff sent crews of Sewer Militia sergeants into the internment-camps established by the previous Military Governor's administration and deputized over two hundred homeless and desperate Refugees, gave them all their pick of whatever clubs, hatchets or other weapons could be gathered or collected quickly, and set them to killing every other Midwife they encountered. It was a horrific tactic, despicable and under-handed, and exactly the sort of thing that worked where nothing else had shown any positive results. The mobs didn't stop until nearly all of the forces loyal to or under the control of the Midwives were exterminated. To this day, it is considered a bad omen to wear a blue tuque in the open.

Recriminations & Redemption
What Silas Gromff did was heinous and terrible. He freely admitted it himself. Frequently and often in public; but he also made it scathingly clear that the Midwives had forced his hand. Two days after the massacres swept through the streets, Gromff's deputized mobs were conscripted and marched down the cellar ramparts to confront a full-blown underground invasion by Fetidian wormsoldiers from some previously unsuspected underworld empire. Heavy losses accrued. The city was in dire peril of falling to the would-be  conqueror worms. But then Gromff received a message from the surviving Midwives who had been sealed within an asylum converted into a prisoner of war camp. The contents of the message have never been revealed, but shortly afterward the Midwives were released from their cells and the invasion was ended.

Whatever happened, the Midwives were pardoned on the condition that they never utter a word concerning what was done in the Deep Below. The Fetidians were defeated and driven out of the tunnels, shafts and warrens as far as the Sewer Militia dared to pursue them. Eventually, a sort of underground  D├ętente was established. Silas Gromff never fully trusted the Midwives, despite relying upon their help to defeat the first menace from down below. And for their part,  the Midwives never forgave Gromff for his harsh treatment of them. Every December Midwives still burn little effigies of Silas Gromff, as long as they keep out of the sight of the Sewer Militia. For their part, the Sewer Militia do not revile the Midwives. They do not trust them, but they respect them, especially those veterans who've seen the lingering traces of the old wise women's eldritch handiwork in the Deep Below. And those deputized and then conscripted Refugees? They formed the hardcore of a Nameless Brigade that has fought alongside, yet separately from, the Sewer Militia. They still only accept recruits from the shanty-camps, or criminals who'd otherwise make a trip to the Oubliette. And they wear rusty red tuques knit by Midwives and dipped in the blood of their fallen.

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