Accused of terrible crimes and branded with red irons with symbols of guilt, the Exiled are a term for those who face one of the harshest punishments in Araea: Exile from the caverns and to the surface world. They are dragged in chains to openings far from settled tunnels and left out in the sun to fend for themselves. Many perish, other cling to their lives with vicious tenacity.
ExileThe crimes that see one exiled vary from nation to nation, but it is a punishment that is rooted in spreading fear. Everyone has heard of the terrors that stalk the surface, of the horrifying infinite chasm above with the blazing sun, of blight and mutation. And of other Exiles, mad cannibal mutants, cursed to wander the hellscape above to pay for their crimes. As such, the punishment of surface exile is a spectacle, with the would-be exile paraded through the streets and beyond to a fate worse then death in the eyes of those who watch.
From the Inner ShellExecution or indentured servitude are often punishments for the same crimes in the Inner Shell, both being considerably easier on the authorities to levy. When someone is sentenced to surface-exile, it is to send a message; to rabble-rousers, to enemies of the rich and powerful or to those merely political inconvinent. Such sentences tend to become more common in times of civil strife or political unrest. Just the distance to reach the surface makes the sentence expensive, but equally more terrifying for those who have never even seen the sun.
At the Outer ShellWith much easier access to the Surface, magistrates and vengeful nobility have a much easier time to issue the sentence of surface-exile. As such, most of the Exiled hail from the Outer Shell and the sentence has become a tool for those in power to dispose of malcontents and misfits as well as true criminals.
War-Exiled In at least once instance, bitterly fought wars have lead to spiteful conquerers emptying entire lineages or city blocks out into the wastelands above, declaring them all Exile. Such things are rare, but the infamous Third Eye Tribe owes its cohesive structure to ancestors who were all exiled at once.
Life In Exile
The first steps into the wastelandThe Surface is a harsh wasteland. Food and water are scarce, the sun blinds eyes accustomed to dark caves and gloomy tunnels, while frigid nights threaten to freeze solid any Exile cannot find shelter. Irradiated blight-zones or dust storms threaten at all times, and every Exile who survive long enough are doomed to begin to develop debilitating mutations or cancerous lesions. Most Exiles are semi-nomadic, either driven by the more dangerous elements of the Surface or by the need to find fresh resources to survive. Those who find each other either fight to take what the other has or band together, at the most successful forming small tribes. These are a very real danger to prospectors and adventurers who traverse the surface, as necessity and desperation drive the Exiles to see them as sources of meat and tools more than people. Cannibalism is common and often only a matter of time. Those who refuse are eaten in turn, instead. But not all Exiles devolve so utterly or rapidly. Some adapt and survive, eking out a living collecting water from glaciers and hunting the strange things that live beneath the ice or find shelter from the radiation in valleys or mountain peaks. Others become true nomads of the wastes, traveling between pockets of safety to avoid the attention of hungry beasts- or other exiles. Life on the surface is short, desperate and brutal. Only the hardiest and most cunning survive for long.
Innocent Exiles To be an exile is to be damned to a short, miserable existance or to feast on others to extend it. But far from every Exile stands guilty or deserving of the punishment that they face. Some are innocent, others scapegoats and others still merely in the way of some ploy in games between the powerful. But once branded, they are the same in the eyes of the denizens of the cavernous realms: cursed, damned and guilty.