The Exiled

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.    


  The 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 Shell
Execution 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 Shell
With 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 wasteland
  The 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.

Supersition and Fear

  To the average citizen of the deep, the surface is a place of terror and the Exiles who live there are the subject of many stories and tall tales. The exact nature of the depiction tends to vary with what is common to fear in the region of the story, but the Exiles are commonly depicted as the "Other". Strange, different, mutant cannibals who drink blood and worship the sun, cursed by magic to flee from darkness because it burns them, and so on. Any Exile who do find their way back into the depths would have to go to great length to hide their brands or face immediate and severe discrimination.  


  No matter where they came from or what customs they once held, Exile codes of conduct tend to center around simple survival. Some practice an extreme rule of the strong, where the leader holds power and controls all resources, but only so far as they remain the strongest. In others, the customs are of trust to tribe and to each other: never steal food from another, never abandon someone to sun-madness, and those sort of rules. Justice is simple and swift for those who break them.  

Language and Dialects

  Most Exiles speak the language of their homes. Those who have spent generations on the surface sometime develop their own dialects; the most extreme case belong to the Third Eye Tribe whose language has become completely removed to what they once spoke in the caves and unrecognizable to anyone outside the tribe.

The Exile King

  Once, the Exiled struck back against those who condemned them to the radioactive wasteland. The Exile King, also known as the Mad Mutant, managed to force a horde of Exiled under his banner and lead a campaign of bloody, mad retribution against the city-states of the Outer Shell.   Read about the Exile King


Author's Notes

Please ignore the gasmask! It was the best picture I could find on short notice.   Changelog: 2018-07-10: Fixed some typos. 2018-07-12: Added an image + quote

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9 Jul, 2018 16:21

Jesus, this was like reading a messed up collision of Fallout, Metro, and Outlast. Very well done, chilling.

9 Jul, 2018 16:30

Thank you kindly! :D

9 Jul, 2018 16:24

Oh wow, scary stuff! Do any Exiles ever find their way back underground and manage to remain there?

9 Jul, 2018 16:29

Sometimes. It's a big world and if they can hide their brands, they can usually pass as surface prospectors, adventurers or other neer'do'wells. Discovery is a constant risk, but it beats eating radiation poisonong for breakfast, lunch and dinner to most (particularly those innocent of the crimes that sent them upstairs). I'd imagined that Exile might be a player character type, probably. :)   And thanks for visiting! I'll add more as things go along, possibly after the camp. :D

9 Jul, 2018 17:08

What an interesting concept, dragging them to the surface, it has a very eery vibe to it.

9 Jul, 2018 17:30

I wanted to put a spin on the usual dynamic, where the bad place is underground and that's where you send people. :)

9 Jul, 2018 17:36

Thank you for commenting- sounds like I hit the right notes if it is eerie. :D

9 Jul, 2018 17:08

Wow, this is terrifying, especially with the idea that Exiles aren't always guilty! Because on one hand, you want to pity them, especially when they were innocent of the crime they were accused of, but on the other hand... Cannibalism man. And mutations. Exiles must be terrifying to look at I imagine - which, along with the brand, would make it even harder to manage to come back to the caves. This was very nice!

9 Jul, 2018 17:32

It's pretty much a shades of grey situation. Who's worse, the people who have to go to extreme lengths to survive, or the people who forced them to do so for reasons that vary from bigoted to petty?   Once I have some time and aren't so far behind on the prompts, I think I'll revisit this to expand a bit on this answer: I hope to include more examples of groups of Exiles.. And not all of them will be bad!

9 Jul, 2018 17:32

And thank you for your comment and kind words! :)

9 Jul, 2018 17:11

When I read about desolation, I didn't realize your world was almost entirely underground; that sort of adds a new spin to the way I understand the disease. I'm going to have to go read more about your world, because it's a super cool idea! I really like the little asides in this article, they add a nice extra touch.

9 Jul, 2018 17:29

My geography intro prompt should give you a pretty good overview of how the world is structured, if you are curious ( )   It's pretty much vertical instead of horizontal, with my main inspiring prompt being- pretty much- what if the surface was just always an uninhabitable place?   Thank you for the kind words and comments, I appriciate it!

9 Jul, 2018 17:12

Ooh, i find it interesting how the status is divided depending on how close they are to the surface! It's an interesting look at how people could be blamed even though theyre innocent and have to suffer. Nice layout as well; I wish there were images or something at the side bar since there's a lot of space, but your formatting is still lovely!

9 Jul, 2018 17:34

I will make a note of that and try to find some more pictures to spice things up! Thanks for the feedback!!   I'm still figuring out how the BBC code and all the layout stuff works, so hopefully I'll be able to address that once I've done so!   Thanks for the commend and kind words, I really appriciate it!

9 Jul, 2018 17:38

Of course! The article still stands great on it's own, but it could be nice flavor/mood for the piece. BB Code was hard to learn, but I'm sure you'll learn quick! I've done a lot of trial and error and then previewed all like "Oh did this work--OH NO IT BROKE EVERYTHING." :'D so, be prepared for that if you mess around!   And no problem at all for the comment, I want to foster a good environment : D (Plus I know how excited I get when I see I have notifications LOL )