The Pit Building / Landmark in Lapis of Nicodem | World Anvil

The Pit

The Pit in Jiy is an egregious example of Dentherion cruelty and puppet ruler depravity. It rests in the Stone Streets, below street level but open to the sun. Once an important temple of royalty, it stands as a dark husk of previous glory.  


  The Pit was formed by the original Dentherion invaders, who threw the bodies of the Jilvaynian king and his supporters into the conveniently close palace temple grounds and lit them on fire. On top of the ash, the Dentherions disposed of the dead commoners. The stench and disease brought the newly formed Stone Streets to its knees, and realizing the contamination might have negative consequences, even across the river where the new palace was being built, the freshly minted puppet king introduced a carrion lizard population to care for the bodies.   No one is certain why the official burial decree was issued, but it occurred sometime within the first fifty years of Dentherion rule. Within that timeframe, all burials but for the puppet king's supporters were outlawed and all bodies thrown from the bridge spanning the area to the carrion lizards and the carrion birds below. Enacting the decree was a slow process, beginning with the very poor, and ending with disloyal nobles who thought themselves too wealthy and important to insult in that manner. The targeted nobles fled Jiy and found a sympathetic community in Coriy.   Coinciding with the decree, 'birds', flying tech with stiff wings and a large barrel, first appeared. Birds sprayed a chemical over the decomposing bodies that supposedly attracted the carrion lizards and carrion birds, but that also prevented the spread of disease. It worked as advertised, and every ruler has continued the spraying, for they believe it keeps the city free of disease caused by rotting corpses.   The corpse spray was created and imported from Dentheria, along with a hefty price tag. The puppet kings did not question, afraid the Lord's Council would stop the sale of it and Jiy will suffer accordingly.   The sharp, acidic smell of the chemical did not cover the scent of rot and decay. The priests of the Fifth God, claiming it a pious and just duty, installed incense burners to freshen the air about the hole. Over the years, the burners have grown from hand-held devices to huge, human-sized metal containers that can hold days' worth of raw product. The priests refill the burners once every twenty-five days, making certain the Stone Streets remain inundated with the sweet berry scent. The once-loved incense has become the most used and most reviled scent in Jiy.  

Current Events

  The Pit is still the only place in Jiy the majority of the population can be legally 'buried'. Richer merchants and nobles pay underground criminal organizations to ferret away the bodies of their loved ones, to a forgotten catacombs supposedly used by the old Taangis Empire to bury their officials. People pay dearly for the privilege, and make trips to the desolate cave system to pay homage to the deceased when they are able. A strong ancestor-worship sect of the Seven Gods and the Stars has risen in Jiy, and provides a place to mourn family and friends without fear of royal retribution for the act--as long as one has the money to pay for it.   The underground finds it a convenient place to dispose of bodies; no one is going to brave lizards and disease to go looking through the pile of corpses for a murder victim. Hunters, a specific type of chaser, have been known to ditch their stakes there as well.   The Pit has also become a place where families can dispose of unwanted members, leaving them at the bottom of the stairway that leads into the temple courtyard. The old, infirm, disabled, severely injured, and children become food for the carrion lizards. While guards stand watch at the stair entrance, bribes pave the way for such depravity, and they look the other way when victims plead for help. Rarely, a kind soul will rescue those trapped there, but usually only children. Those that manage to escape normally spend the rest of their lives in the Stone Streets, wallowing in poverty and pain.   Dumping garbage is expressly forbidden, and people have spent the remainder of their lives in a jail cell after doing so. Prohibitions on animal disposal were implemented when crafty farmers attempted to bring their dead work animals to the bridge and dump them into the Pit, thereby avoiding rural disposal fees. Only Jiy residents may dispose of their animals there, and they must pay a fee and be accompanied by a guard when they do so. People send their pets over the bridge without paying the fee, though the authorities ignore that particular law-breaking.   Outside of Jiy, the Pit has taken on a legendary quality. People who do not live nearby believe the horror stories about it are simply that--horror stories. They cannot comprehend such a horrible thing, so choose not to believe it.
by Shanda Nelson / photo Gary Chambers
The Pit's most famous resident is Mama Poison, a large carrion lizard some believe was the first one released inside the temple. She is as tall as a wagon and as long as half a city block, so when she decides to leave the Pit and go for a walk, no one stops her. Jiy has instituted a bell system in the Grey and Stone Streets, which alerts residents to her movements so they can avoid a confrontation. While mild-mannered and lumbering most of the time, when annoyed, she strikes snake-fast; a bite or a scratch will quickly become infected, and if not properly cared for, the person will die within a few days.
How many carrion lizards are there? No one's bothered to count.

Cover image: by Shanda Nelson / photo Gary Chambers


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