The population of Vorbild is, by any measure, a perfect one. There are no highwaymen, burglars, or thugs. There are no brawls and little drinking. Even the children engage in only the most pleasant activities, never chasing dogs or breaking windows. Of course they are not perfect, the people of Vorbild have disagreements and arguments just like anyone else. But conflicts are always solved in the most mature manner possible. Best of all, the perpetual peace of Vorbild doesn’t have to be enforced. There are no sheriffs, courts, or prisons. Still many people from the neighboring lands wouldn’t move to Vorbild for all the lost treasure of Zwergeld.
Vorbilders aren’t really superior to the people of the troubled countries that surround it. If left alone for long enough, Vorbild would become riddled with corruption and crime. But it’s not left alone. The witch who rules Vorbild, a hag by the name of Rasse, takes special measures to ensure the wellbeing of her country. It is said that she visits the beds of every child by the time they reach the age of three and peers deep into them with her magic eye, spying on their souls and their futures. And if she doesn’t like what she sees, she steals them away into the night and casts them into her Schurkekerker, her miscreant labyrinth, where they wander through the darkness with all of the other potentially nasty children for the rest of their lives.
Children are tossed in through a shaft, straight and deep like a well, that is said to be at the very center of the labyrinth. No one can know that for sure as none have ever come out of the shaft and there is no indication of any other exit, but the tales say that the maze radiates out into the earth from the shaft like the roots of a great twisted tree. The more recent of Rasse’s victims, memories of their homes and parents and a world of light still fresh in their minds, huddle at the bottom of the shaft, wailing with fear. Deeper into the labyrinth older children prey on each other, savagely attacking and devouring anyone they bump into in the darkness. These children become desperate and feral, nightmare goblins that can’t be described as human any more. These vile creatures are Rasse’s children, the atrocities that are preformed in the dark corners of the maze feed the hag’s power. This is what keeps Vorbild a beautiful, happy country.
All this would seem like a great argument for staying well away from Vorbild. However, vagabonds sitting around far away tavern tables, well out of Rasse’s earshot, lay idle plans for delving the depths of the Schurkekerker. None have actually been sober enough to follow through, but the intentions behind the proposed quest are as numerous as the maze’s dead-ends. There have been some stories about parents, unhappy with the disappearance of their children, tossing powerful magical items into the labyrinth in the hope of helping their progeny. Untold power and riches could have accumulated in the maze over the course of Rasse’s unnaturally long reign. There are also rumors that Rasse is increasing her territory, stealing babies from families that thought they lived outside the border of Vorbild. The neighboring governments might handsomely reward the one who returned these young hostages. There has even been some speculation by the more noble-hearted that were the maze emptied, its occupants freed, slaughtered, or otherwise disposed of, Rasse would be drained of her power and the entire country would return to the natural way of things.
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? Responses (10)
This is a hag that could have a considrable support-base amongst those of her people who would fear the area desending into crime and lawlessness if the hag was to be killed.A mob could form to protect the witch.
Exactly what you should expect in an utopian land - the dark secret it is built upon.
Question, though: isn't the population quite small after this long weeding out of the unfit? There is a potential for Evil in every human being, so only the really bad ones have to be removed (does the witch see the nature of the child that grows up, or can she see its future?). Also, what happens to those that commit a crime, if not by purpose (even the best people can turn to it), then by chance? There witch has cetainly made a few mistakes during the years, so do they just 'vanish'?
The dungeon offers many plot hooks, not last would be the attempt to release/escape of all of its inhabitants outside. Good work.
This has some interesting ideas to ti. I will contemplate this on the Tree of Woe!
Also, it's widely accepted that the children who vanish would have tended towards evil... but they only have Rasse's word for that, don't they?
Nicely said Ria! Perhaps the children thrown into the dungeon are not only the 'bad' ones, but the ones who would revolt against her rule later in life. Morality isn't just given when you accept a religion, it's there 24/7, whether you ignore it or not. There will always be those who would resent and revolt against such treatment of children. Those are the ones you want to get rid of as soon as possible!
I see a seething community, violently divided by the policies of the hag and those who oppose her, yet her power keeps things in check for the time being. It is the glass smooth surface of water floating above a tar pit, to step into this is to risk being swallowed by it.
really good idea i like it.
Excellent! A dark fairy tale for sure.