Friday, September 3, 2010


This island city is a jewel of wanton cruelty to rival Rome of the Caesars, or the slave-markets of Zanzibar.

The laws of Karsh forbid any citizen of that city to steal foreigners for slaves. Instead, the law-abiding Karshian will pay one country for prisoners taken from another. By this policy they have set all their neighbours at one another's throats, and rendered Karsh safe from well-deserved vengeance. Indeed all are dependent on the slave-made weapons that Karsh sells, and the manacles sold through the widespread Karshian franchise McDonald's Family Restraints.

This policy has a subtler virtue (if one may call it that). It convinces the Karshians that they bear no responsibility for the slave trade. After all, they argue, they merely buy those who already slaves - and who knows if they may not have faced a worse fate in the pens of their barbaric captors? That their neighbours are barbaric is obvious. Every town lives in fear of its neighbour. Indeed every village bully and strongman wants scant excuse to sentence some poor fellow to slavery, and profit thereby. Some will sell even their own family, so that the bonds of familial love are like to be replaced by leaden chains. And thus Karsh is satisfied in its own superiority, like one who carries a plague, infecting all around, yet spared the worst of the sickness themselves.

Among the shameful practices of the city is that of raising 'spiders'. As babies some boy slaves have their torsos bound and restricted, so that they do not grow normally. The victim will end up with normal-sized limbs and head, but a grotesequly small body, twisted and wrinkled so that it resembles an Egyptian mummy, or a Japanese bonsai tree. They are trained in singing and poetry, and used as a kind of pet by the noble ladies of Karsh and near places. The fact that the poor wretches are castrated no doubt spares them from yet further indignities.

Karsh is known as Karsh the Wicked, or Karsh of the Red Sands, the latter for its gladiatorial arena.

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