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"Live free."

-- motto of Independence


Everyone knows the major landmarks of the Outlands: the Spire, the Great Road, Thoth's paperpalace and thuslike. What sometimes escapes the notice of them flash planeswalking ponces is that the Outlands are filled with a bunch of other, smaller stuff too. Tso outposts, khaasta encampments, farming bergs, all eking out their tiny existences amidst the sea of Concordant Opposition.

And, of course, the town of Independence.


Independence looks just like any other farming berg in the Outlands. It's not even really a town, more like a glorified village of some twenty farmholds, a few minor craftsmen, and old Gantry down by the well who sells dodgy charms and herbals for a few copper apiece. It doesn't produce anything of note and, except for a strange low stone wall surrounding it, is completely and utterly unexceptional.

The farmholds of Independence have a generally minimalist view of governance. Disputes are generally worked out within the community; a rotating series of Elders has kept the conflict to a minimum and most of the families are more interested with tending their crops than pursuing any vendettas. A few of the older sons form something of a militia who help keep the bubbers in line after the Vineday revels and to show force in case slavers pass by, but other than that the farmholds look after their own.

Visitors are always welcome here, though they seldom stay; the welcome is sincere, but shallow. The good folk of Independence don't trust strangers, you see, since strangers always bring trouble. "Live free", they say, "free of all entanglements of the outside world. Life's hard enough as it is, sowing and planting, tending crops and tending child, growing and courting and caring and dying. Why borrow more trouble than what you're due?"

The one notable exception to this rule is Old Hob, who came to Independence some ten years ago and has fit in just fine. He whittles wood for the children, helps during harvest, and occasionally takes over for the blacksmith when Willum is feeling poorly. No-one knows who gave him the name -- it sure ain't his real one -- but it stuck, partly because it seems to amuse him to hear the younglings scuttle in pleasurable fear at the thought of a big nasty demon amongst them. Whatever his past, and ain't none who know, his sound advice and common sense have earned him the grudging respect of the town, and some even tap him to be the next Elder when Old Phinneas steps down.

The Chant

Why would anyone care about a berg as ordinary and unremarkable as Independence? Part of it is that Indepedence is old; the Hampshires claim to have come here some nine hundred years ago after some muckity-muck in The City (for that's how they refer to Sigil when they refer to it at all) punted them out, and Old Phinneas tells that Independence weren't young by then. Truth is, every farmhold in Independence was founded by a traveller from some place else, and ain't none of them forgot it. That's why travellers are given shallow welcome; them what's bound to stay will stay, and them what can't thrive will move on.

Thing is, there ain't no other bergs in the Outlands as old as Independence, near as anyone can tell. Any village that small and unprepared ends up under the booted claw of the Blood War sooner or later, or is snagged by godbotherin' proxies out lookin' for the greater glory; either way, ain't no village stays independent for that long, and that's a fact. Saving only Independence.

Part of this is that the villagers want to be left alone. On some lemon tree this wouldn't count for the parchment it was pissed on, but out in the Planes, where belief matters, this makes Independence right hard to find. Bloods who want to bring harm to the berg, who want to capture its essence somehow, can't seem to find it. Worse yet, it resists mapping of any kind; some people have encountered Independence near the Spire, some near a gate-town, and some claim to have seen it sprout from the ground in Semuanya's Bog or appear like a dusty scroll in Thebestys. The town itself never changes, though, only its environs. "Live free", they say, "and part of that freedom means never being tied down to one realm. Besides, who cares what's outside the wall? Our hands are full with what's in here."

Hundreds of other villages wanted nothing else but to be left alone and they're all dead and gone, so what else does this one have? Well, the chant is that Independence is protected. People who bring trouble find greater trouble in return, and ain't no blood can survive the retribution of a killing or a conversion. Powers only know what or how the berg's made safe, though -- and in fact, some bubbers claim it is the powers, pursuing some grand experiment beyond our mortal ken. Then again, they're just bubbers, and who has time for that kind of screed anyway? There're fields to tend and children to raise; no sense in borrowing more trouble than what's due.


A number of rumors have grown up around Independence, though not so's you'd notice it. A body'd have to go well out of her way to find a chatterer to pass this screed.

  • Some folks claim that Independence, being so old, must have legendary stores of jink or, for the more discerning pillager, knowledge. Most who seek to plunder Independence never find it, but a rare few have made it there and back again. Seeing as how none of them will talk of their visit, who's to say what they might have gleaned?
  • The usual assortment of fiends want themselves a piece of Independence -- it's there, what more reason do they need? -- but none so much as the prisoners of Carceri. Poltak Snaggletooth, in particular, one of the few to escape the Red Prison's oily embrace, has been hunting for Independence for nigh on six years now; the orcish tiefling plans to use it to spring his mates and give Carceri the laugh. What he doesn't seem to realize is that the loyalty that let him slip the Traitor's Noose ain't held by his mates, which is why they're still rotting in the jungles of Cathrys...
  • For some reason, the only berks wanting a bigger piece of Independence are the proxies. Even mentioning it around a proxy will make them see red, and expressing approval for its ways is enough to turn one of Ilmater's bleeders into a Rager. That said, some powers -- particularly the Celtic pantheon and Thoth -- have come to a weary sort of tolerance of its freedom and can provide some information if reasonably mollified first.
  • Old Hob has attracted quite a bit of attention from an unlikely source: Planewalkers. Chant is that Old Hob is a legendary planewalker called Rhius Anacrion, who holds the record for the Nessus-to-Azzagrat run. [Five days, sixteen hours and twenty-four minutes, if you're interested.] Rhius got tired of the adventuring life about fifteen years ago and simply disappeared to no-one knows where. What is known is that ambitious young cutters from Sigil to the Stair have been desperate to find his whereabouts and query him till their tongues spit blood.

    The Dark

    "In the beginning", the story goes, so you know it's screed. That said, in aeons past there was a terrible war that pitted power against power. Just before the final apocalypse a horrible monster was birthed and set upon the gods, a hundred-headed fire-spitting ravener whose sole reason for existence was to ravage the usurpers and tear down the new order. The last gasp failed, the monster was imprisoned and the old order crumbled into dust.

    This much is well-known.

    What isn't well-known is that it had a twin.

    At the same time the ravener sprang forth from his rocky womb, a gentler scion emerged from the flowing waters of eternity. Its mission was the exact opposite: to preserve the old order in the face of the new. And, for a time, it succeeded.

    Eventually, though, when all else had fallen to ruin, the twin was forced to concede defeat. Fleeing from the victorious new order it set itself a mission: to preserve as much of the old order as it could and, perhaps more importantly, to maintain its defiance by never submitting to another's will. It ultimately settled in the Outlands and, shortly thereafter, a few outcasts found themselves drawn to its embrace.

    Thus it was that Independence was founded. Before the Kriegstanz, before Shektelor shook the Cage, before the Blood War, even before the baernoloths had slimed their way out of the primordial muck of Evil, Independence has stood proud. The gods hate it but they can't seem to hit it. As the only old power that never fought in the Great War, Independence is just as strong as ever, and as long as it don't make no trouble the gods are willing to let it lie rather than risk casualties themselves. They periodically send proxies after it, of course -- might get lucky, right? -- but they, like all who seek to enslave Independence, are vanquished the moment they try anything.

    Only those who are willing to live and let live are welcomed in Independence, and only those who are willing to face life on its terms -- living free means dying free, too, even for immortals -- will manage to remain. The life ain't easy, and it sure ain't no City-like glamorous, but it's honest labor that feeds the body and soothes the soul. And if you don't like it, ain't no-one making you stay. Ever.

    "Live free," they say, and they mean it.

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