|Nation:||Unified Governorates of Benacia|
|Current mayor:||Salbnan Lysander Falk|
|Map versions:||8.0.1 - current|
Structure and layout
Merensk, at least in the years after the fall of Minarboria, has suffered from the perennial Benacian problem of having too many people crammed within its boundaries with too little thought as to how they would be accommodated or provided for. The result, in consequence, is that the usual Benacian problems - squalor, malnourishment, pestilence - asserted themselves with their typical vigour. Benacia Command, appalled at having relocated to yet another heap of filth, having so recently departed the last one, immediately issued orders for a full-scale cleansing of the midden-heap of a city, followed by its systematic demolition and reconstruction along centrally planned lines.
It would appear that those in authority charged with the reconstruction of Merensk in the wake of the Kalirion Fracture, to say nothing of some particularly unpleasant infestations by hostile biota which afflicted the suburbs, have had imprinted upon them by some unknown memetic influence a fixation with the number eight; as of the year 1672 there were under construction eight concentric walls enclosing an area of sixty-four square kilometres. In each of the eight "Segmentae Civitates" is being built a cathedral-temple dedicated to the worship of an emanation of the Highest Divinity, whose own cathedral - the Monad - is being constructed at the very heart of the city, with each temple mirroring the hierarchies of the Celestial Temple, beginning with the shrine to Ahriman in the innermost Segmentum and ending with Lest as the presiding patron deity of the outermost. In terms of transportation for instance, the city will be served by eight tramways. Each of the segmentae are in turn subdivided into eight municipal districts. There are eight recognised guilds into which all professions and trades must be shoehorned as best they can. Urban zones have been divided into eight categories for planning purposes. A Council of Eight advises the Salbnan appointed by Benacia Command as commandant of the city. It is as though the planners, bereft of ideas, opted for mindless pattern repetition in lieu of a consistent or meaningful theme. On the upside this does mean that there are eight hospitals under construction, which is more concern for the health of the populace than previous regimes have shown. Eight aqueducts, eight broad canals, eight teeming fish lakes, and eight capacious sewers, also appear to have made their way onto the planner's design board. Integrated water management systems having been something of a novelty hitherto in the former Shirerithian space, as evidenced by the miseries endured by Shirekeep over the centuries.
Consistent with the theme expounded upon at monotonous length above there are eight ring roads within each of the concentric segmentae, and eight converging avenues, four from north to south and four from east to west, whose interlacing forms the Centrum district upon which the Monad edifice is being raised.
The area within the walls is known collectively as "Zitadelle".
Beyond the walls of Zitadelle an area of 9,216 square kilometres has been enclosed by fencing and checkpoints to create the Merensk Metropolitan Region in which the remainder of the population assigned to the economic, political, and military functions of the capital are assigned. As the reader may justly have come to fear by this stage, the Metropolitan Region is subdivided into eight urban bailiwicks.
1st urban bailiwick: the Paradise
Regimented as it invariably was, Merensk had its outlets for pleasure-lovers and non-conformists, especially for those amongst the privileged classes of senior guildsmen, functionaries, officers, and legionaries on furlough. The Paradise, established within the first urban bailiwick to be constructed after the completion of the Zitadelle, was a licensed district devoted to leisure and entertainment, and there all manner of frivolities were tolerated.
Here were to be found, theatres, taverns, public baths and houses of consolation, where all the austere and orderly values of Nationalist-Humanism and Holodomatic Cedrozurvanism were overthrown. The ways of luxury-loving merchants from back east prevailed over the martial code of the Black Legions, and styles were set by the courtesans, procuresses, actors and musicians of the colourful, exotic and unreal dreamland.
In the Paradise, both government functionaries and exhausted workmen seeking respite from the breakneck pace of construction in the remaining seven bailiwicks, could relax in the company of women and gelded youths, who were schooled in the arts of singing, dancing, and witty companionship. The training of these skilled comforters, invariably taken from the residual population of protected persons left over from the Auspicious Occasion, had often begun, under the supervision of the Konkordskaya Bratva, as early as the age of nine, and accomplished companions were celebrated figures in society. In the houses of consolation, men might also relax at at cards, backgammon, or plantation - a newly popular board game introduced from the interior where the purpose of the game is to move the black pieces from the right hand of the board to the green sanctuary on the left and where the player with the red pieces has to prevent the player with the black from completing the journey. Once the player with the black pieces has attained sanctuary he may begin to introduce various green and black pieces onto the board until the red players initial numerical advantage is entirely cancelled out and the game proper begins. There are those who suspect the game of being a non-too subtle form of indoctrination being spread by the various pilgrims entering the land during the period of Detente and thus the Paradise is one of the few districts where it is safe to play the game openly, even though plantation is rumoured to have avid players amongst even the most senior in the land.
The Paradise is also home to a small colony of Nezeni hired at some considerable expense to serve as a centrepiece for the absolute inversion of Nationalist-Humanist morality that the Paradise represents.
How the Paradise came to not only be tolerated but planned for by the state is a reflection of Nationalist-Humanist theory in and of itself, in that the genius of humanity resides in the capacity for hypocrisy and that the controlled release of otherwise undesirable passions in a regulated setting prevents what would otherwise be an uncontrollable eruption of repressed perversion and dissent that would corrupt and overturn society if yielded to.
The quid pro quo for this arrangement is that most activities tolerated within the Paradise would swiftly and inexorably result in disgrace, dismissal from all forms of employment and unavoidable reassignment to the Biological Remediation Service is attempted outside of its enclosing walls.
Notable tourist traps
- The Altar of Dubious Inspiration: situated on the capitol hill in Merensk, consisting of a lead statue of Vasroe in meaningful conversation with his alter egos
- The Museum of Froyalanish Degenerate Culture: located deep within the Paradise, the museum is home to various otherwise proscribed works, centrepiece consisting of a wax tableau of St Harald being adored and worshipped in various pornographic poses by a harem of nubile avatars. Inexplicably popular with the lascivious metropolitan crowd drawn from Shirekeep.
- Merensk Fighting Pit: Preferred method for disposing of wayward Amokolians and Lach, situated within the Zitadelle in Section Eight of the Eighth Circle (of Lest), the fighting pit also serves as an amphitheatre for the staging of amateur dramatics on subjects more respectable than might be played in the pleasure districts and hosts various sporting competitions, of which the Gubernatorial and Military Association Football Conferences are the most popular.
Population, as of 1672 AN:
- Zitadelle: 270,468
- Metropolitan Region:1,711,976
The population density of Merensk, Zitadelle and Metropolitan Region combined, is 214 residents per square kilometre.
As befits the region, the records concerning Merensk are sparse - at best, even down to modern times on account of the frequent calamities which overwhelmed the continent. Known to the Ashkenatzim as Introbsk. It can be determined that the city was confirmed as the seat of the Lichgraviate of Lachmeren in the year 1635 and, as part of the Lichnina, it was ruled by a Lichgrave serving as royal governor appointed at the behest of the Empress of Minarboria, who was herself - needless to say - also a revenant. It was a peculiar time in the history of the continent, when corpses were in many cases more animated than their living counterparts. This arrangement, periodically reaffirmed, endured for the duration of the reign of the undead over southern Benacia.
The population of the city during that period comprised of a Laqi majority whose heritage dated back to their settlement in the region following the collapse of the Laqi Free Republic.
The city's garrison was drawn from local military units of the Lachmeren Military District, which were the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Lachmeren Regiments and the 3rd Pergola (Air Defence) Regiment.
There are indications that, during the restoration of human rule (1649–1650), Merensk somehow survived being on the receiving of the attentions of one Kizzy Drakland. Merensk was reported at that time to have been relatively stable, it had been claimed by Shireroth rather quickly with no local opposition. The people of Lachmeren were reported to have regarded Shireroth as the lesser of two evils, the greater evil being left to the Green or other foreign powers. Considering the famous antipathy of Minarboreans towards the Imperial Republic it is entirely possible that this assessment was the product of the imagination of an overly optimistic Salbnan trying to curry favour with High Command in Shirekeep.
Indications exist that Tapferite bosarchs conducted missionary work in the region of Merensk, even obtaining dispensation to splash passers-by with goats milk as part of their missionary work. Fortunately this appears to have left no lasting impact upon the wider population.
More serious however was growth of daemonic cults in Lachmeren, again under the tutelage and indulgence of Kizzy Drakland, who had acquired for herself the title of "Daemon-Queen" of Malarboria. The practice of overt daemon-worship, in addition to causing significant tensions with Imperial authorities, also began to stoke resentments amongst Merensk' multi-ethnic population. Matters would be soon brought to a head during the Folksraad elections of 1660 which saw a disparate coalition of minority parties, quietly supported by sympathetic outsiders take on the Loyalist Legion, the puppet party of the Daemon-Queen.
The sequence in which revolutions and emigrations saw Malarboria replaced by Modan, and Modan replaced by Malarboria-Modan in turn, need not concern us here but we can note that at the end of this sequence Merensk was elevated in status, in the year 1668, by becoming the capital of the consolidated subdivisions of Lywall, Lachmeren, and Angularis, henceforth called Malarboria. This arrangement itself would only last four years until the events of the Kalirion Fracture would overwhelm the continent once again, and this time see Merensk arise from the wreckage of the old Imperial order as the capital of the Unified Governorates of Benacia and the foremost citadel of the Black Legions.
- ^ It should be noted that no companion entered the Houses of Consolation with the purpose of learning the culmination of their profession before the lawful age of majority.
- ^ The nightly burlesque show at a club known as the "Eight Spindle Arms" for instance is reported to be a travesty of taste and decorum, and thus is immensely popular.