The City under the Mechanists.
An account by Keeper Carminia
This is a concise overview of incidents in the City under the Mechanists, and various plans they implemented, to give a better idea of the full scale of their plans and disastrous influence. This is a work in progress, which shall culminate in a complete book on the City's later history, to be added to the Keeper Library for future brethren.
1- Spread of the Mechanist religion
The Mechanists employed various means to increase their numbers. This is an account of measures and events that brought about a quick spread of the Mechanist church throughout the City. Karras' initial plan was to take full control and ultimately convert humanity to his cult, before he went mad and sought to destroy all life.
- A primary means was the propagation of Mechanist technology, which was unambiguously innovative. The Mechanists quickly developed a reputation as pioneers, and their technology drew high demand, particularly from the Watch, the City government, and the City's upper class who supported them. This in turn allowed them to become unimaginably wealthy in a short amount of time, exponentially, funding their grandiose projects.
- The Mechanists sought to recruit from the younger sections of the City to ensure their future propagation. Karras devised a four day rally in a vacant field in New Quarter. The gathering, called 'Youth and Progress' was heavily advertised in posters throughout the City, and was designed to attract the youth with Mechanist ideology and technology, with exhibit tents and various speeches and sermons.
In a rare show of unity, both Hammerites and Pagans had a meeting to discuss the new threat, and petitioned the Baron to stop the rally from taking place, but their pleas were ignored.
An estimated 6500 people attended, and according to surviving records, 5279 converted to the Mechanist religion, most of them aged 17-25, just in those four days. The last day concluded with a bonfire, where new converts were to burn all traces of their former religions if they'd had any. Hundreds of Pagan and Hammerite books went up in smoke during the rally, as well as religious icons and statues.
The main speaker, the charismatic Father Huxley, encouraged the new converts to shun their families if they did not convert with them, and advised them to spread the faith by any means necessary, to 'win the City for the Master Builder'. The fanaticism and violence of the Mechanists is attributed to this rally, where impressionable young converts were riled up with propaganda.
Smaller rallies took place periodically thereafter, and recruiting stations popped up all over the City. The Mechanists decided to put the focus on Hammerite neighbourhoods at first, especially the area around Downtowne and the Old Quarter, which Karras called the 'Hammerite belt'. The Hammerites were generally weak by this time, but they still enjoyed high support in those areas, and a majority of inhabitants belonged to the church.
The Mechanists purchased the large building directly in front of the City's first Hammer Temple, and arrogantly set up a recruitment center in it. Protests by the Hammerites were ignored by the Watch, who had already been infiltrated by Mechanist influence. They had their eye on taking over the Temple and either converting it or demolishing it entirely, but its popularity meant they had to proceed more gradually. Their plan was to encroach on the Hammers everywhere, so as to force them out.
- The Mechanists took over many other old Hammerite buildings, including the once glorious Eastport Seminary. The Hammerite Order, being in decline, no longer had the funds and numbers to maintain many of its properties, so they easily fell prey to the Mechanists. The latter then desecrated the buildings, stripping them of any Hammerite iconography, and re-purposing them for their own religion. This was a calculated plan to wipe out the Hammers and their influence once and for all. Hammerite landmarks were also demolished throughout the City under various pretenses, with full knowledge (and often support) of the authorities. Hammerite land was increasingly taken over by the City, only to be then sold to the Mechanists.
In many cases, the buildings were still in use, but the Mechanists pressured or harassed the owners to sell them for a negligible sum. An example was the 200 year old Chapel of St. Abrams in Downtowne. It was run by an elderly Hammerite priest who still conducted regular services for a small congregation. The Mechanists threatened him such that he eventually sold it to them for a pitiful 850 gold. The Mechanists demolished it, and built a recruitment center in its stead. Its beautiful central garden, wherein stood a 400 year old olive tree around which the grounds were built, was razed and covered in marble and cement. The tree was cut down and its wood used to pave the recruitment center's floors and ceilings.
2- Control of the media
As the Mechanists became wealthier, they decided to quell any criticism of them by taking over the City's main newspapers. They bought out most of them, and had them print favourable stories on the Order. Most Mechanist violence went unreported, and the incidents that were too large to suppress were selectively edited.
In one of many such incidents, a Mechanist mob pelted a public Hammerite procession with stones, and assaulted worshippers with maces for passing through their neighbourhood, leading to several injured. The City Watch let the Mechanists off and arrested protesting Hammerites for defending themselves.
The story summary in the Dayport Examiner reads:
"ILLEGAL HAMMERITE PROCESSION PROVOKES CLASHES IN SOUTH DAYPORT. Witnesses stated the Hammerites taunted the residents, who protested. The Hammerites then assaulted them. The City Watch has arrested several miscreants, and summoned the chief High Priest of the Hammerite Order for an explanation"
Hundreds of clashes between Hammerites and Mechanists took place, mostly provoked by the latter. The only ones that were reported were always blamed on the Hammerites. The narrative was craftily manipulated to present the Mechanists as innocent victims of persecution, thus increasing sympathy and support for them in the public's eyes.
The few independent newspapers that remained were targeted in different ways.
After some Mechanists assaulted a Hammer priest in South Quarter, robbing and beating him, the assault was reported on the front page of the Southern Post. A week later, the City Watch raided the newspaper's offices for allegations of tax evasion. The president, and the reporter who wrote the story were both arrested and jailed on trumped up tax charges. The paper was then bought by a South Quarter Lord, who was a close friend of Karras.
In another case, the Auldale News reported on a Mechanist attack on Auldale's Pagan sanctuary, where several were injured, and the sanctuary was desecrated.
Two days after the news broke, before sunrise, a mob of around 150 armed angry young Mechanists stood outside the newspaper building trying to break down the metal doors. It took the whole morning for the Watch to disperse the crowd, only after assurances that legal action would be taken for newspaper's 'libel' against them. Marcus Darrilly, the newspaper's owner, shut it down in fear and fled the City a few days later. Many of his former staff went into hiding right after.
The most tragic example concerns the City Independent News, who published a caricature of Karras in its humour section. The cartoonist was found clubbed to death in an alley a week later, and the paper's building went up in a mysterious overnight fire shortly thereafter. The Watch filed away both incidents as unsolved.
Despite all this, many in the City did witness these incidents, and word quickly spread among many of the Mechanist's nefarious deeds. The progressive destruction of green spaces throughout the City by the Mechanists, and the increasing pollution, also angered many in the City.
3- A list of other incidents
- An old public Hammerite statue in Hightowne was demolished by the City, with the reason that it was disrupting the residents' circulation. A Watch officer later confirmed that the Mechanists asked for its demolition.
- A young Mechanist was caught defacing the gates of Soulforge Cathedral with red paint and Hammerite slogans. When interrogated, he admitted he wished to frame the Hammerites for the vandalism and create a public outcry and Mechanist backlash against them.
- A Dayport bookstore that specialized in Pagan books was burnt down. The Watch attributed it to an accidental fire caused by a candle. The owner, who lived across the street from it, had received several threats to leave from Mechanists in the few months leading up to it, and tried his best to convince the authorities to investigate further, to no avail.
- Laterius, the leader of the Hammervine religious group, was kidnapped by Mechanists at his Hightowne home. He was never seen again, and the case was filed away by Sheriff Truart as a criminal dispute.
- The Valerius Opera House staged a play about revolution, which included a scene showing a band of Mechanists destroying a globe. Around 800 Mechanists rampaged through the streets the next day. The Watch was able to protect the Opera house, but the mob gathered in front of it, demanding it be shut and asking for the execution of the play's writer, otherwise they would burn down the building, and stage violent riots throughout the City. The authorities had the Opera house shut for a month, but after a meeting with Karras, it was reopened though under heavy censorship. A warrant was issued for the writer of the play, but he fled the City right after the riot.
- City authorities cut down many public trees, giving as reason a plague of burrowing beetles that were destroying plant life and infected trees had to be cut down to stem the insects' spread. According to the City's public works commissioner, there was no actual plague, and the Mechanists were behind the plan.
- Most Hammerite holy days, which were holidays in the City, were turned into work days by the government, with the excuse that the poor economy justified it. The City also forbade Hammerite processions for the sake of "public order". A group of Hammerites protested in front of the Baron's estate, but were met with a larger contingent of Watch officers who violently suppressed the protest. Mechanist involvement in all this was later confirmed.
- A Mechanist attended a Hammerite service in St. Edgar's Cathedral. After the mass ended and most of the worshippers dispersed, he went up to the altar and splashed it with black ink. He was quickly seized by the Hammerites and delivered to the local Watch station. However, he was released just a few days later, with the reason given that he was mentally ill.
- The Mechanists built a large apartment building in the center of the City's poorest neighbourhood, charging rent of merely 3 gold a month for the apartments. The conditions however, required the residents to convert, and give up whatever religion they belonged to. Further, they had to subject themselves to monthly apartment inspections to ensure compliance, and serve the Order in whatever was asked. The apartments were filled within a week. This was also a trap, however, as some of these residents were taken away and turned into Servants. The Mechanistshad plans to build more and convert the entire city section, but Karras' death prevented the full implementation of this plan.
- Several Pagan villages outside the city had their inhabitants massacred or kidnapped by Mechanist expeditions
These are just a small handful of examples of Mechanist terror. Investigations have uncovered 1387 similar incidents throughout the Mechanist era. Most of them will be published in the History.
After the fall of Karras, the Mechanists fell into disrepute, and both the Hammerites and Pagans enjoyed a generous resurgence. The Hammerites were once again given sponsorship by the City government, and many former Mechanists were put on trial by the Hammer church and severely punished. The full account of the proceedings is found in the Hammerite Heresy Trials.