Built to the north and east of the Chapel of Seth’s Calling, Port Calling is the largest city on the Piety of Seth. Linking the starport with the Chapel, it’s the initial destination for the shiploads of pilgrims that visit every year. The starport of Port Calling is a broad expanse of rockcrete, landing bays, fuel depots, and repair centers, dedicated to servicing the immense shuttles that descend from orbiting spaceships. Situated on a long peninsula and bordered by ocean to the north, east, and south, the starport is connected to Port Calling by a broad multi-lane thoroughfare that runs southeast along a narrow isthmus. The thoroughfare is lined with statues of Seth and other saints of the Imperium and connects the starport to the center of Port Calling. Normally empty, the thoroughfare becomes crowded with transports as well as long processions of pilgrims making the journey into the city on foot whenever a starship discharges passengers.
Port Calling is a mixture of ancient buildings that date to the construction of the original Chapel, ringed with modern pre-fab hab-blocks. As the number of pilgrims grows each year, so do the hab-blocks, resulting in the steady expansion of Port Calling. Due to the proximity of the Chapel of Seth’s Calling, Seth’s Tomb, and the surrounding cemetery, this tends to be to the north, and the south-east, along the ocean’s shore.
Pilgrims who disembark in the city center are often somewhat stunned by the noise and bustle, akin almost to a hive city in its intensity. Unlike many other shrine worlds, Seth is honored not by silent prayer and quiet contemplation, but through highly public displays of veneration. Many passion plays demonstrating the sufferings of Seth (and other saints) are performed in the open air for all to see. Pilgrims show their piety through programs of corporal mortification, many of which are patterned after the tortures Seth himself was subjected to. Pilgrims who wish to attend such a program should pay heed to the many signs about the city which direct them to only visit Ministorum-approved confessors to receive their penance.
Although Port Calling is the center of the Seth cult, and home to the Sons of Seth, not all of the city’s citizens are devout followers of the law (and thus, the Emperor). Despite attempts to eradicate it, a criminal underworld exists. While not exactly heretical or agnostic, the criminals are certainly hypocritical. Most of this criminal element is happy to indulge in petty theft, usually by duping naïve pilgrims out of their scant Thrones through the sale of fake indulgences (writs that allow the bearer to literally ‘buy off ’ sins). Others go to greater lengths and trap their victims in corporal mortification devices, keeping them there until the victim (or his or her companions) can pay a ransom. Finally, there are rumors of even darker rites, where unwary pilgrims are snatched off of the streets and subjected to far too real reenactments of Seth’s tortures for purposes unknown. While some suspect jaded nobles in search of a release, others point to possible heretical cults, xenos involvement (some whisper that the debased Eldar are to blame), or even the influence of the Ruinous Powers. Occasionally the missing pilgrims are found, usually weeks or months later. Most have been ritually mutilated, their faces frozen in a rictus of utter terror.
Daily Life in Port CallingEdit
Life in Port Calling is one of constant worship and devotion. Every day is dedicated to Seth, the Emperor, other saints of the Sector and the Imperium, and the Ecclesiarchy (in that order).
The day begins early in the city. Sunrise is accompanied by calls to prayer broadcast via vox across the city. Bells ring, music plays, and the faithful add their chants and songs to the din. Afterwards, there is a break for the morning meal, and then the devotions begin in earnest. Great calendars are consulted, to determine what notable events happened that day and who in the hierarchy of saints and other pious heroes performed them. Mystery and passion players are then assembled to reenact these events, either from mobile stages out in the streets or from far more elaborate permanent theatres.
For those who don’t wish to attend a play and be educated in the glories of the Imperium’s past, there are various forms of corporal mortification available. The simplest is to rent a scoriada for the day and engage in self-flagellation. Often great lines of pilgrims will be seen, making their way down the streets of Port Calling, lashing their naked backs nearly raw. Others may wish to subject themselves to more extreme measures, such as re-enactments of the tortures Seth experienced. As noted before, it is recommend that pilgrims only attend Ministorum-sanctioned confession and purification stations, as otherwise the pilgrim may find the torture far too real.
As the sun sets, there’s another call to prayer, the break for the evening meal, and then another round of plays which run far into the night. Once dawn breaks on the next day, the cycle begins again.
The daily routine is interrupted to observe special feast and holy days (such as the Feast of the Emperor’s Ascension). The longest break is for Seth’s Calling, a week-long festival in which people across the globe set aside their normal duties to contemplate Seth’s life and the lessons to be learned from it. It is marked by long periods spent in prayer, followed by feasts of thanks to Seth for his sacrifices so that the people of the Piety of Seth can continue to serve the Imperium and the God-Emperor. It ends with a re-enactment of Seth’s Progress, and more prayer and contemplation at the Chapel of Seth’s Calling.
The center of Port Calling is marked by a large open square. It is flanked on all four sides by the following buildings. To the north is the residence of the Planetary Governor, Cardinal Praetus Catullas Halaby. A massive edifice, it serves Halaby as a place of residence, worship, and administration. Running the full length of the square, the complex contains a cathedral, dormitories for low-ranked clergy, and the great hall where Cardinal Halaby, his fellow clergy, and select members of the trade federations meet to discuss policy.
To the south is the traditional mansion for Port Calling’s mayor. Currently this position is occupied by one Quint Gotoval. Gotoval recognizes implicitly the extent to which his position is a merely ceremonial one, but doesn’t let that stop him from constantly petitioning Cardinal Halaby with suggestions for improvements to Port Calling and the Piety of Seth in general.
To the east of the square is the Hospital of Saint Elena. Maintained by Sisters of the Orders Hospitaller, the hospital looks after the medical needs of both the residents of Port Calling and the multitude of pilgrims. The care, as one might expect from a hospital in a town filled with people busily flagellating themselves, is excellent. As for the hospital itself, it’s constantly under construction, in order to meet the demands placed on it by the sheer number of pilgrims who arrive every year.
To the west is the primary precinct-fortress for the Adeptus Arbites. They’ve taken Seth to be their virtual patron saint, and his visage adorns many parts of the building. The Arbitrators are always at the forefront of any walk of Seth’s Progress, and provide the bulk of the maintenance for his Chapel and tomb, both located to the south.
The center of the square is marked with a huge statue of Seth, looking benevolently out over his city. He faces south towards his tomb, and holds a hammer in one hand and a broken length of chain in the other. Surrounding the statue is a ring of tall pillars to which the truly penitent can be chained in order to undergo public displays of corporal mortification. Between the city square and the starport is Piety of Seth Trade Hall. A sprawling structure, the hall holds thousands of clerks who track all of the goods coming in to Port Calling and out via Port Hadley.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of theatres in Port Calling. The largest (and oldest) is known simply as Advoco’s, and is a huge gothic hexagonal structure. The stage is in the center of the building, and is surrounded on all sides by seating for spectators in the upper galleries, while the floor around the stage is standing room only. Advoco’s is dedicated to portraying the life of Seth, and runs week-long passions which depict (often in gruesome detail) every aspect of his capture, torment, progress, and death.
The single most sacred spot on the Piety of Seth is the Chapel of Seth’s Calling. Originally a simple stone structure, it has grown over time as the devout have added various improvements. These days, the Chapel is surrounded by an immense cathedral (far larger then Cardinal Halaby’s), which contains seating for thousands of pilgrims to attend services. Entrance to the Chapel is through a series of galleries lined with stained glass windows depicting the life, torment, and death of Seth.
The actual Chapel is found deep within the somewhat haphazard arrangement of buildings. It has long since been cordoned off, with entrance limited only to ranking members of the Holy Ordos or their esteemed guests.
Those who do wish to enter are usually there to see the stained flagstones in front of the altar. Tradition states the stains are from Seth’s lifeblood, spilled when he finally collapsed and died. These stones are never washed, much less stepped on or even touched.
At the south-eastern edge of the Chapel complex is the elaborate tomb of Seth the Arbitrator. As with the Chapel, the original tomb is hidden deep inside multiple outer shells. Currently, the tomb resides in the middle of a circular viewing gallery, guarded day and night by a contingent of Adeptus Arbites. According to rumor, prayers have been heard in and around the tomb, usually late at night when the area is otherwise empty aside from its honor guard.
Further to the southwest of the Chapel, its associated structures, and the Tomb of Seth is a slowly growing cemetery. Pilgrims who die while on Piety of Seth, whether from accident, corporal mortification, or re-enacting Seth’s Progress, are placed in tombs near the outskirts of the chapel. In addition, many of the sector faithful have started to come to the shrine world specifically to be interred there. Curiously, you will never find a Piety of Seth native buried in the cemetery. Instead, when a Sethian dies, he or she will be rendered down into fertilizer and spread over the fields, giving back to the world what they took from it during life.
Running from the Chapel, past the Tomb of Seth, and through the cemetery, ending at an otherwise unremarkable spot far to the south of Port Calling is a rutted dirt road known as Seth’s Progress. This is the route Seth walked after his rescue from the Sons of Drusus. Tradition has it that no one can wear shoes on the Progress (since Seth himself was barefoot) and the Progress must be walked without any sort of outside assistance (such as a cane, crutch, or even a vial of water). Many who take the Progress during the course of Seth’s Calling do so dressed only in symbolic rags. As the whole point of the Progress is to complete it despite all hindrances, those who fall during the Progress are left to lie in the mud (in the hopes they my find the strength to rise and complete the walk) and aren’t pulled off of the road until the next day when the Progress is officially over.
Seth’s Progress is the Piety of Seth’s second most sacred landmark. It is never walked on until the day of the Progress, and is kept clear year around through the use of long-handled rakes and similar instruments. A line of deep-set footprints that runs along the center of the Progress are reputed to be those of Seth himself. They are thus avoided by anyone following the route. Those who have walked the Progress have reported hearing words of encouragement when encountering difficult sections of the road, and some have even reported being helped up by invisible hands after stumbling.