Portrait of an Opere
In the shadow-ridden bowels of New Gaslight, amidst the resplendent decay and corroded dreams, lurks a breed apart—the Opere. Born from the unholy matrimony of a noxious affliction and human desperation, they bear a disfigurement so harrowing that it sets them apart in a city teeming with grotesquerie. This malevolent affliction, mercilessly marking its territory in the womb, blights the innocent before their first breath, leaving them irrevocably tarnished by an aesthetic damnation that subjects them to the ruthless scorn of the city's wary denizens.
These outcasts, scarred by birthright, find solace in the heart of the city's seething underbelly, where colonies of the similarly afflicted intertwine. These settlements, havens of mutual suffering and resilience, blossom into mosaics of artistry, bristling with an arcane energy that seeps into their creations—music, craft, and arcane manifestations that bear an uncanny beauty birthed from their collective agony. Such is their profound influence that even in the ruthless city of New Gaslight, the Opere's art is a coveted treasure, its poignant allure capable of seducing even the most jaded souls.
Yet, despite the non-contagious nature of their affliction, ignorance weaves a tapestry of baseless fear. The Opere are painted as carriers of plague, their mere presence believed to sow the seeds of their curse. In an attempt to blend into the unforgiving labyrinth that is New Gaslight, many adopt the haunting visage of porcelain masks, painstakingly crafted semblances of humanity. The city's statutes, however, force them to reveal their affliction, forbidden from the truly sacred rites of Hoo-Ahkoo, they are forbidden from wearing full face coverings, leaving to a wide variety of half and quart style masks, just enough to shield the world from their acrid sight.
Occasionally, the affliction displays a perverse mercy, birthing Opere whose disfigurement is less pronounced, their tortured forms revealing less of their monstrous heritage. Yet even this lesser affliction comes with its burdens—they live cloaked in perpetual anxiety, their every moment dedicated to concealing their cursed lineage from the world that seeks to spurn them.
Every newborn Opere, their fate decided in the womb, is branded with an indelible mark—a tattoo that etches their doomed heritage onto their skin. In a city steeped in disease, where suspicion is a relentless sentinel and fear a ceaseless tormentor, the Opere are shunned into the darkest corners, their existence a sordid secret known only to the truly desperate or the morbidly curious. Yet, within their hollowed forms, their art and magick stir with unparalleled depth, the echoes of their plight shaping a culture unique in its haunting beauty.
Existing with the Opere affliction is a twisted waltz, a dance with the grotesque that blesses and curses in equal measure. Their dulled sense of pain is a silent testament to their endurance, a shield against a world that seeks to wound them at every turn. Yet, this resilience comes at a steep price, for untreated injuries weave a dark tapestry of grotesque scars and deformities upon their already marred canvas.
In this crucible of suffering, the Opere culture thrives. Their language sings with cryptic cadences, their art embodies the paradox of the grotesquely beautiful, and their magick, steeped in a brew of enchantments, divination, and the supernatural, straddles the realms of the physical and the ethereal. Yet, beneath the cloak of their unique prowess, the Opere are deemed pariahs—misunderstood, feared, and subjected to an unending torrent of discrimination and violence. The only solace they find is in their secluded colonies, where they can thrive in their shared isolation and continue their artistic and magical legacy.
Not entirely shunned, the Opere find an unlikely ally in the form of the Blood Baron Scrooge, whose fascination with their artistry renders him both a patron and a predator. His ambiguous benevolence often exploits the Opere for his avarice, their precious creations sold for a fortune on the black market. Yet, in the same breath, he offers fleeting support, his donations serving as lifelines to their schools and communes, his political leverage advocating for their rights.
Thus, in the heart of despair, amidst the cruel indifference of a world that scorns them, the Opere etch a narrative of resilience. Their culture, rich and intricate, flourishes within the crushing reality of their existence, their art and magic spinning a poignant saga of beauty birthed from suffering. In the bleak cityscape of New Gaslight, the Opere stand as a defiant monument—a final bastion of humanity's indomitable spirit in the face of relentless adversity.