Avernus and the Prison-Industrial Complex

Prior to the end of the Magma Wars in 1830, Magimundi criminals were held in regional facilities in the Provinces, with no consistency of standards.  But at the conclusion of the conflict at the Yellowstone Caldera, a young Marshal named Jack Hudson discovered a cave system that Chupacabra had taken refuge in to escape the fighting. It was unapproachable due to toxic fumes that the Chupacabra were immune to. By methods that Hudson has elected not to reveal, he was able to explore the cave system, finding that an underground lake over a magma vent was the cause of the poisonous air. Hudson expanded the cave system into an underground prison complex he named Avernus where Magimundi prisoners would be guarded by Chupacabra. Regional jails and prisons were emptied, prisoners were escorted into Avernus, and Jack Hudson was paid a considerable sum of Leeuwendaalders by each Province.  It is a testament to Jack Hudson’s wealth is that he, a mundane born wizard, married into the Unsoiled Forsythe family.

Stripped of all personal effects, a prisoner is brought to the Avernus “foyer” by Marshals where they are handed over to the Chupacabra guards and prison staff.  In absolute darkness, the Chupacabra carry the prisoner past the toxic fumes, and deposit them into the prison.  While most persons sentenced to Avernus are serving a life sentence, those serving a finite term are deposited in the “foyer” the day their sentence ends. Sometimes as corpses, sometimes without any magical ability, but almost always as mere shadows of their former selves.

Avernus’s success, with not one escape since opening, is continually under expansion, driving yet more Leeuwendaalders into the construction, magical wards and protections, and the training of more and more Chupacabra. Problematic mages sent to Avernus are rendered invisible and forgotten by the Magimundi. It’s nearly impossible to visit someone there, and those who do get the permission can only stay for a short period of time before their health and sanity are harmed.

The inmate population in Avernus continues to rise, with noticeable trends in the demographics of prisoners. Mages outnumber accredited Wizards, there are far fewer Unsoiled Heritage family members incarcerated, and prisoners who may have done what is functionally the same crime, but using a different type of spell or magical tradition find that they have widely varying sentences, ranging from a few months to life for breaking and entering, for example. Hudson Unlimited is a powerful holding company and political lobbyist and has favor with a plurality of the Council of Five for its efforts at “cleaning up society” and “making the Magimuni safe.”

As the complex grew, more and more businesses were founded to support Avernus and its mission: to dig more tunnels and construct cells, to breed and train chupacabra, to operate the infrastructure of the prison (e.g. food, medical, education, magical wards and surveillance), lawyers, evidence experts, detectives, etc. A troubling trend for activists (but a highly profitable one for Magimundi business owners) is to use the inmates at Avernus as contracted labor for other companies or government functions. Foresight Enterprises, run by the Hayes family, uses inmates for some of its mining work, the Mishipeshu province sends low-skilled bureaucratic work to be done by prisoners, and Virginia Isle has many secret contracts with Avernus of unknown terms. Some Magimundi feel that overzealous enforcement by Provincial Marshals, themselves investors in Hudson Unlimited, leads to corruption and taking people’s liberty in the name of profit. The counter-argument, of course, is “would you rather have these dangerous criminals on the street, where they could harm others and commit more crimes?” The veracity of these claims, or the logical fallacy they embody is rarely questioned since these arguments tend to devolve into shouting and wands drawn.

The Slager Specter

In the 1920’s until 1934, the Magimundi was terrorized by the exploits of notorious dark wizard Jack Slager and his followers, the Gorecasters. Slager not only murdered wizards and other sapient beings, but he did so to use parts of their bodies to create powerful dark artifacts useful in executing forbidden magics.  Chief among these artifacts were his Slagerods, which allowed the caster to perform spells that were untraceable using the magical forensics and divination methods. The Slagerod in particular was designed to specialize in the soul-searing curse, which kills the victim eliminates all possibility of a ghost arising. More information about the Gorecasters appears later in this document.

Slager was sent to Avernus in 1935, after his arrest in 1934 and there he remains. Recently, however, there have been an upsurge in bodies, both within Avernus (all are attributable to natural causes according to authorities) and in the Provinces. Several of these dead wizards have been verified to have been killed using the soul-searing curse, which hadn’t been seen since the fall of the Gorecasters. Furthermore, there are rumors of Slagerods appearing on the black market, and some curious and apparently recent communication containing the Gorecaster insignia has been intercepted. Despite the vehement denials from Magisters and articles to the contrary in the Magimundi Daily Mirror, many people suspect that the specter of the Gorecasters is rising again.