The City may the unofficial commercial capital of the New World, but Heliotrope is the center of its entertainment industry. The Heliotrope of the gossip rags and glitzy film premieres is only part of the story. Old and powerful magics lurk behind its sun-blinded streets and beneath the banner of the famous “HELIOTROPELAND” sign.
The first indication of its secret strangeness, is that Hesperia, the west coast territory encompassing Heliotrope, was once an island, separated from the mainland of the New World by a strait. Maps and accounts of Ealderdish explorers over two centuries are quite clear on this point. As one explorer’s narrative puts it:
“...there exists an island very close to a side of the Earthly Paradise; and it is populated by black women, without any man among them, because they lived in the way of the Amazons. They have beautiful and robust bodies, and are fierce and strong. Their island is the most formidable of the World, with its tall cliffs and rocky shores. Their weapons are of gold and so are the harnesses of the beasts that they domesticate and ride, because there is no other metal in the island."Legend holds the Black Amazons had a queen and high-priestess named Kalifia, who was a demi-goddess, a daughter of a sun god, who was renown for her magical prowess. What became of the amazons and their queen is a mystery, because by the time the Ealderdish had reached the long-rumored island, it was no more. There was no civilization of warrior women. There wasn’t even an island!
These historic peculiarities might have been forgotten, if it weren’t for what the media has dubbed the “Heliotrope Witch Coven.” Sensationalistic confessional accounts by supposed defectors from the cult describe a secret society, dominated by women, who practice ancient rites and worship a “Black Mother” goddess with orgiastic rituals, and sometimes blood sacrifices. The goal of this cult is said to be a gynocratic magical revolution and an overthrow the the Ealderdish God. To this end, they conspire to gain wealth and political influence, aided by potent magics. These accounts always suggest that prominent citizens are involved in the cult, and that the prime movers of the film industry are either cult acolytes, or else under the glamour of the witches.
Hesperian government officials take the story seriously, and have sought to ferret out the cult. Black-listing of suspected cult members has occurred (casting doubt on the idea that they control Heliotrope--unless it’s all an attempt at misdirection?)
It has been suggested that the Black Mother of the witch cult is no other than Queen Kalifia. The wise queen (it’s supposed) chose not to fight the invading Ealderish directly, but instead to remove her people to elsewhere, there to begin an occult guerrilla war to regain a continent.