Editor's note: Upon occasion, we will publish small sections of the Darkside Codex canon, in order to provide readers with additional information on the world of Southwatch.
The Dark Cloud is the element that defines Southwatch. Every person, building, visitor, business, religion, plan, and plot are impacted by the Dark Cloud.
As a visitor approaches the city, the incredible towers, spires, and buildings of Southwatch are bisected by this never-dissipating but always-regenerating bank of toxins, poisons, and pollution. Those who live above the Dark Cloud are called sunsiders. Those who live beneath it are the darksiders.
On a normal day, the Dark Cloud might only obscure a narrow section of the city. On a bad day, the Dark Cloud might extend almost to the ground.
When it rains on a bad day, by the time the raindrops reach the ground they are so contaminated by their passage through the Dark Cloud that they’re called “the burning rains”. Anyone caught outside without their protective gear can be gravely injured and disfigured by the burning rains. The acidic rain destroys a person’s skin just like getting caught in a fire would, leaving the skin puckered and pulled tight. As you go into the poorest districts in Bricktown, you find more people with the rippled, shiny skin that lets you know they’ve been caught in the burning rains.
What keeps the Dark Cloud in place is fae magic—a punishment upon Southwatch imposed by the Seelie Court. But why would the fae, who were protectors of nature, create something as foul as the Dark Cloud?
On the rare occasions that prior Pertcha holidays resulted in a full eclipse, disaster always
befell the city. But several times in Southwatch’s history, there were double eclipses—total
eclipses in two consecutive years. During one such double eclipse event, Achlys, the deity of
Chaos, had inflicted a foul curse upon Southwatch. The humans called it plague dust, and it
afflicted Southwatch for two years. The fae in the nearby Seelie Court called it the Death Mist,
and it wasn’t long before the sticky tar-like dust had spread out from the city and affected the
The Death Mist very nearly eradicated the Seelie Court. Hundreds of Fae coughed out
their lives within a couple of weeks after the first of the plague dust had blown down upon them
from the city. Not even Isengar, Duke of the Seelie Court, could protect his family from the
plague dust. While the fae were practically immortal and wouldn’t die of old age, they
discovered that they could be poisoned by noxious air. Duke Isnegar’s wife and daughters all
succumbed to the Death Mist within the first month.
The Death Mist, combined with Southwatch’s abuse of the lands around the city, killed
hundreds of fae, and the Seelie Court knew grief for the first time since the Dawning. Because of
their extensive life spans, the fae were not very fertile. By the end of that first year, almost half
the Seelie Court was dead. Isengar sent the survivors out of reach of the Death Mist, but he, and
some of his council, remained.
Then Isengar, working with some of the most powerful sorcerers in both the Seelie and
Unseelie Courts, created the spell that captured the plague dust before it reached the Fae lands.
For the full two years of the Death Mist, the Seelie collected all that pollution. They created a
spell which channeled the toxins back into itself in an ever-twisting vortex of wind and magic.
In time, the Dark Cloud behaved like a thunderstorm, continuously feeding upon itself. Fae
magic kept the storm from being torn apart by the winds.
Then, as the second year of the Death Mist drew to a close, the Fae sorcerers used their power to move the maelstrom of pollution to the center of the city, and stretched it so that it covered every street and building horizontally. Once there, the storm began to suck in all the emissions from the factories below. So the industries that made the city rich fed the storm that Isengar had levied upon the moths in Southwatch, and that became the Dark Cloud. The Dark Cloud now bisects the city, dividing the sunside from the darkside, and until humans are smart enough to figure out how to solve the arcane puzzle that Isengar created, the foul cloud will remain.