“I live in cho’gule for First Prime and on until I four hundred years,” Dunnkirk said, his affable tone unchanged. “The cho’gule, the brothello, the market of the sex, the-”
“Yes, okay,” Z-Lin said, “noted.”
“That was basically the story,” Maladin admitted.
“The anticipation was the worst part of it,” Zeegon remarked. “Aside from, you know, the content.” - Drednanth
A cho'gule is a place or establishment, typically translated directly as brothel or pleasure den in modern Six Species languages and cultures. This is because of a dominant human sensibility equating sex with forbidden and otherwise illicit entertainment, and also with taboos, crimes and atrocities.
Removing the human context from the term, however, cho'gule is more accurately translated of place of pleasure and pain, and is not necessarily given any sexual connotation. Cho'gule do commonly sport a dominant sexual aspect, at least in commercial use and in their depictions in popular culture, but it is not exclusively a sex-based concept.
The true origins of the term are a lot darker. Cho'gule derives from several common concepts of punishment, damnation, judgement and torture. It can therefore be most accurately understood as place of punishment or simply as damnation.
Within Six Species cultures, the cho'gule is a primarily Blaran-run institution that can include, as well as slavery and prostitution systems:
- Fighting and other so-called death sports
- Torture and experimentation
- Drug procurement, distribution and usage
- Arms procurement and distribution
- Illegal assembly and council
...and many other activities.
The term cho'gule has its roots in Ancient Pinian and carried over largely unchanged into New Pinian, and while it has also been adopted into Xidh it is fair to say that the precise meaning has been lost along the way. The term therefore means something subtly different depending on whether it is being used in a New Pinian or Xidh context, and the true extent of that difference depends largely on the usage and intent.
Adding to the confusion, there is some disagreement over whether the Ancient Pinian term borrowed from the Ancient Xidh tsa'gú'tsoroneth, meaning punishment (literally the dark Limbo, or Purgatory), or if the Ancient Xidh borrowed from the Ancient Pinian. If the former is the case then the etymology traces back, starting at Ancient Xidh, to Ancient Pinian, to either modern Xidh or New Pinian depending on the agreed timeline, thus affecting the final definition. In either case the meaning of the word changed each time it jumped from language to language, but it is widely agreed that it never meant anything particularly nice.
Cultural significance Edit
Modern reimaginings of the older cho'gule concept tend towards more enjoyable sexual connotations, particularly sado-masochistic forms of consensual or semi-consensual play. Increasingly, the less legal and culturally acceptable cho'gule establishments exist behind precisely this front, continuing to operate in plain sight.
Cho'gule are widely accepted to be places where a Molran might engage in certain activities that would otherwise necessitate a skinswitch to Blaran, without suffering adverse legal or sociocultural effects; however, it is just as likely that some activities engaged in would still result in criminal charges and skinswitch, depending on their judged severity. Caution and discretion is therefore of great importance, and Molren do not often frequent such establishments (or acknowledge their existence).
The expression "as nervous as a cat in a brothel", usually misinterpreted and misused in reference to somebody maintaining a calm demeanour in an awkward or stressful situation, most likely refers to a sourcat (Molran) in a cho'gule - in effect, the very opposite to the saying's general usage. It has been argued, conversely, that a Molran in such a situation is likely to be extremely calm, composed and noncommittal, thus rendering the "misinterpretation" accurate once again.
Happyface, also known as the Happyface cho'gule or Happyface's, was one of the most notorious cho'gule in Six Species space. The mobile establishment operated from 1400 YM to 3600 YM under the ownership of Happy Gretchen, a famously brutal and cunning Blaran crime boss.
The Third Circle of Hell in the Four Realms contains a small nation named Cho'gule, although whether it was named for its unpleasantness or because of its numerous establishments of ill repute is uncertain. It is widely agreed that the nation did not precede the term, although the Cho'gule Department of Commerce and Tourism insists that the concept was indeed named after the nation. Cho'gule's unofficial but popular motto (from standard Infernal Latin), Szumusz Infventi, translates as We Invented It. It is not specified whether this refers to the concept of the cho'gule, or to any of a multitude of other crimes, torments, entertainments or snack foods held up by the locals to have originated in Cho'gule.