Alkoth is a standard Dara Happan city that also happens to be an entrance to the Underworld, and is a city of the dead. That is less of a contradiction than it might seem!
Alkoth’s patron god is Shargash, who is the Death God of the Celestial Pantheon (Death and Fire). As a Death God he has strong connections with the Underworld and is tied with Yelm in his Dead God aspect. That Underworld connection is going to mean that there are ghosts and other underworld things whenever the barriers between the mundane world and the divine realm is weak – temples, holy days, astronomical conjunctions, etc. Most of that activity is concentrated around the high-walled enclosures where the dead are burned – these temples are decorated with the heads and skulls of the slain, a grim and grisly reminder of the city god’s power.
But most people go along their normal mortal activities. They work, cook, sleep, raise kids, sing and dance, and go through their lives. They worship other gods and spirits, make offerings to their ancestors, and even participate in the Lunar mysteries.In fact, because of the city’s mighty patron, Alkoth rules the surrounding countryside and collects tribute – probably largely in the form of rice, pork, and other foodstuffs – from the surrounding villages of Henjarl. This large agricultural surplus supports a large population, which in turn aids Alkoth in maintaining control over its marshy hinterland. Compared to Darjin, Henjarl is more “civilised”- canals crisscross the marshlands and contain the waters, making rice cultivation easier. Perhaps that is a direct analogy to Shargash abandoning Biselenslib for Oslira and her irrigation canals!
The Shargash cult forms the basis of the city’s militia, with the Hell Men serving as an elite warrior society. However, most members of the militia are farmers and tradesmen. When the drums beat, they drop their regular activities and engage in battle. However, they are not soldiers and rarely fight outside of Henjarl unless led by the Red Emperor.
Are the Hell Men demons, or human warriors? Human Rune Masters.