Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Slum Life Part 1: Overview of the Living City

Dance halls.

Holy wars.

Ramshackle tenements.

Built upon the metastasizing cancer-body of a nameless godling, Gathox rose from huts and offal on some late blooming world into a pock-marked, teetering, thousand-legged metropolis which knows no architect. How many worlds have born its ambling weight? How many millions of lives brutally sacrificed in reverent offerings to the fecundity of its floors?

Perhaps there are a few who know; none openly proclaim that authority. Those who might offer such knowledge surely trade in wares both high and rare, and their apartments must by needs dwell deep or remote. For what it avails you, I might speak a little of city life.

Most citizens of our fair Spire toil and die in the Kettle, an immense basin neighborhood of metal pylons, sagging bazaars, and ad-hoc neighborhoods. While it's true that no government holds sway in Gathox, only a fool would mistake that fact for disorder. Neighborhood Friendship Societies represent bands of human residents organized by proximity or creed, hiring out militias and specialists to ministrate their problems. Street gangs form in dance halls and back alley fights, plying their bravado in defense of tenements and petty agendas. Old families form mafias to defend their vested interests and landed wealth with strict codes of behavior and all manner of racketeering, fronts, and embezzlement. Cults and strange ideological factions birth from the ooze of poverty and crowded isolation, sometimes forming broad alliances to further their political and spiritual goals and just as often being ground into dust by opposing forces.

All of these social structures serve to sustain and protect the masses and to occasionally nurture their overlapping interests. In the old days, it is said, when a prominent family rose to power and attempted to control the entirety of Gathox, the city itself ate them, crushing their public works and devouring their children wholesale. The space where their finest apartments occupied the highest tips of the Spire was flushed out, bit by bit, dumping strange goods and valuable obscenities into the wastewater reservoirs of the Kettle. 

It's possible to live a good life here. There's never a lack of tasks to be done, business to negotiate, or districts to rehabilitate, and so always the prospect of trading hours, sweat, and blood for the basics of life. Occasionally, when Gathox sleeps and dreams a new world to invade, the wind merchants will raise their sails and glide across the dreamlands of a new planet, returning with riches and resources. Old money will always pay for dependable services, orphans of dying cultures will always provide bodies for the city-grinder, and Gathox will always reconstitute itself into new realms to be explored.

But beware - this city is built on gristle and ghosts.

-Chimaux the Book-ender, sage to The Wolfies, Berchan Favela Street Gang

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