|Source: Rastislav Kubovic|
"She who builds it, owns it."
So says the proprietary customs of the deep elves. It applies equally to monument, land, craft, and people. Mothers make their children, and so all wealth naturally flows to them. Those who work the land or make the buildings extend the power of their familial heads.
So, who built Bright Town?
One might argue House Fingol-Mar built Bright Town. They were some of the first to build debtor's workshops where the twilight Sun could be used to agonize their tenets into thrall. The rotten roots of the so-called House of Worms spread down the mountain in paths unseen - through petty loan sharks and low-priced informants accustomed to the light. Their agents are numerous and hidden.
Or, perhaps, the unpatroned Houseless built Bright Town. It is an undesirable place for the elves, being under the sweating gaze of the twilight Sun. As such it is cheap to live in. Numerous insulae cluster the mountainside, being susceptible to fires and predation by the Watchmen who put them out and keep the gods' peace.
Or maybe foreigners built Bright Town. This district is not named like the others: proof of its foreign influence. The mountainside contains enclaves who might even prefer the Sun: wizards, merchants, ambassadors, and refugees. Many come to the city looking for work. There is always more work than labor for it.
Away from the caldera, a number of small towns and villages have cropped up to feed the burgeoning demands of the city: the town of Knife's Edge, and the Black Door. Though they are some distance away, the politics and problems of the city are their problems as well.
C1: The Butcher's Daughter
For the next day, when negotiating trade you know where someone is who will give you better prices within the same neighborhood, if it applies.
The Bright Market
What can you buy in the Bright Market? Wheat, bread, mercenaries. Sometimes ice-packed apples and pears are available, though often they are procured by House Fingol-Mar for the digestion of worms.
Bread is something new to the dark elves. They're not great at making it, but it's cheap, plentiful, safe, and filling. It is now a staple, and its bakers are cut-throat entrepreneurs basking in a calorie boom. The Bright Market is awash in skullduggery.
Not least because of The Carver Sisters - a cleaver-wielding small time street gang on the up-and-up due to the calorie boom. They've got a protection racket on the bakers and bread-mongers. Nobody knows how to brick an oven like them (figuratively speaking). Really, their cunning for sabotage is wasted on this small-time stuff. Led by the scarred sisters Caim (Older) and Shax (Meaner).
The Shade Gate
A major thoroughfare from the outskirts into Caldera. A vigil is kept by Watchmen in connection to House Grachia - on the lookout for fires, fights, thieves, and "runaway property". If they feel like holding up passers-by for any reason they'll claim they're looking for stolen goods. They lurk in the shadow of the gate, and command dastardly skeletons for their dastardly deeds.
Watchmen are essentially a protection racket with a bad aftertaste of authority. This one is managed by Zagan of House Glasya, a necromancer who pays homage to House Grachia. Zagan bears a striking resemblance to a black rat with each passing day: big, mean, and fond of chewing on bones.
Modest sun-lit estates provided to foreign ambassadors of Chronulus and the Empire of Truth, who share the same lot side-by-side. They keep their curtains shut and their affairs private, being close rivals across the ocean to the east.
To become an ambassador, one must give their True Name hostage to the priests of the Temple of the Constitution, who keep it as collateral in case the ambassadors' agendas stray too close to treasonous.
Ambassador Noble a kind soul. It was quite the statement for the Empire to send him to a place where lies are more common than bread. In his service there is a horned devil who senses all falsehoods and sees all within its sight. It takes turns watching the city and the Chronulean embassy like a gargoyle.
Minister Rari of Chronulus is a spy, and runs his office like a den of spies. The Republic is aware of how much of a spy he is, and engages in his spycraft with joyful abandon. He's up to his armpits in trade deals and rooting out moles, so he hardly has time to entertain nobodies. The Ambassador is just that in name only, which is to say they're a fall guy who was paid to give up their name to the Constitutional Priests. Ambassador Nobody acts like this is the best gig in the world: drinking undiluted wine and smoking Chronulean cigars all day long.
Debtor's Work Pit
The second worst private prison in Twilight City. Though, if you're accustomed to the Sun, it's probably one of the better ones. A series of pits, too deep to escape, but not too deep for ambient sunlight to penetrate. Within, particularly unruly or disliked debtors work off their crimes, grudges, or bad decisions by weaving cheap clothes or breaking rocks.
This prison is owned and managed by Castarda di Fingol-Mar, who is the niece of the prominent Judge Burd di la Fingol-Mar (who often sentences alleged offenders to her niece's prisons). It's said that she is dispassionately cruel, and feeds particularly unruly indentured to flesh-eating worms.
People rightly say that living in The Fomes is a death sentence. One would think an apartment complex that has burnt down twice before wouldn't be built the same way again. But here we are, with an insulae built upon the ashen bones of six dozen people.
It's said that the little god of The Fomes was stolen from a hot dry place. That it is a hostile creature. It knows not how to return to whence it came, and can only claim vengeance by burning down its own domain. It is a little stalking laughing thing, sometimes heard giggling in dark corners to the sound of stones striking flint. The tenets fear it and give offerings of meat when they can. But they are poor, and so meat is often beyond their means.
Or maybe there is an arsonist's cult at work. It's known by elementalists that fires keep emotions within them as they burn. One who is acquainted with the language can feel them: strong emotions like love, hatred, despair, hope.
C2: Knife's Edge Village
C3: The Black Door
Tower of Strength
The lighthouse lives up to its namesake. The sand-colored stones are several centuries old and still standing. It is a pilgrimage site for strong folk and warriors, who test themselves by climbing the Twelve Giants' Steps from the ocean to the cliff peak, each taller than the last. Then by lifting the Twelve Gates along the interior of the lighthouse, each heavier than the last.
It's said that only a demigod can lift the last gate. The Tower's present Keeper, Orthax, could lift ten gates in his prime. At seventy seven years he can still lift eight. He still does so six days out of the week, and thrives on a diet of barley and sheep's milk.
At the lighthouse's peak is an everburning flame said to have been plucked from the heart of a phoenix. The folk of the Black Door say that once every few years the flame grows a little bigger, but the reasons for it are varied and wild.
The Docks are expanding. More ships are coming in. Bigger ones. More ships means more opportunity, more wealth, more muscle. Chronulean mercenaries mingle with Kobaran merchants, Winder fishmongers, and Twilight entertainers. The Black Door doesn't offer much, for now. But that's changing, and everybody is talking about getting the Commander's blessing to build something.