To Chance with Hell (Planescape)
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“The Hive exists as an open sore upon the face of proud Sigil. And we, the better off residents of the Cage are like a bitter old woman, our years of glory beyond us now, but our vanity and pride still held high enough that we ignore the festering wound upon our countenance. We have none to blame for the very existence of the Hive but ourselves. Better off, we seem more apt to ignore it. Hide it from the light, seal it off and hope the problem, and the people trapped within its confines, simply vanish like so much cooking smoke. But like the smoke fires and belching pollution of the Great Foundry, it lingers in the air and permeates everything if ignored. It does not vanish, but spreads like acrid smog to blight us all, even in the high houses of the Golden Lords of The Lady’s Ward. Even as Sigil opens itself to every plane of existence, the Hive is secreted away, sealed off as if it weren’t truly a part of the City of Doors at all. Abandoned by all but a saintly few, it is cast aside with instruction to improve, yet with no way of bettering itself.
“A blind man cannot see nor a lame man walk of their own volition. The hand of an able passerby is needed for that inspiration or aid to return them to wellness so that they may finally fend for themselves. Too often we ignore them, and in our jaded hypocrisy expect them to walk unaided. The misery and human refuge of the Hive exists because we enable it to exist.” – Jeena Ealy, author of Of Darkest Sigil.
The Slags, even more so than the devastation surrounding the Shattered Temple within the Lower Ward, is a literal blighted wasteland within Sigil. Untold millennia ago a portal to Sigil opened into the heart of a Blood War battlefield upon the Grey Waste, and for whatever reason the Tanar’ri forces seemed to think the portal a purposeful gift to them leading to either a sanctuary for their forces or a depository of weapons and supplies. And so, utilizing typical Tanar’ri logic, they led their forces en masse through this unknown and uncalled for portal, directly into the heart of Sigil. The Baatezu involved in the battle, not to be denied a victory over their eternal foes, followed suit and both armies spilled out into the Cage. Thousands of fiends spilled over into the cities like a tide of blood, fire, and iron, and fell to butchering each other, as well as the horrified residents of the ward, and tearing apart the city in search of the weapons or other supposed stashed supplies.
The fighting raged for nearly a week before Her Serenity, in logic as elusive as that which allowed them within Sigil to begin with, ejected the warring armies back to the Lower Planes. Still, the district was all but leveled, strewn with bodies, the twisted wrecks of fiendish siege engines, and the remnants of the armies that were not sent back for whatever reason, some of which linger to this day. The district has yet to be rebuilt in all that time, between the frequent cagequakes that make any attempted building repairs an exercise in futility, and the infestations of dretches, manes, vargoulles, cranium rats, and a mystery called Kadyx.
Kadyx, or The Kadyx, has existed in the Slags as something of a blood soaked enigma, given credit for infrequent and typically unique murders within the Slags. A body might enter the Slags and be found later with his bones picked clean and arranged into a play on words of his own name, or dressed in his own entrails, stitched together in a mockery of finery as if he were late for an evening dinner party. Thing is, none have seen Kadyx enough to give a reliable description other than fangs, claws, perhaps some ebony black scales, the scent of cinnamon, and that it appears to be able to burrow into the earth. It is also somehow capable of avoiding all manner of magical scrying and other such divinations. It might simply not exist, and be a legend used to mask the killings of criminals within the Hive and Lower Ward, perhaps the Garianis family even. Like many such tales, the answer is likely to remain dark. [More horrors beyond imagining have arisen in the midst of the Blood War, but when one is abandoned by its makers… – The Editor]
Of recent note is an upswing in the numbers of cranium rats seen in and around the Slags, and even more so, fights between small groups of them have been rumored as well. Inevitably, the original sources of such rumors never seem to be found. It is not uncommon to find the bodies of beggars or criminals found at the edges of the district, nearly drained of blood from a thousand tiny cuts and slashes as if from the bites of a swarm of vermin. Oddly enough are the fights between such groups of vermin as the beasts are said to share a common hivemind, linked to some unseen master. [Odd to think what this might bode within a house divided. – The Editor]
Spikeward from the Gatehouse, just beyond the sprawl of beggars and slums that rings the Gatehouse for a number of blocks, the Hive actually contains a relatively well-kept district. Known as the Marble District, for its cluster of a few blocks of gray and white marble buildings, it’s a spot of relative calm and civilization inside the ocean of urban wasteland it barely rises above.
Most official government buildings in the ward reside in the Marble District, as well as a branch of the Minder’s Guild that has taken to selling their services to a number of alehouses and less reputable members of the Hive’s so-called society. In addition, a number of shops and taverns that sell quality goods and ale, not the watered down swill popular elsewhere in the ward, and the walled in kips of several jink-laden bloods of the ward call the Marble District home. Principal among these businesses are Benni’s Tap, a favorite drinking spot for the knights of the ward, eager to spend their jink and not have to sit next to unwashed, or in the case of some bars in the gray district, undead bubbers.
At the edge of the district, away from the official buildings, yet separated from the rest of the ward, a number of boarding houses and fairly well maintained tenement homes are called kip by most of the skilled craftsman and honest shopkeepers and peddlers of the ward at large. Near the spikeward end of the district lies Black Boot Walk, frequently better lit than the Marble District, if only for the Hivers’ tendency to set abandoned kips on fire, typically within view of the high-ups in the Marble District. The Minders Guild may be set loose upon the area in force in coming months, fueled by the district’s jink and their own harsh sense of order. [An island within a sea, and the deluge threatens to inundate… – The Editor]
The Mortuary – Perhaps the oldest of the former faction halls, the Great Mortuary sits like a great bladed and spiked scarab between Blackshade Lane and the so-called Ragpickers Square within the heart of the Grey District in Sigil’s Hive. Appearing as a single great dome with several adjacent towers, it looks somber and uncaring just like the former faction that operated it, many of whom continue to operate it.
Adjacent to the Mortuary, sprouting off of its main bulk are a number of mostly featureless mausoleums only accessible from within the Mortuary itself, as well as a large public memorial. This memorial sits within a half-walled courtyard, in the center of which stands a single spike of flat black stone. Upon the stone, scratched, etched, and carved in tiny print are the names of the dead who have passed through the gates of the Mortuary. A dead cutter’s relatives can pay a few coins to have the sod’s name inscribed for all eternity upon the face of the stone, though this requires writing over some other berk’s name at this point.
The Mortuary functioned then and now just as its name implies, it took in the corpses and remains of Sigil’s dead, prepared them for claim by relatives of the deceased, and cremated the dead of the city’s unclaimed. Prior to the Tempest of Doors a great portal to the Elemental Plane of Fire sat at the heart of the Mortuary, and it was through this that many of the unclaimed bodies of the city were hurled to be immolated and disposed of.
The first level of the Mortuary contained a great hall in which visitors waited to claim the bodies of the dead or attend funerary proceedings. The rest of the floor was dotted with a number of memorial halls for the presentation of noted dead awaiting burial. In the past some of the side chambers held a dormitory for faction members, as well as a chamber for faction records and the faction library.
The second floor contained preparation rooms for the dead, as well as the faction armory, further interment chambers, and the offices of the faction high-ups. These officiating chambers sit mostly empty now, their office holders either mazed, in Skall’s case, or departed to the faction’s citadel upon the Negative Energy Plane.
The highest chamber of the Mortuary contained the massive portal to the Elemental Plane of Fire, as well as a scattering of other portals, including one to the faction’s citadel. Furthermore, the factol’s private quarters and a laboratory remain here today, mostly unchanged since the war. After the Lady’s Edict, most of the faction members, having little to no emotion, simply went about continuing their old business just as before, but now without calling themselves a faction proper.
Additionally, and only having become common knowledge recently, the lower levels of the Mortuary connected to a warren of catacombs of the entombed dead which also connected in parts to the uncounted miles of UnderSigil’s tunnels, vaults, and forgotten passages. But of most interest in the bowels of the Mortuary were the great number of portals that allowed the Dustmen access to numerous planes throughout the multiverse. Through these portals the faction was able to ship out the bodies of those deceased who wished to be returned to life back on their planes of origin, as unnatural as many in the faction held such magics to be.
Some of the former Dustmen wandering the halls of the Mortuary have of late claimed to see an image of their former factol walking the quiet halls. Usually the witnesses claim to have seen his figure turning a corner, or passing just out of sight from the edges of their vision. Nevertheless these witnesses all swear upon the concept of the True Death that it was in fact Skall. Truth or screed? Skall was mazed, and it is unlikely any may escape from those personal hells without outside aid or the will of Her Dread Majesty. On the other hand, the Dead aren’t exactly known for their motivation to make up a lie such as this, or to make up any other tale for that matter. [For being mazed, Skall certainly seems a spry old fellow. Be it truth or screed I cannot say, but within Sigil the impossible is witnessed everyday, so I will not pass judgment here. Either Skall has found a way to project himself, or an image of himself, out of his maze, or there is a pretender within the Mortuary. Time will tell. – The Editor]
Just spireward from the Mortuary lays the drab, and some say menacing, Gray District, home to many of the Dustmen that operate the Mortuary. Of course, with the changes in the portals within the Mortuary, it may not retain its use forever.
Common sights within this district are the sullen, emotionless Dustmen who linger still, not possessed of the motivation to do anything else, even after the “disbanding” of their faction. Zombies, skeletons, and even wights, among other undead are seen wandering the district as well, typically in tow with one of the yet living Mortuary workers.
For being in the Hive proper, and not the Lower Ward, the streets and kips populating the area are clean, well-tended and free of refuse and razorvine. Old habits die hard, and despite the bland and perhaps disturbing aspects of the buildings and residents, the area is much safer than most other areas of the Hive aside from some of the insular racial enclaves. Things appear to be deteriorating, however, in the wake of the Faction War some five years ago, and it is likely that in time the Grey District will be swallowed up by the rest of the Hive and lose its distinct flavor.
The stretch of kips known as Darkwell Court lies between Whisper Way and Sandstone Row in the edge of the Hive closest to the Clerk’s Ward. This community and its peery-sounding name are home to the largest population of githzerai in Sigil, and true to form, the insular bashers have constructed a slice of their monastic society from Limbo within Sigil. None of the typical spiked, razorvine wrapped, bladed eaved kips common to the rest of Sigil. Instead, the homes are dull, flat-roofed, rarely over a single story high, and rounded in places. The wizened matriarch of the community, Divin Anesh, controls everything within the tight-knit court, more or less, and those wishing to do much beyond simply walking through the court would do well to request to speak with her.
This small neighborhood, adjacent to Darkwell Court, is the home of a number of the reptilian Outlands species known as khaasta. The group, knowing full well their reputation among most Cagers as a race of mercenaries, barbarians, and raiders, rightly fears retribution from less than trusting neighbors. Faced with this local opinion they keep mainly to themselves and rarely bother others, especially the githzerai nearby, who at worst seem content with their neighbors who share the same “keep to themselves” attitude.
Sigil’s only body of water, if one can call it that most of the time, sits at the edge of the Lower Ward and the Hive, serving as a convenient boundary for the two. Refuse is constantly dumped into the waters that range from a bare, sluggish trickle at worst, to a clear running river when some hidden portal to Oceanus opens on random occasion and flushes the stagnant contents.
Normally, however, the ditch is filled with a slow moving, stagnant bilge, bobbing with rotting corpses, kitchen scraps, and all manner of refuse hurled into it for easy disposal by the neighboring residents. Rag pickers and dead collectors hover around the banks nightly to pick through the daily trash left upon the banks or bobbing near the surface in the hopes of making a few copper from some trinket tossed into the mix or sell the bodies to the Mortuary, which still pays a pittance for the dead.
Some have described the Ditch as the concept of a river, some abstraction of the idea of a Prime Material body of flowing water. And being the Outer Planes, who’s to say it’s not correct? What ordinary body of water has mildly to heavily corrosive water five out of every six days, with the sixth day more likely than not being frozen over at the surface? It isn’t ordinary or mundane by any stretch of the imagination. You won’t find a single water genasi lingering around the Ditch either, though they flock like mice to cheese when the portal to Oceanus opens on those rare occasions. Some have postulated that it may be a tributary of the Styx itself, but none have ever reliably claimed to see a marraenoloth plying a skiff on its banks. [Not to say the Styx doesn’t have any tributaries within Sigil, one just has to know where to look. – The Editor] Rumors also hold that each night the dabus congregate upon the banks of the Ditch to push trash and other such detritus into the river to be flushed in the periodic cleansing of the trough. Then, there is the Ditch Beast.
Some say the Ditch Beast is a legend and myth, a creation of the barmies and bubbers on the Hive side of the stinking waters. Others claim to have seen the creature just barely cresting over the water, devouring corpses and dragging in unwary sods, but only in the dim hours before and after anti-peak. Truth be told, the Beast may not exist at all and simply be an illusion, some sort of animated Rebus created by the Dabus who congregate upon its banks at night, all in order to keep locals from interfering with their necessary tasks.
Probably of more danger to the unwary who find themselves wandering close to the waters of the Ditch are the wererats who answer to Tattershade, their self proclaimed king. Chant holds that he lives somewhere in a warren of tunnels within UnderSigil that open to the surface near the spireward end of the Ditch. Visitors to his realm beneath the streets, paid to repair the tunnels and ward them against intruders, have claimed that the passages in some places are formed of a different color rock than typical of the Great Below. They claim that the rock takes upon a marbled consistency and color, and proves impossible to damage or otherwise mold by hand or by spell. These areas seem to be riddled with small, branched chambers, much like the inner hollows of a human’s lung, and give the uncomfortable sensation of walking within some vast, living, creature of stone.
The chant further claims that Tattershade either took possession of parts of his underground realm from the dabus by force, or more commonly that he came across the realm, devoid of dabus or any other creatures and claimed it as his own. How this fits into the wererat king’s current obsession with his own safety, his supposed hiding from something in fear of his mortal life, or his rumored search for something there in the catacombs of UnderSigil is unknown. [Why would the dabus abandon something? Perhaps they have not, or perhaps it has nothing to do with the dabus at all. UnderSigil is a largely unmapped and vast unknown. Some claim that the Realm Below is larger still than the streets of Sigil in size and scope. I will not dispute this claim. – The Editor]
Another site of interest, alternately described as existing on the Lower Ward or Hive side of the Ditch, is the Bones of Old Night, the dwelling place of Lothar, Master of the Bones. Public knowledge on the esteemed cutter is scant, save that he prides himself as a loremaster without peer in Sigil, likely willing to place himself against any given, Guvner, Sensate, or both in terms of the darks stored within his bonebox. Cutters in need of specific bits of dark may do well to seek him out. The entrance to his warren under the streets of Sigil appears as the burned out shell of a kip with a single, round stained glass window, perfect in form amid the shambles around it. But those seeking him out should not be surprised to find him asking a favor in return, usually of benefit to him more than the dark he provides. [He appreciates his privacy however, and so too will I respect it largely and end my descriptions here. – The Editor]
Surrounding the Gatehouse stands the Madhouse District. The blocks of tenements and kips radiating out away from the hill atop which the Gatehouse stands are awash in the filth of the true aspects of the Hive: the poor, the hungry, the apathetic, and the barmy. The smell of human excrement and bub sting the nostrils, and an outsider wandering through the district is likely to be swarmed by beggars asking for food, drink, or coin for both. Pickpockets and thieves abound, eager to bob a cutter simply for having what they do not. [A display of arms can be useful in this section of the Hive – The Editor] This district epitomizes human misery at its worst. The sick, hungry, and hopeless still queue day in and day out to seek refuge and temporary respite from their ills with the Bleakers within the Gatehouse, and the lines may reach down from the hill and into the rest of the district. Their situation is unlikely to change soon, even with a cutter such as Jeena Ealy upon the Sigil Advisory Council.
One of the more notable, and utterly unofficial, spots within the district is the so-called Night Market, somewhere between Lot’s Lane and Laughing Cat Alley. Just like the Great Bazaar, but with a darker side, the Night Market sells goods and services, but nothing therein has a name or a past. Don’t inquire as to the origin of any of the goods, or the names of any who might be hired for a service. It’s better that way. [Inquire about Retzz and ask if he still deals in inks and parchments. If you’re aware of his trade already, you might seek him out. – The Editor]
Nearly in the Slags themselves, sitting on their edge along Shatterbone Street within the Madhouse District, sits the Weary Spirit Infirmary and the Boneyard Pond behind it. Within, Ridnir Tetch, a Bleaker, tends to the sick and injured for no cost, and even provides those awaiting his care with food and shelter. Tetch doesn’t believe in magical healing, and maintains that the mundane surgical techniques developed mainly by his own random practice upon patients are the true panacea of healing. The Boneyard pond behind the Infirmary is piled high with those not surviving their injuries, or his ‘care’, ‘till it is picked clean nightly by the collectors anyways. [What harm is it to kill a sod when he comes to you for help? And why shed a tear or even care when you firmly believe there is no meaning in the multiverse? That’s Tetch’s creed. – The Editor]
One of the other oddities of the district is the new feature near the center of Laughing Cat Alley, near the Night Market. A bowl-shaped depression roughly a hundred yards across that contains the street, and now one building sinking into it. The adjacent structure, a now collapsed flophouse, is a pile of rubble lining one side of the sinkhole. Travel along the street has been slowed, but not stopped. What bothers many is that the depression was once a slight rise in the middle of the street. As it goes, a number of years prior, there once stood a freestanding arch of black stone in the center of the street containing a portal to one of the layers of Baator. The frequent passing of hellhounds and other, less welcome, visitors to the ward finally became too much of a burden to the factions and so they toppled the archway and paved the current street over it. The latest feature of the alley begs the question: did the toppling of the archway cause the portal to cease its intermittent function, or has it remained active all these years, with perhaps something now lingering under the city streets biding its time. The factions no longer exist officially to investigate, and the Hive dwellers could care less until a gang of Baatezu rips their way up from below, so the status quo is likely to continue as the depression expands even more.
The Gatehouse – The Gatehouse, former faction hall of the Bleak Cabal, sits atop a slight hill in the Hive, rising above the reek and filth of the slums that sprawl out around it along the edges of Bedlam Run. This massive structure sits just at the edge of the Hive, on one side nearly overlooking the urban wasteland of the Slags, in range of the stink carried on the wind, if not actual sight. On the opposite side it sits adjacent the Marble District of the Hive, and within actual sight of the Ditch, the filth-strewn canal that separates the Hive from the Lower Ward.
The center of the structure appears as a great semicircular, roofless tower with decorative, bladed spires that bubbers claim resembles the wings of some great slumbering beast. And to speak of great beasts, a titanic steel portcullis bars the entrance to the tower, its bars some five feet in diameter, each bar separated from the others by another fifteen feet. The gates no longer operate, having rusted in place uncounted centuries ago, but the sheer size of the gates make it not hindering in the least to the average size sod who wanders into the Gatehouse seeking the ministrations of the Bleakers.
Branching off from the gate are two large wings of the building, one of which serves as both hospital and poorhouse for the sick and hungry of the Hive. The Bleakers ask no questions of those who enter seeking aid, and give what they can, only spouting their philosophy of madness and inner meaning if asked by the curious or the desperate. The second main wing serves as both asylum and orphanage for the ward, a beginning and an end for many of the pitiful residents of the slums.
Behind the tower, and mostly out of the view of the rest of the ward, are two smaller wings. These serve as a madhouse for members of the Cabal, as well as the criminally and irretrievably insane. Several past factols of the Cabal, long ago descended into the madness of their calling, are housed within. They languish within, locked away for their own, and others’ safety. In their madness, as rumors leaked by their caretakers tell, some have come to possess frightening mental or psionic abilities, and seem all too willing to share their madness with those around them. It is unlikely they will ever see the light of day again.
Finally, walled off from the rest of the Hive, situated between the wings of the Gatehouse are three forested courtyards, one for the poor and orphaned, one previously open only to the Bleakers themselves, and one for the use of the insane. The current occupants of the Gatehouse, the Bleak Cabal, only took up residency in the past five centuries, though the original origin of the sprawling complex has been lost to time. In fact, the Bleak Cabal took their faction symbol from an obscure symbol found upon an ancient tiled mosaic deep within the Gatehouse, meaningless out of the context of its unknown history. They found irony, or some manner of comfort, in taking a meaningless symbol as their own, mirroring their own philosophy of meaninglessness in the multiverse at large.
Likely the building is one of the oldest in Sigil, though it is probably not as old as the Palace of the Jester. But it does beg the question as to what use the truly massive steel gates of the tower were ever used for. Merely decoration, or in the dim past did they require actual use in order to keep something out, or lock something away? Could something that massive have simply walked the streets of Sigil at some point?
Further rumored is that somehow the Gatehouse, mostly because of its name and age, is in some way connected to the Lady’s Mazes. No real proof exists for this conjecture, but it doesn’t stop the barmies of the Hive, and some of the Bleakers themselves, from spouting the screed that the Lady’s Mazes bubble up all around the Gatehouse, and all one must do is simply find the elusive portals leading to each and every one of those personal hells…
In the past decade, almost unnoticed among the other major happenings within the Cage, a large number of giants and giant-kin have formed a small but growing district within the Hive. Many of them hailing from Ysgard, much to the chagrin of Sigil’s bariaur and dwarven communities, the giant community has settled into a district nestled at the edge of the Hive adjacent to the [[Clerk’s Ward]]. Many of the ramshackle structures that predated their arrival have since been demolished with zeal by the larger-sized beings, and architecture better suiting the giants’ physical dimensions erected in their place.
Many of the community, however, are a decade later still adjusting to the planar cosmopolitan nature of the City of Doors. The Minders Guild is now in the unique position of having clients in two wards requesting aid in preventing the occasional raid by the giants into adjacent neighborhoods, while at the same time attempting to sway a number of the more lawful members of the giant community into joining the fold. [The giants are still adjusting to the concept of not hurling chunks of masonry at non-district dwellers passing through, much to the Sons of Mercy’s dismay. – The Editor].
This small squat was settled by a number of bashers from a Prime world called Athas some years ago. The self-sufficient and tough bashers that call it home typify the area; they respect strength but seem mighty peery of wizards and gith of both varieties. In recent years, the residents have taken a great shine to the clerics of a number of Sigil’s major temples that have preached to the community in order to gather converts. The concept of deities who exist and answer prayers seems almost a novel concept to the Athasians, and a growing minority of them have converted to several of Sigil’s major faiths with gusto. Among the population, which is largely human, there are a number of half-giants, various genasi, and a number of odd human/dwarven half-breeds called muls by the locals. The citizens of New Tyr have attracted a large amount of attention from the Sodkillers for their seemingly inbred toughness, resilience, and work ethic. Thus far, however, the faction has had little success in persuading the Athasians to fall in any numbers towards their own philosophy.
[Oddly enough, elves have reported the distinctly unpleasant feeling of being watched when traveling the streets of New Tyr, as well as hearing a vaguely insect-like chattering. – The Editor]
Filled with more barmies than perhaps the Gatehouse’s insane wings, the seemingly mad by choice residents of the chaos district are Xaositects to the core. The district itself sprawls out around the former main haunt of the Chaosmen, a building called the Hive. [the on Xaositects Count a confuse body to. – The Editor]
A jumbled mix of the naturally chaotic races and chaotic representatives of other races not normally given to overtly chaotic tendencies populate the entire area surrounding the former Xaositect headquarters. Among the freewheeling population are numbered humans, tieflings, chaonds, githzerai, half-elves, a few other prime races, and a very small minority of cambions and alufiends. Full-blooded Slaadi and Tanar’ri are common sights here, and the rare Eladrin may be found, but most of the exemplar transient.
Streets curl and twist at, well, random throughout the district, sometimes simply ending at a blank wall. Kips are built up and burned down in the space of a week, and little in the area has the bearing of the years about it. Nothing lasts; everything changes. [Above all, carry no expectations and remain wary. – The Editor] The district has most recently been splattered with paint, the hallmark of the Painter and her gaggle of groupies, admirers, and fellow self-appointed artists. Everything from buildings, to lampposts, to the street itself has been painted in anything ranging from beautiful renditions of scenes from a dozen different planes to random splashes of discordant colors. In any event, they’re just as likely to continue their pigmented assault of the district as to attempt to burn it down the next day. In that, at least, they’re predictable.
This quaint community of humans within the border area of the Lower Ward, spireward of the Ditch, has at times in its centuries-long history been swallowed up by the Hive and reclaimed by the Lower Ward innumerable times at the whim of the City Courts and mapmakers of Sigil. The inhabitants hail originally from a dead or dying Prime world named Ranais. Having suffered greatly themselves, they have traditionally been welcoming and respectful to those bashers who have been through strife and persevered. A blood has little to fear treading the streets within this district if he does the inhabitants no harm.
The Lotus Blossom District
The exact position of this district has been a matter of debate for the past decade, during which it has swelled in size, and likewise in importance. On the hazy border between the [[Clerk’s Ward]] and the Hive, this district is more a cultural rather than a racial enclave, in comparison to other such small neighborhoods and districts. The Lotus Blossom District takes its name from its design in the shape of a Lotus Blossom, a common flower on those Prime worlds whose inhabitants make up most of the district’s residents.
The style of the residents, and indeed, the architecture of the district in particular, breaks with Sigil’s norms, as such enclaves are often noted for. The residents of the district primarily hail from those worlds worshipping the Chinese Pantheon or the Celestial Bureaucracy, such as the Torilian continent of Kara-Tur and the Prime world of Rokugan. Primarily human, there are also a smattering of other races not commonly seen elsewhere in Sigil such as ogre mage, nezumi, hengeyokai, vanara, and a dwarven subrace called korobokuru. Other races emerge from time to time, but are not usually seen by outsiders.
The district is segmented into several subsections, each taking the rough shape of a lotus petal. The Red District is known for a high trade with the Hive in drugs and prostitution, with many illicit dealings happening underneath the ornate, gilded surface. [Reminds me of the [[Lady’s Ward]]… – The Editor].
The Blue and Yellow Districts are populated by temples that cater to the district’s residents, including a large temple currently being built to honor Sung Chiang, the Lord of Thieves. It has been speculated that a portal to the Teardrop Palace, or to somewhere else in Gehenna, exists in or near the new temple. None have determined whether this is fact or hearsay, however, and the Guild of Doorsnoops has had little luck in investigating this. The only difference between the Yellow and Blue Districts is the presence of more scribes in the Yellow, and more priests and temples in the Blue. They are structurally similar otherwise, with little transition between them obvious to an outsider. Oddly, Wei Minh Lee, a Golden Lord of The [[Lady’s Ward]] has never once been seen inside the district, despite the presence of a temple to Shou Hsing, the power of longevity that he claims to be a proxy of…
A large number of members of the [[Mind’s Eye]] have taken up residence within the Yellow District in the past year. Most of them have emigrated from outside, though some have arisen from members of the community that have taken up membership and belief in the faction’s creed. The group seems to fit well with their surroundings, and if they continue to grow, though they may soon command more influence within the district than they currently can manage.
The Black District is a small but dense area closest to the Hive, crammed with tenement buildings and little else. The squalor here exceeds that in many areas of the Hive proper since there are all the more berks trying to squeeze into an area of similar culture. Crime is rampant and non-district residents are advised to avoid the area or travel with an armed escort. The Minder’s Guild would be more than happy to provide protection to those traveling through this district considering the lack of inroads they have had into the area in general among the residents.
Central to the Lotus Blossom District is the White District, home to the wealthiest and most influential of the district’s community. Perhaps the most influential member of the district’s elite is Xin Ming Ue, a female tengu of extraordinary influence in the district for good and ill alike. Her kip and surrounding grounds in the center of the district are remarkably spacious for the area, including an orchard of cherry trees and rock gardens.
The number of fiends in the district, both baatezu and lesser yugoloth, has increased in the past year, and it has been speculated that either the supposed portal to Gehenna has garnered much traffic, or that a member of the district has had increasing dealings with the Lower Planes in a grab for power from the established district leaders. Within the area, the chant has either a secret member of the Illuminated from Plague-Mort residing in the district, or that an underground war is brewing between rival ninja clans seeking to establish a beachhead within Sigil from a common Prime home world. It’s also been rumored that the ogre mage Estavan has been seen frequently in the district, speaking with a number of the residents of the White District. He likely seeks to establish connections inside the district, but as always with Sigil’s powerful, his motivations remain dark. [Makes sense. He’s faced extreme competition elsewhere from Zadara and Shemeska, and so it seems appropriate he would attempt to parley his cultural similarities into business relations. – The Editor]
The Ooze Portals
One of the more notable, and dangerous, features of the Hive are the preponderance of a certain types of portals leading to the Paraelemental Plane of Ooze. These Ooze oddly shaped portals take the appearance of puddles in the winding streets of the ward from the shantytowns of the Gatehouse District to the monuments of the Gray District. Most take the appearance of puddles of the mildly acidic rainwater common to Sigil, others the appearance of pools of slime or sludge, and still others at the hours of antipeak have been seen to give a faint phosphor glow.
Unlike most portals within Sigil, the Ooze portals within the Hive are perpetually open to some extent. Stepping into one of them will result in falling bodily into the paraelemental plane itself, typically to one’s death by drowning, if the victims are unable to catch themselves before falling fully through. Even those who blunder into the portals by accident are the minority of victims; the majority of those who vanish into the portals are grabbed and pulled through to the other side by the distended, blindly searching arms of ooze mephits that have the ability to reach through and grapple anything unwise enough to be in the vicinity. Whether the mephits are just curious, mischievous, hungry, or malevolent is largely unknown. Most sages are unwilling enough to suffer the presence of one of the muck-covered, reeking pests long enough to ask them their intentions.
Most Hive dwellers know enough to avoid the portals when they see them, those that can’t either avoid all puddles in the ward or tend to fall victim to them. The clueless, on the other hand, are the prime victims to the portals that appear and vanish at uneven, seemingly random intervals. Many wonder why the ooze portals are allowed by the Lady to exist in Sigil, and then only in the Hive in their perpetually opened state. Aside from their danger to the unwary, the portals are used by residents to dispose of trash, refuse, and, according to rumors in The [[Lady’s Ward]], the corpses of victims of theft and murders in the ward. The only blood that seems to have much interest in the portals aside from their use as dumping grounds is Fell, the fallen Dabus who wanders the Hive, bricking them over to seal them off. Otherwise, they seem to exist for no reason except as a hazard, unless one desperately needs transport to the inner planes. [Much cleaner and safer routes exist. Few would willingly subject themselves to the elemental realm of muck and mire beyond the portals. – The Editor]