May 14, 2012

The Wards of the Orthocracy: The Pit District

The Pit District is built around a series of sinkholes near the south bank of the South Canal which serve as garbage dumps, theatres, taverns, tea houses, gambling halls and gladiatorial rings. Many of these connect to one another by an elaborate network of underground tunnels which intrude into the remnants of the sewers. Most of the aboveground buildings are low-rise tenements and shanties connected by winding, mazy alleys. Bright, colourful banners flap in the breeze off the canal, and the district has a distinct, languid feel compared to the rest of the Orthocracy.

It is the home of culture in Kaddish, led by the large population of the Burnt who live there. The college of the Pit District (the College of the Bolstered Spirit) is wealthy from owning some of the finest and most popular entertainment venues in the city, and it spends this money freely on shows, whores, bread and games to keep the district under control. Musicians and actors put on impromptu displays, while processions of serious-minded graduates of the Nightmare Halls (the Orthocracy's school for war wizards) debate theology and cosmology with priests of the God of Gates.

The Pit District was originally sacred ground (One legend has it that the Wolves of the Earth are responsible for the sinkholes, while another claims that they are Moon's footsteps from when he came to the parley-feast where the Dawnmen killed him), and it is a popular place for parleys between opposing factions. Spies, adventurers, mercenaries, actors, demagogues, poets and other scum crowd the taverns. Gossiping, information trading and demagoguery are ways of life.

Art and Culture in the Orthocracy

For all its many flaws, the Orthocracy remains the dominant cultural force in the Dawnlands. The songs its bards create are copied and performed across the Dawnlands, even in the yurts of their traditional enemies. Kaddish literature is read, banned, published in unauthorised editions, debated, and imitated by every neighbouring society that can. Kaddish artists are allowed into Dwer Tor just long enough to paint walls and assemble mosaics before being thrown out of the city like their fellow citizens. Chiefs of the Kadiz and Hill People proudly display to one another their slave-musicians taken on raids. While most Kaddish are no more artistic than anyone else, as a whole they consider themselves an artistic people, possessing a unique refinement. Most clans and cults offer at least basic literacy to their members, which has led to over half the population being literate, the highest proportion of any society in the Dawnlands.

The Kaddish have invented papermaking and wood-block printing. This is mainly used for the creation of posters and billets, rather than for the production of codicils. True books are either copied by hand or by magic, or some combination of the two. Current trends in Kaddish literary production include short poems based on folk melodies with religious themes, illustrated pornographic narratives about the optimate families of Dwer Tor with a moralising veneer, comedic plays featuring elaborate costumes and innovative songs set amongst the upper class of pre-revolutionary Kaddish, and fantastical dream-narratives with cosmological themes, as well as a great deal of practical literature on agronomics, political economy, magic, the construction of elaborate mechanisms and chemistry. 

Painting, engraving and image-making in Kaddish are extremely advanced, with a strong naturalistic technique and two point perspective used frequently. Visual art is going through a pensive, reflective phase, and has been for almost ten years now, led by Brantha Jurthine Klex, "the Klex". The Klex's first major commission was thirty years ago designing the banners and arms of the petty kings of Weykuln, which the Orthocracy gave to them under the guise of tribute simply to more easily tell them apart in combat. This was followed by a commission to design the reign-icon of the Dwer king, which is painted onto the walls of deme-barracks as a reward for loyal service. Her reward was to be the only true citizen of Kaddish allowed to enter the Palace Eternal, albeit briefly, where she was admitted into the sacred presence of the king himself to receive his thanks. Her most recent work is considered a masterpiece. It is titled "The Dream of Zulaith" and hangs in the Zulaymna, showing the most powerful gnostic in the Dawnlands, the slayer of cities, eating an apple on a street corner.