A Guided Walking Tour of Guerdon (4)

Here we are, looking north from Castle Hill. The oldest parts of Guerdon, the roots of the city, are behind us, and here we see its spreading branches, its succulent fruits.

Look over there – that’s Serran, where the king’s palace still stands. The Barbed Palace, they call it – it’s full of traps. Once, they were lethal; now, mostly of the tourist variety. Serran’s full of history, and art – the House of Saints is up there. A big Keeper palace, with the bones of all their blessed heroes and martyrs. The Kept Gods don’t intercede as much as they used to, but I’ve heard tell that the Church still has a host of war-saints locked up in some vault, awaiting the city’s hour of need. They’ll let you look around the chapel for a penny, if you like old swords. Most folk who come to the city are looking for more modern weapons – phlogiston cannons, dragon bombs, flash ghosts and the like.

The alchemists own Guerdon, these days. It used to be the Church, but now it’s the alchemists. Quite a transformation, really. My grandfather told me stories about the first experiments – back then, it was a novelty. Sorcery that didn’t kill you, spells distilled into oils and potions and dusts. Then they built the first engines – made a fortune with trains. And then weapons. And then everything else. Gullheads, Singers, Tallowmen and Homunculi. Cure-alls and soul-calx. They learned to turn lead into gold, but it wasn’t half so profitable as making weapons. The godswar had started, by then, and everyone who didn’t have an allied deity needed something to even things up.

All that money pools in Bryn Avane, over there to the east, in Bryn Avane. Lots of big mansions, but the way you know it’s really rich is that it’s quiet. No-one makes trouble in Bryn Avane. We’re not going to visit there – couldn’t afford it.

Oh, that ugly outcrop right in front of us? That’s Gravehill. Ghoul Town. Pay it no heed. And that district in the narrow gully between Gravehill and Castle Hill, that’s Five Knives. I grew up there. They’ll tell you it’s a den of thieves, that it’s just like the Wash. To the gods below with that! We in Five Knives hate those dock-rats down in the Wash. I fought in my first street battle when I was eight! Our gangs fought their gangs, our thieves fought their thieves! While Effro Kelkin and all the other high-and-mightly politicos were making speeches in parliament about crime and corruption, we were cutting Wash throats right in the shadow of Castle Hill!

Good times, good times. All gone now – the Tallowmen are everywhere now. Try to cut some bastard’s throat, even if he really deserves it, and the candles will get you. Sad. We all had to go legit… more or less.

I don’t think we’re being followed, but just in case, we’ll take a dog-leg through the ground of Parliament here. No thieves up here – none that haven’t gone legit – and no Tallowmen. The Alchemists aren’t secure enough to put their candle-men outside Parliament, not yet.

Come on. Say goodbye to the view. We’re going across the Viaduct.

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