You spring from one slanting rooftop to the next, catching your smoke-light frame on the gutter’s edge and flinging yourself onwards again, fearlessly. Your new form is prodigiously strong, and why wouldn’t it be? In the rendering vats, the clever acids of the alchemists dissolved muscle and bone and sinew and skin and organ and oh, everything into a rich slurry, and they mixed it with wax and then poured you into a mould. You’re wonderfully unvariegated now, entirely composed of wax that flexes like muscle, but is strong as bone, and heals instantly when cut. Much better. Much better than you were. Not that you remember what you were, or who you were. Not really. Oh, it’s in here somewhere, it’s in here forever. You remember thrashing around as you melted in the vat, and one Alchemist fished you out with a long pole, and you thought ‘hurrah! I’m half-dissolved, but they’re rescuing me! I’m saved!’. But it was only to inject the etching fluid. Very important. In
Ah, you’re awake again. And you’ve noticed that we’re in a cage. What can I say? I’m a victim here as much as you. More so! I was assured I could trust the woman in the tavern! I had no idea she was working for the Alchemists, or that she had a squad of their damned Tallowmen standing by! Now, you were knocked unconscious by one of the brutes early in the fracas, so you probably didn’t see my heroic attempt to drag you clear. I tried – how I tried – but those wax effigies are terribly fast and strong. It seems that they’ve carted us off to the Alchemist’s Quarter. You saw it from the docks as you arrived, although from the outside it just looks like a massive sheer wall, unbroken except for a few gates and exhaust vents. The Quarter’s cut off from the rest of the city, and only guild members are permitted entry. Well,
Now we enter Glimmerside. Stay close – this part of this city isn’t as dangerous as others, but it is… distracting. Everything’s possible in Glimmerside. It’s where the university students mix with the wealthy, where the sacred meets the profane. The alchemists have their reaction chambers and crucibles; this is Guerdon’s. Artists, philosophers, book-sellers, dealers of all sorts, sorcerers for hire, speculators, actors – Glimmerside draws them all. The steep stairs and winding lanes promise revelation and wonder around every corner! I see you’ve noticed the foreign temples. Guerdon only opened up to the faiths of other lands in recent years – a concession to merchants and visitors from abroad, such as yourself. The authorities keep a close eye on these places – for reasons of security, you understand? With the Godswar raging across the sea, Guerdon cannot risk inviting too much of the divine within its walls. Not all gods are as Kept and safe as ours. Come, you
This bridge we’re on – THERE’S A TRAIN PASSING, SO I’LL HAVE TO SHOUT – THIS BRIDGE IS CALLED THE DUCHESS VIADUCT. IT LINKS CASTLE HILL TO HOLYHILL. THE TEMPORAL TO THE SPIRIT – excuse me, the Spiritual. Parliament and the Keeper’s Church. It’s built for trains and carts, but we can cross along this maintenance walkway. It’s much quicker than trying to get through the tangled streets down there. Wait, don’t look down. To take your mind off the DROP, I’LL TALK ABOUT THE KEEPERS. Sorry, another train. After the defeat of the Black Iron Gods, the Church of the Keepers took over the city. They – the scriptures say the gods themselves, but between you, me and the wind, everyone knows it was the priests – they feared that the gods would be corrupted just like the Black Iron Cult. So, in Guerdon we Keep our gods. Worship is doled out, so the gods don’t get too powerful.
Forgive my absence. In Guerdon, a businessman like myself cannot afford to hesitate. Some things must be attended to immediately, day or night. A trifling matter, I assure you. Think nothing of it. Although, if you happen to see a very large man dressed in sealed armour, or hear anyone mention the name ‘Fever Knight’, please bring it to my attention. It’s not that I’m expecting trouble – it’s a trifling matter, as I said- but… miscommunications, mistaken identities, these things cause problems. And in this city, one cannot always choose the most honourable or… kindly business parters. Let’s walk. Briskly now. Don’t dawdle. Walk, damn you. Newtown, you’ll note, is far more orderly than the lower parts of Guerdon. The streets are laid out on a grid, the houses all alike. This hillside was, I’m told, too rocky and uneven to build on when the city was young, but the new alchemical weapons solved that problem. Lots of blasting
I’m going to show you one of the city’s wonders, now. Now, I must admit: some of those who come to Guerdon are jaded. The city has no wild miracles. The gods don’t intervene here, so we have no fountains of youth, no oracles, no guardian monsters – except the ones we make ourselves. Soon, I think you’ll see the virtues of modernity; no wild miracles means no curses, no heavenly wrath. No godswar. The wonder I want to show you is down these steps. They say there’s more city below the ground than above. Ghoul-tunnels, smuggler runs, natural caves, buried rivers – and the subway! Behold, our alchemical trains, running swiftly and cleanly through the city’s subterranean arteries! I cannot help but grudgingly concede that you’re not astounded. Very well – not everyone appreciates civil engineering. Still, this train will get us quickly and safely to our next destination. It’s on the west side of the city, beyond the
You’ve arrived at last! My friend, I hope your voyage was a calm and godless one. The world is such a dangerous place, these days. Krakens and war-saints and other monsters, they tell me. But here you are in Guerdon, and – if you are wise – here you will stay! Let me show you the city! We begin where many journeys end, at the docks. Guerdon coils jealously around its harbour, grasping at the sea with jetties like concrete fingers. The sea carries Guerdon’s fortune; the host of merchant ships docked here are testament to that. The city’s current prosperity is founded on the trade in alchemical weapons. We sell to all sides in the godswar, you know. Let this press of speculators, stevedores and sneak-thieves carry us away from the stink of the dock, and we’ll go up towards Venture Square, the heart of Guerdon’s commercial district. Lest you become lost, you should quickly mark some landmarks that