The Flower in the Sepulcher
The Jakes (SOUTHWEST): Every city in the Known World has a place where people don’t go unless they are desperate, criminal, ashamed or paranoid (or all four). In Treff, the strange southwest quarter known as the Jakes fulfills this need. Built on a series of illegally dredged or natural canals, the Jakes is mostly afloat or on the brink of collapse as rickety wooden houses lean against tethered riverboats long converted into smugglers’ dens or thieves’ guilds. Here, junkies and muggers lurk under the boardwalks. Most of the city’s terrestrial monstrous population lives here, forced out of the nicer quarters of the city by prejudice. Its reputation as a skid row notwithstanding, there is a certain dark glamor to the Jakes, and artists and adventurers looking to “push the envelope” of the acceptable and possible often make their home here. The Rangers and the Order do not come here: although neither will admit it, No-Collar Jack and Sylaia Rushblood are the true rulers of this place.
—The Busy Hive: This popular hangout for bohemians and smugglers sits in a large brick structure that resembles a beehive, floating on an old barge in the middle of a dark pond. Here, home-distilled absinthe flows freely and deals are made in hushed whispers, beeswax candles casting shadows over faces quite inhuman. The basement bilges are host to a representative of Jack’s Circle (Gather Information or Knowledge (local) 20).
—The Bathing Succubus: Named in honor of the beautiful and deadly queen of the Assassin’s Guild, Sylaia Rushblood, the Succubus is the most glamorous and most dangerous brothel in the city. The courtesans cater to every appetite of the Known World, and being dosed and left in a comatose heap after the act is done, waking up sans money pouch and jewelry, is just part of the general allure (somehow). Rumor has it that the most beautiful of the companions here are sometimes Rushblood herself in disguise, baiting the city’s furtive rich to a paradisaical end. The persistent rumor that Rushblood is actually a succubus is probably not true. But this is Treff, after all, and in this place the perfume and drugs make the unreal seem natural.
—Smugglers’ Market: Officially, there is no market on Saturday, which is a holy day in several of the local faiths. But in a small network of canals hidden by hunters’ blinds and guarded by members of the assassins’ and smugglers’ guilds, there is a market that the streetwise Treffman can visit in a very unholy manner indeed. Here drugs are sold as openly as rice and relics from the old Kingdom better left sunk in the mire perch like grim idols on waterstained canvas stalls.