Life’s cheap, berk, but nowhere’s it cheaper than in the Hive Ward, a dismal collection of dirt-caked slums and battered tenements more fit for vermin than humanoids. Looking for honest work? Keep looking. The Hive’s a good place for cutpurses and gamblers, not so good for jewelers and art dealers. But it’s a fine place to be a Dustman – the faction’s headquarters, the Mortuary, is here, with corpses enough to keep its crematory blazing for the next couple of eons. And it’s a perfect spot for the Xaositect headquarters, also called the Hive (the Chaosmen ain’t known for clever names; why bother?). A tangle of safehouses and hideaways, it squats in the middle of the ward like a wart – make that a bunch of warts. The Gatehouse’s here too, the headquarters of the Bleak Cabal; to prove that existence is a cruel joke, a Bleaker just points out the window.
For most, life in the Hive is a tedious journey down a road of despair, with death waiting at the end. And not jut any old death. Death in the Hive wears a variety of disguises.
A Look Around
Imagine that the powers scooped up a thousand buildings in a burlap sack, shook ‘em around a bit, dumped ’em out, then stomped on ’em. That’s the Hive. There’s a saying that the Hive has Sigil’s stupidest murders; if they had any brains, they’d move to a safer ward. Or at least one that’s easier on the nose.
Compared to the Hive, an Arcadian swine barn smells like an apple orchard. It’s not just the filthy kips that cause the stink. And it’s not the lack of hygiene, though the only time a lot of these sods get a bath is when they fall in a mud puddle. It’s mostly because of the rainwater, dirt-colored and think as syrup, that oozes along the streets like sludge from a sewer pipe.
Ever seen the rain gutters in The Lady’s Ward? Nice, wide, and unobstructed. And the dabus in the Clerk’s Ward? The minute the rain stops, they’re out with their mops to wipe up the mess. The gutters in the Hive, on the other hand, are clogged with garbage, and the first street cleaners should arrive about the same time the Fated start passing out gold pieces. There, the rain collects in brackish pools, some swelling to the size of small lakes. A lot of Hiver use the pools for trash pails. If Sil Orsmonder over at Osmonder’s Meats has a carcass too rancid to sell, he heaves it out the back door into a rain pool. As for the pool behind the Weary Spirit Infirmary, it ain’t called Boneyard Pond for nothing.
Whoever planned the ward didn’t know the definition of a straight line, as the streets wind i every direction: Some end abruptly in blind alleys, others circle back on themselves like snakes swallowing their tails. With space at a premium, new structures’re built on top of old ones, giving a typical building the appearance of a stack of boxes about to collapse. It’s a mess, all right, though a basher flying high overhead might make some sense of it. The cluster of marble buildings spikeward from the Gatehouse – called, appropriately enough, the Marble District – marks the best section of the ward, where it’s possible to find a few qulity shops, the government centers, and a handful of bloods with serious jink. On the opposite end lies the smoky rubble of the Slags, all darkness and death. Residential areas are everywhere else, row after row of slant-roofed slums and belching smokestacks.
To the sod on the street, it all looks pretty much the same. Narrow alleys, many narrower than a human is tall, separate crumbling tenemnets. Filthy rags cover shattered windows. Sunshine is as scarce as kind words; what the thick fog fails to conceal, the tottering buildings drench in shadows.