In which the stinking, festering Workshops and the most notorious Alehouses of the city are laid bare for the Inspection and Edification of the Public.
This ward got its name from the many portals to the Lower Planes that’re found here. These doorways have changed the place, so they’re more smoke, steam, and cinders in the air than there should be. The Lower Ward’s the source of most of the foul industrial smogs that sometimes choke the city, brownish-yellow blankets of stinging sulphurous gas that cling to the air and linger as a stench in clothes for days afterward. Too long outside in the Lower Ward and cutter’s throats get raw and their eyes teary. After a while, the quantity of foul miasma absorbed by their skin gives it a sickly pallor, often accented by boils or pustules. Their eyes grow hollowed and dark, their hair pale. The Lower Ward’s the only one that scars a berk’s face.
‘Course, it ain’t just people that suffer from the bite of the ward’s industry. The think smogs are so common that some Cagers name them the way some primes distinguish different types of weather: woodsmoke, meatsmoke (smoke from the curing houses), eyesting (alchemists’ fumes), coffinsmoke (or “coughin’ smoke,” the stench of cheap pipeweed), ironfumes (smoke from the smelters and smithies), and cooking fires. The smoke and ash of the Lower Ward are easiest of all to identify, for their acid bite is unmistakable. Grime and sulphur from the Lower Ward’s fires coat every available surface, their soot and acid slowly etching black paths into the stone and rusting iron. Most staues and roof tiles are entirely away within 40 or 50 years, and staues must be enchanted against corrosion.
The Great Foundry is the center of the ward. All around it huddle lightless warehouses, smoky mills, ringing forges, and a host of small workshops. Most of the city’s craftsmen are concentrated in this district. Despite the constant creation going on in the ward’s forges, ever since the destruction of the Temple of Aoskar (a power now presumed dead ad drifting on the Astral) the Lower Ward has been on the wane. Course, Aoskar’s ousting was to the Athar’s benefit. The Athar – who say all gods are frauds – set up their headquarters in Aoskar’s ruined house of worship, now called the Shattered Temple.
Though the Lower Ward has clearly shrunk over the past decades, it is still larger than the Market and Guildhall Wards. It once included the City Armory and Mortuary, now considered part of The Lady’s Ward and the Hive Ward, respectively.
Folks in the Lower Ward are secretive and stubborn. Most of the craftsmen feel like they’ve got trade secrets, and they’re always peery of strangers, even customers. Their moods aren’t helped by the number of fiends that haunt the dives and flophouses tucked in back alleys, or by the barmies who slip out of the Hive by night to prowl. The Harmonium patrols aren’t strong here, and most folks expect they’ve got to take care of themselves.