A Day in the Life
The Calculating Engine
The Scuttle and Stag
A little way down from the Alehouse Row end of Bladeling's Run, on the other side of the street from the Red Pony, the rough Godsmen labourer's pub on Alehouse Row near the Great Foundry, is the opening of a quiet, disused lane. Referred to as "the Scuttle" due to rumours about the number of rats and vermin believed to make their nests there, the former night cart alley is choked with rubbish and debris. All the back doors of the shops that lead onto the Scuttle have been boarded up or walled over for years now. Originally providing a useful back street from Bladeling's Run through to Gambit Alley, behind the Styx Oarsman tavern, it is now virtually impassable to anything larger than a small dog due to the coiled razorvine and small rubbish heap that has grown to block the Bladeling's Run entrance. Not that anybody minds taking the longer route down to Brandy Lane these days, for the lane has a sinister reputation.
Now narrow streets in the Lower Ward are never the best bet for some bubber wandering home at antipeak from his favourite alehouse, but nobody uses the Scuttle as a thoroughfare even at highpeak. According to the local chant, or at least the bub-bawling at the Red Pony, there's something well, unnatural down there. Any bubber can tell you that nobody uses the old lane anymore and that "Cookie" Comstock blocked off the Gambit Alley entrance with a rat-grille half-a-turn back, but not many people have any idea why -- they just know they'd rather avoid it altogether. Anything that scares that crazy vaporighu spawn isn't worth trifling with, for all the jink in Bytopia. It's reached the stage where there's now a running bet at the Red Pony that no one's brave enough to spend a whole night alone in the alley. The purse is worth a single Sigilian moebius, a couple of month's pay at least, but so far nobody's been tempted by the jink, not even when bubbed till the cup's overflowing.
Forgotten to most of the locals, but still remembered by a few grey beards in the area, is the history of the Scuttle and perhaps the true dark of why it gained it's sinister reputation. See the Scuttle isn't just a simple lane along the whole of it's crooked length -- past the dog-leg off Bladeling's Run it opens into a small square of sorts, with the remains of a small stone arched pagoda, strangely free of the ever present razorvine that throttles the rest of the city. Dominated by fluted archways and grotesque reliefs of tortured faces, the pagoda is unlike any other architecture within this area of the Lower Ward. The grey beards go on to relate that this isolated area, once known as Stag Square, was a favourite Anarchist execution ground for traitors during the early days of the revolution. Then, one still night, during a particularly bloody execution, the gathered Anarchists just disappeared. Rumour goes that a dark grey mist settled on the crowd, obliterating them from sight and when it lifted, only the pagoda remained in their place. An experienced Harmonium investigator sent to uncover the cause behind mysterious disappearance also vanished. Soon, the site was declared cursed and became shunned, leading to the lane's present state.
Some have noted that the wereraven Talleyrand (Prime / female wereraven / HD 4+2 / NG), seems to spend a lot of time loitering around near the entrance of the Scuttle or hanging out the back of the Styx Oarsman, as if she's waiting for something to emerge from the lane &endash; but most cutters reckon she's just doing it to annoy Cookie, just like she enjoys irritating the short tempered Jarkman Vries (Planar / male tiefling / F7 / Athar / NE) at the tavern's door by inciting the local birds to frustrate the tiefling's enjoyment of his foul-smelling cigars. Still, there's something almost fearful in the normally jovial gypsy when she's been seen near the Scuttle that makes a few berks pause slightly and peer into the thick razorvine for a moment when they pass either entrance to the shunned lane...
Copyright 1998 by Jarkman