The Ditch
The Ditch

The Ditch

Most planewalkers think of Sigil, the City of Doors, as a landlocked metropolis cut off from the aquatic trade routes that profit its prime material cousins. Any blood worth his salt will tell you that is just so much screed, and will point an inquiring mind toward Sigil’s largest body of water — the Ditch.

Located in the Lower Ward, the Ditch is a fifty-foot wide drainage aqueduct that starts from the Great Foundry (headquarters of the Believers of the Source) and winds its five-mile way to the very edge of the city, where its then trickling current disappears off the edge. The floor of the river is uneven, sometimes shallowing at a few mere feet to deepening at perhaps bottomless depths. Famous establishments such as the Black Sails tavern, the Styx Oarsman saloon, and the Speckled Rat bar are located along the Ditch’s banks.

Its waters are foul and polluted, both from the Ditch’s extra-planar origins as a tributary of the Styx River, and from the citizens of the Cage who dump whatever (or whomever) refuse they can get away with. So corrosive are its waters that mere hours after dumping will transform a dead body into a nearly unidentifiable bloated carcass. As if in defiance of the lack of seasons in Sigil’s smoggy climate, the Ditch’s waters sometimes freeze over with an oily ice; other times it runs quick in rapids of greenish currents. Every five to eight months, the ditch river thankfully receives a much needed cleansing as the River Oceanus sends a few thousand gallons of pure, clean water through the Ditch’s length. This is a cause for celebration, and passers-by will witness shirtless children playing happily as their parents watch on in pride-full jubilance.

Suicide Falls

Last Kiss Bloom

Sigil’s equivalent to a “lover’s leap,” Suicide Falls has the reputation of seducing lost, unrequited, and otherwise mismatched lovers to their supposed deaths. Not quite a waterfall in the strictest sense, the Ditch empties out into a delta that runs to the very spireward edge of Sigil in an eerie silence. It is perhaps the most easily accessible route to the edge of the Cage. Effectively leaping off the edge, jumpers simply disappear, their bodies never to be found. Harmonium officers often chalk up mysterious disappearances of adolescents as having “succumbed to the fall’s siren.”

On one of the multitude of tiny “islands” formed by the delta grows a flower called “the Last Kiss Blossom.” With tiny, delicate blooms, the flower’s two blush-hued petals resemble a pair of painted lips pursed in a kiss. With no medicinal value save that of a mediocre laxative, the bush remains relatively unmolested. However, young lovers often re-tell having heard rumours of those who have braved the fall’s plunge with a last kiss blossom pressed to their lips, only to have survived and found their heart’s desire along the Hinterlands. Like most rumours, there is more tale than truth in such stories. Still, love has a way of clouding a cutter’s judgement…

“Love, in its many guises, leads to many of the same ends as hate” – An ominous Society of Sensation maxim

The Ditch Beast

Over the years, superstitious and weak-minded cagers have reported sightings of “a giant beast swimming the river” that has been accused of everything from snatching babies from the very arms of their frightened mothers to plotting the downfall of the Lady of Pain. With almost certainty, the Harmonium has ensured that “Cassie” (so dubbed by rumour-mongers) does not exist. The dabus, magical labourers under the sole dominion of the Lady of Pain, have added to the hysteria with occasional illusions to cover up their own activities. But of late, masticated bodies of the Lady’s servants have begun to wash-up on shore—a sight that gives even the Dustmen cause to pause and rethink the existence of the Ditch-Beast.

“Cassie” usually only appears while the waters of the Ditch run dark and polluted, and at antipeak. Beast-chasers point out that the Seafarer’s Arch connects to an equally dark, polluted reservoir on the prime world of Athas called the Silt Sea—a body of water made infamous for its submerged, lurking monstrosities. Any one of those abominations could have easily slipped through the Seafarer’s Arch under the cover of a travelling trade-vessel. It should be noted that “Cassie” has been spotted by witnesses on either side of the Taker’s Lock. Harmonium investigators discount these sightings as hoaxes, since it seems obvious that the Fated wouldn’t allow any thing, man nor beast, passage through the Lock without the applicable immigration fees being rendered.

The dark of the Ditch Beast is that sightings of “Cassie” are actually glimpses of the Kadyx (a beast that normally haunts the Slags in the Hive Ward) as it searches for water and sustenance. It has never been seen lumbering across the Lower Ward streets from the Hive, so there must be some subterranean connection between the Slags and the Ditch, probably through the dabus catacombs.

Tabletop Map: Created by the talented TessaPresentsMaps, available here

Canonical Sources:

  • In the Cage: A Guide to Sigil by Wolfgang Baur and Rick Swan, pg. 49.
  • Polyhedron #137 article ‘Of Sigil and the Sea’; William James Cuffe, more info on that here.

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