Tuesday, 24 March 2020

the city of rain

Slanted cobblestone streets. Gutters rushing with ice-black water. Mossy stone bridges arching over canals. Slick spike-topped walls concealing lush private subtropical gardens, a hint of shocking green in a place of darkened greys. Plazas pocked by bottomless dark wells. Gargoyled cathedrals, always empty, rain spurting from each demon-mouth. Abandoned neighbourhoods where the system failed and the streets are flooded knee-deep.

Damp, furious, red-eyed jackdaws. Soggy tramps clustered in doorways, coughing up their guts. Vicious, rabid garbage otters. Caravans of clerks in turtle formation under stiff black umbrellas.  Paddling turtles. Cheerful urban ducks. The endless patrols of the damunjammers, in their black oilskins and floppy hats, bearing lead-glass lanterns and long white poles to clear blocked gutters before they lose another street.

Gabled slate roofs like witch's hats, prickled with cupolas. Rattling drainpipes.  Scowling faces pressing against smeared lead-glass windows, watching until they're sure you're out of sight. Heavy oak doors with lion's-head brass knockers. There is safety and warmth inside the homes, feast-laden dinner-tables and roaring fires in study-rooms lined with leather-bound tomes, but they will not let you in without a bloody good reason.

If you are in a city and there is enough rain, for long enough, you can walk from there into the city of rain. Though you may not want to.
Ettore Roesler Franz, official painter of the city of rain

1. The Teatro Imbroglio. 

Rotting plaster cherubs. Peeling murals of gods and angels. Aesthetes cram like sombre sardines into the stalls of this dank, humid, rococo theatre, suffering drips from the punctured, painted ceiling and the foul sweat-smell of their fellow patrons to appreciate warbling opera and terrible, laboured farces. Rusted, malfunctioning stage machinery drops papier-mache suns and opens trapdoors beneath stress-crazed actors and ballerinas. Labyrinth of cellars NOT home to an albino cannibal phantom.

2. The Palace of Justice.

Hook-noses judges in mouldy wigs. Pinch-faced lawyers in mildewed black robes. Wan pickpockets and etiquette criminals pleading for mercy as the hammer comes down. The sentence is life in prison, a patchwork maze of rust-barred, rat-haunted cells that get more flooded the farther down you go. The doors are never unlocked but the holes in the walls are never mended. They say you can escape through the sewers but the chain gangs and rodent queens down there protect their turf.

3. The Codleian Library.

Dry-lipped librarians with crossbows and pinch-nez guard the silence. Mold cements the pages of tedious leather-bound tomes, stacked to the ceiling. Try not to cough and choke as you crack them open. Filthy scholars with hobo dreadlocks and missing teeth build blanket-nests in the endless stacks, huts from the books they've completed and discarded in their endless search for wisdom. The deeper, damper halls are overgrown with moss, exhaling literature in their psychoactive spores.

4. The Urchin Derby.

A guttural cascade down steep zigzag streets, obstacles of pried-up cobblestones and makeshift wooden dams. Street urchins racing intricate origami leaf-boats, chanting the names of their favourite craft and folders. Punters watching intently from overhanging bridges, their fortunes staked on each twist of the current. A strong leaf from a rare tree is worth its weight in gold. Kids on rooftops watch for militant damunjammers with blood-tipped razor-wire crowdbrooms.

5. The Crown and Anchor.

Yeasty ale, gravy-soaked puddings and unpleasantly strong sausages at extortionate prices. Oil lamps. Dark varnished oil paintings of glowering old men. Extravagent, matted facial hair. Sour-smelling fur coats hanging forever in cloak-rooms, haunted by indoor moths. A five-month-old game of dominos, with players dropping in and out. A six-month-old pot of stew, still on the boil. The public bar is for the damp - you don't get into the saloon bar until you are completely dry.

6. The Discreet Menagerie.

Sulking hippos in muddy lagoons. Maddened wet leopards skittering across stone floors, pouncing at every raindrop. Contemptuous orang-utans reaching out between the bars to pluck off your hat. The overpowering smell of wet dog and unscraped dung, radiating from every corner. Zookeepers in shit-smeared tuxedos explain that the animals wear carnival masks "for your discretion" and dodge all questions about how they train the beasts to keep them on.


  1. This is absolutely amazing and I love the images you've conjured up - there's just something about permanent rain, I suppose. Stealing it all!

  2. Good stuff!

    Urchin derby could almost have its own post.

    Also was a post of d20 diseases posted and then deleted?

    1. Yeah it was an accidental click, the real thing will go up at some point. Thinking about disease for just no reason at all.

  3. That and your curiosity shoppe would go well with this: https://superheronecromancer.com/2020/02/03/a-visitors-guide-to-the-rainy-city-kickstarter-preview-vagabond-bay/ I think.

    1. The stygian library and perhaps either gardens of Ynn also feel like interesting settings one could access from this place.

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  5. I feel like I've lived here for years... I love it!