The city seems to sprawl out forever under its grey veils of rain. By day, there's the crash of machinery from the workshops, the hoarse shouts of the traders in the markets, the crack of the coachmen's whips and the thunder of riders' hooves. By night, there are the lonely cries of the watchman and the soft whistles of thieves. It always stinks, day or night -rotting fish and horse-shit and tanner's hides and sulphur and smog.
The morning always brings at least one fresh corpse, dumped in an alley somewhere with a red slash across its neck, but there'll always be more eager boys and girls, up from the countryside, coming in through Westgate that afternoon, ready to take the dead one's place. Altdorf swallows them all.
Tonight, in their shanty town in the north-eastern swamps; Ost End as it is coming to be called, the massed Ostland refugees huddle separately or in family groups, coughing wetly and eyeing Altdorf's distant river-gate wistfully. At the other end, in the prosperous southern quarter, Karl-Franz's nobles still drink and make merry in their warm, gilded dining rooms and halls, dancing from room to room.
In the western part of town, the universities buildings are darkened; students and professors have retired to their lodgings. Only in those colleges devoted to the unnatural practise of magic do lights still burn -night-time is known to be a propitious occasion for witchcraft. In the east; the homes of burghers, craftsmen and traders, most are asleep -only a couple of sleepy-eyed night watchmen pad through the streets.
Nobody sleeps in the thieves' kitchen of the slums. They're too busy coming up with ways to rob their fellow men.