The Yellow Brick Road
New Gaslight, an audacious city of unchecked ambition and ruthless exploitation, lays out its heart for the world to see in the grandeur of the Yellow Brick Road district. This opulent thoroughfare, built from the plundered gold bricks of the fabled Yellow Brick Road of Oz, gleams under the hazy glow of the sun and the shine of the will-o-wisps, a constant beacon of humanity's audacious triumph and harsh conquest.
Carved out on a pseudo-island by the labyrinthine small intestine rivers that meander around the city, the Yellow Brick Road is a stage set for the display of extreme wealth and power. Esteemed citizens like Baron Scrooge and Munchausen, their influence as gargantuan as their mansions, call this golden causeway home. These architectural marvels are a living testament to the immense wealth they command, rising amidst the cityscape like colossal embodiments of power and opulence.
The Yellow Brick Road is an architectural melting pot where every philosophy finds a voice, every style manifests itself, and opulence, unrestrained and unabashed, is the only constant. The rail stations lining this golden artery of New Gaslight are nothing short of colossal embodiments of the city's enduring spirit, their designs invoking a sense of awe-inspiring power.
Constructed in the Brutalist tradition, these edifices rise with stark, angular structures, their raw and uncompromising profiles representing the unyielding spirit of the metropolis. Their presence is a silent yet formidable testament to the city's will, dwarfing the passersby, casting long, somber shadows upon the gleaming surface of the Yellow Brick Road. Yet, their austere exterior belies the opulence within.
Unlike the typical rail stations of New Gaslight, where a clear demarcation exists between the rundown public sides and the luxurious private quarters, the stations along the Yellow Brick Road represent the unabated grandeur reserved for the privileged. Access here is not a matter of public transportation but a privilege bestowed only on those deemed worthy. Every detail within these stations, however mundane, becomes a canvas for flaunting the city's stolen wealth. The handrails, for instance, are not mere structural elements but a display of indulgence, encrusted with emeralds - spoils from the conquered Ozmandian capital. The rail stations, in their opulent design and selective accessibility, embody the grotesque dichotomy of New Gaslight – a city of splendor built upon the ruins of another, a city of light casting long, cruel shadows.
Nestled within the heart of these concrete behemoths are the neo-gothic cinemaplex cathedrals, revered sanctuaries of the silver screen. Each of these grand edifices is intricately carved with the likeness of the goddess Hoo-Ahkoo, the divine patron of theatre in New Gaslight's unique cosmology. Their sculpted spires, meticulously adorned with his radiant figure and scenes from mythical tales, stretch towards the smokey heavens, etching Hoo-Ahkoo's divine presence into the city's skyline. This meticulous stonework, a symphony of grandeur and grace, provides a haunting contrast to the brutalist fortresses that surround them. Inside these ecclesiastical havens of art and culture, the cyclical whirl of projectors hums, casting flickering images onto the grand screens. Here, the stories of the city are preserved, told, and retold in frames of fleeting moments, crafted from a dangerously flammable material. This risky medium demands constant vigilance, for the city's searing heat could ignite these celluloid treasures, threatening to reduce these precious narratives to ashes.
The architectural discourse continues with the avant-garde design of the modernist museums. Constructed of glass and steel, their sharp, translucent forms catch the neon glow of the city's twilight, revealing the world's rare remnants of the past housed within. These temples of culture and history shimmer under the city lights, their stark silhouettes against the smoggy wisp-laden sky a testament to humanity's relentless progress.
The pleasure palaces, orgiastic amphitheaters, and sprawling recreational complexes of the Yellow Brick Road tower over the cityscape, their grandeur standing as audacious counterpoints to the squalor that festers just beneath their golden feet. They are playgrounds for the elite, kingdoms of hedonism where every depraved fantasy can be realized, and excess is not merely indulged but venerated. Their opulent halls echo with the clatter of cutlery against fine porcelain, a symphony of indulgence that accompanies the ceaseless flow of food. Grand buffets stretch out as far as the eye can see, heaving under the weight of exotic dishes that feature cuts from animals long extinct in the wild. Bovines, with their grazing fields long since desertified, adorn the tables alongside platters piled high with rare fish and birds. These delicate flavors are untainted by the acrid waters of the stomach and instead are drawn from the pure currents of the artificially created Bladder Lake. Even still, the rare Ozmandian cuts, the Hippocamp, Unicorn, Ozmandian Mackerel and Parrot-Ox, these dishes provide a divide even among the elite, their prices reflective of their truly extinct sources.
The din of laughter and conversation is punctuated occasionally by the peculiar retching sound unique to the vomitoriums. These facilities, tucked away discreetly into the corners of these pleasure hubs, facilitate the elite's unending cycle of gluttony. Any hint of satiety is quickly expelled to make room for more decadence, ensuring that the buffet tables remain a locus of perpetual consumption.
And then, there are the whispered tales of the velvet rooms. Hidden behind thick drapes and shrouded in secrecy, these rooms are where the most inhuman appetites are given free reign. What transpires within the velvet rooms is left to lurid imagination and hushed whispers, an ominous unknown in the city's epicenter of excess. The pleasure complexes of the Yellow Brick Road, in their boundless decadence, exemplify the depravity that wealth and power can breed, hidden beneath a veneer of civility and sophistication.
Yet, under the awe-inspiring spectacle of the Yellow Brick Road, another world thrives. Beneath the opulent surface lies a vast network of sewers, catacombs, and trash tunnels, the city's underbelly hidden from the sight of the casual observer. The nature of the small intenstine river, and the mysterious ways of the RatHench meet here, creating festering mass of filth. Here, in the gritty subterranean heart of the city, dwell the unsung heroes, the Maggot Cleaners
Their barracks, built deep into the city's subterranean heart, reflect the grit and resilience of its occupants. The rooms, though sparsely furnished, host a community that defies the grinding gears of the city above. Four men to a room, they live within the comforting intimacy of shared struggles and stories, their camaraderie a beacon of warmth in the dank, dimly lit chambers. Yet, despite their humble conditions, every room hosts a private bathroom, a small island of comfort and dignity in their thankless existence.
Family rooms house lineages of Maggot Cleaners, those unfortunate souls who inherit the duty from their forebears. These rooms, while austere, provide a sanctuary for families tied together by the weight of their hereditary task. The Maggot Cleaners of the Yellow Brick Road district, unlike in the poorer parts of the city, remain hidden in their eternal struggle. The small luxuries of these quarters, though paltry compared to the grandeur above ground, grant them a semblance of normalcy amidst their grueling occupation.
Above these underground trenches of duty and sacrifice, grandeur finds a fitting symbol in Munchausen's Romanesque mansion. A recreation of an ancient Roman villa, it boasts meticulously groomed lawns, gardens and manicured hedges. The manicured hedges, crafted into an elaborate maze, pay homage to the lost arts of another era. Sculptures dot the landscape, their silent faces bearing the weight of centuries and secrets. The mansion, a breathtaking ensemble of Corinthian columns and ornate frescoes, adds a dash of imperial majesty to New Gaslight's skyline.
But the allure of the Yellow Brick Road isn't limited to architectural prowess alone. Nestled within the vibrant landscape of the Yellow Brick Road are the fashion houses of Nephren-Ka. Their architectural style, an ode to the monuments of ancient Egypt, stands in stark contrast to the city's overarching aesthetics. Reflecting the design philosophies of the civilization that birthed their mummified origin, these establishments harken back to a time shrouded in mysticism and grandeur. Gilded statues of Anubis and Pharoah Queens stand sentinel at the entrances, their stony gaze watching over the flurry of fashionistas that flood their festive facilities.
As the Yellow Brick Road bathes in opulence, it meticulously maintains a strict dress code, a visible reflection of the elite's refined aesthetics. Any disarray in attire, any hint of commonness, is not permitted. These regulations run deeper, disallowing "those with hideous disfigurements" to stroll the district, an order rigorously enforced by the city's Torquemadas. This extends to the Maggot Cleaners, whose presence, their uniforms marked by soot and hardship, would disrupt the district's careful display of grandeur.
One exception to this rule is the Opere race. Despite their disfigurements and otherwise segregated existence, they are permitted within the Yellow Brick Road district. These artists, their deformed features concealed beneath elegant porcelain masks, provide an air of mystery and intrigue. Their presence, while highly regulated, adds to the exotic allure of the district, their performances a spectacle for the privileged.
The Yellow Brick Road, resplendent yet underpinned by stark disparity, stands as a testament to human ambition and the cost of relentless exploitation. In this paradoxical cityscape, grandeur and grimness perform an eternal waltz, echoing the duality of life within New Gaslight. Amidst the opulence and decay, the Yellow Brick Road serves as a poignant symbol of a society divided, yet defiant, always hopeful for a dawn less cruel than its dusk.