Malver’s Way isn’t the most direct road into the city, but some prefer to take a "quieter" route. Far from the new Watchhouse and gaol on Ducal Terrace, the mud-crusted cobbles beneath Elders’ Arch offer passage to merchants, workmen, and rogues of all sorts. The Watchmen in this place are none too picky and their prices none too high, so those who fear justice feel no trepidation here.
Elders’ Arch, a prominent archway of once-fine marble, marks the very heart of Malver’s Way. Thousands of inscriptions deface its ancient stone with words of love, hate, profanity, and meaningless drivel. Pigeons nest on its soot-stained heights while slovenly Watch officers glare blearily at passerby in its shadow.
The meeting place between prosperity and poverty, Elders’ Arch marks the divide between the false success of Gentles’ Court and the quiet desperation of Commonside. High above the arch, the beautiful villas of the Nobles’ District overlook the district, their panoramic views seldom deigning to take in the unsavoury neighborhood sprawled at their feet.
Beyond Elders’ Arch stand the homes of those with more aspiration than wealth or power. Portly merchants, elderly ship captains, and prosperous country squires build here, their covetous gazes fixed on noble estates beyond their grasp. Their whitewashed dwellings and noble airs ape those of the nobility high above them, but fool no one.
Beneath the cobbled street, leaky terracotta pipes carry the wastes of the Nobles’ District, their cracked ceramic filling the faux gentry’s air with sewage stench.
The Illuminated Company of Apothecaries keeps their guild library here, where every midsummer their brotherhood gathers from all the land. Hundreds of scholars pack into sweltering halls and crowded roadside inns, there debating new discoveries of alchemic science and herbal lore.
On the far side of Elders’ Arch, less reputable businesses occupy Malver’s Way. Painted ladies call down to passing men from crimson-painted terraces, offering their "services". Such disreputable taverns as the "Laughing Dancer" and the "Maypole" sell lead-salted ale to the district’s downtrodden workmen, scheming rogues, pretentious merchants, unworldly scholars, and even its threadbare apprentice apothecaries.
Near the archway sits a battered wagon, its green paint peeling. A toothless crone tends the forlorn wagon, shouting incoherent sales pitches at everyone within earshot.
Along this part of the street, wooden doors lead down into torchlit basements and sewage-reeking tunnels. Rusty, neglected hinges groan in protest every time someone opens a door.
Malver’s Way is a neighborhood meant to be a shared project of the Citadel. Feel free to "fill it in": Its unsavoury (or pretentious…) businesses, odd local characters, and unusual customs have yet to be discovered…
Additional Ideas (2)
Peculiar and certainly singular to this city, are Vozen's Pipeworks, an abandoned project from centuries past, designed and built by one, Vozen Vel Malver, from glazed terracotta a material Vozen pioneered, along with several hundred paid workers under his direction. An ambitious and brilliant civil engineer and architect, a pseudo-wealthy citizen of Gentle's Court, Vozen passed away before the underground maze-like system of terracotta pipeworks and drains was complete. Vozen Vel Maver's intention was to build an efficient and advanced sewage system, one superior to those of other cities. Unfortunately, upon Vozen's death, the project was abandoned for lack of capital and general disinterest. Enough of the project was completed however, for the pipeworks to be usable, and the sewage system is still pumping to this day, though leaking and suffering from years of neglect.
The pipeworks run below the city, particularly beneath Gentle's Court and Malver's Way, the great avenue named for the erstwhile enginner, which Vozen had built as well. Contrary to popular urban myth, and perhaps unlike most cities underground sewage systems, Vozen's Pipeworks is not an infested lair of thieves and unsavory creatures. The pipeworks are rarely "visited", they are after all flowing with excrement and garbage, except by occasional workers, commissioned to fix leaks and construction in certain areas. The pipeworks end before making their way to Commonside, as Vel Malver died before piping was extended for the benefit of the poorer downwinders. How typical.
Apothecaries will occasionally send apprentices and hired youths to retrieve certain fungi and molds, that seem to proliferate in the pipeworks, but otherwise the area is rarely on the minds of the populace. That is not to say that shady characters won't use the pipeworks to hide from authorities, or that a dead body is not found below from time to time, but for the most part, Vozen's Pipeworks are just that, and not a center for unsavory or nefarious activity. "The fabled Elder's Arch rises, o'er the Pipeworks, flowing unseen, but not unsmelled", was how one visiting religious luminary over-dramatically described the area around Malver's Way upon first visiting the place.
If one must descend into the Pipeworks for whatever reason, several options are available. Sluice gates can be found throughout the city, and there are rumors that below the "Maypole" a tunnel exists that winds its way toward the pipes.
None in Malver's way would ever make the mistake of believing this business is in any way legit. Outwardly, it is supposed to be selling goods salvaged from fires and other disasters, but is clearly a fence. To maintain the facade, however, Kredal employs a handful of bully-boys who do serve as Malver's meagre fire service. These men rarely put out any fires, but will enter structures to retrieve whatever valuables can be saved. Of course, only a few make it back to the original owners. It is also not unusual for fires to occur whenever things get too slow at Kredals.
The shop also sells regular goods - both stolen and occasionally legitimately sourced. Kredal also provides loans, sending his bully-boys to collect. Kredal himself lives in a villa quite some distance from Malvar's place, but does like being a big fish in a little scummy pond.
Kredal himself appears as a middle aged merchant who has endulged in too many vices, but his enemies have found that there is steel in that lardy package. And whatever faults he may have, his memory is not one of them.