Ad Astra Per Arcana
Surrounding the Civic Festhall, in the rough triangle of the ward between Crystal Dew Lane, Hull Road, and Thistlewind Way, the Festhall District does its best to enliven the orderly and sometimes bland Clerk’s Ward.
Even with the official cessation of organized activity by the Sensates within Sigil, the vast majority of the bloods retain their old positions as a matter of habit, comfort, and ability. In that respect, little has changed in the Festhall District since the Faction War. Shops selling fine wines, curios, and artwork, as well upscale taverns and the like dot the district like many a street in portions of The Lady’s Ward. The Civic Festhall’s proximity ensures frequent street festivals, live musical performances in the outdoor arenas in the district that can be heard for blocks away, and wandering performers along the wide district streets.
Spireward from the Civic Festhall and further adding to the festive atmosphere of the district is the Lazz School of Vivid Unpleasantness, a more avant-garde center for the graphic and performing arts in Sigil. Former members of the Bleak Cabal and Free League tend to be attracted to the school and its frequent, often controversial performances.
A scant few blocks from the Civic Festhall lies the fenced in kip and surrounding grounds of Jeena Ealy, the former adventurer and famous author of In Darkest Sigil. One of the wards more famous citizens, she found herself elected to the Sigil Advisory Council in large part because of the ward’s citizens themselves. Despite her position, she can still be found in her kip from time to time, though at her advancing age she prefers her own company more than in earlier years.
The Greengage tavern, across the street from the Civic Festhall, caters to Sigil’s gnome and halfling communities; most others have a hard time simply squeezing through the doors. The famous Greengage cider has become such a commodity in the past year that the owner, Marda Farambler (CG female halfling Exp 1), has built a outdoor patio for larger customers to keep up with the booming demand. [And to keep them from packing the inside of her inn. From Pennyroyal’s Orchards to your tankard, she serves a fine cider. – The Editor]
Civic Festhall – Along with the Great Gymnasium and the Hall of Speakers, which all sit within walking distance of each other in adjacent wards, the Civic Festhall stands as one of the most beautiful pieces of architecture within all of Sigil. Like the Great Gymnasium, it has seen little outward change in its operations since the Faction War, despite the disbanding of the Society of Sensation, which built and operated the Festhall.
Situated in the Clerk’s Ward at the corner of Crystal Dew Lane and Festive Way, the elegantly spired and gloriously decorated building has stood for over six hundred years and was built and planned over the course of a further century. The Society of Sensation left nothing to whimsy in the construction of the Festhall. Everything from the mineral veins present in the marble blocks used to construct the outer façade, which details in mosaic the five senses, to the color of the ore used to build the bladed spikes, spires, and flying buttresses that radiate from the building like the spines of a great ocean mollusk was carefully planned. The interior walls with their alternating rough and smooth patches, the tiny carvings playing like crawling vines across the corner of a tile in even the remotest corner of the main hall’s expanse, every bit of the Festhall has something for one to experience and ply the senses with. Nothing was left to chance; all was planned for years as a single great and wondrous artistic expression of the experiences to be had by a cutter in Sigil and across the multiverse.
Once past the elaborate doors of the main entrance, each over ninety feet tall, the grand hall is filled with the scents of a hundred perfumes drifting on the air flowing from any number of people or classrooms throughout the first floor of the building. Off to either side the space is filled with classrooms and lecture halls that concentrate on any of a hundred topics that are never the same two days in a row. Lecture topics may range from mundane topics of academic such as the types of githyanki Astral Carracks over the past century, to a free for all food fight within a closed room with baatezu cuisine just because they threw tanar’ri food the other day.
While the Sensates have officially abandoned Sigil, its members left only in name as most of those running the Festhall today are Sensates. They continue to perform their duties even without the official backing of the faction. [At least the public backing of it anyways. – The Editor]
Most of the entertainment and scheduling of performances within the Festhall is arranged by a cutter by the name of Annali Webspinner (CN female bariaur Ftr7 Society of Sensation). She still retains the position in the Festhall she had before the Faction War, losing none of her purpose or ideals with the fall of her faction’s power.
Aside from the lecture halls, there are rooms that had previously been reserved for Sensates to use once devoted to training new and old techniques in magic, combat styles, and roguery. All manner of styles and techniques are trained therein, and now since the Faction War they’ve ostensibly been open to the public, though for a charge, and for a lower cost if a blood has donated experiences to the public or the sensoriums before. The sensoriums themselves are one of the key draws of the Festhall, being a collection of experiences encompassing emotions, sights, touches, smells, and tastes. All of the collected experiences are the memories of those same experiences drawn and given freely from a cutter’s mind with the purpose of sharing them with others.
Outside the Festhall and set on adjacent hillsides stand two auditoriums, the Northumber Amphitheatre which is in open air and the Elloweth Theatre which is shielded by a translucent covering of capiz shell to allow in light. Both are used for live performances of musical and theatric presentations, typically in daylight hours. Other concerts, plays, and the like are held within Ren Hall inside the Festhall itself to packed crowds regardless of the price of admission. These larger scale events are held twice a night with staggered styles of performances between evenings.
Also within the Festhall are numerous guest quarters as well as the previously private chambers of former Factol Erin ‘Darkflame’ Montgomery. Since the factol’s disappearance during the Faction War, presumably to one of the Lady’s Mazes, the chambers have lain undisturbed and her former faction members have done their best to keep away prying eyes from this and supposedly deeper chamber within the bowels of the Festhall. Little known except to Sensates, the interior dimensions of the hall are significantly smaller than the outside dimensions would allow for, suggesting unused spaces or chambers concealed to the public. One such chamber is said to be a hall of portals to various planes called the Sanctum Sanctorum at the very heart of the Festhall. There is also rumored to be a now collapsed tunnel that led from that hidden chamber to the depths of the former archives beneath the now destroyed Hall of Records.