Uncity is laid out in a system of ever-widening rings, or what are called circles. The First Circle, which runs around the court, all the administrative, legislative, executive and judicial branches of government are positioned, giving no doubt as to the priority of the system over the individual souls who exist here. The Second Circle is that of the bazaars and markets, small shops and large meeting spaces, where souls linger, walking around the large, roughly twenty kilometer perimeter, often for days, sleeping on the streets, because it is too far in a day to walk home, especially if one lives in the outer rings – the 19th and 20th. In fact, for those living in these furthest, most removed rings, it is highly unlikely one would ever bother to make the journey to the centre, since it is a pilgrimage itself, and would take at least two weeks of walking to reach. For these stranded souls, they make do living in their own Circle. After the second ring of shops and so forth, the dreary, unending blocks of flats begins, each ring larger than the one before, until, at the 20th and final Circle, the city drops away, replaced by fields and marshland, woods and forests. It is a huge distance, perhaps one hundred kilometers, until one reaches the Veil itself, and there is nothing there once one arrives, except to look up at that wall of unconquerable water and feel the impossibility both of its physics and at the chances that one may ever pass through it and into the canyon once more. Around this massive ring of water, small gateways appear, like portals beneath a waterfall, through which the souls enter from the canyon, but which close once they pass through, disappearing within the water once more.
The First Circle
Uncity exists as a bridge between the two worlds of the Living (Bratsk) and the Afterlife, a place of judgment and justice, a balancing scale that maintains equilibrium between these two plains of existence. It is, in a way, the final frontier of life. Maintaining this order of judgement and destiny—known to those of Uncity as the Great Correspondence—has been the Court’s most sacred duty since the beginning of time, and the institutions which manage Uncity are all governed by this overriding principle of correspondence.
Prelacy of The Homecoming
This is the building in the inner Ring where arriving souls are first led, and initial interviews are held to determine their identity in life, their cause of death, and their general state of wellbeing. Interviews are held by savants of the Court, who ascertain the deeds and trials that these souls performed and endured in life, and an initial assessment as to their character, including any feelings of guilt, contrition, and regret are discovered.
Prelacy of Settlement
Having been assessed at the Homecoming, souls are conducted to the Settlement Prelacy, where administrators decide which part of Uncity they will inhabit. Usually, consideration is given regarding family, so that members may be reunited if they have not yet passed through the Gates of the Afterlife and are still existing in Uncity.
Prelacy of the Departure
An administrative body that processes the Court’s decision regarding which Gate the sentenced Soul will pass through, and which decides on a date for their departure through that Gate to the Afterlife. On this date, guards arrive at the soul’s address to lead them to the Gates at the very centre of the City, beneath the Court itself, and led into the Ring of Gates. There, the Soul’s stay in Uncity comes to an end, and their next journey will be their last – passing through a Gate that leads to the Afterlife.
The Wardens Prelacy
Ensures public order within Uncity. Often, Souls attempt to speed up their sentencing by staging protests within the first Circle, or by making a nuisance of themselves in the commercial districts of the second Circle. The Wardens make sure such protests do not get out of hand. Other functions for public harmony they perform include picking delinquents from the streets who are too tired or lost to make the journey back to their Circle, and they sit inside the Disciplinarium until their Circle Administrators have been contacted and wardens from that district arrive to take them home. Since the journey back to their Circle can take weeks, it is no small inconvenience, and a soul may be punished, either with indefinite imprisonment within the Disciplinarium, or, when they make it back to their residence, with house arrest, so that they are only ever allowed to venture to the corner of their street and no further.
The Prelacy of Bazaars
Responsible for the conduct, welfare and protection of the markets that call the second Circle of Uncity their home. These stalls and shops sell icons and other religious trinkets to help souls prepare themselves for their migration through the Gates. Agricultural products are also sold here, harvested and made from the soils around the furthest accommodation Ring, known as the Tilling Fields. Potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers – simple vegetables, which the soul who buys and eats cannot taste, but the soul’s lust for life is such that often they will do anything to reconnect with it. Sometimes even just holding a vegetable and feeling its texture is enough. Other souls don’t buy anything, because it makes them sad to remember their past lives, since they will never live again, and so owning things like this is a sort of torture. Other stalls sell wooden goods; cutlery and kitchenware, furniture, anything that makes a soul’s home more ‘homely’ but again, many souls elect not to participate in this sort of thing, because in essence it is just a form of delusion, and it hurts them.
The Archives and Library Holdings Prelacy
This enormous building – in fact three buildings built into one – stores the information of every soul that has ever passed through Uncity. Not only this, but its library collection is massive. Books on Uncity abound, as do testimonies of souls who spend their time in Uncity writing their memoirs which they didn’t have time to complete in life. Historians too, continue their work, either writing on Bratsk, or speculative histories about Uncity. Scientific works also abound in the library, investigations regarding the Veil and what makes it possible. Archeological works exist here too, where suitably qualified or interested souls spend their days investigating the secrets of Uncity, examining the structures of its buildings, its layout, and the natural world that surrounds it. Copies of the local newspaper – Uncity Times – are held here, and have been for as long as the printing press has existed. Every week the newspaper is released, and a copy of it is placed in the Library Holdings.
The Prelacy for the Continuation of Religious Observances
Oversees the running of temples and churches for those souls in need of final confessions. Whether the prelacy existed first or the need to confess preceded it, the fact remains that many believe they can improve their chances of a better judgement in the Court (and therefore a better Afterlife) if they observe a strict moral code within Uncity, in accordance with their own religious laws and beliefs. It may well be a superstitious act, but then isn’t all religion?
The Prelacy for District Maintenance and Sanitation
It ensures every soul lives in decent accommodation and conditions during their time in Uncity. Of course, intent and execution are very different things, and for a great many souls in Uncity, they live in squalor. Filth, pollution, uninvestigated crime, all these things have led to a real sense of unrest and injustice for those souls living in certain parts of the outer rings of Uncity. Resentment is at an all time high here, and, so it is whispered, a plot is underway to overthrow the administrative powers. There has already been numerous disturbances and fights with the Wardens of Uncity. Perhaps it is only a matter of time before the outer rings of Uncity incite a full-scale riot.
An enormous prison in the inner ring of Uncity, which holds unruly souls until their migration through the Gates. Crime is not a thing that plagues only Bratsk, but is a part of life in Uncity too – for some, old habits don’t die, and for others, the frustrations of living in this purgatory, without any sign of their sentencing being brought forward, is too much, and they would rather reap the rewards of crime than live like those who spend their time praying and living the noble life.
The Prelacy of the Seven Gates
This prelacy ensures the smooth passage of souls from Uncity through the Gates. Members of this prelacy coordinate with the Departures Prelacy, and its guards go to collect those souls sentenced and awaiting passage through the gates. Once they have delivered them to the gates, they help the souls through them. This prelacy then signs a document which declares the soul has passed on, and the Archives Prelacy and Library Holdings is amended to show this, thereby keeping an up-to-date record of who is living currently within the city.
The Abiding Veil
Above Uncity, visible at all times, is the Abiding Veil, a wispy grey mist that stretches over the city and the eternity of hills and forests that encompass it. It is through this Veil that souls pass through when people die, and it is through this veil that souls ascend when they ‘rapture,’ i.e. when they are brought back to life. Such rapturing is illegal in Uncity, for every time a soul escapes its judgement, the abiding Veil grows weaker, thinner, and the space between the Dead and the Living is eroded.
A raptured soul means the Gates and the Afterlives connected to them are deprived new residents. When this happens, the spirits that populate that particular Afterlife grow impatient and restless, and, in the case of the Seventh Gate and its corresponding Afterlife of The Daemons’ Pleasure, wild and hungry. The Eternal Balance, the overriding and underpinning principle that separates the Living from the Dead and the Dead from the spirits of the Afterlife is thrown into chaos.