The Pot

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The Pot of Gold

The Pot of Gold was the name for the main city/urban area of Bridges from the time of its founding until The Alcatraz Coup in 1799 AC (After the Catastrophe). It contained all the housing, industry, and financial buildings for the city, and some of the finest architects in the country came to Bridges in order to create their Art Nouveau/Art Deco edifices, some of which are still studied to this day.

In the early 1700’s, public pressure regarding the growing numbers of homeless poor in the city led to the construction of a eight foot tall spiked wrought iron fence around the city, gated and locked. The homeless were forcibly removed to the area outside the fence, with armed guards stationed to prevent them from returning. As each fence section was constructed, it became socially acceptable to dump trash outside of it.

During the 1720’s, a religious group known as the Dealers began setting up “poorhouses” outside of each section of the fence as it was constructed. The poorhouses were a combination medical clinic and soup kitchen, where pregnant women and the elderly could live in exchange for labor. It became fashionable for those living inside the Pot of Gold to donate used clothing, food they disliked, and broken items to the poorhouses, as a means of “helping” the poor.

Settlements grew up outside the poorhouses, mostly tent cities, with high mortality rates in winter. Inside the fence, thick thorny hedges were planted to shield the families living near it from the sight of the poor. Once the fence was completed, the gates were guarded, and only opened when a shipment came into or out of the city from the countryside. These shipments were also guarded, as hungry mobs tended to congregate around the gates and shipments were hijacked occasionally.

As time went on, the settlements became more permanent, sturdier, and the mortality rate outside the fence improved dramatically. People living outside the Pot of Gold began foraging, growing their own food, and trading with the farming villages in the countryside on their own. But the bitterness of that population is evident from the art and literature from the “outsiders” of that period.

After the Coup

After the Alcatraz Coup, the wealthy survivors who didn’t flee for whatever reason hid in their homes, presumably hoping that the new government would save them, or at least restore basic services. Many of those died in that first year. Those who later fled into the countryside were reduced to begging from the farming villages and squatting in wretched hovels where they could. Most were eventually rounded up and returned to the Pot.

Those who had been forced to live outside the wrought iron fence encircling the Pot of Gold took special delight in keeping the inhabitants inside the broken city, vowing to make them suffer the same injustices. They began to dump trash inside the area. Men who were too injured or intoxicated to work were often left there, as were the homeless and those without family or friends who were unable to care for themselves.

Services such as running water, food deliveries, sanitation, and heat were never restored. The fencing encircling the Pot was expanded along the main roadways to Market Center and along the rivers, with equally tall hedges placed outside the Pot.

Unlike Market Center, the Pot is considered “fair game” – anyone from any Family or gang is welcome to battle there, and to cause as much destruction as they like. The landscape in the four Pot quadrants is marked with the dozens of battles which have taken place over the past 100 years. Many buildings are bombed-out, burned, or otherwise unlivable.

Several Federal Oversight Authority studies of Pot inhabitants have been done. The majority of Pot inhabitants were born in a brothel, and the main industry is prostitution. Men, women, and children as young as four are involved in the sex trade, and thousands of “quadrant-folk” visit the Pot for this purpose nightly. This activity is completely unregulated except by the workers and brothel owners themselves. The workers are paid in pennies, although food, drink, and clothing are more highly valued.

There is a strict code. While preying on the “quadrant-folk” is encouraged, harming a child (for example, forcing them into sexual contact) is punished by execution. Beating the offender to death is a common means of punishment. People who are brought in from the outside are given a probationary period before considered part of the society, but once there, everything is shared. Children are taught not to speak to law enforcement under pain of death – and to kill them if you have the opportunity. Several Federal Agents died to collect this information.

Outside of the Pot, it is illegal to hire a “Pot rag”, to sell them property, or for a Pot inhabitant to venture outside the fence without written permission. To obtain that, one must be “sponsored” by one of the Four Families, presumably for some fairly large favor. However, quadrant members and Pot inhabitants alike seem to freely cross in and out through large holes in the fence, which have never been repaired. Drugs, alcohol, and stolen items are frequently sold in and around the Pot.

The majority of the buildings in the Pot are owned by quadrant members, although there are some Pot inhabitants who own the building they reside in. There are reports that many of the buildings in the Spadros portion of the Pot were once owned by a descendant of the Kerr dynasty, but these reports have not been confirmed.

Pot members that are sponsored into a quadrant generally live in the slums directly outside of the fence, although rumor has it that some have actually made it into quadrant society, even rising to Family status.

Also see: A Short History of Bridges

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