The Free Neighborhoods
Dortin’s main residential neighborhoods for Humans are arrayed on the fringes of the city’s core. On the west, The Free Market is sometimes used to describe all the free neighborhoods west of The Stone Road; people in these rent-free areas are poor, often either squatters or the descendants of squatters, but more self-sufficient than most, with their own gardens and their own market. On the south, almost everything below Alaster Compound is rent-free. East of Saints’ Fountain is another band of free neighborhoods known as The Bottom, in reference both to its southerly location and the condition of its inhabitants, who are as poor as their fellows across The Stone Road, but without the advantages of The Free Market. They must do their business more expensively at Alaster Compound or with each other, which makes these the poorest of Dortin’s poor.
‘The Free Neighborhoods’ is a popular term for the rent-free areas around The Free Market and elsewhere (such as The Bottom). Folk in the Free Neighborhoods are poor but independent, and they prize their self-determination. Conditions vary widely depending on other factors, but in general the Free Neighborhoods are more likely than the core areas to feature abandoned or ruined buildings and more prone to theft, banditry, and other violence. Most houses have at least small gardens, and many also keep livestock, even if they must use a neighboring building to do so. The most unique characteristic of these areas is their social mobility. In the rental areas most homes remain in the same family for generations, and most marriages occur between people in the same neighborhood. But the inhabitants of the Free Neighborhoods are natives of all parts of the city as well as immigrants from places like Fogbrindle and The Peninsula; they mingle freely with few distinctions of class, and both families and individuals happily relocate when there is the prospect of better conditions in another block or another neighborhood.