Crouching Cultist, Hidden Heretic
Ta Qu was the original Daxing Cheng, back before it grew outwards and into all of its neighbors. As the overpopulated heart of the city it is absolutely thronging with people. Tenements here stretch hundreds of feet into the sky and are so interconnected with one another that bridges connecting them become so dense as to become a second level of streets, and another, and another, ramps joining one level with another and with absolutely no standardized heights or distances at all. Buildings are built atop bridges which have no foundation in the ground at all. This sort of construction allows buildings within Ta Qu’s legal jurisdiction (defined by the location of the building’s foundation, which seemed reasonable a hundred years ago when it was an issue of two and a half rooms of a Ta Qu tenement sticking out over the Hongzai Qu border) to stretch out to completely envelop Hongzai Qu as well as a large portion of Suidao Qu, such that those districts exist entirely beneath Ta Qu’s skyways.
Outside of real estate, there are no major industries in Ta Qu. The people find employment where they can. Some work in workshops which turn resources that flow in from elsewhere into finished goods for sale in Ta Qu and beyond, others work as middlemen for smuggling operations down into Hongzai Qu and Suidao Qu, a fair number are scavengers who go through the abandoned parts of Ta Qu and look for anything valuable as well as any walls that aren’t loadbearing (though they are not always clever enough to know which is which nor wise enough to know not to go ripping up walls when they aren’t absolutely certain, leading to the occasional collapse). For the most part, however, the people are unemployed and sustained entirely on the food provided by government taxes of the incredible amount of trade that passes through. Ta Qu is the largest and most sprawling of the city’s districts, which makes it almost impossible to get anything from the docks to the gates or from one gate to another without passing through, whether you go by street or by river, which means that Ta Qu collects incredible tariffs which are then immediately spent on trying and often failing to give its people adequate food, shelter, and clothing.
Until recently, the people of Ta Qu mostly just starved to death and lived off of the scraps of charity offered by the wealthy and powerful bureaucrats who grew fat off the trade. That all changed when Liu Fang arrived. Disgusted by how the rich and powerful indulged in every pleasure imaginable while the people starved and were victimized by the Black Lotus Society, Blade Dogs, Fire Doctrine, and occasionally roving mobs of other unscrupulous factions, Liu Fang began a one-man crusade to keep Ta Qu safe. He was soon joined by what would be his only companion in the crusade for years, Li Lin, who opened a clinic which healed the wounds of both Liu Fang and the downtrodden people.
After years of struggling to help wherever they could, the legend of Liu Fang and Li Lin finally started to reach the Little Forest Sect at large. More Wulin came to help. The turning point, however, came when the great wandering sword master of the Heaven Sword Alliance, Jian Dai, one of the most respected swordsmen in Shen Zhou, came to Liu Fang and promised his loyalty to keeping Daxing Cheng and particularly Ta Qu safe. With such a renowned master putting an end to his famous and ceaseless wandering to fight for Liu Fang’s cause brought many from both the Heaven Sword Alliance and Little Forest Sect flocking to Daxing Cheng. Ta Qu’s magistrate has been toppled and a fair and benevolent new ruler has been put into place from among the ranks of its poorest. The Black Lotus, Blade Dogs, and Fire Doctrine no longer walk casually amongst the streets harassing citizens at will, but instead come only as raiding parties hoping to grab some plunder or captives and flee before the full power of Liu Fang and his followers can come down upon them.
This influx of Wulin still has not ceased, which makes Ta Qu one of the Liquid Metal Delegates’ greatest concerns. While Daxing Cheng is such a chaotic mess that no one’s even noticed, Liu Fang and his followers are in open rebellion against the Jin Dynasty, having overthrown their previous magistrate and installed a new one without consulting or even informing the prefect of their province! While the Little Forest Sect has been an ally in the past back when both they and the Liquid Metal Delegates were badly understaffed and had several common enemies, ever since the arrival of Jian Dai they have fast become more a threat to the law than a friend of it.