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Thursday, May 26, 2011
Send in the Clowns
From The Mundy Guide to the City: A Comphrensive Guide to the Five Baronies of the Metropolis:
The neighborhood of Little Carcosa is one of the City’s most mysterious ethnic enclaves. It’s narrow, cobblestone streets, exotically dressed residents, and unusual scents given the feeling of stepping into the Old World--though where in the Old World is part of the mystery. The Carcosan homeland doesn't appear on any known map.
The people of Little Carcosa are as enigmatic as their homeland's location. Their swarthy complexions and the cadences of their speech recall the Near East, perhaps some place in Empire of Korambeck. Their clothing, manners, and ever present smiles make one think instead of the Orient and Yian.
Besides its general ambience, Little Carcosa holds other delights for the visitor. Its markets are small, but often have unusual items imported from all over the globe. The primary local craft is hand carved masks, both fanciful and grotesque, which are sought by a small, but dedicated, group of collectors. The spicy cuisine is an acquired taste, but many City gourmets extoll its exotic charms.
A rare treat is Little Carcosa’s street festival. It’s occurrence is hard to predict based as it is on an arcane sidereal calendar, but the Carcosans must plan for it well in advance, despite no outward preparation apparent to outsiders. Young and old alike take to the streets in masks, forming a raucous procession following a group of clowns. These clowns are apparently master contortionists (and possibly even illusionists of some sort) performing feats that scarcely seem humanly possible, and sometimes border on grotesque.
Outsiders are urged to leave after the the main part of the procession has past for their own safety. A final performer sometimes follows the parade, wearing a pale mask, and dressed in yellow, tattered robes, his appearance tends to whip the already excited crowd into a frenzy. While there have been no verified cases of violence, and urban legends of disappearances or mental breakdowns are certainly simply that, the intensity of the proceedings may be beyond the comfort of the casual visitor.