For anyone that lived anywhere else in the world, the Black itself would have been considered the bad side of town. But for the people that lived there, the Black was the town, and the bad side of town was the area known simply as the Hill. It was more of a low mesa, really, not that much higher than any of the surrounding area, but it was big enough to house a few city blocks and high enough to set it apart from everything else. Long ago, when the city was still being built, the Hill had been prime real estate. There was always something shallowly symbolic about living slightly higher than your neighbors, so it made sense that the up and coming elite with their plans to move to the Rose District further up the mountain would start their climb there on the Hill. It just didn’t stay that way for long.

The problem with the Hill as a home for the city’s elite was that anyone that was truly elite didn’t want to live in the Black at all. If they could afford the housing rates on the Hill, they would just move over to the Wharf District or straight to the Rose District, which meant that the only people with the money to live on the Hill were those that weren’t as openly welcome in the nicer parts of the city or those that preferred to keep close to their interests. And that meant that the Hill had become perfect for the more advanced members of the Associates.

Organized crime had always been a part of Denid, and the Hill had become its bastion. Those in the know said that Vitania was actually the main headquarters for the Associates, but if it was, then the Hill was their summer home, and it was a home they really liked. With its added elevation, the Hill had become a sort of fortress, easily defended and easily monitored. There were only a few ways in and out, unless you had a certain set of skills, and those with the skills were probably Associates themselves. The Peace never went near it, at least not in any kind of law enforcement capacity. It just wasn’t worth it. Every great once in awhile, some new brash captain would join the ranks and decide to clean out the Hill, despite being advised against it, and each time, a small war would break out, a few officers would die, and everything would go back to the status quo.

Coming here was a risk, but Holden was sure it would pay off. The guards at the gate patted him down after he checked his blackjack, looking for any extra knives he might have. They only took a little money out of his pouch as a toll. They knew better. Anyone heading into the Hill with money was on their way to give that money to one of the bosses, so they wouldn’t really be stealing from him, they would be stealing from someone that could make them disappear. Besides, it was bad for business, and if they were anything, the Associates were businessmen. Just never ask them what their actual business is.


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