Under the Steel Web
Walled off from the rest of the city by the proud and honorable family that resides within, the Hawkwood estate is greatly decayed and much fallen from what it once was. Before the Steel Web dropped, the Hawkwood presence in the city was actually outside the city, to the north, but several members of the family would usually be about business affairs in Arad, and such was the case when the Web formed. Baron Edmund Hawkwood gathered up his family in the first few days, and moved quickly to take over the territory they now hold, buying out the farms and small holdings that existed there before the first crisis of money could arise. As matters spiraled downward, the Hawkwoods graciously took in anyone who would serve them, promising a decent wage once some monetary stability was restored, or the payments of boons if the Web should vanish quickly. Several of the Hawkwoods were among those who fought against the spiders in the early days, and much of the might of the house backed such actions for so long as any family members still fought. After the death of Kalissa Hawkwood, who was the last vocal champion of resistance in the House, Edmund withdrew his support from the freedom fighters and gave it instead to the man who would become, some two years later, the first Lord Mayor.
As a result of his early support, the Hawkwoods were given liberty to build their walls and do as they would on their territory, and such is still the case. But the years in between have seen their Lord Mayor banished from his hall and executed, and their support for his successor is half hearted: they will not stand against him, for fear of being on the same side as the hated Decados, but they cannot truly trust, or be trusted by, the man who overthrew their patron and creation.
The death of Baron Edmund six years ago left the house weakened as well; his son, the new Baron Aleister, is not as strong a figure, and is much younger than many of the surviving Hawkmoons, being only in his early thirties. He does not yet have much respect in his own house, let alone with the other houses.
The estate is a series of fungal fields nourishing crops of standard black fungus which is harvested to feed the Hawkwoods dependents first, with the excess sold off to the city stores for use in feeding the Warrens. Occasionally such great crops are harvested that some will go to the Shadow Market, netting the Hawkwoods their only real income any longer.
Small manors dot the estate, each home to one branch of the Hawkwoods and their personal guards and servants. Farmhouses cluster about the manors, and each Hawkwood proudly presents her own livery when the family gathers, with her supporters rallying behind her. Baron Aleister would like to see them all reduced to submission but lacks the will to make it so, and fears to invite any allies in to help him; fears both the reduction of his own independence, and that perhaps no one would come.
The younger Hawkwoods have a practice of riding their electric bikes around the entire city, racing against one another in horribly dangerous fashion, crashing through fences and knocking over anything that gets in their way. Anyone who opposes them is taken to task and challenged to punishing duels, and so they bluster on their way, defying the Civil Police and fleeing, as needed, into their walled enclosures. Daring youths of the guilds and other houses will sometimes join in a race; betting is constant, among spectators and participants.
The Web is somewhat diffuse at the Hawkwood estate; there is a dim sort of light at times, where endless reflections of light through cables not quite as tightly packed allows some suggestion of bright daylight to come through as the merely hint of a glow. The Hawkwoods claim also to be able to occasionally recieve transmissions, and report that one of their number has become Emperor in the wider universe, an obvious ploy to gain more influence which as so far not resulted in any greater respect for them.
Stephanos Hawkwood is the toughest of the younger generation, only twenty years old, and said to have been born on the first day without the sun. He is wicked and haughty and proud, and only the fact that various of his cousins are always about him has kept him from death. Other nobles say he is more like a Decados than a Hawkwood, which, to their shame, many of the Hawkwoods will admit. Cleo Harper is the old musician of the Hawkwood family, part of dead Baron Edmund’s entourage, and once the old Baron’s lover, it is said. The music of her electric harp rings over the fungal fields, sorrowful and proud, and seems to encompass all the failures of the Hawkwoods. Elzverta Ta-Liana was the chief financial advisor of the previous Lord Mayor, and fled to the Hawkwoods with much of her wealth, which she doles out to them grudgingly in exchange for their sheltering her, along with her lover Caidie al Malik, a distant half-blood relation of the family who is a skilled sculptress and whose youth seems extraordinarily prolonged.