Hautleff keeps rising. Its houses encroach on the sky and like barnacles, they accumulate above the mansions and turn them into tenements. Each new level of the city accommodates a new stratum of life, the roofs of the old pinnacles becoming the new public squares and the old chimneys turning to trash heaps and toilets and wells. Outsiders watch this vertical city rise, and grow more glorious, but with only stairways to ascend, this is a false glory. For as the stories climb, the destitution of the citizens ascends with it. The top floors of the city are wracked with hungry peasants, building ever higher toward heaven to escape their crowding, to escape their debtors and their aggravants. So too they grow leaner and hungrier, while the merchants below build grand porches to catch rare beams of sunlight.
The city is structured as a ring with a dark central shaft punctured by light piercing through the windows of the houses and the flames resting upon the interior balconies. Through this central shaft, poor men convey goods to the upper levels of the city, breaking their backs to feed their families, and callousing their hands and spirits bearing ropes that lift great water vats into the sky. When the squares and markets along the outside of the city grow hot in the summer, the poor sleep on their balconies inside this great central hall, looking at the porticoes of the houses far below, dreaming of moving downward, away from the hot heat, and closer to a world that affords them ground and freedom.