Work in Lathe comes in many different forms. Beyond providing basic services and trade, many come to Lathe to work as “scrapers”, manual workers in the Lily Pits removing layers of calcified perspiration from the surface of the various Essence-infused organs of the petrified husk. Exposure to this “behemoth dust” causes sorceries to distort and the corporeal forms of spirits to grow unstable and dematerialize, and thus mortal labor is required. It is not completely harmless to mortals, either, and various respiratory and skin problems tend to be common hazards of the trade. Lathe has a reputation of being a city that loves storytellers, actors and other forms of entertainment, which makes it a popular detour for wandering theater troupes, poets and musicians. The Haunches are proud of their thriving circuit of brutal gladiatorial combat where martial artists get to beat each other into a bloody mess before the referee intervenes, whereas the lounges of the Jade Soma District organize more theatrical combat demonstrations where nobody gets hurt.
Lighting in Lathe is based on sorcerously bred foot-long centipedes known as “nuga”, enchanted to be strongly bioluminescent in a full spectrum of bright aposematic colors. The nuga are placed in translucent glass containers and act as lanterns, reacting to the vibrations of sound in the air by moving into an upright position and glowing brightly. They wake up to sounds as faint as footsteps on stone within five yards and can be roused from further away with a clap or a shout. Repeated strong vibrations, such as rhythmic drumbeat or clapping, make the nuga sway from side to side as if dancing - a past time popular among children. The nuga are sustained by the lingering magic of the husk and require no other maintenance, making them an excellent replacement to the dangers of using fire as a light source in a city so overbuilt and crowded. As a secondary function, nuga cleanse air at a rapid pace, keeping the cramped quarters of the cavernous districts habitable. According to a story circulating in the Lily Pits a lucky scraper eluded suffocation for three days in a completely collapsed tunnel because he had three nuga with him. Any poisons or impurities in the air are forever stored in the nuga’s body, making older or more exposed nuga extremely infectious.
Lathe draws more on the South than the West, most of its original population having migrated from the deserts in ages past. Flametongue is the lingua franca among the common population, though most in Jade Soma District and above speak High Realm. Many of the traders know Riverspeak on top of that to barter with foreigners and an influx of immigrants from The Caul brought by the trade routes add a touch of Seatongue to the mix.
Lathe’s cuisine consist primarily of spicy rice-based dishes served with fish and seafood, chicken and eggs, crickets and mealworms. Mealworms are also dried and ground into flour that is mixed with wild corn and seaweed to bake a greenish flatbread called “chupo” that is eaten during holiday celebrations. The northern shore of the island hosts extensive underwater kelp farms, enhanced by the sorcerers to be both nutritious and delicious. Coconut milk is the most popular non-alcoholic drink after spring water, and adults tend to partake in the local mango and rice wines.
Fashion varies based on district and social standing, but the people of Lathe prefer loose and light clothing to keep away the heat and humidity of their city. Commoner men tend to wear colorful sarongs, loose shirts and tunics of imported cotton. The higher class of the Jade Soma District and above favor embroidered silk kurtas with cufflink-style buttons of jade. Wealthy women like to wear one-piece cheongsams with high collars that open from the throat to reveal décolletage and accessorize with scarves, veils, jewelry and flowers. Dynastic scions usually adhere to the latest fashions of the Blessed Isle and generally display a more martial style even in formal gatherings, wearing segments of beautiful jade armor over flowing gala robes and ceremonial scabbards for their daiklaves.