Hive Sibellus is the oldest city on Scintilla, almost certainly predating Angevin’s invasions. Its immense, eight thousand kilometer-wide bulk dominates the coastal plains and lowlands of the northern temperate landmass. Where its enormous, multi-layered skirts touch the coast itself – in a five-hundred kilometer belt – they spill out over the black granite cliffs like shelves or glacial ridges. Sibellus has twice the population of its “twin” hive Tarsus.
Like almost all Imperial hives, Hive Sibellus is composed of an extraordinary conglomeration of architectural forms. Countless generations have added their own embellishments and every available surface is crammed with gargoyles, frescoes, columns, and mosaics. The hive spire is a jumble of glittering wonders while the middle hive – and even the underhive – is composed of long-fallen statues and temples to wealth and power. The middle hivers live in rickety tenements built inside the shells of the mansions and basilicas, and trudge to work each day through avenues formed by fallen statues. The underhives live in buried hovels built into the eyes of great stone heads or clustered around the broken columns of fallen temples.
The sprawl of the hive is at its most spectacular along the rugged coastline. The hive looms – indeed spills – over towering black granite cliffs, which are lashed by ferocious seas during the stormy season. The Lucid Palace, a city in its own right, stands on a massive column of rock rising from the sea just off the coast, connected to the hive by a single, cyclopean, stone processional bridge, as well as by countless smaller rope bridges and the fleet of ferries which transport strong-stomached passengers across the debris-strewn waters. Hundreds of rickety elevators scale the cliffs and the rock column on which the palace stands, and the hovels of the ferrymen and fishermen cling to the rock face like barnacles. The bulk of Hive Sibellus itself rises up many times the height of the cliffs, casting a permanent shadow over the headland and the waters.
Hive Sibellus is Scintilla’s power center and every noble house on the planet seeks to have its own estate on the hive spire. These estates form an extraordinary riot of architectural styles, from stern fortresses to gilded pleasure palaces. The spire is constantly growing. The new estates built on the remains of the old, and so a noble house must constantly strive to embellish its own estates to keep up.
Antiquity is everything in Hive Sibellus. A family draws prestige from the number of ancestral generations it can trace and even the newest of estates look like age-weathered bastions of tradition. Hive Sibellus’s nobles are intensely competitive and demonstrate their superiority through the magnificence of their estates as well as the antiquities they collect, from artifacts excavated from the deserts and jungles of Scintilla to works of art from across the Imperium. Most estates conceal a high security gallery or museum, which sometimes holds extremely valuable and illegal items like xenos artifacts or even dangerous, proscribed texts.
The streets of the hive spire are constantly busy. Hive Sibellus noble fashions are spectacular, impractical, and perpetually changing, and the nobles travel the streets of the spire accompanied by large retinues of servants whose primary role is to look impressive. The streets of the spire are very safe thanks to the large private armies that guard every estate and the efforts of the Magistratum to man checkpoints, which regulate the people coming in and out of the hive spire. Violence in the spire, apart from trials by combat and sanctioned duels is rare – the crime that most nobles fret about is burglary, since their collections or artworks and relics are so important to them Tales of impossibly skilled cat burglars are the staple of Hive Sibellus’ folklore, and many of those tales are true, since there are a great many things worth stealing in the spire of Hive Sibellus.
Hive Sibellus’s middle hive is dominated by manufactories devoted to heavy production and the enormous blocks of cheap, warren-like housing for the factoria workers. The traditions of the hive spire filter down to the middle hive, with many hivers collection curious object to beautify their meager homes, aping the extraordinary fashions of the spire nobles or even keeping crudely stuffed dead relatives. The middle hive’s factories and tenement blocks are built among layers of compressed mansions and statuary, making it a confusing and dark place of collapsed finery.
Somewhere deep amongst the fragments of vast statues and toppled remains of great temple-mansions, the middle hive becomes the underhive. Composed of countless compressed layers of the city above, Hive Sibellus’ underhive is impossible to navigate and prone to frequent collapse. Underhive settlements huddle in the few stable areas, separated from one another by endless, deadly warrens where hive-quakes and cave-ins are a constant threat. Many settlements are completely isolated, their inhabitants hunting underhive vermin to survive and having no idea that there is a hive city above them at all. It is not unknown for nobles of the spire to sponsor heavily armed expeditions into the underhive to dig up coveted artifacts from Scintilla’s past, or to explore the tombs of a family’s distant ancestors.