The Highest Light

The Highest Light
Midst settlement
Official art of the Highest Light, by Lisa Fricke from "Imbalance" (Midst 3x01).[art 1]
Also known as
  • The Light
  • HiLi[1]
Geographical information
RegionUpper Un
Society
AffiliationThe Trust

The Highest Light[a] is a city in the Upper Un. It is the center of Trust society and is described as the capital of the Un.

Description[edit | edit source]

The Highest Light is the capital city of the Un and the center of Trust society. Its official name is considered cumbersome by most, and it is often simply called the Light or the capital. It is located on a great number of large mica islets connected by a series of enclosed skyways, bridges, halls, and other pathways. It is large, described as a sprawling and expansive metropolis, and is said to be highly artful and beauteous, luxurious, spectacular, crystalline, glimmering, glassy, and shining.[2][3][4]

The city is designed with toward the purpose of protecting it and its residents from mica and is essentially armored.[2] The "exterior" areas, like streets and plazas, are entirely enclosed in glass and steel in a manner compared to an indoor mall, arcology, or atrium.[5][3][4] Company gunships patrol the city, destroying shards of mica deemed too close to the city.[2] Protective waterfalls enclose parts of the city and private estates, sweeping away mica shards, and mica dust is filtered from the air and from rainwater, which is pumped into interior fountains.[3][6]

A number of buildings rise into the exterior of the city. These buildings have thick, armored windows made of "basically bulletproof" glass that becomes somewhat pitted and scratched by mica over time.[2][3]

Neighborhoods are discrete, presumably across islet, and are connected to one another by bridges and passages.[4] The streets near the Delagny Hotel, located in in an upscale district, feature trees and a large golden statue of Jonas Spahr, the Prime Consector. In a district located away from the city center, the streets are claustrophobic and alley-like, and businesses use neon signs. Streets in both districts feature a number of fountains and water features.[2][7] The city includes a number of greenhouses and terrariums, including some that grow food for its residents.[8][3]

Because it is located in the Un, it is bright at all hours of day. The city gets dark only during overcast or stormy weather.[9]

It is located about three days of travel from Midst on the Mediun.[10]

Central Vault[edit | edit source]

The Central Vault[b] is the main bank of the Trust and the seat of the Upper Trust.[12] It keeps the records of all Valor accounts in the cosmos,[13] and Upper Trust meetings are held here.[14] It is compared to a mint and described as "federal reserve meets cathedral meets hamster palace."[14]

It is a prominent landmark: "a grand structure of great drama and significance" located on its own islet at the center of the city.[3] The Vault sits on a wide parade ground that is easily accessible from the Highest Light Rail's Central Vault station. The path between the station and the Vault plaza progresses down marbled stairs and across a skybridge and is lined with hedges and fountains.[12]

The pipes dispensing Valor and Caenum beads for notary machines throughout the Vault are inlaid functionally and decoratively into the walls in a complicated gridwork. It is compared to a hamster maze or a marble run "but much more serious than either of those things".[11]

The Vault's front doors intentionally squeak when opened for dramatic effect. The front hall is a massive, long, atrium-like hallway with very high ceilings. It is opulently decorated with banners, tapestries, fine carpeting, and marble, and its walls are accented with mica shards. Large windows on each side of the hall feature long views of the city.[11]

The Arca is the central sanctum of the Vault. Appointment ceremonies often take place here, including those for notaries, Prime Consectors, and Prime Adsecla.

Other rooms include a small chapel-like chamber.

Other points of interest[edit | edit source]

  • Bedrock, a nightclub hidden beneath a used clothing store. To enter, one must present an item of black clothing from the store and ask to see it in the dark. The staircase entrance is hidden behind a dressing room mirror. The atmosphere is dark and foggy, to evoke a sense of the Fold, and the space is encircled by a number of neon-lit bars. It plays priathic dance music (PDM, in reference to EDM), an avant-garde and cutting-edge style. Operatives of the Breach meet in its back rooms.[15]
  • Delagny Hotel
  • Docks
  • Upper Trust docks, incoming vessels pass through a curtain of water. The docks is well-lit and is similar to a terrarium, filled with plants.[3]
  • Highest Light Rail
  • Loxlee Lights corporate offices, a corporate campus centrally located in the business district. It houses the company's central offices in an elegant tower, but it has no manufacturing plants are located on an islet elsewhere in the Un. The street through the campus is lined with flowers, company banners, and lightbulbs. A statue depicting Maximilian Loxlee holding a lightbulb to the sky stands at a street corner.[16]

Notable residences include:

  • Consector's mansion, the residence of the Prime Consector. Jonas Spahr resides here until he is dismissed from office and evicted from the mansion. It is subsequently occupied by Tripotentiary Moc Weepe and becomes the Tripotentiary mansion. The mansion is located in an upscale neighborhood, and it is within walking distance of a rail station. It is described as fashionable with a sweeping front porch. It is characterized as large, with multiple parlors. Its front garden features a fountain and "hyper-modern" topiary. After Weepe moves in, all of the mansion's windows are outfitted with heavy curtains for his protection, and he furnishes with a large number of eccentric items as detailed in Season 3, Episode IX Appendices | Notes on a High Mall Bill of Sale (backup link).[17]
  • Imelda Goldfinch's house, a modestly sized home. According to Imelda, travel between her home and the Central Vault is convenient. She keeps the house spotless and orderly, and her office, which is arranged identically to her mission on Midst, has a view of the Central Vault.[18]
  • Loxlee estate, residence of Imogen Loxlee and her husband Hieronymous. It is located on a private islet within the city. The estate is open-air and is protected from mica by its own set of waterfalls.
  • Olga Costigan's house, a fashionable townhouse. It is decorated with paintings, awards, and newspaper clippings commemorating her career and achievements as Prime Consector. Costigan keeps its small garden meticulously maintained.[19]
  • Phineas Thatch's apartment, a "pretty shitty" and small studio apartment located away from the city center. It is located a number of streets away from a semi-residential boulevard. The apartment is sparsely furnished with essentially only a cot and a set of free weights. It has a window featuring a nice view of the city. It remained empty after Phineas's presumed death.[20][7]
  • Sherman Guthrie's apartment, located in an industrial district, near freight docks. It has a dingy living room and a galley kitchen.[21][22] It is abandoned after Sherman and Tzila Guthrie leave the city.[23]

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Society[edit | edit source]

The Highest Light is the center of Trust society and thus its social order follows the tenets of the Trust. The city, and the rest of the Trust, is overseen by "three pillars" of a triumvirate, who are the highest position of their institutions: the Most Valorous of the Upper Trust, the Senior Notary of the Bank of Valor, and the Prime Consector of the Consectorial Company. The Upper Trust is positioned as determining the will of the Trust, which is interpreted by the Bank and carried out by the Company.

Law is enforced by the Company, and the city is described as a police state. Company soldiers attend public assemblies to maintain order, with force if necessary, and to discourage dissent, and they are heavily stationed throughout the Central Vault. Speech appears to be heavily regulated, as Trust bylaws include the regulation of depictions of authority and of historical or folkloric figures.[24]

The social hierarchy is set by Valor, with the most socially advantaged citizens having greater Valor and the most socially disadvantaged having greater Caenum. All citizens are expected to openly wear an abacus in public.[25][26] Official Trust ideology does not consider Caenum to be shameful nor a crime, simply as "the potential to repay",[27] though this belief is not necessarily uniformly shared by Trustees.[28]

Organizations[edit | edit source]

  • Upper Trust, council comprised of individuals with the highest Valor, foremost of whom is the Most Valorous.
  • Bank of Valor, the system of notaries led by the Senior Notary.
  • Consectorial Company, the military and police force whose highest officer is the Prime Consector.
  • Loxlee Lights, a company that produces Fold-safe lightbulbs. It was led by Maximilian Loxlee until his death about fifty years before Midst. His wife Imogen Loxlee became its CEO and continues to lead the company into the present.[29][30]
  • Trust media

History[edit | edit source]

Trust folklore claims that the city was founded by a Notary named Isold and an investor named Tertius.[24]

The Upper Trust purchased Midst from Baron Kozma Laszlo to cut off the center of the Breach there. The Breach's two primary organizers Kozma and Hieronymous Loxlee ultimately decide to destroy Midst's moon to force the Trust to leave the islet. This causes the value of Valor to plummet, causing an economic disaster across Trust society. The Trust institutes a Valor freeze as a temporary measure. Many businesses in the Highest Light close, and the atmosphere in the first becomes uncertain, quiet, and tense.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • Though "Zero" (Midst 1x06), "Gala" (Midst 1x08), and part of "Descent" (Midst 1x11) take place in the city, it is not referred to by name until "Ascendancy" (Midst 2x02) in the second season.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Midst (@midstpodcast) on Twitter: "Season 3, Episode VI Appendices | A Highest Light Rail Transit Guide" (March 20, 2024). (backup link)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 "Sugarcoat" (Midst 2x05) from 0:59 through 2:20.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 "Imbalance" (Midst 3x01) from 16:42 through 18:11.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Switcheroo" (Midst 3x06) from 12:39 through 13:35.
  5. "Sugarcoat" (Midst 2x05) from 9:46 through 10:16.
  6. "Gala" (Midst 1x08) at 6:50.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Foundation" (Midst 3x04) from 0:34 through 7:07.
  8. "Switcheroo" (Midst 3x06) at 15:55.
  9. "Foundation" (Midst 3x04) at 3:29.
  10. "Imbalance" (Midst 3x01) at 3:17.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 "Zero" (Midst 1x06) from 2:25 through 5:26.
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Change" (Midst 3x03) from 6:18 through 7:33.
  13. "Accounting" (Midst 1x15) at 16:27.
  14. 14.0 14.1 "Oversight" (Midst 2x10) from 1:10 through 2:36.
  15. "Bedrock" (Midst 3x10).
  16. "Machinations" (Midst 3x13) from 0:00 through 3:15.
  17. Midst (@midstpodcast) on Twitter: "Season 3, Episode IX Appendices | Notes on a High Mall Bill of Sale" (April 10, 2024). (backup link)
  18. "Interest" (Midst 3x12) from 1:03 through 5:25.
  19. "Fault" (Midst 3x08).
  20. "Descent" (Midst 1x11) at 0:00.
  21. "Switcheroo" (Midst 3x06) at 19:19.
  22. "Resolve" (Midst 3x11) at 3:34.
  23. "Resolve" (Midst 3x11) at 15:26.
  24. 24.0 24.1 Midst (@midstpodcast) on Twitter: "Season 3, Episode XII Appendices | The Parable of The Investor & The Notary" (May 1, 2024). (backup link)
  25. "Sugarcoat" (Midst 2x05) at 11:41.
  26. Midst (@midstpodcast) on Twitter: "Episode X Appendices | I love my parents because..." (May 31, 2023). (backup link)
  27. "Sugarcoat" (Midst 2x05) at 22:00.
  28. "Change" (Midst 3x03). Spahr hesitates to put on his new abacus of Caenum beads, and his abacus is a point of gossip on the train.
  29. "Characters" at the official Midst website.
  30. Midst (@midstpodcast) on Twitter: "Season 2, Episode XI Appendices | A Rather Alarming Headline" (November 1, 2023). (backup link)

Footnotes:

  1. The city itself is always referred to with a definite article, The Highest Light.
  2. It is once referred to as the Grand Vault,[11] but never again.

Art:

  1. Official art of the Highest Light, by Lisa Fricke from "Imbalance" (Midst 3x01). This file is a copyrighted work. Its use in this article is asserted to qualify as fair use of the material under United States copyright law.
  2. The Highest Light as depicted in the episode icon for "Imbalance" (Midst 3x01), by Third Person (source). This file is a copyrighted work. Its use in this article is asserted to qualify as fair use of the material under United States copyright law.