Ash-Venetia, once the Italian city of Venice, was caught up by the Magister of the Light, Canon Summer, to serve as its Chancel over a hundred years ago, disappearing from Europe and finding itself hanging in a starry void, where its famous canals pour out infinitely into nothingness. In spite of its isolation, the city, thanks to the influence of the Powers who guide it, remains a bright and pleasant place inhabited by cheerful people. The lives of the Ash-Venetians are governed by a complex festival calendar on which around 200 of the days in the year involve some sort of holiday or ceremony, which are embraced, without fail, with a vigor bordering on obsession.

Some of the celebrations of Ash-Venetia whose fame has spread outside the Chancel include the Festival of Lights, on which the sun goes dark and the Venetians light their city for an entire day using home-made lanterns, competing with their neighbors to create the most fantastic illumination; the Day of Masks, when the entire city goes about in disguise; and Lethe Night, on which the Chancel suffers complete amnesia and the cityfolk wander around meeting their neighbors without preconceptions.

Cipher and Anna Beauregarde divide the administrative work of the city between them. Bertha Blue is the head of the justice system, while Rhys Bellamant is the master of ceremonies and the Chancel's spiritual leader.

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