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Whew, my brain went out just reading all that. Way beyond my pay grade to say much intelligent.

But I can make some observations:

have you looked at the pictures of me? if Tom’s flying is questionable under your traditional physics, mine is down right impossible.
I know more, but am not saying. Telling people what can and can’t be done in advance, often limits what they can and can not do.

As T-A-G and I have pointed out, a lot of the courts are facades and shared illusion. And what I mean by this is rather complex to detail here and now.
But both reality and illusion do change frequently. However, even so, it’s more like rotation. There are only so many archetypes for buildings and styles.
Each building or group of building has so many permutations. Demons cycle them in and out like a museum does art exhibits.

And things do just move around, your favorite bar might move to the other side of town over night and change it’s appearance. If you’ve been around long enough, you’ll have seen all the variations of each building, new variations aren’t popping up that often.

What really makes it change “a lot” is that all of the buildings tend to change or move randomly, with only somewhat irregular coordination. It’s the multitude of possible combinations that really makes the city chaotic seeming. No single building or group of buildings have that many appearances, but when a building changes and the one next to it on the right also changes, and the one on the left swaps out with something else altogether, the net result can be a lot of change.

[i][b][size=7][color=red]—————below gets into dangerous stuff that you haven’t yet discussed, but is needed to answer some of the questions you’ve raised so it’s getting into spoiler territory———————————————————————–[/color][/size][/b][/i]

Now, the one big thing you guys are missing here; and seriously I can’t believe you are missing this, because having read/dictated book II, it is something that’s bugging Tom.

Economics, trade, money.

Yes there is lots of tribalism, bullying etc. But really most of the smaller demons get that from wizards.

The demon princes have learned that fear and terror of their might only goes so far; and that a combination of carrots and sticks help.

So the fear/terror/torture is the stick, the carrots are rewards for service, good behavior. These rewards are “trinkets” from other worlds, magic items, spells, favors for service (the maybe someday coming Antefalken short stories–Tales of the Demon Bard–or something like that, will focus on this in a lot of detail).

So, smaller demons have all these things, they accumulate them over centuries of toil to the more powerful demons who can provide these things.

The button below really is a sort of spoiler; so don’t read it if you don’t want a mystery of book 1 (somewhat) 2 (definitely) answered now.

[SPOILER]One of the biggest things the council can’t figure out in book 2 is how the hell Exador is able to control so many demons? He doesn’t. He pays them! They work for him, and they expect to get compensated for their services. Yes, he’s a shitty horrible tyrant of a boss…but he is simply a very abusive employer—

And come on silly Fantasy Authors—Does anyone really expect an “Army of Darkness” to work for free? Sure, maybe the undead, but the goblins, trolls, orcs? They need to get paid, and something more than just looting and pillaging—

For how to do this right–>Glenn Cook knows how an Army of Evil should work.

Anyway, you notice that there is also money in the Abyss. There is robust trade. Money is issued under the imprint of the Co-Factors (one side of the coins are Sammael, the other Lillith) The banking system is very crude, but the coins are basic barter units to value the ‘trinkets’ and ‘artifacts’ provided by the greater demons to their servants.

So–lampshading—forget your tropes. key rules that can be extract from what T-A-G has said on this forum.

1) Observations are made from different points of view.
A) Different points of view will explain things differently.
B) Maelen will explain what he sees based on what he knows.
C) Jenn/Gastrope’ will explain based on their knowledge
D) Tom will explain based on his knowledge or lack thereof.
E) I will just tell you the unvarnished truth, how it is, what’s real and what’s not.
2) For what Tom sees and notes.
A) He’s 16, yes a very bright/mature 16 year old but kids are often just observing something and shrugging
B) He’s a total book nerd, he’s read a lot of Fantasy and Science Fiction, so if he sees something that’s consistent with Fantasy or D&D, he just says “OK”
C) At many points he’s under duress/stress/ and maybe in a bit of shock, so he may not be fulling processing things, and when he does it’s probably in a more narcistict way, revolving around himself, rather than an objective scientist sort of way.
3) T-A-G has been very explicit that there is [color=darkblue][i][b]some weird shit going on[/b][/i][/color] and that he knows this, it’s intentional, and no he may not explain it all, at least not until book 36.