The woman doesn't know any answers to those questions.
A mile wide twenty-foot tall stone wall seems to be under construction here to wrap around the city. The design, however, raises some obvious questions. Arrow slits seem to exist both facing the interior and exterior of the structure, an ominous overlooking cage of sorts. The wall is only a third complete, primarily watching over the northern edge of the city proper.
A relatively well constructed and engineered city-in-miniature seems to be built up to support the wall efforts. Numerous trade caravans have space in various stalls. The port is not too far to the north-east, which seems to bring in a great deal of food and supplies to the civilization near Ashwell.
The "steam quarter" is a part of this area from which billows of smoke can be seen at all hours. Forges run hot most hours of the day, as well as alchemical laboratories and even shops dedicated to the repair of certain artifacts found in Ashwell. One such invention seems to be used to light this part of the city day or night, the streetlamps. Little bars of glowing light make an interconnected net of illumination in the part of the city patrolled by merchant-guards at almost all hours.
The Mummer's base of operations is built right up against a part of the wall. It seems they have a money-changer for various nations, and their "guards" wear the costumes of mimes... whether to entertain or intimidate is not certain. The Guild-Hall looks like it has a barracks for at least a hundred adjoined to it.