City of Delusion
A city so old that all details of it's origin, naming, and even location are shrouded in mystery, even to it's inhabitants. It is a huge city filled with wonder and mystery. Each of it's seven quarters, or wards, is a city in it's own right. And The City is built upon a large rock formation, each quarter higher and more precariously cantilevered.
Known Names: Sa'fee Meraude, Tannis, Atlantis
The Seven Quarters:
- The Crystal Spire
- The Terrace of the Sun
- The Reubisangrean Mercatus
- The Upper Courts
- Eld Quarto
- The Gates
The City has been around for a very long time, and in that time there have been many gates into the city, literally and metaphysically. These gates, countless hundreds of them, were found or built on the other side of the delta from the central rock spire.
Real estate in so dense a city is always valuable, so this district is inhabited like any other. Undeterred by marshy ground, citizens of The Gates have built their houses onto the many gates. Sometimes the gates cut right through the house's foundations, other times the houses are built upon the gates like stilts.
The gates themselves are as varied as the people who live there. Some are megalithic, cut from raw stone, stonehenge style. Others are more artfully made. Looking for long enough, you are guaranteed to find a gate with some sort of recognizable motif. Many of the gates are weathered enough to have lost all definition. Some very few are made with much finer details, of unidentifiable material, and with a low bass thrum that threatens to overwhelm the mind if one stays nearby for too long.
The gates lead to places. Some have the tell-tale rippling silver mirror of dimensional gateways. Others have thin, gauzy cloth hung that obscures the other side. Most of these gates are dangerous to traverse through -- a fact that the citizens of The Gates know implicitly. A few have known locations on the other side. The majority have wrought-iron gates with locks to prevent trespassing.
Eld Quarto, the Old Quarter, is rumored to be the oldest continually inhabited quarter of the city. Built upon a raised island in the delta of the river that divides the City, Eld Quarto looks unassuming at a distance. A closer look reveals it to be a sprawling medieval city, complete with castle. Houses are built of stone with slate roofs, some built right against the fortress wall encircling the city.
The castle, long since abandoned for better digs by the city's royalty, is home to the Gran Brumeraude, a legendary brewery. Only a few crates of wine and barrels of beer leave the premise in a year, and always without anyone witnessing the gates open. Among the residents of Eld Quarto it is rumored that the brewery is deserted on the inside and that the alcohol, too expensive for any but the city's wealthy elite, is simply a clever ploy to sell over-priced booze. But nobody has the courage to hop the gates and find out, regardless.
The Reubisangrean Mercatus:
The City’s port and market district. Staggering in it’s size, and home to The City’s largest population of outsiders. It is the one place in The City that appears to be freely accessible to the outside world, although the ships that arrive in port are from all eras and civilizations and are oftentimes filled with very confused sailors and merchants sailing to other ports.
It's name comes from the red glass covering the glittering lamps hung throughout the city. The Mercatus, as it’s usually referred to, seems to be stuck in perpetual twilight. The central rock outcropping of the city blocks much of the light throughout the day, and the tall buildings ensure that streets are dimly lit and shadowy even when the sun does shine. Even at a distance, the sound and smell of the Mercatus is overwhelming.
After dark, the Mercatus lives up to it’s ruby tinted name and is home to many hundreds of taverns and pubs, as well as the most exclusive brothel in the world, The Tempus Calistrius, a.k.a. The Silken Cathedral.
The Upper Courts:
The Upper Courts is an orderly and ancient upper-class neighborhood. It is arranged in a half circle tucked into the base of the rock spire, with spoke-like avenues radiating outward. At the center of this circle, in the most exclusive neighborhood, live the city’s seven oldest families. This neighborhood is known to the rest of The City as The Court of Keys.
At the exact center of the circle, set into the sheer stone face of the rock formation, is an intricately carved stone and brass door. Behind is rumored to be the entrance to an old labyrinthine cave system. The contents of this labyrinth have been long-forgotten, and any hope of delving into it's secrets spoiled by the door itself: It has seven large keyholes, one key held by each of the families. The families guard their keys jealously against each other, or have long-since lost them, and the door has not been opened in living memory.
The glittering bronze and brass clockwork towers of Mechanalia catch and reflect the sun like fire. While most of The City is shaded or cooled by the ocean breeze, Mechanalia is almost a desert of heat and light.
It is inhabited almost entirely by gnomes, whose constant tinkering has turned a much older quarter of the city into it’s most technologically advanced. The buildings change shape, move throughout the day, and there is an omnipresent soundtrack of clicking, whirring, and less frequently explosions to account for this. All of this noise is punctuated with the sound of gleeful laughter.
The architecture is intricate, and nearly every sculptural facade has been made to have some sort of clockwork animation. There are a million and one different switches and levers, some hidden, some not, throughout the city. The vast majority of them aren’t labeled. It’s a bit of a gnomish pastime to design clever and funny puzzles and traps.
The Terrace of the Sun:
Very little is known by most of the occupants of the city about the center of bureaucracy, religion, and knowledge in The City. It is the second highest of the districts, it's balcony carved delicately from the rock itself.
It is home to the Ordo Verum Cognitio, a mystery-shrouded order thought to jealously guard all the secrets of the city. The city’s Inquisitor has his residence here in the Royal Library. And at the center of the terrace, with it's great septiform rose window, is the Sanctum of the Seven, the holiest place in The City.
The Crystal Spire:
The fortress and seat of power for the King of the City. Very little is known because very few have ever made the climb to top of The City, and fewer still have seen anything more than the unnerving glass floored sky-balcony and the immense glittering crystal audience room.
The Spire itself, a vast fortress, is constructed from magically grown crystal, and cunningly faceted to provide many levels of visibility. Some rooms can be seen from outside on the balcony, while other walls merely return the viewer's distorted reflection back at them.