Rise of the Dreamer
What can be said of her that has not been sung a thousand times already? She is the jewel of the desert, the heart of the world. She is the world, for you may arrive by sea and within a day be inside lush jungle to the west, freezing mountains or misty valleys to the north, and harsh desert to the east. Whether you wish to find enlightenment at the top of Khorva’s Peak or cast the remnants of your debt-ruined life away in the Golden Waste, or hunt a Tyrannosaur in the Emerald Wilds, all your dreams can come true and more in the city of Alam. Once merely a wedge of land between the mighty rivers Aoush an Ismet, Alam is now a city of gold, with a palace on an island all its own, untouchable by any who cannot make it through the greater districts. Entrance to the city is only attainable by boat or by crossing one of the four bridges, each almost a district unto itself.
Alam is governed by a single Queen, once born of the dragon goddess Khorva, and has been for a over a thousand years. Divinely empowered, Khorva’s daughters do not age as traditional humans do, and live for hundreds of years at a time. Queen Hippatia is only the sixth in the city’s history, and she is much beloved. The city is richer than ever, safer than ever, and many hope Hippatia rules forever. But she is not the only pou8wer in the City — far from it. Alam is divided into five distinct districts (or six, depending on who you ask), not including the palace, which none would dare suggest bears any semblance to a common assemblage of dwellings. Each of these districts is like a nation-state unto itself, with elected leaders and separate rules of conduct and residence. At night, residential passports are required for passage through any district.
The Common District is the most densely populated region, and the City’s furthest from the sea. The district crawls to the foothills of Khorva’s Peak, zoning itself through gang wars and magical experimentation. The common district is where the common people live, and as such is the busiest, craziest and if you believe the nobles, most dangerous part of the city. Refugees from the southern tribes mix with citizens whose ancestors were no different. Farmers from the river plantations drive their goods across the common district’s two bridges, joining thousands of other small-time merchants who trade in the basic tools of life. Nothing compared to the incredible wealth transferred in the Commercial District.
The Commercial District is where the goods of Alam are sold and shipped abroad. Everything Alam touches turns to gold, and so it is that even clothes produced in the Common District are worth enough to be worn by foreign kings. Platinum is more common here than copper, and even ancient artifacts can be found for sale if you know how to ask and the price is right. Money is the religion of these streets, and you will find priests aplenty, far more even than in its partner district to the east. But the district, and the city, would be nothing without the vast artificial cove of the Docks.
The Docks are the lifeline of Alam, host to thousands of ships every day and employing over a hundred thousand people in shipping, fishing and shipbuilding. They are also home to the city’s notorious Black Gulls, a pirate group cum thieves’ guild that makes its home in the warrens and warehouses sunk beneath the current structures. Powerful as the Black Gulls are, the legal merchants above wield just as much through the weight of gold.
The Temple District is home to the leaders and sanctioned practitioners of the arts arcane and divine. Open throughout the week for pilgrims and students, this district closes its doors early for its own study and consultation. Here healing may be procured for a price, or a custom spell weft through the medium of your choosing. The High priests and wizards make their homes here, as does Auria University, the greatest centre of learning in the civilised world. Engaging in research from the mundane to the arcane, the University brings scholars world-wide to its massive library, famously home to a copy of every text ever made. Its newest endeavor is a gliding rail system that would allow rapid transit through the city and potentially beyond.
Profiting from the actions of all this are those who live in the Noble District. The nobles here are a combination of landowners, servants to the Queen and city officials. A small percentage are deeded adventurers or other unique citizens who have shown themselves to be of worth. Open only to residents and visa-permitted petitioners, the Noble District is the gateway to the Palace Isle, and contains the only physical bridge to the Isle in the city. Don’t try to bribe the guards though, the Queen’s Bridge is protected by spirit-bonded golems, elite guards sworn to service beyond their mortal lifetimes.
At the tip of the city lies the Palace Isle, surrounded on all sides by river and sea. Guarded by powerful golems and bound spirits, the isle is a fortress, unassailable by any army. Griffin riders defend the skies and while dolphins and druids scout for dangers lurking beneath the waves. The Queen and her children reside here, alongside their servants and advisors. Those lucky few who are allowed to travel to the isle do so under the heaviest of scrutiny; even the dimensions beyond are watched, so no astral traveller walks astray.
The B’heist Encampment is found just east of the Common district, near the bridge. Citizens of Alam visit the nomads for assistance with tracking, glassworks and special treatment for their dead.