Welcome to the City
THIS IS A WILD CITY Untamed, organic, and vast. It grew like a forest bramble on the fertile side of the Em, a gathering place for the tribesmen of the area to meet and trade and celebrate. A festival became an encampment, became a town, became a city, and grew and grew and grew without thought or plan. Now wide boulevards are wrapped in tangles of alleys and backstreets that no one has ever mapped.
THIS IS A MIXED CITY High districts and low, rich and poor, human and … other. There is an enclave of elves in the Spires, a dwarven stronghold (no other word will fit) near the North Market, and even a goblin ghetto or two that the city watch has not been able to eradicate. Most of the city is not so defined. Humans share the streets with orcs and halflings and stranger things.
THIS IS A TRADE CITY It is a crossroads. It is the last stop for the great barge trains of the River Em before the highlands to the north render the river an impassable staccato of waterfalls and rapids. It is the gathering point for any caravan that wishes to cross the Urgol Desert to the east for the exotic lands of El Marba, Anzani, and distant Kytan. To the west, the 100 cities of the free folk squabble amongst themselves. To the south, mighty Valera and Ladevieux keep an uneasy peace beside the Central Sea. To the north, where the Em becomes impassable, The Long Road begins its run over highlands, through the Vastwood, and – if a traveler be tough enough and lucky enough – all the way to the fjords of Jarlheim itself.
THIS IS AN INDEPENDENT CITY It is a city among nations, but not of them. The city has suffered, it has known famine and pestilence, rebellion and coup. But it has not led conquest and it has not suffered it. Perhaps the city’s status as a trade center protects it. Perhaps it is too useful as a neutral ground for embassies and emissaries. Perhaps would-be conquerors understand that other nations would not permit them to keep it. Most likely, though, it is the golems.
THIS IS A CITY OF GOLEMS Here, says the legend, Orm Ironhand fashioned the first golem with clay from the banks of the Em. Since then, the city artificers have had centuries to perfect their art, to stretch its limits, bend it to new paths. Now the city teems with golems. Every noble must have his own. Every Master Artificer must craft a new one to show her worth. Golems watch over the gates, haul the goods, and dig the trenches of an everchanging city. And such golems! Clay golems and iron golems and glass golems, of course, but also tin golems and rubble golems and sand golems and even ice golems when the weather is cold enough. And then there are the war golems. These creatures are built from the detritus of the battlefield – broken swords, cracked shields, dented armor. They are fearsome to behold and terrifying to confront. They are also for sale. War golems and their handlers are available to whoever can pay their price.