Discovering the New World
Nestled into a bend in the northern mountain range, the Kingdom’s capitol city is a wonder to behold. The first thing any newcomer notices about the capital is the walls. Massive, cleverly built, and constantly patrolled, these defenses divide the city up into three almost teardrop-shaped ovals around the castle itself. A series of tunnels allow guards to travel from ring to ring with ease, but travelers and normal residents are forced to use one of a handful of main routes to do so. Three such roads enter the first ring, spaced evenly along the southern half of the city. All three roads pass through the outer ring, but the center road ends at an impressive plaza in the next that marks the true middle of the city. The eastern and western roads meet at the gates of the third wall, forming a ‘V’ before becoming a single thoroughfare that slices through the innermost ring to the walls around the castle itself. Each ring is further divided into three districts, with each district having both a small militia as well as an allotment of troops to serves as police.
The river runs through the entire city, touching the western side of the castle and passing under the western road. It then swings across the mid-line along the southern edge of the plaza before bending south again and exiting the city within sight of the central gate. Solid metal grates allow flow through the city’s walls, and specially designed towers rise above these grates to be toppled onto any opportunistic invaders seeking to cut their way through.
Rising from the northern part of the city, the castle itself is a strikingly beautiful structure, built of white stone with an emphasis on arches and open, sunlit parlors. This isn’t to say that the martial influences one would expect aren’t present, they’re simply implemented with deceptive grace and elegance. For two examples, the stone used is exceptionally strong, and the very floorplan itself is designed to trip up, slow, and harry any potential aggressors.
The ring that rests immediately outside the castle can be best described as tranquil. Crime is almost non-existent due to the watchful scrutiny of the guard, and as a result the upper class has more or less laid claim to the area. Noise pollution is almost non-existent, women are required to wear veils, and the goods and services to be found are both of the highest quality, and the highest price, in the entire Kingdom.
Stepping outside the first arc, the second ring is a completely different world. Skilled merchants, craftsmen, and warriors make up the majority here, and the music of the street is by turns that of wagons, the blacksmith’s hammer and the training hall.
The third and largest portion of the city proper carries a partially earned stigma. Denizens of the rest of the city view it as a dangerous slum, home to vagrants and criminals. It’s true that – away from the walls and main roads – a crime here is far more likely to slip under the constabulary radar, and the standard of living is such that people who have yet to establish themselves in the city can keep marginally fed and sheltered. Yet there is a certain charm to the open-air bazaars, secondhand merchandise, touristy baubles and cheap inns. If you’re new in town, keep to the main roads in this area and your purse should be safe.
Outside the city, a winding mountain trail to the north will take an honored few to the highest point that overlooks the city and the surrounding valley, where elaborate stone monuments mark Gryphon’s Rest, hallowed ground that only heroes, royalty, and retinue have ever tread in the history of the kingdom. Many of the most important moments in a King’s life will take place here.