War of the Burning Sky
Traditions and Culture
The city’s architecture tends to multistory buildings with bridges between roofs, creating thousands of “gateways” along roads and alleys. Even in poorer districts, buildings are usually at least two stories tall. Many merchants, made wealthy from the traffic that passes through the city, own vast ranges of adjacent buildings, all of them connected with high bridges. An expression of the city — “a coin for every gate” — both refers to the wealth of the city, and serves as a warning to visitors to avoid poorer areas where buildings lie unconnected.
A broad, twenty-foot wide thoroughfare called the Emelk Way runs the length of the city, interrupted only by the district walls every half mile or so. The city’s natural landscape rises in the center to a broad hill called Summer’s Bluff. In addition to being home to dozens of gated estates for the city’s politicians and rich merchants, Summer’s Bluff is the site of the city’s grand square, where various annual holidays are celebrated. The grand square can easily hold several thousand people, and it is dotted with dozens of small groves, statues, and ornamental gate arches, with staircases people can climb to get a better view. In the center of the grand square is a high stone dais, its surface carved in a massive relief that depicts several local legends.
The rest of the city consists of various districts of skilled workers, common housing, warehouses and businesses, and slums.
Each district has representation in the city government. By city ordinance, every fourth district must contain a park at least a quarter mile to a side, though entrance to these typically requires payment of a few coppers.
The city grew outward from its central districts, with a new district and new outer wall springing up every decade or so. Because of this, it is possible to see the changing styles of construction and defense over the centuries of the city’s existence, like reading the rings of a tree. In older districts, built before the development of the city’s underground sewer system, countless reservoirs and aqueducts rise above the rooftops, designed to catch rainwater and direct sewage to dumps outside the city. The current sewers flow into an underground river before being swept into endless, uncharted caves.
In the past few decades, clerics have blessed the gates of new districts in expensive rituals, and a tradition has developed for respected citizens to be buried in the sanctified ground near the gate of their district. Most graveyards, however, lie outside the city, either fenced in atop hills, or in gated crypts.