Fabled Lands of Byrra
Population: Approximately 60,000
- Human: 90%
- Elves: 2%
- Other: 3%
- Slaves: 2%
- Transients: 3%
Athos is a wealthy, cosmopolitan city even by the high standards of the Empire. After Caelot, to the north, and Hawkspire, to the south west, Athos has more merchants, alchemists and freelance practitioners of magic than any other city in the Empire. It’s citizens live among eclectic buildings, narrow cobblestone streets that twist through the city, and broad canals that lead to the Scarlet Sea. From its vaunted harbor, great sailing merchant ships traveled across the sea and beyond. Through the ports those ships visit, Athos trades with the great land caravans traveling to the exotic lands to the East, and south, importing merchandise and people from all over the known world of Byrra.
There are also exotic goods of every kind, not to mention exotic services and forbidden pleasures, Athos is notorious among sailors as a place of vice and greed. Very depraved goings-on can be found in a variety of places. Sprawling districts cater to every dark and vile appetite there is; a land of shadows within a glittering city that symbolizes avarice and greed.
This city is a major commercial junction on the shore of the Scarlet Sea. Depending on which way a ship is coming, this is the first major city and trading center encountered upon either entering or leaving the Strait of the Sea of Scarlet Waters. Moreover, two major roadways intersect here- the King’s Road, running north and south; and the Western Passage, running east and west- further adding to the heavy merchant traffic.
Ships and merchant vessels often stop at this famous port to buy, sell and trade their wares, resupply, catch up on the latest gossip, try to catch accurate information about the needs of various cities and ports, and/or to get a little rest and relaxation before heading north,
south or west.
There are also several well equipped dry docks. Additionally, the entire town of Tyraval, 30 km west of the city, is dedicated to building and repairing ships. It has six dry docks and excellent facilities. However, from a trade or recreation point of view, this town has nothing to offer, and crews with ships stuck in dry dock usually stay at Athos.
Gondolas are the heart of Athos’ transportation system, carrying passengers through the canals, all around the city, day or night. The steadfast Gondoliers have their own Guild, of sorts. In fact, it is rumoured that in addition to their obvious service of providing transportation, their guild maintains a bit of a secret society of their own, acting together for the benefit of Athos’ citizens.
Inner City Ward
Athos’ Inner City is similar to the Outer City district, only more so. More canals, more narrow cobblestone streets, more shops, more homes, more dangers. The is by far the most complex and vertical of Athos’ neighborhoods. Buildings of multiple architectures rise haphazardly to either side of the canals, climbing 15 meters (50 feet) or more into the sky.
Large bridges span the gaps between canals, some great works of stone architecture, and some rather rickety and dangerous-looking makeshift connectors of wood. Naturally, the towering architecture above the streets leaves the lower levels deep in shadows, even in full daylight, and the sun rarely penetrates to the canal levels.
Just beyond the gate to the Outer City, where travelers first enter the Inner City, they will find a small plaza before the Guildhall of the XXXX XX XXXXX. A sign out front proclaims that contrary to rumors, Void Magic is not taught at the guild hall.
Lower Inner City
The Inner City’s lower level is actually raised above the canals, though frequent stairways allow easy movement between the Main level and the canal-level immediately below it. Streets generally follow the canals here, at both levels. Even during the day, many streets are often blanketed in shadow from the towering buildings which rise above them to either side. The deep shadows cast by the buildings climbing up the surrounding hills leave the lower levels of the Inner City in a sort of perpetual twilight, almost always hidden from direct sunlight. That makes it possible for Rogues and thugs to wander the streets at all hours, day and night.
Upper Inner City
The Upper City rises above the canals and shadowy bridges of the lower-level. This impressive vertical, free-standing construction, houses a number of people and places.
- Northern Residential Area- The northern residential area is a stark contrast to the overcrowded, poor areas that dominate the city. Here the streets are twice as wide, covered in gravel, and the houses and buildings are decorated with large stone gargoyles, lions and angels. The streets are less winding and the homes are two and three stories tall, have thick stone walls surrounding courtyards or gardens and many have a servant’s house. The people who live in the north residential area are among Kaash’s most powerful and influential citizens; most serving directly under Count Lovejoy and enjoying King Alshizar’s protection.
The Palace is the seat of power in Athos, and the residence of the King, its ruler. Many of the wealthier nobles maintain villas on the palace grounds surrounding its luxurious gardens. The Palace contains a lower, ground-level interior containing an entrance hall, government offices and Courtiers’s apartments; a large central Garden; an Upper Level of Courtiers’s residences; a Dungeon for those unfortunate enough to attract the ire of the King; and finally, the Throne Room itself.
Outer City Ward
By daylight, it’s a big, beautiful, busy place, full of many people. At night, the streets can be dangerous, as roaming Rogues may accost innocent citizens. The Outer City can be loosely divided into sub-districts: Marketplace, Backstreets, Old Temple, Trading Center, Amphitheater.
- Commercial Area- Outwardly, the Commercial area looks much the same as the Docks except for the lack of a waterfront. The streets are still narrow and winding with many alleys and dead-ends. The city guard here tend to harass people less and are prone to stop obvious thefts and muggings, which has made the Commercial Ward prime real estate. Most of the buildings are occupied, with a long list of shop owners waiting to move out of the larger Dock Ward and new businesses to take their place.
This area is also the most crowded part of town during the day, as shoppers enjoy the friendly and safe atmosphere of this shopping district.
- Docks- The dock ward is a rambling collection of warehouses, parlors, drug dens, taverns, gambling halls and other dens of iniquity. Along the harbor are the docks, with four small shipyards used primarily for ship repairs. The north side of the harbor is reserved for the pleasure boats of the rich and an Eastern war galley named L’Shae. There are three large warehouses along the pier, as well as a Lighthouse, which houses a large signal fire that constantly guides ships into port.
Travel within the dock ward is hazardous because of its many twists and turns down deserted streets that invite robbery and skullduggery. Thieves and slavers are attracted by the crowds who come to the docks to buy fish and goods from the decks of visiting merchant ships.
- The Dregs- The Dregs are home to the city’s poorest citizens, most of its criminals, and a goodly number of secrets, renegades, and hidden dangers.
The buildings are older, often patched up with the fallen boards of abandoned buildings. Many of the homes are tenement buildings five or six stories tall, with each floor holding up to a dozen families. The owners of these buildings live in the Coins or the Citadel District, never even visiting their tenements in person.
The Dregs’ primary divisions are the territories of various crime or gang lords, each taking up one or more blocks. The various gangs defend their own territory and attempt to expand, resulting in conflicts between the groups. While most of this conflict stays between the gangs, more often than not, an innocent victim gets caught up in it. Young or old, it matters not.
At night the gates between the Artisan’s District and the Dregs are locked until morning. Anyone found trying to climb over the walls going either way is publicly flogged and fined up to 100 sp.
- The Old Cathedral- The Old Cathedral, located in the Dregs, is the largest building that dominates the Inner City area. Sadly, it has fallen into decay and disuse. What used to be the front entrance is now blocked by debris.
- Trading Center- The Trading Center is separated from the rest of the Outer City by a canal, crossed by only three bridges. It’s heavily guarded by the city watch, and is much safer, especially at night, than the rest of the Outer City. Within the Trading Center, the Amphitheater is an even more exclusive area for well-known traders only.
- The Marketplace- The Marketplace is a busy, cluttered area of outdoor vendor stalls. Many things can be bought here during the daytime hours.
- The Backstreets- The Backstreets district, with its narrow streets and alleyways, is the roughest district of the Outer City. The area has a appearance of new construction, with wooden platforms substituting for cobblestone streets in several places. The guild house for the Order of the Holy Seal guild is at the far west of the backstreets.
- The Old Temple- The Old Temple area southwest of the Outer City, is dominated by the old domed building that lends it its name. The guild house for the Hooded Wings is located beyond the garden behind the old Temple.
- Inner City Gate Courtyard- The courtyard before the gate to the Inner City, in the northeastern part of the Outer City, is surprisingly safe, given its proximity to the backstreets.
Organizations of Athos
- Hooded Wings- The Hooded Wings is a guild of messengers who transport various letters or packages from one part of the city to another, no questions asked. They value obeying orders, regardless of what’s being delivered to whom.
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