Distant Lands: City of Cannibals, Part 2

Gemersand’s Map of the Bay, with yet another redaction.

On the City’s Districts and Surrounds and the Isles of the Shaded Bay

Being that I came upon the city only in its current dilapidated state, the once six districts of the city have been reduced to two of regular inhabitance by the stock of Cataifa plus the Tarrifan fortress, with a third inhabited by the mutants. As such, my descriptions would fail to capture the character of these places, which are the most part now abandoned. In remedy I requested of the archivist Olgamaed for accounts of the city and found that a previous traveler out of Ajulia – a political exile by the name Gemersand – had left a copy of his travel journals, and that this had been recovered from the main library before its destruction. Being familiar with the language of his native land in present, I endeavored to translate his own summary of the city, given below:

“Though the surrounding lands and waters are mostly the haunt of unmelting ice caps and treacherous floes, owing to its proximity to the massive mountains bordering the world, the Bay of Shade is strangely warm and relatively free of ice. The islands of that sea have been inhabited by humans and other life, and on the coasts of the mountains and the otherwise desolate island of Focor which girdles the bay. Of the Blue City it must be stated the inhabitants have a strange appearance. Being pale as chalk and possessing light brown, yellow, or red eyes of varying shade, the men and women of this land are unlike any I have espied. 

The city is organized in great districts, which number six. The boundaries were set by the outermost fortification in the early days of war in the city’s antiquity, the land beyond now purposefully flooded. As viewed from above, beginning from the capitol district, and moving right-handedly, they are the Capitol, the Gasede, the Mariya, the Zoda, the Yovola, and the Tarrifa. 

The Capitol- The heart of governance in the city, and the housing of the hereditary Senators, who are the ultimate authority in the city. The Senate building, called Ritaedor after its founder [Note: No longer extant] towers over the confluence of the cape with the mainland, the main entrance actually being from the water. The senators are thus obliged to enter on their finely wrought gondolas, a daily spectacle. Under that dome, one of the two for which the city is famed, [the ink is scraped away] both the daily business and monumental legislations are carried out. Built on the eastern cape shielding the harbor, and so filled with monuments as to awe the unprepared visitor. The entirety of the district is raised higher than the rest of the city, save [the rest of the passage has been scraped away, but hastily done given the side of the passage snatches such as ‘inter’ ‘troubled’ ‘war’ and ‘mound’ are still visible.]

The seats of the Ritaedor are actually hereditary, although additional seats can be given to spare sons in exchange for services rendered to the city. These seats oft expire with the holder, but in exceptional cases may be allowed to perpetuate. As such from the original number of a hundred the number has since grown to house 362 ‘permanent’ senators of varying wealth and prestige, but currently 1742 senators hold seats, owing to the profusion of such offices granted by the high committee. This high committee is composed of twenty senators elected by their peers to act in an executive and managerial function. However in recent years the interior committee – which decides who can receive seats – have grown enormously powerful. The interior committee likewise heads the entire body of legal arbitrators and controls the dispensation of law in the city in general. In [another removed passage]

The Gasede- To the Northwest of the Capitol, the housing of the affluentest of the city, and personal home to most of the senatorial class, and the very richest merchants. Also here is the Blue Circle – an organization of wizards dedicated to the defense and service of the city. The buildings here stand a good deal taller than the rest of the city, but the streets have grown so narrow with the expansion of the richest palaces that vehicular traffic is banned outright. The
Gasedean swans of the city here roost, and even the most important senator must make way for their lines to amble about, to say nothing of visitors to the city. [He then goes into an exhaustive description of the various lines and dynasties that dominate the district and senatorial proceedings, of which only the Coraedi and Egaedi are relevant in the long-view of history, eventually composing the principal representatives of the aforementioned factions]

Also housed in the Gasede is the Geroza, home to the forefathers of the city. By some property of the founder’s blood, the first few generations of his descendants had unnaturally long lifespans, and even now some live. They are housed in the Geroza, a strangely antique building of the irregular stonework used in the early city, owing to the resistance of its inhabitants to renovations. Information of these elder scions is precious, and even their exact ages or numbers are well concealed. The extensive gardens are patrolled ceaselessly by the most honored soldiers of the city, having grown too old for active campaigns. 

The Mariya- The Northernmost district, and from whence the mighty Achaed flows into the harbor. Home also to traders and other guildsmen, the banks of the city are by law constrained to this area. Gardens and fountains predominate the landscape, and planters show the colors of winter flowers. The city’s gardens are at night lit by beautiful floating lanterns, and lovers chatter on the edges of the tranquil pools. Also here is the source of the city canals – an altogether separate system from the coraeds, made by another senator called Tanaed, founder of one of the greatest lines of the modern city. One runs south towards the Capitol though not reaching it, and the other runs southwest to the northernmost edge of the Tarrifa, running so close to the coast of the Yovola that seawater sometimes flows into the canal from there. By necessity the canal is actually raised above the level of the streets. Use of the canals for commercial purpose is strictly forbidden by obscure and ancient law – only governmental functions use it regularly. Also given right of passage are certain senators and any newlywed couple that wishes to rent a gondola. Owing to the narrowness of the passages, the gondolas of the city are awkwardly stretched in the vertical direction to maximize use of space- one seen in a marriage ceremony had no less than five levels. Even more than that seems the norm for the personal vessels of the rich, when the wind allows their use. 

The Zoda- One of two docking districts, this one the province of traders and the navy. Like most port towns, here can be seen the strange peoples and customs of thousand lands, though this lands surrounds be stranger than most. Here also are most of the shipyards of the city, though they are for the most primitive compared to the facilities on and around the Metea. Also here is where the older irregular stonework begins to dominate in architecture. Also here is the camp of Ferread, where the city’s professional marine infantry forces are drilled and housed. The massive presence of the [here, the ink has been purposefully scraped away again] dominates the city environs, that being where [again the words are scraped away] Here are the principal markets of the city, where any good from Akertha or Eurus or the lands on the other side of the Aprine Ocean can be purchased. This district, like the next two, stretches far further north past the original boundaries set in the city, a neverending vexation of the district president in all but the Yovolan case, as the inclusion of these inhabitants in the census and other purposes is a constant source of conflict. 

The Yovola- Also here are a great many markets, but these deal mostly in domestic product from the coastal plains. To facilitate the confluence of the coraeds, a massive artificial lake has been carved within the extended boundaries of the city, in an ongoing construction. Also the canals here form an effective sea-wall, so much so that extensive underground housing has filled in between the coast of the sea and the artificial Lake Mozaed [no longer extant], the denizens being somewhat insulated from flooding. Here the streets become so narrow that a man may need to turn sideways to traverse them. Possibly because of the abundance of domiciles, this district is the greatest of them all in terms of populace. Also possibly because of this, there is no district president, that office being long overthrown and replaced by the governance of the three electors. The office is meant to be democratically determined, but as of late three families [Acaedi, Dormaedi, Ulaedi, all extinct] have taken the positions as practically hereditary, and rule this segment of the city in their own right, often in opposition to the Senate. The district is prone to convulsions of violence when conflict between or within the families conflagrates, usually in response to succession crises. Also here are a great number of alien inhabitants of the city, mostly mutants that can not dwell permanently in the city by law. 

The Tarrifa- The poorest, and by most measures antiquest district. While the Capitol is older, dating before even our fathers founded Firstmount, and maybe even before Sundric’s day [he goes on with his native and familial history], the people of the Blue City settled the Capitol district, but extended their boundaries on the opposite side of the harbor possibly for reasons of defense. This became the Tarrifa, and in its day it flourished, but was soon overshadowed by the growth of the other districts and grown elderly. Here were the three archival buildings, later combined to the Tarrifan Library by one senator named Dacaed the Scholar. Here is where most of the fishermen and worse off whalers of the city dock. Also here is where most of the newest refugees come to live, the city having once been open to them but now closed by the edict of the Yoraedi, the current de-facto ruling line of the senate and whom actually hail natively from this district, though they have since removed themselves to the Gasede. The outwards boundaries of the district are given over to wood-town, so-named for it the only segment of the city constructed of wood. The Tarrifan grove, maintained by order of the central government for fuel and food, is the remnant of the great forest of the coastal plains. Here the sour, black apples that are reduced to the city’s famous cider are grown. Also because the forest can not be cleared, the noisome and hoary Tarrifan simians that plague most of the district retreat here whenever the inhabitants take upon themselves to clear them out.

The Islands and Tors 

The surroundings have grown to support the city, and have been dominated by them politically. The tors serve as intermediate markets for the farmers of the vast flooded plains, and as housing as the rest of the land is unsuited for this purpose save near the coast where imported wood can raise stilt houses. Most of them contain no more than a hundred souls, but even a thousand burdens the limited land so much that buildings in the plains are regularly taller than those of the city. In recent times, owing to the wide availability of contraceptives and the pull of the city, the outer settlements have been slowly depleted of their native stock. Here is where the newest immigrants, particularly the mutants, are directed by the city authorities, so that they may continue to support the city. The majority of the non-city residents of the plain are now mutants. 

The surrounding islands each serve a critical purpose for the city. 

Focor- The largest of the islands, as it encloses the bay. The extent of this land is not known, as it is covered mostly by impassable glaciers, and only the fjords facing the bay remain habitable. The human tribes of the land were suppressed early in the city’s history, but the neander tribes yet cling to their ways, too diffuse to properly bring into the fold. For their raiding and general poverty of the land, the coast is mostly uninhabited save for the occasional crab fishers, anarchist political exiles, and lumberers. For all this, the land is stunningly beautiful, with pristine ice caps slanting down into the grassy, hill shore and frothing waters below. The gentler fjords are said to occasionally bloom with a rare form of lotus, so brilliantly orange that they are called Fjord Dawns, also believed to have panacea-like properties. For this reason the isle is periodically bombarded by a festival, in which many of the city’s inhabitants sail out to enjoy the false dawn’s boons. 

The upper ice caps are said to be home of a murderous race of yeti-men. 

Gosboaz- The greatest island of the bay excepting Focor, and the former home of several tribal kingdoms, now conquered and pressed beneath the city’s heel. The inhabitants were growing in advancement due to trade with the city and the other men of the world, as they had both food and further deposits of stone, precious or otherwise, and of course the lumber so necessary for the city’s growth and maintenance. However, some seventy years ago, owing to complex political machinations, the conquest of the island was undertaken for the next seventy years ending when the capital of Burhi was destroyed utterly. Now landing there is illegal, save for the military and navy, who work to extract the land’s resources. Not much of the original culture survives, but the burnt wood art they once produced is now highly prized within the city, and the landscapes therein depicted often included the silhouettes of large, triangular building facades, believed to be the centers of governance for their tribes.

Etsboaz- The smaller sister island of Gosboaz, separated by only three miles of water at the narrowest crossing and sharing greatly in the cultural and political developments of that island. The island was left unconquered in the first grand war for Gosboaz, and integrated as a sort of client state instead, with a lot similar to Gosboaz. Following years of strife [The passage following is removed. Within the city, with careful searching, one can unearth rumors that the island was utterly depopulated at one point. To this day landing there is prohibited, though anarchists, fishermen, and city refugees have landed there and attest to this]

Eshcor- The shipyards of the city being too small, the navy found it necessary to expand their operations to this isle southeast of the city, now converted almost entirely to the purposes of military production. The wood was stripped for the ironworks, and the coast gouged to make dockworks. In recent times, the interior of the island has been given over to more commercially minded smithing enterprises, as the guildsmen of those trades migrated to where most of the wood coming into the city was sent. Smoke can constantly be seen billowing over this island from any point in the city.

Malatas- The civilian sister of Eshcor, situated northeast of the harbor mouth. This is where most of the commercial shipyards are housed, and also a center for whaling and its various byproducts. Being the second greatest recipient of lumber, the town here is an ugly wooden sprawl covering almost all the coast of the island, the center being given over to a large tower-like protrusion of stone, finely grooved on the sides and nearly flat on top. In the antiquity of the city, the stone was the focus of worship for a local, possibly native cult. This cult still influences the goings on in the port towns today, though they are forced to do so by subterfuge, being censored by the senate. Through intimidation and murder, they nonetheless collect their dues from the whalers, shipbuilders, and smiths that now call the island home. The isle is also very well-lit, owing to the profusion of whale oil, and glows rather brilliantly at night. 

Alcor- The first island brought into the fold of the city’s dominion, perhaps some 300 years prior to the present. The remains of the people that inhabited the island are huddled in ghettos spread through the Blue City, their numbers dwindling each day. The people of the island were said to be all albino, a property passed down to the present, and in times past were excellent archers and the most capable seamen of the bay’s natives. Almost none of their material culture survives, save a twin-hulled boat and a few carved wood items filigreed with gold, once the mark of the nobility, in the Library of Tarrifa. The island is not entirely rid of natives however, as the local Neander population remains sequestered in the high wooded hills and caves and resists violently any attempts on their territory.   

[An entire page was removed]

Hutamene- The great empty isle of the southern bay, this land was depeopled sometime ago. The earliest chronicles [another removed passage, sloppily done. A proper noun that seems to be Etsboaz is still partially visible] Regardless, the isle is now home to smugglers and particularly wreckers, with the most successful of their number being rich as kings.

Etamene- The former central naval base, now entirely abandoned by decree of the Senate. In the Great Naval Wars with the Akerthan peoples, this island was critical to guard the Shaded Bay’s entrance from their adversary. Following the [another damned redaction] the navy was relocated to its present environs as punishment and assurance of their further good behavior. Once again, senatorial decree prohibits landing on the island proper, though the abandoned fortifications and at least two lighthouses are visible at great distance.”

Thus concludes Gemersand’s accounting, outside of a narrative involving his enlistment as a captain in a mercenary company, wherein he met his end. When questioned on the redactions, the archivist claimed to have no knowledge of them, and stated that they must have been before BW as no one in the city aside from myself understands the Ajulian language. He did divulge that many surviving records have similar exclusions and on investigation they seemed to concern similar topics: Hutamene, Etsboaz, and the Zoda. My further inquiries were interrupted, as the city authorities claimed bottom levels of the archival building flooded. 

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