Old City (City of Vindulan)
The Old City, the heart of the city of Vindulan, is something of a misnomer, as historians generally agree that the oldest extant portions of it were constructed at the earliest some four hundred years ago (with the notable exception of the Cathedral). The Spire sits next to its heart, offshore in the bay that adjoins the Old Town. It is the spine of a massive metal ship that took our ancestors here from the far-flung stars, and it has been dated at varying times, from four thousand years before present to a thousand years before the oldest standing building in the Old Town.
The Fall of Vindulan--the cataclysm generally agreed to have resulted in devastating fires and earthquake--destroyed all records of the time before, but the Spire and the Old Town together make up the original footprint of humanity. The only surviving structure of the pre-Fall settlement is the basement and part of the first floor of what is now the Cathedral of the Three, adjacent to the Great Well whence flows the Sliproad into the Bay of Vindulan.
The Old City has seven districts, each with its own distinct aromas, sounds, and general feel. Its history, which is written in detail in other texts, spans some thousand years from the Fall of Vindulan to the present day. Records before that are ashes in the great cataclysm that marked the end of the Sorcerers' Rebellion and the beginning of the reign of the Sorcerer Queen. Generally, the old city spans the mouths of two rivers: coming from the southwest, the Sliproad River, which feeds the bulk of the city's water needs; and the Bloodrun, which flows eastward from an uncharted source deep in the Blood Wood. Both rivers empty out into the Bay of Vindulan, where the Spire looms as a reminder of humanity's starfaring days.
Roads run out of it in four directions: the Coastroad, heading east and south along the Bay and the Glittering Sea beyond; the Sliproad, the major trade route connecting the settlements of the Shadow Hills, the outlying farming provinces inside the Wall, and the city itself; the Road of Exile, leading north out of the city through Norside into the wilderness beyond the Norgate; and the little-used Blood Road, following the Bloodrun west into unknown, long-abandoned attempts of the First Folk to settle the inland.
The districts of the city are as follows:
The Guilds is the easternmost, bay-adjacent warehousing and manufacturing district, under joint operation of the Cincture and the guildhalls that produce the bulk of Vindulan's crafted wares: clothing, tools, and even the ships that ply the greater bay. Cincture mages work in concert with the guildfolk in their craft to further their industrial effectiveness. The Queen's Foundry is here, a place only permitted for Belted mages of high status, where the river clay is processed and made into keramica tools, weapons, and armor.
The Deam is the district north of the Guilds, unofficial home of many of the Fifteen and many of the Guildmasters, as well as the Council's residences, and most significantly the site of the Academ, whose eastern windows look out over the Bay of Vindulan. It is a significant center of day-to-day magistracy, and the law court is astride the border with Norside.
Rivertop and its partner North Promenade (or North poors) are the most turbulent of the districts, accomodating the influx of produce from the farmholds of the Southern provinces, and the caravans from beyond the wall--mining teams venturing to the Thousand Thrones, salt and silt from the Abrachan Desert, spices and timber from the Blood Wood. Resources flow out the same way, along the Promenade to the Regent's Gate or the Farm Gate.
Temple is home to the Great Temple of the Three, the edifice built around the hall where Alrod the Servant began the work of healing those wounded in the early struggles against the Fartheen migrations. While there are healing houses in each of the seven districts, the Elders of the church meet in the Great Temple at various times of the year, and the medical university is situated nearby. The Farm Gate (or the Sty) leads southward out of the city to the Southern Provinces.
Norgate is the eponymous home of the district closest to the Norside. The gate itself, also called the Exile's Gate, does not permit return for any entity, even members of the Beacon; most judgements are pronounced before the Norgate as a reminder of the gravity of the Cincture's rule. The Skeltering Hall, home to the bardic colleges and the seat of elections, is situated close to the Great Well in this district.
The Enclave is home to the First Folk and the traders who deal with them. There are communities of exiles from the Enclave to the south, along both the Sliproad and the Coastroad, but by far the largest concentration of First Folk (or Landers) is along the southern shore of the Bay of Vindulan. The tradesfolk live outside of the Curtain, or separating boundary between Vindulan and the Enclave, and it is considered a separate political region: the First Folk are subject to the laws of the Cincture but not bound to participate in life outside the Enclave. In return for peace and access by Council members, the First Folk are granted autonomy in their own affairs.
Life in the Old Town (or Old City) is marked by public facilities. Citizens and visitors alike congregate in bath houses, cafeterias, and performance halls on a daily basis. Hexagonal communal dwellings rise high just a couple of blocks from water's edge, the space closest to the bay reserved for warehousing goods and guild halls. Families of prominence, including the Fifteen, have official residences closest to the Great Well, culminating in the Council Chambers directly opposite the Spire.