Cressus is the southernmost city on the northern peninsula, near the edge of the Great Sand Sea and the Red Steppe. It is an important source of many resources in the region, especially through its lucrative slave trade.
Most inhabitants of Cressus belong to the fair-skinned ethnicity common across the peninsula and drawing a name from a common history with the city itself: the Cresh. There is also a large number of other ethnic groups represented in the city on a permanent basis, including Hashodens and other groups from further south. The largest groups of minorities are actually made up by the thousands of slaves living in the city, most of them elvish, orcish, and Taerwyn nomads.
The government of Cressus is controlled by a group called the Circle of the Inner Flame, a group of tribal elders who are also considered to be holy men in the local religion. These ten leaders meet in private to decide everything from the laws of the city down to the fate of the most common citizen. The tradition of the Circle stems from the tribal origins of the city, and stretches all they way back of the original Cresh tribes that settled around the Cressian Oasis thousands of years ago. From among these ten is chosen a sultan to act as a figurehead and mediate any disputes within the circle. While he is the de facto leader of the Cressian people, he can do very little without the circle's support.
Temple of the Inner Flame in Cressus
In addition to an ample water supply and geographic vicinity to other cultures considered as supplies for the slave trade, there are many quarries and mines near the city. Brass, bronze, and copper are mined in ample supplies, and even some gold and silver can be found in some nearby locations. This mining industry, in fact, is a driving motivator behind the Cressian slave trade.
The city itself is walled and features mostly simple sandstone architecture. The wealthier district is dominated by large palaces with towers topped with brass minurats that shine in the sun. The wealthy traders of Cressus trade lumber, food and water from the north for precious metals and gems from the Emerald Coast beyond Koth.
Most of the common people live in a maze of small homes clustered around the outside of the city walls. Many of the poor barely survive, and while work inside the city would afford them a better life many cannot afford the tax simply to pass through the gates. There are slums inside the city walls as well, but most space is occupied by a middle-class craftsman caste. As a major trade hub, there are many markets, warehouses, and other business opportunities to be had.
Situated near the Cressian Oasis, there is a sufficient water supply to sustain the city. Surplus water is still imported from Shem, and then traded to the Hashoden Empire and the lands of Kosh in the south. The land surrounding the city is known as the Cressian Badlands; a region of broken, rocky terrain sparsely dotted with vegetation adapted for the environment.
The Cressian Badlands