"What smell? Oh, right! First time to Belyos is it? Yes, you'll get used to it. You can't get a million people all packed in like this without developing a unique aroma. Now, you've got your permits, yes? Guards won't let you out of the Dock area without one, and you'll need to show it if you want to move around the city. Enjoy yourself, you won't find anywhere like it."Belyos is, by orders of magnitude, the largest and most important city in the known world. Seat of the Emperor of Belyos), home to all the important imperial institutions, and centre of worship for the Inheritor Gods. Belyos is, and has been from the start, a city divided into districts, and the regrowth and rebuild of the city has seen no change to that. Each district of the city is surrounded by walls, with guard towers and manned gates; in theory, no one can move from one part of the city to the other without paying through said gates. The city has eight districts, although some are within the same walled section.
- Downside is the poorest part of town, and also the one with the largest population. Most of the people live on the upper floors of large, multi-storey apartment blocks, with the lower floors given over to shops and businesses. Whilst rife with crime and subject to variable conditions, including poorly constructed buildings, Downside is also the source of Belyos' wealth; its people.
- Maintown is the middle class part of town, where the majority of artificer's workshops, shops, and artisans work and live. Buildings are similar to that in Downside, with apartment blocks being the main type, although of a much better quality. Maintown houses all but one of the exits of Belyos; the gates to the mainland of Archeld, to the Imperial Province and the commercial harbour.
- Market-town is a sub-section of Maintown, and is where the merchants have their warehouses and storerooms. Widely regarded as holding the wealth of Belyos, it also has a reputation for being relatively safe; the merchants do not like anyone threatening their profits.
- The Harbour is the only section of the city where non-residents are allowed to move freely, access to the rest of the city is through permit only. Almost as bad as Downside in terms of anti-social behaviour, no one can deny that the harbour is vitally important for feeding the city.
- Temple Hill is the oldest part of the city, and home to the Empire's bureaucracy and religious centres. It has few permanent residents, but some of the biggest and grandest buildings in the whole Empire. The Temple to Yaltur sits at the very top, along with the Noble's Courthouse and Imperial Tax Office.
- Atunhill is home to the city's nobility and richest residents. The homes are large and spacious, with open gardens and many parks. The Empire's wealth is on prime display here, and access to the section is highly restricted to none but residents and those with coveted access rights.
- Lanyar castle - once the Imperial palace, it housed the Sakamohr during their rule as well but was badly damaged during the battle to retake the city. Rebuilt afterwards, it is now a garrison for the Imperial army and an important strategic point for the defence of the city.
- Imperial Quarter is the newest district of the city, built in the years following the rise of Til-Yaltur, it houses quarters for the Palace Guard, the Imperial Treasury, and the massive Imperial Palace.
The exact population of Belyos is hard to determine, but based on the density of the housing, and the average number of occupants per building, the Imperial Survey Bureau estimates that about one million people live inside its walls. The vast majority live in either Maintown or Downside; Maintown's buildings are more spacious and spread apart, but tend to be larger, with the better quality of construction allowing for more stories. Additionally, Downside has frequent occurrences of diseases like cholera, giving it a much lower life expectancy. Of the other areas, whilst Temple Hill is a busy part of the city, it's actual resident population is quite low; the only ones who remain in the area to sleep are the priests in their temples. The gates to Temple Hill are restricted during the hours of darkness as well, with access only granted to those with appropriate permits. Atunhill has the lowest population density of the main residential sections, with most accommodations being of a villa type, with large gardens, and frequent parks and open areas.
The city is officially ruled by the Emperor directly, as part of the personal fief of the Throne, but in practical matters, the city is managed by the Lord Provost. This title is appointed directly by the Emperor and is often a relative or someone close to the Emperor, as it is a position that wields considerable power. Under the Lord Provost is the City Council, made up of a variable number of high ranking nobles, wealthy merchants, chief of the city guard, and other positions important to the running of the city on a daily basis. It is the Council who decides on local laws and ensures their enforcement. At a more local level, governance entirely depends on the area of the city. Management of Atunhill is very hands-off - the occupants there are wealthy and connected, and tend to have their own guards. Crime of the more obvious type is very low, yet the City Guard patrols the area intensively, more concerned with ensuring the wrong kind of people are kept out than any real attempt to enforce Imperial and local law. In Maintown and Downside, authority is generally excised by local councils made up of selected or self-appointed individuals who oversee a few buildings or city blocks. Actual authority is limited, and tends to be only that which the local residents are content to submit to. The City Guard and overall city authority is present, but their concerns are keeping the peace, tax collection, and distribution of the dole. Crime prevention and enforcement of the law is only undertaken for flagrant violations, and in the infrequent periods when the City Council wishes to make a point. In Downside, most city blocks are covered by the local Clava, which in many cases operate like a local authority.
The city's primary defence is the security and stability of the Empire as a whole; so long as the nation around it remains secure, then there is little external threat to the city. The city does have substantial defences despite this; building of walls and other such structures provides much-needed work for Belyosians and is a good way for Emperors to make their permanent mark upon the city for future generations. As the city is entirely based upon an island, it's first line of defence is the surrounding water and the Imperial Navy that regularly patrols it. Whilst external threats are non-existent, illegal immigration and smuggling are common, and the Navy's main role is to deter and prevent unauthorised shipping from approaching the city. The only way to enter the city by land are the two gates; Main Gate to the mainland, and Emperor's Gate to the Imperial Province. Both are defended by substantial towers and the bridge to the mainland is designed to be raised, should it be required. The entirety of the island is enclosed by walls, in most cases right up to the water's edge itself. A few rocky beaches exist, but aside from the harbour entrance there are no official entry points along the shore. Unofficial entry points, typically using sewage outlets and hidden doors and used for smuggling, do exist, but they're well hidden and blocked by the authorities whenever found. Guard towers are regularly spaced along the wall, and patrols along the top of the wall are common. Not all watch is focused outwards, however, as particularly around Downside, attention is better served looking inwards.
The city is supplied by food from the fertile farmlands of neighbouring Archeld and Chasroth, mostly by ship, but also by the hundreds of wagons and carts that enter the city daily, bringing fresh goods and supplies. The biggest import in the harbour is food, with construction materials being the second largest. The main roads within the city are rigorously maintained by the Imperial Civic Bureau and have a number of laws regarding keeping them clear and open for traffic, with harsh penalties for failing to ensure that the main roads are kept clear. About 200,000 tonnes of grain is imported into the city every year, along with large amounts of olive oil, wine, fish and meat. Every Emperor is acutely aware that should the imports cease, civil disorder is but a few meals away. Aqueducts bring in fresh water from the hills of Archeld and the Imperial Province, with a network of smaller aqueducts and pipes creating wells and fountains of drinking water for citizens. Likewise, a network of pipes carry sewage out of the city and into the seas around. On warm days, the smell by the shore can get excessive, but most of the year currents and the wind carries the worst of it away. Refuse is typically collected by enterprising individuals organised in gangs, who can find a buyer for almost anything that gets disposed of. Recycling is common, most waste can find a use in the city's industries, and there is very little that some industries, such as tanning, won't be able to take. Every inhabitant of the city is entitled to the 'dole', which is a single loaf of bread, some unmilled grain, a portion of Olive Oil and dried fish, given to every adult daily. The logistics of the dole are immense, and the head of the Imperial Dole Bureau wields considerable power in the city. Every neighbourhood in the city, which consists of between one and ten thousand people, has a building that functions as post office, guardhouse, taxation hub and dole distribution centre. They are also the distribution point for the aqueduct's water supply, built above a hub in the sewage network, and can communicate with each other through a network of flags and signals on the roof. Vast areas in the harbour district, and even in a few places across the city, are given over to warehouses used to store the dole prior to distribution.
Guilds and Factions
The factional nature of Belyosian politics, both official and street, is infamous across the Empire. Each of the districts of Belyos could be perceived as being split into zones controlled by one faction or another but the level of enmity between factions does vary considerably. In Atunhill, nobles tend to cluster their residences with others of a similar heritage, with Elector State being the most obvious indicator, but aside from petty politicking and gossip, things very rarely escalate. Temple Hill is broadly similar, with the temples controlling small sub-sections; rivalry in the open is almost non-existent, but like the nobility, the politics can get just as cut-throat as actual fighting. In Maintown, Market-town and the Harbour districts, the power is held by the Guilds; factions who represent an industry or trade, and jealously guard their knowledge and political power. Whilst open fighting is rare, it does occur, with most of the conflict being commercial in nature. Racketeering is common in some parts, despite being illegal, and gangs of guild-associated youths, nominally employed as semi-skilled labourers, occasionally engage in posturing fights that are widely rumoured to be organised in advance. In Downside, the factions are almost all criminal gangs, called Clava, who state out a part of the district and manage almost every aspect of that area's economy and community, although the city officials do retain a strong grip on the daily dole distribution, and there is a healthy respect for the city guard; no clava wishes to upset the status quo too much to attract the attention of the authorities. Some of the clava are nominally associated with more legitimate factions in the city, be it a temple, guild or noble house, although the associated faction is always quick to absolve itself of any responsibility.
Belyos CityThe Imperial city of Belyos, heart of the Empire, centre of worship for the Inheritor Gods, and site of the Imperial Palace.
The Imperial City, the Capital
Approx. one million
Characters in Location
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