"There's a reason I have a strict no questions asked policy 'round here. If you start stickin' your nose where it don't belong, don't come crying to me when it gets broken."
Respite functions as the capital for the pseudo nation of The Shadow. It is widely considered to be the safest settlement in the oasis, but is not considered generally "safe" by any means. While it has a local guard, they tend to be biased and easily bought.
As it goes, you are safe in Respite from the law and from the heat, but not from your enemies.
Industry & Trade
Respite relies on outside trade to survive. Its economy is built on trading with outside merchants, all while providing those merchants somewhere to rest and grab a bite to eat. The most common businesses in town are inns, bars, and restaurants. General stores stocked with basic travel supplies, and gift shops for tourists are also common.
"He went to take a rest in the Desert, if you know what I mean."
When the suns go down, Respite deals in a different type of business. Thieves and mercenaries come here to trade without worrying about legal repurcussions in their home nations. Banned goods, stolen treasures, drugs, and secrets all find their way to Respite.
Just because there is no permanent government presence, however, doesn't mean that the police never show up. Nations in search of high priority criminals will often send task forces to stake out the city, knowing that if there's anywhere for an outlaw to hide, it's here. It is not uncommon for these task forces to arrest more than who they came for. As a result, frequent visitors of the city are wary or sometimes outright hostile to anyone in a uniform.
Buildings in Respite are a haphazard scatter of primarly sandstone and stucco. Wood is a rarity that has to be shipped in, so only the wealthiest of structures enjoy the luxury.
A common feature among buildings directly beneath the floating island are metal gutters that funnel into a container inside or outside of the building. These are to catch the water that drips from the bottom of the floating island above. On average, it amounts to less than an inch of water per day, but saved over time, it can create a useful reserve in case of a shortage. Most of the water used by the town comes from a central well, which is also the only place that is policed daily.
Respite is at the edge of The Shadow, literally. About half of the city is directly underneath the island. From morning until about noon, the city endures the suns, but once they dip behind the island, it enjoys an early dusk.
The usual desert plants don't like the lack of sun, and so Respite is populated by species that prefer a more temperate climate. Many of the shrubs, mosses, bushes, flowers, and even trees that grow around Respite are completely unique to The Shadow.
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So this is a criminal "above ground" if I correctly placed this settlement at some floating island and the shadow this island casts? Is the city controlled by some gangs or mafias? Or it is city guardians who accepted that they are there to maintain at least the semblance of rules, while all the reputation ruining stuff is happening outside of public sight? It is hard to imagine someone taking a revenge in open when this city reputation is "somewhat safe" is keeping it alive. Or is the city so bad, that everyone goes there only because it is the only option?
so I wrote this article pretty quickly and had a lot of better ideas for it after the fact that I haven't yet had the chance to include. There's also going to be a lot more context in The Shadow's article, because Respite is basically the capital city of the Shadow. The Shadow is basically its own nation, but it's not recognized as an official nation by most other nearby nations. It has a government, officials, etc which is a sort of weird democracy/meritocracy thing, and everyone in the government is Shadow locals, so people that were born in and grew up in the Shadow. Respite is a unique city in that it's the biggest city in the Shadow that has officials that are not Shadow natives. However, the majority of the people in charge there are natives. They make the rules and so they kinda get to decide who they tolerate and who they don't. Respite has a reputation for lawlessness because the Shadow culture is very eye-for-an-eye based, and since it's kind of its own nation, none of the laws from any of the surrounding countries apply. The Shadow also doesn't have any firm foreign policies or anything, which is why anyone can just kind of come and leave as they choose. Basically, Respite has a government and rules, but those rules just aren't the rules that most "civilized" societies are used to. "Murder is legal as long as you had a good reason", that sorta thing. It's NOT run by gangs and mafias, technically, but people from the outside see it that way because of how rough it is. ...sorry for so many words! I really enjoyed your questions, though. Did I answer them alright? Feel free to ask more! lol