SummaryA large port city east of Rotalhm and toward the relative northern end of the Barrier Sea, Sskeesa is the greatest of ports in the sea's region as a whole. It's considered the de-facto sister of Rotalhm, estranged only by distance. Through Sskeesa, the vast rachtoh merchant guilds of Rotalhm do their business with the rest of the world. The wealth that moves through its miles-upon-miles of ship docks is staggeringly immense, and few have any idea of the true scope. Sskeesa grew to match the needs of a very particular and rich clientele. The rachtoh of Rotalhm, once reclusive and unwilling to leave their lands, grew frustrated at their situation. Foreign guilds and shipping services were throttling them beyond reasonable amounts, but they would have to leave Rotalhm to handle this business themselves. Eventually, the pressures angered the Great Houses into creating a commission: establishing a sufficient port to meet their needs. The minor settlement of Alaida, a human-centric fishing port, became their chosen target. Rather than war, Rotalhm simply bought the land and everyone in it. Those who wouldn't accept a bribe to leave were allowed to stay if they followed Rotalhm's laws. It became less cultural assimilation than complete annexation, as many minor families from Rotalhm flocked to establish a new hierarchy. Such opportunity had never come before in the history of their civilization, and so incredible amounts of people joined in on it. Similarly, foreign powers who did business with Rotalhm knew something incredible would emerge. So, they too joined in. Unused to the perils of naval construction, Rotalhm's efforts eventually caught the attention of the shermadi who lived nearby. While direct monetary trade is not so useful to them, the opportunity for all sorts of land-centric goods was. Recognizing the opportunity, and finding that a lot of sea around them would be barren and useless, Rotalhm enlisted the shermadi. All sorts of small settlements and tribes quickly moved into the growing port, creating for themselves a city under the water. Thus did the port city of Sskeesa ultimately take form, one half upon the shores, the other underwater. Sskeesa's presence ended up absorbing all sorts of other ports nearby. Like a sponge soaking up economic opportunities, the longer it stood, the greater its influence stretched across the Barrier Sea. No end of pirates came as a result, whether displaced by its impact or simply drawn to the vast fortunes waiting. To their horror, however, Rotalhm's penchant for ranged weaponry wasn't strictly limited to the land. Rachtoh markswomanship combined with enormous ship-mounted heavy weapons created a devastating arsenal. Worse, the shermadi residents were armed with extraordinarily well-purposed weapons, making them effective ship sinking sappers. The pirates chose to ply their trades as far outside of Sskeesa's response range as they could, ultimately. Their overwhelming failure soon dissuaded other nations from trying to assault Sskeesa. Some did try, all the same, but the rachtoh's extreme defensive nature is not without merit. To attack Sskeesa was to anger Rotalhm, and the rachtoh would come with complete eradication in mind. The many different merchants who did business with them took a dim view toward aggression, and so the wars of peoples were kept at bay. It is said from these brief but violent conflicts, the Rotalhm rachtoh discovered their love of sailing the high seas. For them, entire families took upon a ship, making each vessel a living extension of that family. Some have been maintained in service for centuries as a result, an heirloom passed down upon succession. These centurial ships are often made of, and armed with, all sorts of exotic materials, making each one a true work of art. More than something for making money (but definitely doing so), they are entire legacies unto themselves. With such, Sskeesa grew by leaps and bounds. Rotalhm's merchant fleets flooded into the world, spreading their wares to every corner of Veltrona. In turn, those seeking riches or otherwise followed back, and so Sskeesa drew attention as far away as Sa-kemet, Honokom, and Dorvar. The rachtoh themselves soon had to deal with the vexing cultures of others, and the new changes they were bringing with. The very nature of doing merchant business means intermingling, and so exchanges were bound to happen. In time a divide emerged between Rotalhm and Sskeesa. The latter came to be seen as a kind of sibling, distant and stranger for their otherly ways. However, being 'family' in their mindset, the two maintain an intimate if carefully manged relationship. The fundamentals of this is why such a sharp cultral divide between the two exists. Rotalhm maintains its very traditional ways, while Sskeesa has long since accommodated newer and radical ideas. It remains to be seen how much their different views ultimately affect their arrangements.
Sskeesa, unlike many other cities, has little legacy to inherit. Rotalhm's commission basically flattened the area and built up, starting fresh from the get-go. They used (for the time) rather modern ideas to lay down their infrastructure as a result. Starting with the ships themselves, oversized docks were created allowing a pair of ships to go in at once, or exceptionally large ships to moor without much fuss. To survive Veltrona's notorious weather, these docks are essentially cradles, with sturdy stone walls going underwater, and stormwalls rising higher around them. To complete their usefulness, various fittings for drydocking and other work were incorporated into the fundamental design. While it takes time to change a dock's given purpose, not having to build or rebuild every single time saves far more money in the long run. Attached to the docks are the warehouses, simplistic holding areas built to endure flooding. Each warehousing area is intended to house a dock's entire potential cargo. Since there is only so much to fit into a dock, only so much will go into a given warehouse. Depending as needed, the warehouse can be rented out for long term ownership or to work for emergency cargo handling. As no one really wants to keep their goods in a potential flood zone, they're a temporary point of business normally. At this stage, customs officials patrol the docks to ensure taxes and necessary laws are enforced on docking vessels. Connecting the warehouses are a series of roadways, branching off into larger columns that then feed into Sskeesa itself. Not unlike the arms of a tree, the precision and methodical design of these paths ensures goods are moved with alarming efficiency. Later on, Sskeesa would adopt railway designs so that small railcarts could move more goods even faster. Altogether, the docks, warehouses, and roadways form the vast footprint of Sskeesa stretching up and down the coastline of the Barrier Sea. Sprinkle in lighthouses and other ship signalling structures as needed. The city itself is rather charmingly a complete mess. As its population grew, and the need to process or store goods shot upward, Sskeesa bulged outward. Not unlike an onion, many different layers were added, and added, and added as their needs grew. With the help of the shermadi, the city grew underground as well, filled with vast waterways. So it is that where the two meet, channels for small boats and others weave in between. It is these channels that allow for local fishing to be done, and small-scale trade that goes on directly within the city proper. These same channels is ultimately what allows the city to endure seasonal and weather-based flooding with virtually no impact. It can be said that 'central' Sskeesa is the most affluent and well-established part of the city. Directly overseen by Rotalhm in the olden days, it has distinct rachtoh architecture and sensibilities. Many families consider it their traditional seat of power, and so it is the political and governmental center of the port city as a whole. The immediate layer beyond it is the playground of the rich and businesses, with much of the land there gentrified and assimilated overtime. Gentrification as a whole defines much of Sskeesa: new wealth moves in, poor and indebted are shoved out. Hence, the outer regions of the port city are the poorest and least well-kept. That being said, the need for adequate defenses and armaments often keeps them safe and employed. The Relentless only really attack from a handful of directions, and banditry can be an issue on convoys moving in or out. So it is working as a city guard or army soldier can be quite lucrative. There are people with more money than lives to spend, after all.