"It's terrifying to be able to see the end of the world from my front lawn, but I've always said there's no worse way to live than without remembering you'll die." "Dyana, we're trying to have brunch, can you please stop being morbid?"Balkehir is one of four extant Laslin cities, and is by far the largest of these. It is also the one closest to the edge of the world, rising out of the ocean only half a kilometre away from the abyssal waterfalls.
InfrastructureThe city is built atop thick limestone and concrete slabs, with some rare areas built atop floating wooden supports. The stone sections are kept stationary at sea level by several colossal pillars of various materials - those in the old quarters of the city aren't wholly understood, while those in newer districts are typically cement with metal reinforcements.
DistrictsBalkehir can be subdivided into innumerable districts based on construction date, demographics, and functions, but the most frequently used divisions are;
The Old QuarterWhere the city first began, the old quarter is located on Balkehir's southern side and offers the grandest views of the world's edge. It is supported by colossal pillars of an unknown material, which is far sturdier and more resistant to the tug of the edge than others, and which has also allowed the old quarter to boast far taller and wider buildings. It boasts the seat of government in the city inside of a converted lighthouse.
Dock QuarterJust north of the Old Quarter are the main city docks, boasting dozens of piers, warehouses, and shops. While the wharf itself boasts the same sturdy pillars as the old city, the majority of the piers are floating wooden structures that are regularly replaced. To protect from harsh waves and tidal currents, a thick seawall stands a good way from the wharf, with retractable elements to mitigate flood risk.
Merchant QuarterOften considered an extension of the Dock Quarter, the Merchant Quarter boasts the majority of the boutique stores and market alleys in Balkehir, and is an excellent place to hawk your wares and pick up goods. Unlike the previous districts, the Merchant Quarter is supported by pillars of cement, and has noticeably shifted during the past centuries, with many sections of it below sea level and showing many signs of erosion and leaking. This has done little to curb the enthusiasm of its tenets, who have established some floating stalls in the more flooded streets.
Entertainment QuarterA far later addition, the Entertainment Quarter is the home of laughter and excitement in Balkehir, boasting many theatres and coliseums for high and low art of all kinds. Somewhat uniquely, the Entertainment Quarter boasts a number of canals, which allow for both thrilling boat races and serene tourism aboard locally-manufactured canoes. A result of this design is that the Quarter noticeably shifts during storms, and the layout of canals and streets changes frequently enough that many foreigners get hopelessly lost.
Industrial DistrictLess a concentrated region and more widely spread, the Industrial District is a loosely-affiliated smattering of streets and docks that boast the heart of the city's production. Much of this comes from fishing due to the city's location, but it also houses many cultivated forests for wood and a handful of mining businesses, though the latter operate off-city on the many islands that float past year after year. The prominence of logging gives the District a reputation for being the most verdant and lush in the city, in stark contrast to the belching fires of the many smithies and the waste from various manufacturing houses.
Taufa DistrictConstructed over the course of a hurried 5 years, the Taufa District is a slapdash affair of limestone and wood, designed to house a calamitous influx of refugees from a nearby Laslin city. A consequence of its quick construction is the necessity of repairs and renovations, which turn the District into a never ending buzz of activity and manual labour. Some streets have a reputation for shady dealings stemming from desperation, and while such things have settled and decreased over time, the perception lingers. Despite this, the melting pot of the District creates a great deal of joy, and the main square is home to regular festivals and ceremonies from many cultures that attract people from throughout Balkehir.
HistoryIt isn't known who constructed Balkehir or when, but it has stood on the world's edge for several centuries. The earliest records about the city date back approximately 1'200 years ago, but even then it was clearly larger than the known extent of the Old Quarter, suggesting it had been around for decades or centuries prior. These records additionally place Balkehir as being one kilometre from the world's edge. During the past millennium the city has been greatly expanded, often to accommodate influxes of refugees from islands going over the falls or, more rarely, during the fall of other Laslin cities. The last such city to fall was the nearby city of only 29 years ago, and Balkehir took the bulk of its fleeing citizens. Many of them and their descendants live in the so-called 'Taufa District' of the city that was constructed for them.
GovernanceBalkehir is a mostly-independent city state, though it operates in a loose union with the other Laslin cities and brokers many alliances with passing islands and empires. It is run by a council, whose members are selected in a number of ways;
- Nobility: The major noble families of the city are each allowed to send one member to council meetings. The number of houses changes over time with the ascension of new nobles and the decimation of families, but aristocrats consistently make up the majority of the council.
- Industry: The second largest group on the Balkehir Council are those representing the major businesses in the city, such as the largest logging and construction groups, as well as the owner of the city's largest theatre. This section is in constant flux as the economy shifts in response to the world, and competition for spots among minor businesses is fierce.
- Democratic: Finally, a handful of spots on the council are reserved for elected officials, whose number is determined in proportion to the population of the city. Each individual serves for a five year term, but it is not unheard of for many to serve "for life" or to be forced out of their position between elections due to political jostling.