Wednesday, September 07, 2011

The City of Terrasa

While Terrasa itself is larger than just the city of the same name, clearly the City of Terrasa is the most important in the region, if not in the entire Mezzovian Sea area.  Terrasa is firmly in the homeland of the Terrasan nationality, and even widely scattered and culturally divergent people like the far northeastern settlers of "North Qizmir" recognize Terrasa as a home of sorts.  Even if their ancestors came from the region hundreds of years earlier and they haven't set foot near it since, and their language has drifted to the point where they can no longer understand spoken, standard Terrasan, and their political loyalties lie more with Qizmir, all of which are true of the North Qizmiri common folk.  Terrasa is seen as the center of Mezzovian culture, and pilgrims, supplicants, and even just plain tourists pass through it in great numbers every year, to marvel at its architecture and splendor, to view the site where so many famous events of the past happened, or to meet with important secular, commercial or religious figures who make Terrasa their home.  Terrasa sometimes claims, and not without merit, to be the City at the Center of the World.

Terrasa is a sea-side port, located at the eastern end of the Tolosa Bay.  Although it slopes down to the sea, most of the city itself is built on higher ground, for the ground slopes sharply to a bluff, where the palace and the city proper is located.  It is surrounded by tamed and cultivated farmlands, olive orchards and cornfields, mostly, although hay, alfalfa, beans and even rice are grown not far from Terrasa itself, and many agricultural satellite communities, like Sènt-Gaudenç, Cambrils, Malgrat da Mare, Os Molins, and Sorollera fall under Terrasa's orbit, and provide crops, beef, mutton and more.  And of course, there is a large fishing industry throughout the area, and a vast fleet of fishing, crabbing, shrimping and other boats set out from Terrasa's harbor every day.

More livestock, as well as game, lumber, furs and other goods come from the Romeu Mountains which march almost directly southwards from Terrasa, as well as from the lodgepole pine and cedar woods of the Follà Forest to the southeast.  To the east, the land drops precipitously into the Coloma Swamp, a mangrove salt water swamp that gradually fades into fresh water marshlands.  The swamp is also inhabitated, but the Terrasan's have little to do with the swampies, and prefer not to see them or think about them too much.

The Tolosa Islands are also a contination of the Romeu Mountains, only this time with their feet underwater.  Terrasa's location is at the pivot point of the Tolosa Bay and the Chistau Sea, with easy access to most of the Mezzovian waters as well.

Despite its prosperous overlay, Terrasa conceals a darker reality, though--the Empire is weak and ineffective.  The King of Terrasa, as well as the King, Count, Duke or other titled head of most of the other states within the Empire is His Majesty Esteve Gregorio de Galdames de Rossolló.  He is a weak king, consumed with personal pursuits and indifferent to his role as leader.  Corruption, intrigue, and occasionally outright and only semi-clandestine warfare between various nobles and other interests is the order of the day in Terrasa.  Various powers shift for influence, and many feel that the Empire itself is up for grabs.  And for the most part, they appear to be correct; His Majesty seems unable or uninterested in stopping these naked power grabs, even when he is aware of them, commenting dryly that the strong always seem to prosper; why fight that natural law?

In addition to those seeking to grab power within the empire are those who harbor separatist and nationalist loyalties, those who seek to further the influence of other nations entirely, terrorists, organized crime, and more.  The climate between Terrasan and Qizmiri agents more and more starts to feel like a cordial cold war, and one of the few tasks that Qizmir demands of its independent minded tributary Sarabasca is that it recruit potential spies of Terrasan ancestry but impeccable Qizmiri loyalty to serve in Terrasa itself.  Rivals from further afield, including the scattered states of the former Baal Hamazi empire and Kurushat also make sure to keep a strong presence within Terrasa.

And there's an even darker underbelly yet; Terrasa is also known informally--at least in some circles--as the daemonologist capital of the world.  While past kings have founded Inquisitions and witch-hunting organizations, currently those are weak too, caught up in power struggles and otherwise distracted from their tasks.  Daemonologists, witches, occult and forbidden lore--they are not hard to find amongst those who seek them in Terrasa.  Many of these foment in the slums of Bricktown, a neighborhood where the narrow streets between buildings have been built over with roofs, making the entire area into a de facto gigantic tenement building.  Entire generations of poverty-striken criminals, beggers, or menials live and die their entire lives without seeing the sun.  The Watch rarely goes into Bricktown, where life is as cheap as it can be in the Mezzovian region.  As well as being the haunt of criminals and gangs, necromancers, witchs, daemonologists and other illegal occultists, rumors fly fast and furious about a number of supernatural predators who live in Bricktown (although who occasionally leave it on dark nights to haunt the rest of the town too): vampires, specters, cannibal cults and more.

Wise travelers and the experienced visitor to Terrasa will tell those who ask to keep your head down in Terrasa; watch out for dark, shadowy alleys and neighborhoods, stick to the well-beaten path, do your business quickly and don't linger where you shouldn't.

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