It’s Done! 1st Draft of City at the Top of the World is Done!

The story is written, the nodes are written, the endings are written.  The main part that’s left is to number and link nodes.

Maybe I got lazy?  I don’t know.  While there are a lot of paths and a lot of endings, several choices funnel into one particular node, but part of that was wanting to avoid the quantum nature of a lot of CYOA type books.  You get captured by the slavers, you end up going to auction.  And I wasn’t going to write totally different slave auctions for every variation on getting captured.  If I were writing classic CYOA style nodes with 50-150 words per node, maybe I would’ve done it differently, but some of these nodes are as long as 700 words.

42 nodes and 12 endings.

Yay.  This is one of the first real writing projects I ever ‘finished’ since I decided not to write a 10th book in the fantasy cycle I’d written when I was in highschool.

Some Tidbits About the Upcoming Cirsova Book

Who?
This going to be the story of a young desert woman, Aeryn, who is a member of one of the tribes of ancient Paelnor. The people of Paelnor are sometimes known as the Children of the Eye or the People of the Eye, because of their myths that they are watched over by a great eye in the deserts.

What
Aeryn has been taken by the Northmen (the Tyuravelinai, though they have not yet come to be called that) along with a number of others from her tribe. They are part of a recurring system of tribute to the great northern kingdom.

Where
While the story takes place in a city called Polaris, it is Old Polaris, a truly Polar city, far to the north of Gatlia and Ungoza, perhaps farther north from Elefloe or Jorgora than those ruins are from Solaris. The Polaris known to the modern Cirsovans is named for this great lost city.

When
This story takes place in the distant, almost mythic past, long before the ice, long before the migration of the Akhirs, and very long before the foundation of the Cirsovan Empire. As such, while some names and places may be familiar, they may also be different from what may be found in the Encyclopedia. For instance, the Sabrio valley is still heavily jungled.
Why
Because I needed to actually write something that has something to do with Cirsova and can be published. Besides, why not?

Gaciall of Many Things, White Lady of Polaris

Gaciall, sometimes referred to as “the White Lady of Polaris”, is the “queen” of the far northern city-state, though she is never called such.  It is unknown who or what she is to the people of Polaris, but as far as the Cirsovan empire is concerned, she is looked to as the ruler and head-of-state for all matters between the empire and the Polarans.

For all of the nearly 200 years that the Empire has been in contact with the city of Polaris, Gaciall of Many Things, or a woman bearing the name and title, has held court in Polaris.  All accounts describe her as a young woman, dressed all in white, though all who have met her claim to have forgotten most details beyond that shortly after leaving her presence.

It is customary that any personage of importance who have made the journey to Polaris (whether travelling with supplies and traders or not) are granted audience with Gaciall.  Oftentimes, these audiences are simple formalities, during which dancers are brought in, food and drink are offered to the visitors, and a songstress will sing a lay of the ancient Norther Peoples.  Sometimes, however, after the lays are sung, and the dancers sent away, Shuul will be brought forth, small azure vials resting upon ornamental red pillows with gold trim, and offered to the visitors.  Gaciall will bid them drink, for she will show them amazing visions of things both wonderful and terrible as they lie in the throws of the drug.

Gaciall is a seeress and a sorceress of unknown power.  She is quick-witted and highly intelligent, both qualities are essential in an experienced Shuul user.  It is not know whether the magic she wields in the Kingdom of Shuul can manifest itself in the physical realm (as was the case with the unnamed dreamer in the Legend of Jorgora), though it is possible that she may know how and simply chooses not to use her power in such a reckless way.

Those wishing to see the true power Shuul and be instructed in its safe use for purposes of scrying are advised to only do so by seeking out the tutelage of Gaciall.  Gaciall, however, does not grant this privilege except to a very select few who strike her fancy as those worthy of her knowledge and power.  Shuul is not a drug to be taken lightly, as its use may incapacitate an individual from anywhere from several hours to a number of days.

Bartland Brothers and a Bottle in a Case

Being a major port city, goods from all over the empire may be sampled here.  Midtown Syflanis is one grand bazaar, where food, drink and drug of all variety can be found in the markets, stalls and taverns.  One of the taverns of some renown, Bartland Brothers, has in a wooden display case behind the bar what may be the only publicly available commercial bottle of Shuul.  Drafts from the bottle are expensive, infrequent and often disappointing (it has been said).  No one who has sampled it has ever reported anything beyond its strong and unpleasant taste.  Whether the bottle is real or not is subject of numerous urban legends throughout the city.

Uptown, Syflanis

Uptown is the oldest quarter of Inner Syflanis.  The southern boundary of the quarter is still marked by the old city wall.  The seaward wall and a large portion of the southern section were removed as the city grew southward.  After it became apparent that Syflanis would likely never face martial threat, plans for a wall that would completely encircle the city were abandoned; the newer walls along the lower quarters are often unmanned and largely for show. 

Uptown is home to the old city hall (which has become disused since the new one was built in the lower city), a number of multi-family units, serving the families of sailors, dock & construction workers, and the old Syflanis keep, which has been repurposed into a prison for undesirables throughout Gatlia.  Though Guard Captain Kaern has kept the peace by cracking down on petty crime with great severity, criminal networks are said to have sprung up in the poor sections of Uptown, and a neighborhood code of silence has protected those at its core.

Temple of Water, Syflanis

People come from far and wide to visit Syflanis’s Temple of Water. The Temple, which is found in the West Downtown quarter, is large, shallow lake with a tiny island at its center. On that island grows a single giant tree. The lake is man-made, and it is said that the first Duke of Gatlia had it dug to protect the tree, which was beloved to him.

Today, couples pay boatman a coin that they may take their luncheon upon the lake under the shade of the great tree. Dining upon the island itself, while not forbidden, is frowned upon as low-class.

No botanist has been able to say with certainty what species the tree is, as no other tree like it has ever been identified in all the empire.

Lord Percival Haruun

Lord Percival Haruun the Younger, or simply Lord Percy, is a rising star in Gatlian politics. He is wildly popular among the merchants, having fought successfully to reduce shipping tariffs in Syflanis. Additionally, he made quite the splash when he publicly declared that it was his goal to stamp out crime along the Gatlian highway and break up the Pirate’s Triangle once and for all, even if it means raising a private army to do so.

Percy the younger is also the first councilman in Gatlian history to hold two seats simultaneously in the Council. Percy was elected to one of Syflanis’s popular seats in the previous election cycle. His father had been a representative of the local aristocracy for many years, but died shortly after the last election. With the aristocratic seats, it is tradition for the son or heir of the deceased to assume the father’s position for the duration of its term. There had never been a case, however, when a Lordly Representative’s son had held a popular seat of his own. There was no law against it, so it stood. Thus, the young Lord Percival holds two seats and two votes in the Council, making him the most powerful man in Gatlia, second to the Duke.

Despite Percy’s overwhelming popularity among both wealthy merchants and common folk and support among several noble families, there are a few who fear the young man’s meteoric rise.

Dukes of Gatlia

In the unique political system granted to Gatlia, the position of Duke, while for life, is an elected, rather than hereditary, position. That is not to say that the Duke is not a nobleman. In fact, noble blood is pre-requisite of the position. Our present Duke Gren, some say, even shares a maternal grandmother with our beloved Emperor Tormant.

When a Duke dies, the Gatlian council meets to select a new Duke. While both Lordly Representatives and Popular Councilmen may vote for a new Duke, their votes having equal weight, only one who is a Lordly Representative may nominate a candidate. Candidates are named from the ranks of the Lordly Representatives or of other represented Gatlian nobility.

The Duke of Gatlia oversees the Gatlian council, wielding considerable executive power, having final say on captains of the guard in Syflanis, Delivals and Pelliora, acting as chief admiral of the Gatlian fleets, and top arbiter of laws as set forth by the council. Additionally, while the Duke traditionally refrains from casting a vote on council matters, his yea or nay on any issue may override any non-unanimous decision of the Council. This power, however, has rarely been wielded by Dukes of Gatlia.

The power of the Duke is not without cost. Nobles named Duke must forfeit all other titles and holdings. It is for this reason that often-times powerful land-holding or wealthy nobles (a baron of Sotune, for instance) may defer the nomination to their Lordly Representative (frequently a younger member of the noble house) in the Council.

Syflanis

The port of Syflanis is a bastion of industry and capital in the north. Under the rule of Duke Gren, Syflanis has boomed and blossomed into a small maritime power along the Northern Coast, with shipping lanes all the way to Ortia and beyond. Indeed, some brave crews claim they have traded with strange folk in lands beyond the Dusksea. Goods from all over the world are bought and sold is the first place along the Long Road where finished Polaran goods find their way to open market.

One of the many things that Syflanis is known for is its fabulous shipyards. All manner and size of vessel may be commissioned and put to water in the Dusksea for any lord or wealthy merchant with the coin to commission it. The ships of Syflanis are said to rival even those of Solaris.

Syflanis is divided into multiple sections. The largest of these is Outer Syflanis, so called because it is the portion extending beyond the city walls. Much of Outer Syflanis is comprised of sprawling residence, gardens, small farms, and a handful of traders. Inner Syflanis is further subdivided into East & West Downtown, Midtown and Uptown.

City affairs are overseen by Mayor Mora Rennault, who is appointed by consensus of Duke Gren and the four Councilmen who represent Syflanis in the Gatlian council. Like Pelliora and Polaris, Syflanis has not two but four seats in the council, with two popular councilmen (one selected by citizens of Inner Syflanis and one by the citizens of Outer Syflanis) and two Lordly Councilmen, who are elected by the heads of the Noble families residing in the two Downtown districts.

Delivals, the Port of

The final stretch of the Long Road’s overland route to Polaris begins at Delivals, the Gatlia and the Cirsovan Empire’s northernmost port city on the Dusksea.  Delivals serves little purpose in the way of trade that Syflanis does not fulfill better.  The only difference is that Delivals serves as a port for Polaris.

The foothills of the Gatlian mountains stretch all the way to the coast of the Dusksea, and while it would not have been difficult to build overland passage directly toward Polaris, with an existing port at Syflanis, it made more sense for trade over the seas.  Thus, after Polaris made herself known to the empire and provided the emperor and his cartographers with the information to find the remote city, it was determined that the cape of Delivals was an ideal location for a port (the emissaries had warned not to build too far up the coast, as Polaris had once been a port city, but was now land-locked by the ice sheet that had made its way down the coast), due south of the Dreaming City.

Incoming goods largely consist of tools, textiles, food and, of course, raw crystal.  Finished crystal is one of the only exports.  Though Shuul is not openly traded in the city, it is possible to find.  Occasionally a dock-hand may be found passed out behind a warehouse with an empty bottle of the stuff nearby, though any dreams he has had will be those of your normal drunk who’s found a spirit too strong for his temperament.

Thievery along the Long Road begins in Delivals. Smaller works of finished crystal are among the first victims; anything that can be easily pocketed is fair game for sticky fingers.  Larger goods fair better until they are out upon the seas.

Delivals, the Isle of Four Emperors and Syflanis make what is sometimes referred to in Gatlia as the Pirates’ Triangle.  In order to reduce piracy, traders have made considerable effort to maintain a continuous stream of ships between Delivals and Syflanis, ensuring that no ship is too far from aid. Ships sailing from Syflanis to Corineaus in Karkuras are more vulnerable to pirates than those in the Pirate’s Triangle, despite the bay’s foreboding name.

The crime and theft in Delivals breeds a secondary market for finished crystal and other contraband.  Some docks have agreements in place with the bay pirates, allowing for certain shipments to “disappear”.  Off the books sale of Polaran goods in Delivals is a profitable business for which the local officials and nobles often look the other way, fearing that their own involvement and graft might come to light.

Delivals is represented in the Gatlian council by a Popular Representative and a Lordly representative appointed by the Baron.  A sign that the attitude towards piracy and corruption in Delivals might finally be changing is that both the people’s and the nobles’ councilmen have spoken out in support of initiatives to crack down on pirates, throwing their weight behind the up and coming young Percival Haruun in Syflanis.