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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.