Tales of Tierra
Nestled between the rivers Pontus and Elephi, Delphina is the center of trade throughout the entire continent and the home of every major craftsman guild in the land. Connected to every civilized city in the continent by either road or river, there is no trade or craft that Delphina is not either directly or indirectly involved in, a fact reinforced by the cunning rule of the Order of the Golden Scale.
The Order of the Golden Scale is a ruling council made of the most successful and wealthy leaders of the highest crafting guilds of the city. The current High Adjudicator of the Order is Ilya Verschka, Guildmaster of Homonculus, Guild of Alchemists. The council’s rule acts as a true political body, determining the social order and commercial policies of the entire city, running the Army of the Golden Scale, responsible for the city’s defense.
Although the Army of the Golden Scale initially was no more than an over-large mercenary company hired as merchant guard during the city’s original existence as little more than a convenient hitching post for hundreds of travelling merchants, its hire became so long term and so mutually dependent upon the merchants’ presence, that when the city incorporated, so too did the company as its loyal standing army. Although its structure is much more rigid and political than it once was, the Army of the Golden Scale is still (possibly falsely) as the best paying army on the entire continent.
Geographically, the city is uneven, as the rivers pass downhill a fair elevation between their joining point at the northeasternmost point of the city. On this highest point sits the High Quarter, where the wealthiest class of merchants and craftsmen live, along with the functioning buildings and bodies of high state such as the Order’s Chambers. The Order’s Chambers are a lavishly decorated and gilded massive structure that surpass any other palace on the continent. Build on land carved out of solid rockface, high waterfalls from the Garendine river cascade on either side of the High Quarter, falling into the Pontus River on the west side of the city and the Elephi River on the east. The High Quarter is small, perhaps a quarter of a square mile, and houses a mere 2% of the city’s population.
Long, arduously crafted paved ramps are carved half a mile down the side of the cliff-face to provide streets from the High Quarter to the Mercantile Quarter, the largest district of the city. This district is the home of the large middle class of the city, with residential areas and sprawling bazaars. The majority of the working craftsmen and merchants live and work in this district, and it is said that anything that can be bought, and most things that can’t, can be traded here. Built on gentle slopes, the Mercantile Quarter is approximately 3 square miles, and is home and workplace to roughly 40% of the population of the city. The terrain is less rocky and more mild, although this area is still a foothill, descending gently towards the south into the marshy area between the Pontus and Elephi where they are closer together before the land turns to the expansive southern plains of Shandria.
In this marshy area sits the Low Quarter and the Docks Quarter, where the poor and manual laborers work and live. The Docks Quarter is split in two, on the west and northwest and northeast of the Low Quarter, bordering the respective rivers that they function for. With few homes, the Docks Quarters are mostly filled with warehouses and boarding houses for the companies and crews of the dozens of merchant vessels that operate from them. Despite this, the Docks Quarter is very orderly due to the very large presence of the Army of the Golden Scale. Since maintaining the order of these docks is essential to the life of the city, the enlisted headquarters and barracks are present here, and the largest presence of law is evident here, and punishment for crime in these areas is harsh, swift, and frequent.
The Low Quarter is the home of the poor and the downtrodden, and the frequent of most sailors and less fortunate travelers who cannot afford to stay in the Mercantile Quarter’s more lavish accomodations. Taverns, brothels, gambling dens, sit alongside residential areas. Subsistence farmers who can avoid trouble farther from the roads leading into the Mercantile Quarter grow rice in marshy paddies closer to the plains. Like all other quarters, the Low Quarter is also home to guilds of experts, these less savory than others: most of the mercenary guilds, for example, and (although not publicly) the thieves’ guild.