As we unravel the world of Calus Rukan for you, I thought I’d share a little bit about one of Mirias Deil’s cities and its people. I’ve given the first looks at the city of Tyrant in my novella ‘Grim Drifts of Sand & Fate‘ and in the short story ‘The Sullen Feather‘, but there is a lot more to see.
Tyrant within the Empire of Mirias Deil
While it is not the capitol of Mirias Deil, Tyrant rivals Geldenthorn for status as the second largest city in the empire. Under the rule of Prince Tenoryn Curassi, a distant cousin to the emperor, Tyrant has done well, though rumours of rebellion grow with every passing day.
Prince Tenoryn rules without compassion, guided by his council and First Legislator, Yslin Makev. His devotion to trade and finance have made the wealthy, maskless first class citizens more than comfortable. Though with every coin that changes hands a masked citizen slips between the cracks, forgotten and abandoned.
Location: southern shores of Mirias Deil, along the Veis’senur Sea
Population: 100 000
Current Ruler: Prince Tenoryn Curassi
Sigil: a blue Cormorant or Heron surrounded by one hundred silver stars
Palace: the Azure Palace / the Azure Throne
Dominant Religions: Barius, Tesc, Alamast
Military: the Cormorant Guard (Imperial)
The city itself lies directly on the northern shores of the Vettenspur Sea, built around a radiant of the brightest blue. Spanning outwards from Iresar Bay, the city rises up along the coast, providing a natural defense of cliffs and rocky islands. To reach the harbours one must sail between two high embankments rising up one hundred and fifty feet, each side watched by city towers. Once through this pass, however, the harbours city sink down to sea level, providing easy and direct contact with the city.
A series of rivers run south through the city into the sea, two of which wide enough to provide a route into the central Empire for all but the largest ocean faring vessels. The city is divided by these rivers, and held together by a mass of bridges connecting the different districts, with the bulk rising high enough to allow ships to pass under at any time. Most of these bridges are of Miriai design, though some built during the age of Ildestra still stand today.
There are thirty-three districts in Tyrant. The poorest and roughest of these is the Fellshank, followed closely by Celda Shallows and the Scales. The Scales is a floating district, built on the edge of Iresar Bay from ruined and scavenged boats. The wealthiest districts are Azure Hill, home of the royal family and the Azure Palace, and the Jaiendryn, where the three greatest faiths in the city face each other, creating a holy piazza. The city’s barracks are housed in Steel Edge, home of the imperial Cormorants.
“A star hung in the air above the city called Tyrant. Somewhere between the clouds and the distant sun, the orb was the city’s personal star, its radiant, its protector, and its guardian.”
-Grim Drifts of Sand & Fate
Spread across the world of Calus Rukan, including both Alrend’ris and t’Avallin, are the radiants. Arcane and alien, these stars have become gathering points for communities of all sizes.
They differ from city to city. The radiant suspended over Tyrant shines blue, giving rise to names like the Azure Palace and Throne. During the day the light is lessened by the greater radiance of the sun, but at night the radiant continues to shine, leaving many districts well lit. Well, as long as the night is clear.
Ceprium looked around the tavern. Three men sat at a narrow table, playing cards. Worn masks hung off the backs of their chairs. Here inside the Sullen Feather, it seemed, the traditions were only loosely followed.
“Ah, the masks,” Ceprium said with a sigh. “How could I forget?”
“They keep the people in order,” Taren said. “They provide a hierarchy of sorts. Tells you who is, and who isn’t.”
-Grim Drifts of Sand & Flame
The poor and middle class citizens of Tyrant are required to wear masks in public. They are allowed to reveal their face only for family members, or sometimes friends, in the privacy of their own homes. Unless, that is, the social standing of one party differs greatly from that of another. A wealthy aunt, for instance, would never permit her lower caste nephews to go unmasked, even within their own home.
The imperial Cormorants are the only exception. A legionary, either native to Tyrant or stationed in the city from afar, is not required to wear a mask.
People make the masks from anything they can find. Most used carved wood or leather, and are expected to cover all costs themselves. Those with money, but no name or true status create masks of metal and ceramic, creating works of art to cover their faces. The poorest people in Tyrant are forced to used whatever they can find, so it is not rare to see beggars and urchins with masks made from detritus and debris. Most people paint their masks to resemble animals. Hunting cats, elephants, birds, and insects are quite common. Some people have masks resembling mythological fugues, heroes from ages past, or even the gods themselves.
Exports & Imports
Tyrant is Mirias Deil’s largest producer of both rice and tea, drawing from the wide fields to the west and east. Everything to the north is cut off by the thick Miriai jungles, and trade depends on the rivers to cross through to the central empire. The fields and islands around the city also produce a great quantity of pineapple, mango, and sugarcane. Shrimp, squid, and fish of all manner are also fished and farmed along the southern coast.
Like the rest of Mirias Deil, its own natural resources have been depleted, its mines emptied. Any raw minerals or ore are too deep to produce in great quantities, the risks to great to push that far down. Iron, steel, silver and gold are all purchased from Inturian or beyond. Charcoal, oil, or most consumable fuels sources are also imported from the southern cities like Rastule or Kilaon. In addition, meats and grain are also brought south from the heartland of Mirias Deil, as these are mostly produced in Geldenthorne or Broadnech.
The Imperial Cormorants
The city, like all other cities within the Miriai Empire, is protected by the imperial Cormorants. While the great Miriai Legions enforce the rule of law in the countryside outside of the cities, it is the role of the Cormorants to see to the welfare and security of the people within. The Cormorants within each city are led by a commander. The Cormorants, like the high class royals and nobles of the city, are permitted to walk the streets without a mask.
Each Cormorant wears a uniform of blue and silver, and carries a gladius, spear, and shield. They are trained to fight more independently than a legionary soldier, as most of their conflicts occur in the city streets, supported by only a few other soldiers, rather than fighting as an army in a battlefield. They are not regarded as well as a true legionary, and often seen as thugs rather than true defenders of the empire.
While Prince Tenoryn and his First Legislator are supported by the wealthy of Tyrant, they have hurt many in their rise for power and control. Many people who were once wealthy and secure have been cast aside, their names ruined, their memory disgraced. In the dregs of the city, in the poor districts of the Fellshank, Celda Shallows, and the Scales, rumours of dissent, upheaval, and rebellion run thick. While only the smallest demonstrations have been seen in the dark corners of these districts, word is spreading: the Hounds of Tyrant are coming.