The Age of Ash
The city of Rajah is the only stable political entity in the entire region. As a broad rule one might then apply that name to the region at large, denoting the entire area as the ‘city-state’ of Rajah, but that oversimplification of fact fails to appreciate the complexity of politics and the lawlessness of survival outside the walls of Rajah. Well, within the walls too, depending on how you look at it.
Rajah is ‘ruled’ by a tangled web of allegiances between various squabbling petty nobles and the heads of the Guilds (either merchant, criminal, or… both). No single authority can be said to truly oversee the chaos, but every third season the groups meet and elect representatives of their interests to serve on the City Council. The city council supposedly has the final say in all civic, political, and economic matters pertaining to Rajah, but is a conflicted group to say the least. Intrigue and ruthless backstabbing are common methods of advancement in Rajah’s politics. As would be expected from the pragmatic attitudes of the Age of Ash, nobility is less of an inherited title and more one earns… If enough people can be convinced that you’re important enough to warrant the title of “Lord” or “Lady,” then you’re already as noble as you need to be.
Rajah has at least two major ‘zones’ to speak of. The merchant quarter is situated at the center of the city. Here is where the towers and mansions of the “nobles” dwell, many of them being no more than particularly wealthy merchants in the first place. Likewise, many of the most skilled artisans and builders make their home here, even if their place of business may be closer to the Tenements. In this section of the city, some of the old Temples are still maintained and services may even be currently held. Most religious worship in the merchant quarter centers around fairly exclusive, esoteric sects such as the Temple of Dissolution. The University of Rajah is located on the edge of the Merchant district.
Spreading out in layered rings around the central lake and the merchant quarter are the Tenements and the Slums, a fine point of distinction that is sometimes difficult to judge. Laborers and beggars mingle in the streets with street vendors and the city watch in this area. Temples here tend to either be abandoned, repurposed, or devoted to suspicious forms of worship. Probably the single largest exception is the imposing structure of the Temple of Bane, a mighty edifice that towers over the slums around it. Services are held regularly, and a cross-section of Rajah’s entire social structure can be seen paying their respects at the temple at all hours of the day.
Near the Temple is the Colosseum, an open-air arena that sees heavy use for all manner of events. Most popular are the gladiatorial matches, tournaments, and free-for-alls that take place (a mix of slave, criminal, and professional gladiators participate in the various events), but occasionally fairs and trade exhibitions will be held.
History of Rajah
The city of Rajah is built on the circular inner slope of an ancient meteor impact. The meteor’s fall uncovered some sort of water source in it’s collision, and the very bottom of the site has a perpetually renewed lake of muddy water.
From this source, the stability of Rajah as an economic center was assured, moreso when the first merchant families set up shop there and fortified the high edges of the crater with sandstone walls. No one is exactly sure how long ago that was, but the city has since expanded such that a twisting spiral of buildings occupy all of the space on the interior slope of the several-mile wide crater. The structure of Rajah can be loosely described as a series of ‘rings’ describing how far from the center a block of buildings is located.
There is no single central structure or keep to Rajah. A cluster of noble towers attempt to outdo each other in terms of size and grandeur near the center, and a few are even built on the lake, but as is fitting for the political climate within no clear center can be said to exist to the city’s development.