Take a Fernwall city resident from around five hundred years ago (Just about the time the “Current Era” common calendar was being adopted), plop them down in the modern city of Fernwall, and they would have no idea where in the world they were. Not because the major streets are now paved and jammed with horse drawn taxis that didn't exist then; not because “downtown” is home to the largest stock and commodities exchanges on the planet, and the financial system that “won the war”; not because the streets are now lit with street lamps powered by small, magical light orbs. No, it's none of those, as odd as a five hundred year old resident would find them. No, what would completely disorient our ancient resident is that, what is now considered Fernwall was, several centuries ago, actually three “cities”: Angels and Fernwall were separated by forty kilometers, a river, and an elven island “city” in what is now the heart of the financial district. Traveling from Fernwall to Angels by land involved crossing the Caspian by Ferry, east of the forks in the river. Or, one could travel up the bay by boat. However one made the journey, it was an arduous journey that typically took two days. Today, one can travel from The Greens, in Angels, to the old ruins of Castle Fernwall, in the poor quarter (“Thieves”), in the comfort of a carriage, over paved roads, in about four hours—traffic willing, and it's usually not. Then, there were barely 20,000 people living along the shores of Fernwall Bay; today the combined population of the metro area tops 800,000, making Fernwall the second largest city on the planet. (Shanakara, “the city of canals”, is the largest.)
|Angels||North of Merchants (see below) the land turns hilly and continues to rise from the Caspian Valley floor. Historically, the City of Angels was nestled in these hills. Today, “Angels” is but one quarter of the great city. The boundary is now more a division of social status and income, than it is of geography. Locals refer to the regions north of Three Quarters (see below) as “lower angels”, and therefore a part of Angels because this is where the largest of the townhouses are located. Further north, townhouses give way to small villas, about a quarter of a city block in size. The further north one goes, the larger the villas become, until one arrives in the rarefied air of…|
|Angel Heights||The most rarefied air of all! In Angel Heights the hills become rolling, and sprawl across the countryside as they spread north, into the Duchy of Montejoy, just north of the Caspian Valley. Here is where the Old Kingdom's peers maintain their great “town” estates, some of which top a thousand acres in size. The Winslow Palace, the house of parliament, and the house of lords, all sit on the royal estate. The venerable edifice of The International Guild of Heralds sits just outside the estates, nestled in among the park like estates of the greatest houses in the land.|
|Three Quarters||Not exactly a quarter per say, Three Quarters is the great square—well, triangle—where the three great quarters of the city meet: Docktown, Angels, and Merchants. The square is unique and beloved for its light, fun atmosphere, and its unique shops. Street musicians, mime troops, and cart merchants can be found in the square late into the night. The shops that line the square offer unique wares that often times can't be found anywhere else. Mechanical toys, doll shops, ice cream shops, and costume shops may all be found, right along with the more normal offerings of tailors, groceries, housewares and what not. Unlike the surrounding quarters, which cater almost exclusively to the wealthy, the merchants of Three Quarters pride themselves on catering to everyone. Here, a middle class worker might stand shoulder to shoulder with the Duke of Trobiere, as they get an ice cream for their granddaughter. A mere block away, that same middle class worker wouldn't even be allowed in the door of the duke's private club; but that's Three Quarters, one of the few places where all the classes can, and do, meet.|
|Merchants||Merchants is the largest quarter of the city and is, itself, commonly subdivided by residents into smaller regions such as “upper merchants”, “central merchants” or “the financial district”, as it is sometimes called, and of course, “lower merchants”. In short, “Merchants” is so named because it is where the shops are. It is where the business of the city, and in many ways, of the entire Old Kingdom, is done.|
|Upper Merchants||North of the main Northern Fork of the Caspian River, Upper Merchants is the home of the businesses that cater to the residents of Angels, the nobility, rich Urilian business owners and executives, bankers, and so on. All live either in Upper Merchants proper, or in Angels, as the size of the wallet dictates. All love their private clubs, fine restaurants, the theater, and so on, and Upper Merchants has it all, from the infamous Greens club, to the more stately and elegant offerings of The Belton House Inn, the finest hotel in Fernwall, to an almost endless list of private “gentlemens clubs” and “ladies clubs”, each of which are open only to members of a particular (high paying) profession or social status.|
|Central Merchants||Also known as “the financial district”, and "Merchant's Island", central merchants is where City Hall is located; The Merc, or mercantile exchange, home to the stock and commodities exchanges; police headquarters, of course; and the main branches of not only the city and City State's banks, but of many international banks as well. In this sense, Central Merchants is very much like New York's “Wall Street”, or London's “The City”, as the British refer to London's financial district. It's where the money is, and where those with money can find the goods and services they're looking for while at work each day.|
|Lower Merchants||South of the river, Merchants begins to look more like a regular city, with pockets of shops surrounded by residential blocks. The townhouses, or row houses, as they are also sometimes called, are smaller here. Further south, there are also apartment flats, such as the one Vincent lives in, on Queen's Street. Lower Merchants is home to Fernwall's huge middle class, and so is the largest section of Merchants. Here, you'll find every type of shop imaginable, all with prices affordable to “the fifty pounders”, as the middle class are affectionately known.1
As you move south, further away from the financial district, the quality of housing, and prices, drop, until you're in at the border of the Poor Quarter, or Thieves (see below), and Lower Merchants. Here is where most of the laboring class live. Most are either married folk who work in domestic service to middle class families further north, or work in the many trades and manual labor jobs that keep the city running; a few own small shops, but their net earnings are no more than their fellow tradesmen. Here, income and expenditures are measured in shillings and pence, not pounds. Families live in cramped apartments and flats, not townhouses and villas. At 30 shillings per week average wages, a full third of their income will go simply to pay the weekly rent, the rest for the other basic necessities.2
|Docktown||From the fences that guard The International Merchant Marine Base west of Angels to the very edges of the Poor Quarter, the water front is known as Docktown. What one can find there is a matter of location, as the inland quarter associated with each particular section of the port color the culture found in that area. In Angels, for instance, you find the secured marina, where the wealthy tie their expensive yachts. The surrounding wharves are where high value foreign goods, marketed to the wealthy, are unloaded, and where the expensive goods loved by the wealthy of other nations, is loaded for the return trip. It's also home to the passenger terminals, and the mail packets.
Along the coast of Central Merchants sits the Clock Tower of Fernwall, which is famous for being the first time piece ever made that keeps nearly perfect time. It also sits on Menelon's prime meridian, a memorial to the beginnings of modern maritime navigation. The Clock Tower is home to a walking park loved by the city's population. It's a popular place to picnic, and to walk with one's sweetheart on a warm summer day. There are lawns, flower gardens, shrubs, and of course, benches and tables, and on fine summer days, no small number of cart merchants selling everything from fresh roasted peanuts from Vin-Llamáz to ice cream sandwiches.
On the north end of Lower Merchants you'll find the ship yards, dry docks, sail makers, iron mongers; virtually every skill required to support the maritime industry. A few blocks inland are shops that sell navigation aids: sextants and chronographs, and the shops that repair them; charts, nautical almanacs, slide rules, and work books, all may be found just a few blocks from the Great Western Bridge, on both sides of Telladi-Pelletier Boulevard. As you move south along the Telladi-Pelletier, you enter the general cargo area. Row after row of warehouses store goods for movement around the Old Kingdom, and out of it. Finally, as you get close to Thieves, fewer and fewer of the warehouses are in use. Old shipyards sit abandoned, and abandoned vessels can be seen, scattered across the water front. Vestiges of The Great War, peace time production doesn't yet need such capacity, so both port facilities and ships have been left to rot.
|The Thieve's Quarter||As in so many cities, today's Poor Quarter, or “Thieve's Quarter”, as the locals call it, or "South End", as the middle and upper classes call it, was once the city center of old Fernwall. Here, someone who earns 30 shillings a week is well off, but then, 10 shillings a week in rent is also considered exorbitant. The Poor Quarter is pretty much a world unto itself. New money enters from the Merchant Quarter, both in the form of wages, and from illicit activity. Thieving, prostitution, and black market dealing, are just part of daily life. Whatever it takes to earn a living, that's pretty much the motto.
The proliferation of these shady activities is what earned the Poor Quarter it's name in the city. As the crime rate went up, so did violence against the police. Increasing police presence simply got more officers killed and injured. Eventually the City Counsel voted to remove the police altogether. The name “Thieve's Quarter” caught on shortly their after.
Oddly, for the locals, life in the Poor Quarter is probably safer than it would be north of the enforcement line. The locals live in what they call “traps”, a term not too far removed from what the poorly educated American and British poor call “hoods”. They are small communities that have banded together for mutual protection and support. Every trap has a boss, usually a middle aged, or elderly woman, who ensures that everything runs smoothly; and by “smoothly” she means that everyone has a place to sleep, food to eat, and work to do. She determines who is considered a member of the trap (or a trusted ally, like Raven), and who is not; and if you're not a member of the trap, you don't belong there. One of the men will escort you out of their territory—if you're lucky and very polite—or they'll beat the hell out of you and dump you somewhere outside their territory. You'll probably be missing most of your personal possessions, too; but if you're on the inside, if you're a member of the trap, you're safe, you're taken care of, so long as you live by the rules: You never betray your trap, you support and protect your trap, and you stay out of traps that are not allied with yours. Do that, and you're safer in Thieve's than you are in Lower Merchants, or many places in the country.
South of the old wall lays the fishing village that provides a good portion of the food to the Poor Quarter, and the rest of the city as well. Here, fishermen as poor as everyone else in this part of town, row their small dories out into the bay early each morning, and set their traps, lines, or nets, or dredge for oysters and clams. Needless to say, oysters on the half shell is not the gourmet food to Cascadians that it is to us modern earthlings. It's food for the poor. Salmon, crab, and other salt water fish from the larger ocean going vessels, however—now that is gourmet indeed! but those vessels are not to be found at the very south end of the bay.
Points of InterestNaturally, in a city the size of Fernwall, there are literally hundreds of cool places, far too many to list here. However, here are a few, all of which are marked on the map, that are worth mentioning.
|The Greens||Considered the most upscale public sex club in the city, if you're not a member of the aristocracy, don't bother trying to gain entrance. Even if you could get by the porter, you wouldn't be able to afford anything inside the place. The alcohol served is the very best, as is the food. Courtesans are available to service every sexual taste imaginable, and only the best musicians are hired to entertain. The music is as modern as the ambiance, and the patrons.
Unfortunately, this description, while common and accurate (as far as it goes), does a disservice to The Greens. Yes, it's “a Urilian club”, which means its moral compass is very different than that of the Paladinesque nobility; and yes, The Greens treats sex as a normal human social activity, not an uncomfortable, moral embarrassment, best left in the bedroom; but that's just scratches the surface. The Greens is also one of the few places in the city where the up and coming can meet and greet and collaborate on new business ventures. It's where young, college graduates can meet business owners in need of their talent. In short, the primary purpose of The Greens is as a social hub for the city's entrepreneurial class. In this since, The Greens stands out, as it co-exists along side of even more exclusive private clubs. Each assists the other: The Greens by providing a nexus point for clubs looking for new members, and those looking for a new social club to join.
|The Main Temple of the Guardian Paladin Church||Home of the Sijainen of Cascadia, the foundations of the Main Temple date back five hundred years, to the creation of the royal palace. Both were built at about the same time. The great, stone edifice houses some of the greatest marble statues outside the Holy Land—though in that claim it must compete with the Great Cathedrals in Püran-Khir and Gloredil, both of whom lay claim to the Holy Lands of Par-Isen.|
|The Belton House Inn||Constructed some fifty years ago, just as the war time economy was winding up, The Belton House was built to look much older and stately than those fifty years would suggrest; and its not just the outer facade, either. The interior was also carefully designed to look aged and majestic. Because those to whom The Belton House was designed to cater, are all steeped in the traditions of their class. They are the old money, and the old money's businesses. Which means they are either businesses whose whose patrons and clients come from the gentry, or they are, themselves, the gentry. From the Empire to Vin-Llamáz, from Dhakkur City to Balkland, The Belton House was designed for them all to feel “at home away from home” while nestled in their obsequious embrace. However, like The Greens, if your income does not put you in the aristocratic classes, don't bother going through the door. Prices are measured in pounds and shillings, not shillings and pence.|
|Bishop-Florian Hall||Built by the Florian family as a concert hall a couple centuries ago, today Bishop-Florian Memorial Hall is the premier theater, concert hall, art gallery, and fine arts college of Cascadia. From its small beginnings as a theater, it has grown into a complex, to house all its functions. Every season (i.e. winter), the great artists, such as the famous bardic dramatist Michail Delamarian, bardic historian Carl Palmer, put on shows, often with the assistance of younger bards such as journeyman bardic dancer, Antony di Mezza. Patrons are encouraged not only to come to the theater, but also to browse the galleries and enjoy the exhibits. The Auguste Santí Exhibit that the Ladys' Auxiliary put on in Raven's Tears is one such exhibit, though security for the Auguste Santí Exhibit was, understandably, tighter than normal.
In addition to the theater and the galleries, Bishop-Florian is also a school. Music, dance, theater, the visual arts, drawing, painting, and sculpture, are all taught to top students, whether they're bardically gifted or not. Bards, who must be taught to use their talent, obviously have their own classes, but other than that, all students at the school are given the same training by masters in their fields—whether bards or not. In fact, most teachers at the school are working artists in their own right. Delamarian not only teaches, but often uses students in his plays, and has been known to spend several years abroad, taking his shows Shanakara, Gloredil, and Püran-Khir, among other places.
|The River Walk||Another eclectic business neighborhood that is a favorite haunt of the young, The River Walk is a board walk that follows both banks of the southern fork of the Caspian River, from the Morrisant Bridge in the east, to the Great Western Bridge in the west. Street musicians love to congregate along the board walk, playing for coins tossed into their hats. The bars and restaurants all have music, most have dancing, and the prices are very reasonable. The River Walk is the one place in the city that can be said to “never sleep”. The bars and restaurants are typically open until the wee hours of the morning, closing just as the first hints of dawn lighten the eastern sky. By lunch time they're open again for another eighteen hour party, fueled by good food and free flowing ale, all priced to be affordable to Fernwall's burgeoning middle class.|
|The Old Palace Hotel||=to be completed=|
- The definition of “middle class” starts at around £250 a year in income. (They would be “lower middle class”, by our definition.) The average middle class household earns roughly £600 a year, or £50 a month, hence the name. Socially, the “upper middle class” tops out at between £800 and £1,000 a year, after which point one's social status is considered “upper class”. The magic figure to be considered “wealthy”, and so a member of the aristocracy, is £10,000 per year. ↵
- It should be noted that domestic servants who work for the wealthy typically live in residence, with their families, if they have them. At a mere 2 shillings a week average (per worker), their wages are considerably lower, but so are their expenses. Room and board, and even child, medical care, and a pension, are provided by the employer; so the 2 shillings wages are really little more than pocket money. Middle class employers can't afford such extravagant outlays for their domestic staff, so domestic service jobs for wealthy families are highly sought after, and the competition is, understandably, fierce! ↵