The Old City

Characters in the Old City

The Old City stands at the center of Afsaana. Named for the original settlement that once served as a haven for buccaneers, exiles, and fugitives, it features some of the oldest structures in the city. Unlike the other districts, the Old City’s boundaries are clearly demarcated: huge walls standing over a hundred feet tall surround it. Instead of divorcing the Old City from the rest of Afsaana, though, the walls unite it, reminding people of the city’s strength and the fact that no one has ever conquered the city. And so long as the walls stand, no one ever will.

The walls make the Old City easy to identify and find since they tower some one hundred feet above the rest of the city and half that far below it. Patrols walk the catwalk clinging to the walls’ interior and can be seen as they stroll past the crenellations and arrow slits that face the rest of the city.

Spaced evenly around the district are five towers, each stretching twenty feet above the walls. The Sea Lord’s Guard uses these towers as additional barracks and living quarters. Even though many soldiers call these towers home, they are spartanly decorated. Each tower consists of several floors for barracks, storerooms, kitchens, temporary prisons, jakes, and more. Piercing the center of these floors is a twenty-foot-square hole that allows the soldiers to carry supplies to the uppermost levels using a winch and wooden platform. As well, these lifts allow the guards to bring the cannon to the towers’ uppermost levels.

Despite the defenses, travelers can come and go as they please. Five gates, each named for the district they face (Temple Gate, Drac’s Gate, and so on), allow access to the warren of streets and buildings of the Old City. The guardsmen are drilled on the gate closures monthly and can have the entire Old City sealed up inside three minutes by slamming down a heavy iron portcullis and barring access with an ironbound, foot-thick wooden gate.

Past the gates are the cramped quarters of the Old City. The interior is oppressive, worsened by the towering walls that block out most of the morning and afternoon sun. While a boon in the summer, it’s positively frigid in the winter. The walls also give the whole area a claustrophobic feel. It’s all too easy to see the looming walls and heavy gates of the
Old City as a prison rather than a fortress. For these reasons, most of Afsaana’s upper crust live outside of this district, preferring the more spacious environment of the Merchant District.

Most roads are narrow and twisting, the result of little forethought and the premium put on real estate here. As such, some streets are little more than tunnels burrowing through a jumble of buildings that lean against one another. Though tight, peddlers, tinkers, and minor merchants ply their wares to officials hurrying to one important meeting or another. The residential areas of the Old City mostly lie around its perimeter. Housing types vary greatly, from a few freestanding single-family dwellings to row houses and three-story apartment buildings. Many of the prosperous (but not wealthy) merchants and tradesmen make their homes here—only a handful of the wealthy are willing to abandon the sunny streets of the Merchant District to be closer to the seat of power.

Many of the tradesmen and artisans in places like Street of Dreams live above or in their places of business. Still, a fair population makes its home here. The place is bustling from
sunup to sundown. It’s the seat of government, a refuge in times of trouble, and an imposing symbol of the power of the Sea Lord. The Old City is in every way the heart of the city, and its beating keeps Afsaana alive.

The Old City

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