Requiem of the West
CAPITAL OF THE OLD EMPIRE: CAIRA
Caira is a Ruin. It is an ancient city built atop more ancient ruins, whose history stretches back to the very founding of the empire. Here was where the old imperial ships made landfall and here is the site of the barbarian city which they demolished to gain a foothold on the continent. Even now, centuries later, the remains of some barbarian structures can be found incorporated into the stonework of other buildings. The city is immense and half abandoned; but despite that, it is still a thriving metropolis by any standard.
Approximately 546,000 as of the recently completed Western Imperial Census.
Samurai: 8,487 – Spread across 1,213 named noble families
Law Enforcement: 3,644 – Divided into 80 competing organizations with no central authority
Monks: 4,703 – 897 of which are trained and organized military sects
Empress Caira is the final adjudicator of law within the city, but despite this typically avoids direct intervention in vassal clan’s affairs. Instead, she dictates a general set of laws that all vassals and retainer’s must obey, including a strictly codified caste system. As part of this, each clan on the Sunset Council is given governance over a section of Caira City, as well as their provincial holdings. Within the bounds of their territories, each council family is responsible for creating and enforcing laws, as well as collecting annual taxes for the Imperial Treasury. Though it is possible for two council families to enact completely different sets of laws within their territories, it is considered immensely rude – to date all laws have been decided upon unanimously, though enforcement varies.
Each Council family also has the right to employ a police force, drawn from the ranks of their retainer families, and empowered with the right to apprehend and investigate criminal activity. Due to the expense of maintaining these organizations actively, they tend to be honorary positions that are plagued with corruption and bureaucratic incompetence.
The primary exception to this are the Caira Family Metsuke, a force formed entirely from disinherited skilled samurai They serve as the Empress’ personal bodyguards, as well as an efficient and brutal secret police force, tasked with sniffing out treason, spies, and revolutionary groups. They are feared among the noble houses for their legally enforced right to execute without trial anyone, even council members, upon discovery. Typically the Metsuke do not involve themselves in investigating or punishing normal crimes, as that is considered the purview of the other Council Families.
Situated at the heart of the city are three hills, atop each of which is the gigantic fortress of a major noble house. Currently; one has been claimed by the Koku clan, the second is occupied as the imposing bastion of the militaristic Kazuyoshi clan; and the third, largest hill, is the place of the immense and glorious palace of the Caira family.
At the foot of these hills is a sprawling expanse of noble manors and fortifications. Abandoned fortifications have become the barracks of numerous mercenary companies that occupy the city. Despite the decay that comes from decades of abandonment, this heart of the city is still immensely opulent compared to the rest of the city; a thin layer of brittle wealth that disguises the chaos beneath. Combat and infighting are pervasive, a microcosm of the nation as a whole. Skirmishes cause the dead to litter the streets, only to vanish by dawn, cleaned by the ever-busy and ever-present servant class.
Named for the way in which it surrounds the heart of the city with a band of commerce, this district is a thin buffer zone of the middle class, merchants and artisans who provide the nobles with their way of life. This area is peaceful compared to any other part of the city, free from the status fueled violence of the nobles and the criminality of the peasants. If there is any part of the city which is policed, it is here, as wealthy merchants pay a premium for the protection of their trade. Indeed, seeing the need for a universal protection, the merchants have formed a pact of sorts; with each contributing a small portion of wealth towards the maintenance of a neutral policing body. Still, peace is a distant dream, as intrigue abounds. Competition is cutthroat, and a the mercenary police force is both weak and corrupt.
Rogue’s Respite is one of the oldest parts of the city, in ages past it was the center of the city and ruins from that time are common, incorporated into newer structures or taken apart stone-by-stone for building materials. Crime is a way of life for the inhabitants of “The Smear” as many nobles think of this district; everything from theft to murder occurs on a daily basis and the area is so dangerous that even the watch refuses to enter except under extremely special circumstances.
Named for the way with which the poor support the wealthier classes, this is by far the largest part of the city. It makes up over nine-tenths of the city by area and is an endless sprawling sea of dilapidated buildings; slowly falling into the ground, only to be replaced overnight by some new rapidly-aging construct. While buildings nearer to the heart of the city are larger and in better repair, this declines rapidly, until the very edges of the great capital are little more than shanty slums. People here live in constant fear of starvation, plague, bandits, piracy, and a myriad of other ills.
Ancient, vast, and crumbling, the Necropolis is like a city unto itself. Merging with Caira’s eastern edges, this landscapes of tombstones, mausoleums, and ziggurats has existed since before the first imperial settlers arrived on these shores. The necropolis is the dusty heart of the empire, an eternal record of the families and traditions buried within. Yet despite its sepulchral atmosphere, the Necropolis is home to an extensive population of the living. Priests, travelers, pilgrims, and untouchables all reside here alongside the dead. At night, travellers are advised to vanish. While the superstitious talk of restless dead and wandering spirits, more pragmatic individuals know that thieves are more than dangerous enough on their own.