Cité d'Airain

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At the heart of one of the least hospitable realms in all the multiverse, a sphere endlessly consumed in flames beyond the strength of any dim mortal sun, rises an impossible monument of harsh splendor and endless possibilities, a place of cruel tyrants and unspeakable beauties, a trading hub, a war zone, and a trove of wonders beyond dreaming: the mythical City of Brass. The home of the efreet, proud and warlike genies of living fire, this sprawling metropolis defies the flames of reality’s crucible, creating an island that is both paradise and prison for some of the most powerful and incredible beings in the planes. Here they come to revel in decadences beyond mortal imaginings, consort with the greatest of their kind, and barter for the finest riches and magical treasures in all creation. The City of Brass serves as setting for a thousand thousand stories, here is but one… [1]

A City of Legends

The City of Brass is known by many names: the efreet call it Fommok Madinah, the “Devouring City,” while the djinn and marid call it the “Black Pit,” and the fiends of Hell call it Almakhzan, “the Shining City.” By any name, the City of Brass is the home and capital city of the efreet, the rulers of the Elemental Plane of Fire as far as their swords and magic allow. It exists as an enormous, shallow basin constructed entirely of glittering brass and suspended in an endless sea of flame. Souls that have been bartered away or captured by the genies infuse the city’s living brass wall, which protects its inhabitants from the plane’s severe fire and heat—at least enough so that mortals merely swelter uncomfortably instead of burst into flames.

The city is kept habitable for non-natives so that the genies might keep servants and slaves and conduct trade with all the far-flung empires of the planes. This has been successful for them, as visitors come from throughout the multiverse to barter with and seek to outwit the efreet, though few can compete with the fire lords’ shrewd acumen.

Non-efreet are second-class citizens in the City of Brass, with non-fire creatures ranking even lower. Without a special dispensation, planar travelers and other visitors are limited to the Galley Quarter and Grand Bazaar, for though their kind are looked down upon, the riches they bring are highly coveted. Any who are caught beyond these limits without the proper dispensation or the mark of an efreet noble are stripped bare and sold into slavery.

Fortunately, many nobles make a healthy side business of selling notes and marks of passage to interesting, amusing, or properly fawning travelers, usually in return for great sums of wealth or upon the completion of some daring favor.

The languages of commerce in the City of Brass are Ignan and Infernal, and only a minority deigns to use Common.[1]

The City of Brass Size metropolis (conventional); AL LE GP Limit 100,000 gp; Assets 30,000,000,000 gp DEMOGRAPHICS Population 6,000,000 Type mixed (38% efreet, 14% salamanders, 9% azers, 9% fire giants, 8% fire elementals, 6% djinn, 6% fire mephits, 10% other) AUTHORITY FIGURES Grand Sultan Hakim Khalid Suleiman XXIII, LE male efreeti fighter 18, noble 4; Grand Vizier Abdul-Qawi, LE male efreeti wizard 17; Yndri Ysalaa, The White Mage, NE female efreeti sorcerer 16, noble 3 [1]

The Lords of Brass

The Grand Sultan Hakim Khalid Suleiman XXIII, the Lord of Flame and Khan of Magma, and the Grand Vizier Abdul-Qawi co-rule the City of Brass in a balance struck centuries ago. While the ancient laws of the city technically place the vizier in an inferior position to the grand sultan, both are noble efreet, nearly equally matched in political sway and popularity. Yet while the grand sultan is a direct-acting tyrant with blatant control over the city’s genie armies, Vizier Abdul-Qawi is a patient and subtle manipulator, master of a spy network spanning the planes, and a powerful wizard who, some say, possesses great knowledge of genie-binding arcan.a While the grand sultan and the vizier each once sought to control the City of Brass alone, centuries upon centuries of fruitless scheming and backbiting have resulted in the current stalemate, and each has even learned a measure of respect, even reliance, on his ancient enemy. Neither would admit to this tentative partnership, nor would either overtly seek to disrupt the current balance within the city. The rulers and their emissaries engage in a complex political game of petty victories and public slights, a game each eternally views himself as winning. Outsiders who seek to intrude upon the rulers’ devices are frequently crushed, and the combined strength of the City of Brass’s lords dissuades most other noble efreet from attempting to seize power for themselves. Rumors endlessly attest to greater plots by both rulers, planes-sweeping machinations meant to oust their rival for all time. Little evidence of such convoluted schemes ever arises, though, and most seem to merely spawn from popular imaginings, as such tales make for good, even plausible, stories. While the vizier tends to take a cloak and dagger approach to his method of governing, the grand sultan proves a more hands-on ruler. Those who displease him are frequently dismembered in front of an assembled court. The grand sultan claims that “traitors should die publicly to keep others from error.” This results in a largely terrified class of efreet nobles who spend as much time as possible outside the city hunting, wenching, and interfering with mortals rather than inside the city plotting, which is surely what the grand sultan intended.[1]

The City of Brass At A Glance

Sprawling to expanses beyond any mortal city, hundreds upon hundreds of neighborhoods, urban fiefdoms, and the holdings of fiery nobles divide the City of Brass. The greatest of these, however, are the Great Bazaar and the eight quarters. Among these vast districts, the city boasts some of the grandest architecture in the multiverse, with soaring palaces and grandiose citadels assembled from gold, iron, copper, brass, ivory, marble, and polished sandstone. Many of the city’s occupants perch magnificent jewels atop their structures as a testimony to their wealth and might, causing the cityscape to glitter like a vast treasure trove amid the harsh brilliance of the Elemental Plane of Fire. While the City of Brass changes rulers frequently and entire sections of it are consumed in flames, swept away, and rebuilt with every change of dynasty, its districts remain roughly the same no matter who governs.

Beyond its many districts, the City of Brass is divided into two major regions: the Inner Ward and Outer Ward.

The Inner Ward is separated into a series of concentric circles by wide canals filled with swift-flowing lava and molten metals. Each circle is a unique district, including the Great Bazaar, the Temple Quarter, and the Noble Quarter. The Outer Ward is partitioned into five sections by thick, imposing obsidian walls and is comprised of the Burning Quarter, the Mages’ Quarter, the Commoners’ Quarter, the Slaves’ Quarter, and the Galley Quarter.[1]

The Burning Quarter

This section of the city is an enormous pillar of fire, visible even through the smoky atmosphere of the Plane of Fire for many miles in all directions. The fire elementals of the city call this district home, and any beings not comprised of living flames who enter are quickly immolated.

Coruscating walls of various colors, kinds, and opacity contain the terrible firestorm. Although still under the purview of the grand sultan, entering the Burning Quarter without the elementals’ permission is considered a breach of law, as the fire elementals have been promised their autonomy. Rumors and half-remembered histories claim that whenever a slave revolt or coup attempt breaks out in a particular district, the Burning Quarter shifts there, turning all within—guilty or not—into white, powdery ash, incinerating all traces of civilization. The former Burning Quarter then becomes new land on which to build.[1]

The Common Quarter

The Common Quarter is home to the City of Brass’s nonefreet inhabitants. Although dominated by azers and salamanders, any creature of elemental fire or those able to both weather the intense heat of the Plane of Fire and win the efreet’s respect might reside here. Although less grand than the Noble Quarter with its centuries-old palaces and proud spires, the architecture in the Common Quarter is only slightly less opulent, as any who can afford to live there is, by mortal standards, wealthy beyond compare. Non-efreet residents of the city live, consort, and do business here, taking comfort in having their own district to be masters of and share in their communal resentment of the city’s true lords. Among the dozens of grand locales in the quarter is the decadent Falling Waters steam house, the home of a strange azer cult known as the Eye of the Red Worm (see page 73), the dirigible-shackled tower-library of the dreamer Harun, and the silver-crowned lair of the red dragon Solus—known more commonly as the Red Typhoon.[1]

The Galley Quarter

Also known by many residents as simply “The Docks,” the Galley Quarter serves the City of Brass as port and travel hub to the rest of the Elemental Plane of Fire. The various magical vessels, exotic airships, genie-made merchant galleys, and other stranger modes of transport sail in from and out onto the seas of fire, their decks crewed by myriad fiery natives of the plane and exotic visitors from realms beyond. Here they bring all the treasures of the planes, and leave with hulls weighed down with slaves, ore, freshly imagined weapons, cloths of woven gold and gemstones, exotic beasts, the drugs and spices of the shaitans and djinn, and even more wondrous riches. In addition to traders, here the grand sultan harbors a vast and incredible fleet of war galleys with brass-beaked prows and enchanted sails, ready to sail out upon the flames and into realms beyond at their master’s command.

Wary or disreputable merchants, chandlers, shipwrights, thieves, and galley slaves are all among those found in the district’s many streets, and six dozen coffeehouses cater to those who conclude their deals just a few paces from the docks. The few efreet who hunt the odd devilfish of the burning seas also bring their catches ashore here, putting them up for sale alongside strange white dolphins, armored sharks, and iron-finned sea serpents.

The Great Bazaar One of the largest and wealthiest trade districts in all the planes, the Great Bazaar—also called the Suq al-Azzmir Marketplace by efreet—specializes in treasures of rich metal, woven magical goods, exotic spices and incenses from throughout the spheres, and elemental magic, though nearly any item one might imagine could be found here. It is also a thriving slave market and a place where anyone can hire a wizard, mercenary company, or even small armies of elemental servitors. The Great Bazaar is the heart of the City of Brass, the single location that drives the trade, wealth, and splendor of the fabulous city.

The Great Bazaar is also the one place where non-efreet gather in great numbers, from creatures of elemental fire selling wonders of sculpted metal and living brass, to azers and salamanders hawking fiery eagles and enormous black elephants for the hunts of efreet nobles, to visiting devils providing guidance to genies in the art of pact-making and contracts with mortals. These crafty merchants offer everything from minor artifacts to rusty slave shackles, for prices ranging from the souls of legendary heroes to mundane coins and gems. Of it all, barter in magic is the preferred form of payment, though debts of servitude are also quite common. Gold, with its relatively low melting point, is rarely a favored medium of exchange.

Although the variety of goods in the bazaar is largely eclectic, water is a rare commodity, largely forbidden except for slaves to consume and those with special writs of allowance. Also illegal are any materials that might be used in magic or sorcery against genies (especially material components for freezing magics, all of which are forbidden on pain of immolation or petrification). Wizards and sorcerers are almost always kept under the eyes of the vizier’s watchful spies and informants; efreet are understandably concerned about what masters of the arcane might do with summoning and genie-binding magic.

The Lower Quarter Unmarked on any map and not discussed in front of strangers is the Lower Quarter, that warren of lava tubes and tunnels that crosses beneath the city. Many of these areas are private retreats for the noble efreet, where they spit and roast runaway slaves and torture captured sorcerers who have bound efreet to unwilling service. These hellish halls echo with screams and give the entire Lower Quarter a frightful reputation among the slave castes, who might otherwise be prone to use such dark and empty passages for their own ends.[1]

References

  1. 1,0 1,1 1,2 1,3 1,4 1,5 1,6 et 1,7 Legacy Of Fire 5 - The Impossible Eye (PZO9023]