Sunday, April 5, 2015

City of Curses: Old Crux, In Depth

Aspect: Every Brick Has a Ghost
Connected To: The Skullmount (to the Northwest), Havershill (North, across the Sleeping Straits), The Wolf Quarter (to the East), the Grand Bazaar (to the South), Poorfellows (to the Northeast), The Blood Quarter (Below It), Port of Crux (to the Southwest),
Most Significant Icon: The Prince
Well Known For? Civic center and City Government
Notable Sites and Locales: Prince's Square, The Old Wall, Harun's Gate, The Bloody Cliff, City Hall, Ghost Street

The "new" wall divides Old Crux from the rest of the city.  Harun's Gate bears ancient bas reliefs of warriors and champions from over two thousand years ago.  Each is a remarkable piece honoring Tomasi Legions from another age.  But this is the new wall of Old Crux.  

When you walk the streets, stairs or alleys of Old Crux, each brick is older than the rest of the city.  This is the part of the city known for its curses and legends.  There are statues at corners that ancient petrified corpses.  A few buildings are built atop the ancient ruins of temples of long forgotten gods.  Go down the wrong alley, and you find yourself lost under the streets.  

But this is also one of the most vibrant and busy sites in the city of Curses.  Here you can find Heralds of the Prince, announcing and handing out the latest decrees or decisions.  Carriages are constantly driving through here to Poorfellows or Havershill or the Grand Bazaar.  Here are entire homes and streets filled with ghosts, some ancient, some new.  Ghostwalkers keep them satisfied, but as they say, in Old Crux, each brick has a ghost.

The hard marble stones clack with each footfall of folk as they travel past.  This is the heart of the city, where the money changes hands.  The wealthy and the poor both struggle with government folk for this or that bit of bureaucratic facilitation.  Here is Crux's vibrant beating heart.  Here you can be lost, because this is where the crossroads meet.  

History

Old Crux is as old as the University, both areas having been settled at similar times.  The Old Wall existed during the Ursyklon invasions.  Much smaller than Old Crux today, the area around the Old Wall seems to have been built around access to the University.

The Tomasi Empire were responsible for the first major expansions, including building the bridge from Old Crux to Poorfellows as well as the bridge that spans the Sleeping Straits.  The Tomasi built the new Wall, including the wards and complicated decorations honoring their conquests around the Maru Sea.  Here they built the Grand Forum, where the senators of the entire Tomasi Empire would meet and decide the course of its direction.

Crux was adopted as the capital of their Empire, but only after the Tomasi Empress knelt before the Prince.  Although we lack precise sources on the story, we do have witnesses that can be found in Old Crux: its Ghosts.  The oldest and largest neighborhood of Ghosts can be found in Old Crux.  An entire street has long since been dedicated to them, and the Ghostwalkers patrol and do their best to keep them contained.  Here one can find the long dead summoner-legionnaires of a different Crux, and they intimate details about how the Tomasi ruled the city of Curses.

The Ghostwalkers were founded in Old Crux, at the behest of the Prince after the Tomasi Empire fell.  Ghosts were out of control, and the new order acted to help them.  Their tower in Old Crux bears testament to their work.  The Inculti Vampire Danric Whisper still is their captain; he often recalls the years where the Ghosts would riot and ghostfire would destroy a part of the city.  The Ghostwalkers aren't the only organization based in Old Crux; the Nighthunters also are based there.  The Nighthunters patrol Crux to protect it from the depredations of lycanthropes and receive their charter from an agreement between the Prince and the Church of the Twins.

The fall of the Tomasi Empire left the new wall.  While chaos reigned throughout Ith, Crux grew.  Old Crux expanded past the new wall, surrounding Harun's Gate.  The spaces between Palace Hill and Old Crux were filled in over the years.  The Wizard Zyan of the Gates established a new definition of the neighborhoods, crafting the first map delineating the edges of various neighborhoods, including Old Crux.  That fixed the borders of Old Crux for the first time.  Zyan would also help to contruct City Hall, his work helping create infrastructure and keeping Crux from following other city-states into chaos prior to the Othebean Crusades.

Zyan would live on as a Lich, and his tower still stands in the Grand Bazaar.  He would help coordinate the creation of the Wolf Quarter when the Prince gave that part of the city to the Ursyklon.  Unfortunately, he could not stop the riots that resulted from the chaos.  But Zyan is remembered for slaying the rebel tiefling Kathela.

After the Revolution Wars, Crux and its tense relationship with Ith's federal government manifested in Old Crux.  Ith continued to try and reform the civic institutions of Crux, all of which had long been corrupted by the Prince's influences.  Arrests and executions had no effect it seemed; the Prince still remained the power behind everything.

Attempts to correct Crux from within were abandoned.  Instead, Ith's Senate created the Metropolitan Police- an external police force to operate from within Crux.  Adoption of the Metro was met with open protests in Old Crux.  The City Watch, Ghostwalkers and others all stiffened at the idea of outsiders calling them corrupt or trying to do their jobs for them.

Old Crux remains the center of the city's bureaucracy.  The ancient husk that serves as city hall has been steadily sinking the last ten years.  Others constantly bombard it with protests, often trying to sway the Prince or others into accepting their reforms or changes.  The Prince continues to enforce his old laws, often ignoring Ithic precedents, including the exclusion of unsorcerous from the list of rights Ith only grants to those with Sorcery.

Notable Locales

Prince's Square: Behind the Old Wall is the marble and slate stones of the Prince's Square.  At its center is a meager statue of the Archmage Ith, on his knees in supplication.  The buildings here look aged, their stones cracked, stained or weathered from centuries.  They aren't as high as the towers in havershill, nor is it as mystical as the University and the Skullmount.  But it feels deserved.  Regal even.

From Prince's Square, one can easily reach the gate tower that connects to the Skullmount, the bridge that extends from the bloody cliff to Havershill, and the stairs that lead down past the Old Wall.  It is a busy locale, often filled with traffic from all over Crux.  Here is the center of the crossroads Crux is known for.

Harun's Gate: Named for the Tomasi Summoner-General Harun Maxmimus Zarak, Harun's Gate is the main divide between the Grand Bazaar and Old Crux.  The gate is a massive work of art.  It is covered in Harun's victories, his legendary duels with Aetherblooded, and ends with a massive image of his famous charge that led to the conquest of Athrid.  It is one of the great Tomasi works of architecture.  In the last century, it has only been closed once- the portcullis and other mechanisms have long since rusted solid, leaving it forever open.

The Bloody Cliff: Named for the blood red rock of the southern side of the Sleeping Straits, the Bloody Cliff also has long been a natural defense for Crux.  It helped to keep both the Ursyklon and the Othebeans from being able to take Old Crux by force.  Should the bridges be blown, the gates shut, then Old Crux becomes a fortress.  The Bloody Cliff also is riddled with coves and caverns.  These connect with the Skullmount's catacombs and the Blood Quarter.

Ghost Street: This tiny street contains the highest population of ghosts in all of Crux.  It serves as the main home of the city's Ghostwalkers, who've long maintained the street at the Prince's behest.  Ghosts of a dozen different eras and backgrounds can be found along the street, making it a place for those eager to seek them out or avoided entirely by the living who fear what curses the long dead might bring.  Most of the Ghosts here are sane or close enough that they aren't dangerous to the living.

Ghostwalkers fear the rare wandering ghosts, who leave haunts and dark spirits in their wakes.  Tied to moving objects, these are a constant threat to the stability of Ghost Street.  Haunted bricks, cursed blades and other things wander throughout Crux.  They seem drawn to Ghost Street, something the ghostwalkers are all too aware of.

The Old Wall: The granite bricks of the Old Wall have no seams; the entire structure looks as if it were one solid stone created through sorcery.  It is one of the most ancient landmarks in the entire city.  Since the creation of the new wall, however, it has become more of a administrative building for the Prince.  Unlike City Hall, the Old Wall isn't filled with city bureacrats.  Here are found the Prince's people, the criminals, outlaws and heralds that enforce his will in Old Crux.  Principal among them is The Akashic, an Ursyklon trained in a obscure class that grants him an almost-prescient source of knowledge.  Here is where one will be invited to "meet with the Prince" and only find a proxy or herald awaiting them.

Location Stunt

Ghostly Contacts: When on Ghost Street, a character can use Knowledge instead of Contacts to find a Ghost instead of a living person.