An Imperfect Circle
Nexus, sometimes called the Riverwhore's Legs, is situated at the confluence where Yellow River and the Grey River become the might Yanaze. Built atop the ruins of the First Age city Hollow, Nexus is a teaming metropolis driven by trade and manufacture. The Council of Entities, a mystically enforced oligarchy, enforces laws that maximize the wealth of the few who sit atop the power structure. Near a million mortals work in desperate conditions to earn the wages to survive. The city is full of opportunity for those who can use their wit to rise above those who are crushed by the greed and power of the oligarchs who run the city.
Nexus is a city of hills and canals, a maddening tangle of streets and markets, crowded shanties and towering First Age spires. The city wall, which runs between the Yellow and Gray Rivers stands only 15 feet and has 11 gates, which act more as custom tolls than as a defensive barrier. All who enter the city must pay the head tax, or face banishment.
Nexus holds over a million inhabitants packed together in too little space. With the swampy environment, Nexus stinks of waste, fish, and ash. Ash and soot blacken the streets and river fog chokes the lower districts of the city, especially Nighthammer. The rivers are prone to flooding the lower districts which show water damage on most buildings. The shantytown slums of Nighthammer and Firewander and prone be being washed away. The streets are winding and too narrow for pack animals. In places, they climb over buildings and across narrow rope-and-wood bridges.
First Age buildings, cream-colored stone towers and linking bridges dot the city, especially the Nexus and Firewander districts. The Council claims ownership over all First Age construction, and collects rents that would bankrupt small kingdoms.
Nexus is a swampy city and the canals provide easier transport for goods than the narrow winding streets. The canals are crowded with boat traffic ranging from heavy barges to single passenger poll-boats. The currents are swift and dangerous to the unskilled. Nexus, Nighthammer, and Firewander are crisscrossed with canals.
- The Grand Canal, 20 yards across, connects the Nexus and Nighthammer docking pools and divides Nexus from Cinnabar and Sentinel Hill.
- The East Canal runs parallel the Grand Canal and defines the division between Cinnabar and Bastion.
- The Night Canal connects the Grand Canal and East Canal by passing through Undercity in a tunnel beneath Cinnabar. The canal is wide enough only for two gondolas or a single small barge.
Pully Car Lines
Several Pully Car lines cross the city – dangling wooden cars that attach to cables. Tavel is slow, but all three lines stop near the Big Market and climb over the ridge of Cinnabar and Sentinel's Hill.
The countryside sourounding Nexus is not idealic. Second rate inns and tea houses compete with the walled estates of the wealthy. Roads kept clear by chain-gangs of slaves, funnel caravans toward the great city. Nearly all the other land is rolling hills terraced for farming.
Ten miles from the city along all roads, black columns mark the line of exile. Any exiled from Nexus must bast beyond this pillars before nightfall the next day.
Rivers and Dams
- The Yellow River Dam stands 600 feet above the river, six arched channels allow the river and ships to pass through
- The Gray River Dam lies in ruins about 30 miles south of Nexus
- The Yanaze River
Districts of Nexus
Nexus is divided into multiple districts, each with their own character. Residents of Nexus judge others based on where they live. The lower districts, Nexus, Firewander, and Nighthammer are looked down upon by those who live in the upper districts of Bastion and Cinnabar. Sentinel's Hill sits somewhere in between, with the residences at the top of the hill being nearly comparable to Cinnabar and the sections along the wall sequestering Firewander are seen as barely better than the other side of the wall.
The heart of commerce
With its bustling markets, the Nexus district is the heart and the epitome of The Riverwhore's Legs. The district is crowded with multi-story building, including many First Age towers that reach 8-12 stories. Its divided into more than 20 island-blocks by numerous canals. The district is occupied by skilled craftsmen, minor merchant and officials, and visitors to the city.
- The Big Market, which looks east over the Grand Canal, provides a venue to sell good in bulk.
- The Little Market is the center of smaller scale trade.
- The Specialty Neighborhoods are a series of small neighborhoods with shops, showrooms, and workshops that cater to bespoke customers.
- Yinhang Square is a center of banking and includes the Guild Headquarters in a twelve story First Age tower complex. Once per week, the square is locked down and the banks exchange bank notes and currencies
- The Council Offices are the center of administration in Nexus. New Civilities are publicly declared before the offices and the Emissary passes judgment on cases.
- The Brood Maket, in the northeast, sells livestock
- The Coffleblock Market sells slaves. While enslavement is illegal in Nexus, entering the city does not confer emancipation. Keeping slaves in the city is taboo, but selling them is not.
- The Night Market sells goods that may not be sold during under daylight according to the Civilities.
- The Nexus Pools are the dock complexes on the Northern edge of the city.
- The Harlotry is the Nexus blue lantern district, where pleasures of the skin trade are available to those with coin.
- The Nexus Arena is one of the largest and most prestigious gladiatorial coliseums in the Scavenger Lands.
Where industry never sleeps
Named for the unceasing hammering that comes from the workshops of the districts, Nighthammer is the westernmost district of the city. The district is a center of ceramics, smelting, and metal work. Nighthammer's workshops produce iron, steel, cast bronze, copper goods, tinware, and porcelain for the Scavenger Lands and beyond. The cramped tenanment neighborhoods of Nighthammer house the laborers of Nexus, and other than the prestigious foreign neighborhoods on the banks of the Yellow River, these neighborhoods are looked down upon by most of the city.
- The Nighthammer Pool provides docks barges carrying the raw materials of industry and for the fishermen of Nexus.
- The Iron Market and Fish Market abut the docks.
- The Arsenal neighborhood is a center for weapon manufacture.
- The ghetto tenements of the Nightside neighborhood frequently flood.
- The University of Nexus, an informal organization of scholars and students with limited funds, meets in Nightside.
- Sijan Town houses the city's embalmers, where the dead are prepared for shipment to Sijan.
- Looksy Town contains the Seventh Legion's embassy and houses an informal Lookshy garrison force. Nexus is considered an "on leave posting" to avoid the prohibition against bring armies into the city.
The city on the hill
Cinnabar is the cultural center of of Nexus and home to the city's middle class. Numerous art galleries, ballrooms, theatres, small stadiums, and parks grace the district. The residents consider themselves above the masses. The southern hill of the district is dominated by the massive Parko Llana. The district is also home to most of the mercenary companies that operate out of Nexus, with their walled barracks complexes concentrated in the northern hill. Small neighborhoods of brothels, taverns, teahouses, armorers, and other business cluster around each compound.
- The Parko Llana is 200-acre park with manicured gardens, small orchards, open restaurants, and small ponds.
- Yuruga's Hall on Livery Square is the center for mercenary contracts. Representatives of the various companies line the square to demonstrate their arms and skill.
- The Nexus Military Collage provides top education to mercenary commanders with the coin to pay for instruction.
- The Plaza of Rebirth contains the most prestigious theaters and ballrooms in the city and is also the largest open .
- The Library of Nexus, one of the few amenities freely open to citizens of Nexus, is located in East Parko. The City Archives, housed in the library, are closed without a special permit from the Assayers.
- The Players’ Menagerie operates as an actors school and guild in West Parko.
Wealth has its privileges
Bestion is the most affluent district, filled with the estates of the wealthy. Clean well maintained streets, beautiful fountains and architecture, private but visible gardens grace the district. Bastion has long maintain old traditions dating back to before the city's founding, and the families of the district take pride in fashions a century or two out of date. The district is a closed community, and "undesirables" are stopped by patrols of Hooded Executioners and Bronze Pioneers. Bastion also hosts embassies from many of the polities of the Hundred Kingdoms.
- The Great Forks Bazaar, named for the nearby Great Forks Gate, is the center for hired labor, from day-labor to skilled specialists.
- The School of Philosophy is the center of learning for the wealthiest students in the city.
Atop the Riverwhore
Sentinel's Hill bears the name of hte hill it rests upon, which is the tallest and steepest of the hills of Nexus. The district houses a cross-section of Nexus residents, with members of the Council living near the top of the hill and some of the poorest of Nexus living by the river or in the shadow of the Sentinel's wall that hems in Firewander. Narrow steets and spartan tenaments, apartment buildings, and townhouses cling to hillside leading down to Firewander.
- The Council Tower, where the Council of Entities meets irregularly, is center of Nexus' government.
- The largest Immaculate Shrine in Nexus sits several switchbacks down the hill from the Tower.
- The Sentinel's Wall, now only moderately guarded, divideds Sentinel's Hill from Firewander
- Several ethnic towns, including Forks-Town, Maruk-Town, and Calin-Town, sit at the base of the hill.
Madness and flames
The center of old Hollow, Firewander is overcast with a storm of flame, smoke, and lightning. The firestorm rests above the old capital building and shrouds a Wyld zone, which disgourges monsters and warps the inhabitance of the district who stray too near too often. Only the poorest a most desperate live in Firewander, and the closer one gets to the center, the more empty the streets become.
- The Old Capital Building of Hollow is now shrouded by the wyld zone that gives the district its name.
- Tellnaught is the only area of commercial activity in Firewander, where adventurous travelers go to eat or stay.
- Brookside and Filth are some of the better know and maintain, though still destitute, neighborhoods of the district.
- The Lawless Front is accessible by taking boats along the river. Some say the area is beyond the Emissaries reach and the laws of the Decree and Civilities are not enforced here.
Beneath the halls of wealth and power
No map ever shows Nexus least known distict. Beneath Sentinel's Hill and Cinnabar, a network of tunnels, caverns, and ruins forms Undercity. Few live in the informal district, and those who do prefer to remain anonymous.
- The Night Canal is lined with cheap brothels, flophouses, blood-sport pits, and gin joints catering to mercenaries.
- The Mushroom Way, under the Parko Llana, is the center of the drug trade, which is not illegal in Nexus, but is still run by dangerous syndicates.
- Switchback Street is a large open tunnel street that channels the wind and prevents the air in Undercity from becoming toxic.