City Tour: The Noble Quarter


  1. Free House of Knowledge
  2. Museum of Oddities
  3. Twin Towers Theatre
You can see the difference gold makes straight away. The streets are maintained, every pathway swept clean, and the buildings almost dazzle with their white-washed walls and coloured shutters. It's always bright here, even at night. See those poles, with the hanging glass bulbs? Lanterns, lit by the Watch every dusk, with enough oil to last until dawn. Locals call this 'Sunny Side', because it's like the sun is always shining.

Only the rich live here. The rest of us pass through to visit the library, museums, or one of the galleries or theatres. There're some top-class restaurants, but unless you're a noble, you can forget about getting a seat, let alone eating there. You'll also note that there are no common taverns or inns to be found. Instead there are exclusive clubs, wine-bars, and coffee-houses, all rather expensive.

You might be wondering what reason these rich people have for living here. After all, the capital is a much larger, affluent and attractive city. There're all sorts of reasons, but it really boils down to this simple fact: they live here because they can. The clergy owns the land, see, and they charge a lot to buy a plot, so that they can keep their temples pretty and the priests can live comfortable lives. It's exclusive, restricted, expensive; in other words, only those that can afford it can live here. Some are actually true-blooded nobles; not only from this kingdom, but outside realms too. Others have merely bought themselves a title; you can buy anything with enough gold. We have Lords and Ladies, Dukes, even a couple of lesser Princes, who have their 'summer houses' here. The heads of the merchant Houses have homes here, as do certain of the more powerful and wealthy councillors, the important clergy, and a few Guild Masters that can afford it.

There are a few who've managed to buy land, or a house, but aren't noble gentlemen; they're the cause of much resentment from from the truer nobles: these are the rich adventurers who have retired to the quarter; a couple of magi that no one wants to try to evict; and those who run the library, museums, and theatres; although in those cases, they tend to live on the premises. Especially the librarians, whose library is just coming into view now.

This magnificent building is actually a semi-converted monastery, and the librarians are the monks who live and pray there; although it is not a church itself. They worship IDRIS, Goddess of Words, Thoughts, and Knowledge. It's the same religion we have to thank for the so-called Common Tongue that we all use, for trade and cross-realm and race communication. It was a language developed and spread by their missionaries and monks on their pilgrimages, hunting and searching for books and tomes of ancient lore.

We call it THE MONKS' LIBRARY, but its full and official title is the FREE HOUSE OF KNOWLEDGE. Anyone can enter, read any book, even copy passages, pages or entire manuscripts, but the original books can never leave the library. Actually, that's one thing that gold can't buy, these books; and believe me, people have tried. The monks guard these books constantly, and would happily kill anyone trying to steal one.

It's the place to come if you need answers, or to do research. There are thousands of books, scrolls, stone tablets, you name it. They have been collected from all over the world, even from across the sea and below the very ground we stand on; from all the known races, and cover a staggering range of topics. Most have been translated into Common, and for a small fee the monks will even assist you in your searching; give them a larger donation and they'll do the work for you.

It's a beautiful building, but if you look to the North and West, you'll see even grander houses. They're the really wealthy ones, with stained-glass windows, coloured-tiled roofs, peaked of course, and even their own gardens. They're taller than the city walls, most on level with the towers of GREEN HILL, some even taller. Most of the buildings here have several floors; the richer the owner, the more stories their homes have.

On the corner here, where GOLD STREET meets THE PROCESSIONAL, is another attraction, one that the nobles often wish was elsewhere. This is the, rightly famous, MUSEUM OF ODDITIES; another beautiful building, I'm sure you'll agree. It's owned by an eccentric mage and collector, NOD, or 'Odd Nod' as the nobles call him. It's not as elegant or as ordered on the inside, more of a sprawl of rooms, corridors and galleries. There's a lot crammed inside, not only oddities, but genuine art: paintings, sculptures, things like that. I'm not one for art, it's the other museum pieces that interest me. There's a whole wing devoted to monsters, from all over the world; stuffed chimera, dragon heads mounted on walls, various body parts pickled in jars; illuminated manuscripts documenting monsters living and dead, all donated or sold to the museum, usually by adventurers. There's a room with faeries in iron cages, an authentic 'imp' trapped in a magic circle, animated dead, and even a small library. You have to pay to get in, but it's well worth the few gold pieces you have to part with.

This collection of buildings ahead, by far the most colourful, is what we unofficially call THEATRE LAND. There are half-a-dozen theatres of note, but the largest and most popular, and not without good reason, is that impressive building at the end of this avenue. That's the TWIN TOWERS THEATRE, and yes, the domes capping the two towers are indeed made of golden tiles. The stone is all marble, the windows are coloured crystal, and the doors are painted with gold leaf. The inside is just as extravagant. Normally only the nobles can afford seats, and there's a strict dress code; but if you can manage it, you'll never forget the experience. The plays they put on are like nothing you'll have ever seen. Not even the capitals of the kingdoms have something as good as this.

Now, if you come with me, we'll follow THE PROCESSIONAL, and make our way to the GREEN HILL.

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