As the World Burns
Tyr hunkers within high walls in the middle of the fertile Tyr Valley, which lies in the foothills of the Ringing Mountains. From miles away, a traveler can make out the massive spires of the Golden Tower rising over the city-states walls. Not far from the tower, a brick step-pyramid soars above the walls: the Ziggurat of Kalak, multicolored and resplendent under the desert sun. The city walls are parched sandstone, smoothed by time and centuries of continual repair. Beyond Tyr loom the ramparts of the Ringing Mountains, whose topmost peaks glint with a dusting of snow during the months of Sun Descending.
Most traffic enters the city-state through the eastern Caravan Gate. This structure consists of two marble valves, each 20 feet high and nearly as wide, which are banded and hinged in precious iron. Inside, the thoroughfare known as Caravan Way leads through the Caravan District toward the heart of the city, where the Merchant District is nestled at the base of the towering Ziggurat of Kalak. The spacious stone residences that make up the twin wards of the Noble District lie north and south of the Caravan District, easily differentiated from the press of adobe buildings in the surrounding neighborhoods.
Commoners live cheek by jowl in the Warrens, a medley of unplanned structures that sprawls away north of the Ziggurat. Criminal gangs roam the Warrens, preying on the weak. The Artisan District lies on the ziggurat’s north side, and serves as a home to the city-state’s craftsmen. This district also now doubles as a training area for gladiators who choose to fight in the Stadium of Tyr during the frequent games held there.
The stadium separates the Ziggurat of Kalak from the Golden Tower, from which the sound of spectators screaming for their favorites is heard on nearly every day of the month. In between games, the stadium serves as an overflow market of disorganized stalls, tents, and blankets where misfit traders offer a multitude of goods and services.
Tyr has always been two cities in one: the greater city, which is composed of commoners, slaves, and nobles, and the smaller Golden City, which is dominated by the Golden Tower and is the home of the resplendent King’s Gardens. Many civic structures surround the tower, along with giant warehouses that hold precious reserves of grain, iron ingots, water, and weaponry. In addition, the Golden City houses upper-class functionaries and templars.
The Golden Tower, Tyr’s most majestic piece of architecture, is constructed of rare golden granite and contains dozens of chambers linked by winding passages. A separate observation spire stands nearby, a smaller version of the main tower; a soaring bridge connects the two structures. According to rumor, defiling magic binds ancient elementals to the Golden Tower, creatures that remain vigilant against potential attackers.
Finally, beneath the city lies Under-Tyr, catacombs that represent the leavings of more than two thousand years of urban construction on the same site. Buried streets, cracked courtyards, and crumbling ruins abound in the darkness beneath Tyr. Secret cellars in surface buildings offer access into this dangerous realm of subterranean passages and forgotten neighborhoods.
Tyr’s wealth and power is based in the city-state’s control of the only known iron mine in the region. The site is heavily guarded, and consists of tunnels snaking into the Ringing Mountains following veins of red ore, smelting forges, guard barracks and slave quarters. A life in the mines is typically short, between cave-ins, arsenic poisoning and hejkin attacks.