A Bridge To The Quiet Planet: The Twelve Great Cities

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Let’s get to know more about the setting of my upcoming novel, A Bridge To The Quiet Planet.

The Twelve Great Cities

The Twelve Great Cities are the major regional, political, cultural, and economic powerhouses of Telvaren. They are the result of the decline and death of the Nations during the War, where major regional powers banded together to stop the War, band people together, and try to recover from the conflict that killed 3/4 of the planet’s population. The fall of the South is regarded by many as “the final straw” that caused the formation of the Alliance of Cities.

Each City controls a large region known as a Province. Outside of the Province are the Unaffiliated Territories, which include everything from small Nations to wastelands to toxic remnants of the War. Thus each City (though they’d never admit it) is essentially a small nation.

Each City controls it’s Province with a Guard, made up of citizens, many of which are actually reservists who serve occasionally or in emergencies. The Guard acts as a military within the Province and is equipped as such, though most Cities have a limited amount of Air power and, except for Vasikon Zek and Olanau-Kao, very little sea power.

The Cities are bound by the laws of the Government and in theory will assist The Military when called upon.

Occasionally the Cities refer to themselves as part of the Alliance, but that term has fallen out of usage. Now there’s just the Cities, The Government, and The Military.

There is some debate as to what adding other Great Cities would constitute. The other colonized worlds, Gellitar and Lindhaem, each “count” as one City for purposes of representation, but there is some discontent over this. Lindhaem, which bosts two large cities similar to Great Cities, is especially annoyed by this.

The Twelve Great Cities Are:

Allanax – The capital of the Great Cities where Parliament meets (in a nearby smaller city), and former capital of one of the Nations of the West. Allanax is noted for its history, libraries, and it’s legal scholarship. It’s a city steeped in politics for centuries and perhaps aeons, but also has a strong hand in publishing and news (and muckraking news at that). The city is very vertically oriented, with great skyscrapers with above-ground traps, and the famous Spiderguard, exoskeleton-using Constables that walk up buildings. It is also considered an extremely clean city and it takes its health and garbage collection very seriously.

Brightguard – Brightguard is home of the premier schools of magic, collectively known as the Universities of Brightguard, of which the High University is the most known school of magic. Brightguard is infamous for high rent prices, which is sometimes accurately blamed on the fact there’s an enormous wasteland to the east from the last battle against the Demons. Home to many bookstores, magic shops, and similar establishment, some of which even engage in legal commerce. Brightguard has suffered gentrification in the last few decades as a desirable place for high-level technical, magical, and scientific commerce.

Grand Ivar – A diverse city that was an early member of the Alliance, Grand Ivar is known for its many cuisines, subcultures, and impressive architecture. Often feeling in the shadow of its nearby Cities Allanax and Brightguard, and having no one thing that makes it distinct, there’s a peculiar insecurity to the city’s culture – it wasn’t to stand out for One Big Thing. Grand Ivarans often pick odd rivalries with other cities. Despite the insecurity, the city is well-respected for its architectural schools, Polestar University, emphasis on frugality, and its liveability and reasonable rent and home prices. Grand Ivar is actively expanding its Province as of 253 AR.

Highpoint – The remnant of the old Confederacy of the East, Highpoint basically cheated its way into the Alliance (and rebuked its own government) by renaming a cluster of several cities as a single Great City. This cheeky action led to some bad feelings among traditionalists that persists, but many respect both their gumption, their decision, and their aid in ending the War. Highpoint arguably has the largest Province, as it “city” is still widely distributed. Highpoint is known for its mineral wealth and its cooperation with the Alliance – almost to the point where they’re obviously seeking more influence. There is occasional rivalry between Highpoint and Grand Ivar for no other reason that they’re trying to stand out, but Highpoint’s culture is FAR more relaxed about it.

Kalstaff – An old city that has wielded financial and cultural power for over an aeon, Kalstaff was the last addition to the Alliance, and helped end the War by undermining the militarized government of the North. Kalstaff is home to the only Bank on Telvaren not run by a City and several major financial interests, provides a place for information exchange, and is known as a very cultured and intelligent city. There is occasional mistrust of Kalstaff due to its financial influence and the fact it turned on its own nation (even though the mistrustful ignore that Kalstaff risked all to do so).

Mindarion – Midnarion is the undisputed mistress of manufacturing and fabrication, both in what it produces, but also as a site for innovation and research – and has a growing media industry. Mindarion produces many vehicles, pieces of equipment, enormous aerobarges, and even some of the trains for Zafrel. Mindarion is very valuable to the Government and the Military as it supplies a great deal of military equipment. The city is quite livable and has worked to control any pollution and industrial waste, and is considered amazing to fly over if one’s prone to air travel – the factories and fabs and roadways are almost artistic in their own way.

Nasharex – Nasharex is more of a high-tech and high-magic city that creates personal and smaller technology, computers, information tech, and magictech. Nasharex and Mindarion have a semi-friendly rivalry as they clash over who is best at what – and who provides what. Nasharex’s culture is an unusual mix, having formed from a mix of Refugees from the South, the old Eastern Confederacy, and Central region magic. There’s a vague distrust of Nasharex among some of the older cities due to its experimentation and some of its founders came from a fallen Nation that maniuplated their rival in the South, the King of Green, before his breakdown and devastation of his people.

Olanau-Kau – A coastal city and the only city of the South, Olanau-Kau survived the techno-magical biological weapons unleashed by the King Of Green when he felt he’d be deposed and turned on both allies and enemies. Olanau-Kau has had to evolve, at times unhappily, first being a major techo-magical center, then a high-walled refuge, and now has become a major location for research into agriculture and botanomancy – albeit involuntarily. The inhabits of Olanau-Kau push out into the South every year, reclaiming territory from the plague-twisted and verdant horrors unleashed – this does not always go well. The city’s personality is a strange mixture of grim practicality and enthusiasm. They are a site of a recent expanded space program.

Sabillon – The undisputed media capital of the Alliance, Sabillion is also arguably the last major center of Central culture after the Dragon Kingdoms fell during the War. Allied with Nasharex, Minadrion, and Triad True, Sabillion’s major industries are publishing, television, and art. Fashion tends to take off from Sabillon, though depending on how elaborate it is, it may not go that far.

Triad True – The Theopolis of Triad True (the name is actually a mistranslation but no one admits it) evolved during the War and then exploded as the gods tried to reconcile with each other and with humanity. Though there are strict zoning laws, it has exploded into a mass of churches, seminaries, libraries, museums, and vacation spots for the religiously inclined. Many clerics train at Triad True, and the universities of all Cities visit to go through the voluminous libraries. Triad True tries to be an authoritative cultura center, and sometimes that even works when the hundreds of gods can agree on things.

Vasikon Zek – The only city built upon the Ocean, Vasikon Zek is a pinnacle of techno-magical engineering, having gradually been raised over the centuries out of the sea or by merging small islands with geomancy. A joint experiment of several fallen Nations, the city declared its independence early, though it earned a stingy reputation when it had to stop taking refugees. The City is known for its efficiency and engineering, and there’s a rivalry between its premier arcitectural academy, Pyram’s Academy, with the Grand Ivar academy the Parabolan Academy.

Zafrel – Zafrel is a major central transportation hub, though in origins it owes more to the North than it does to the Central regions. Zafrel is a hub for the trains that cut across the main continent, the old canals still in use, and major Skyports. Zafrel is a place of shipping, storage, some vehicle manufacturing, and commerce – and politics. The inhabitants are considered practical, straightforward, and usually welcoming – hard work and an honest word goes far in Zafrel.

– Steve