Located within a growing demiplane at a junction between several greater planes of the Inner Sphere, Auralis is a place all its own. The realm itself never changes - it is always late evening in the City of Stars, just shy of night, as the top of the plane looks into the Material Plane and provides a view that few could imagine. Yet the city does have ways of getting things done, and one of the great spells that keep the city running brightens and dims the lights to approximate changes in time. The city has perhaps 35,000 permanent residents, plus several thousand temporary visitors who are merely passing through or conducting business. This is the city where Deus Machina takes place, and there are some things to know...
Culture and Personality
Numerous permanent portals link the City of Stars to other planes of the Inner Sphere, and roads converge at the center of the city to form the Grand Bazaar where all manner of goods and items are traded - slaves, weapons, precious magical items... if it exists, it's probably in the market or obtainable by one of the merchant lords. Trade is valued, theft is not - and a large city guard serves to protect the interests of the merchants who call this city their home.
The city itself is largely neutral, and the leadership places a strong emphasis on keeping it that way - good and evil alike are rebuffed if their complaints would disturb the markets. In the same way, ownership of weaponry is moderate - firearms are common, though not everywhere, and are a popular choice as secondary weapons for the city guard. The other residents of Auralis typically prefer lighter weapons, suitable for easily carrying around their daily business, since the strict patrols are enough to keep crime in the city relatively low.
This is true even in the Poor District, which has the lowest Guard presence despite being located right next to the garrison, as the residents there prefer easily-concealed (and often poisoned) weapons to discourage troublemakers.
Auralis is too large to entirely escape crime, and several gangs do exist. They've learned to stay well away from the main markets, but are said to run the underground houses where the most exotic goods and slaves are auctioned off.
Auralis is wildly diverse in population, and has no majority race - even the largest groups are only several percent of the total each, so racial discrimination is effectively non-existent. The most populous races are, perhaps unsurprisingly, the common races of the material plane - humans, dwarves, elves, half-elves, half-orcs, halflings, and gnomes. Denizens from the elemental planes - Ifrits, Oreads, Sylphs, and Undine - are also quite common, and are often led by a Genie or similarly notable figure from their plane. Fetchlings are a bit less common than the elemental races, but aren't an unusual sight.
Representatives from the outer planes are rare, and there are only a handful of angels, demons, and similar entities within the city at any given time... as free citizens, at least, since they have been known to be traded as slaves. By law, such visitors must be accompanied by members of the city guard (or an appropriate substitute, such as mercenaries in good standing with the Council of Merchants), which is the city's way of ensuring they don't try to disrupt things too much.
Auralis is an Autocracy, ruled by the enigmatic Primarch Dulzre. However, very few people ever see or speak to the Primarch, who is said to spend most of his time in the tower that rises from the very heart of Auralis. Nevertheless, questions are occasionally sent up, and commands are occasionally sent down... and failure to comply with the commands from above has resulted in entire Councils being struck by a torrent of lightning, serving as a poignant reminder that the laws of the city exist for a reason and will be followed.
The day-to-day affairs, however, are handled at a lower level - the Council of Merchants, seven individuals who have purchased the right to their seat from Primarch Dulzre. They serve - and live - at the Primarch's pleasure, but are generally allowed to do as they wish as long as the Primarch's commands are followed. By law, each of the members of the Council are forbidden from engaging in trade outside a given specialty, and the lack of competition between them has helped to stabilize affairs and promote the smooth functioning of the city. In addition to their businesses, each member oversees one of the seven outer districts, and exercises joint control of the Grand Bazaar.
The commands of both Primarch and Council are enforced by the City Guard, a large and well-regulated police force. However, Auralis is not inherently lawful, despite the style of leadership - citizens are generally permitted to do as they wish as long as it doesn't bother others too much.
Auralis relies upon Common as its primary language of trade - therefore, almost everybody in the city speaks it fluently for everyday life.
The elemental tongues - Aquan, Auran, Ignan, and Terran - are also relatively common, particularly among visitors to the city who have come in from the elemental planes of the Inner Sphere. Some high-ranking ambassadors and traders refuse to speak in anything except their native tongue, though they usually accept interpreters from among their own kind. Their embassies are typically located close to the permanent portal leading back to their home plane, and are among the very few places in the city where the laws of the Council of Merchants do not hold sway.
-Abal's Agency: The place where you work. Though it only has half a dozen employees, the shop is respected by the citizens of Auralis as an excellent place to go if problems need to be solved. The business itself has been around for a long time, and you were only hired after a rigorous entrance examination - but it's a fairly nice place to work, especially when you take into account your fellow employees...
-The Grand Bazaar: A massive marketplace where just about anything people can imagine is for sale. The Bazaar is five miles across, located in a circle around the center of the city, and divided into numerous small districts that focus on specific items.
-The Great Crystal: Located atop the tower of the Primarch, the Great Crystal is a magical device of unknown origin but clear purpose. When fed enough power, the Great Crystal expands the demiplane it's currently in, proportionate to how large the area already is. In other words, early growth is fast, but further expansions are increasingly slow... and as Auralis begins to fill, power is given to the crystal in order to push back its boundaries and allow construction to begin anew. The plans for the development of the city are given by the Primarch, and are known several steps ahead so that the people involved have time to prepare.
-The Lake of Stars: Located within a deep cavern beneath the city proper, the Lake of Stars is lit by countless glowing crystals that cover the roof of the cavern. This is the only large body of water in the entire demiplane, and it is ferociously protected by citizens with a connection to the Plane of Water. Reaching it is a relatively simple trip - the main entrance is in the Agriculture District, but side passages exist in all districts of Auralis.
-The Tower of the Primarch: A featureless tower (until the top), the Tower of the Primarch is the home of the city's reclusive ruler and the true heart of Auralis. It is surrounded by the Grand Bazaar, and the Great Crystal is set into the very top. Nobody has ever been able to figure out how to get inside, but messages placed in a box just outside vanish when nobody is looking, and replies eventually appear in another box.
The Seven Districts of Auralis
-The Manor District: Located on the Northeastern side of the city, the Manor District is where the nobles, rich merchants, and generally wealthier people live. Despite the name, not every home is a manor, and many of the residents are middle-class at best, but it's generally clean and upscale.
-The Park District: Located between the Manor and Artisan districts, and the only district that doesn't touch the Grand Bazaar. A large, forested park serves as a retreat for residents, free to all.
-The Artisan District: The eastern district. Home of Auralis' crafting class, who take materials brought into the city and forge them into products that get sold within the Grand Bazaar. Many of the artisans live at their shops, rather than staying in the Manor District - and its location means that very little crime occurs in this area. This is where most residents do their real shopping - the Grand Bazaar is mostly for cross-planar trade and deals in goods both rarer and more valuable than those found elsewhere.
-The Garrison District: The southeastern part of the city. This serves as the military training grounds, and has the fewest buildings of any area except the agriculture district. It also serves as a buffer between the Poor District and the Artisan District, and is almost wholly responsible for keeping things orderly in town.
-The Poor District: The southwestern part of the city, home to the residents who haven't made their fortunes yet. Auralis is generally wealthy overall, so very few denizens are actively impoverished, but it's rumored that particularly dark trades take place within the alleys of this area... most of the residents work in the next district.
-The Agriculture District: The western section of the city. As the name suggests, it's responsible for supplying Auralis with various foodstuffs in addition to what they import, and benefits from a number of techniques from across the planes. Surprisingly advanced, and work is steady (if low in pay).
-The Magic District: Auralis' northwestern section. Abal's Agency is located within this area, which serves the educational, magical, historical, and generally intellectual needs of the city's population. The taxes and tariffs of the city are often shunted this way, helping ensure the overall prosperity of Auralis.
-Gareth: A warrior who works for Abal's Agency, and one of the most reliable companions your business has. His skill with a sword is almost frightening, and though he's a man of very few words, he absolutely refuses to relent on issues he believes are important. Gareth often takes on independent jobs, including slaying monsters that have made their way into Auralis or providing bodyguard services for important visitors, and the high prices his services command form the backbone of the Agency's income.
-Mila: A new recruit at Abal's Agency, hired about three months ago after Remei found out that she's a cleric with dependable (if weak) healing powers. No particular strengths, but no particular weaknesses, either - a solid and dependable girl overall, other than her tendency to fly into a berserk rage when customers push her too hard.
-Primarch Dulzre: If you didn't already know this, then you should go and read the other sections again.
-Remei: The current owner of Abal's Agency, where you live and work. Though she appears to be nothing more than a young Tiefling, she's had that appearance as long as anyone can remember... and some denizens of the city claim to have known her for hundreds of years. Remei has never revealed the full depths of her power to you, but everybody you know (including the members of the Council of Merchants) treats her with great respect. On the other hand, she often sends you out to buy pastries for her as your first job of the day, and some of the respect others show might be lost if they saw how messy she is while eating...