An Introduction to Mahid
Grandest city on the face of Mahid, Birtule stands on an archaic and massive hulk of the strange and incredibly durable constructions of the ancients. It is held far above the bottom of one of the large Canals that stream directly down from the northern ice cap by four slender arms, reaching out to the ground on either side. Long recognized for the defensibility and economic value of this site, no written history includes a time when Birtule was uninhabited.
Far above the sands, a number of relatively well preserved ancient structures form some of the more illustrious buildings of Birtule, such as the massive, labyrinthine complex known as the Seat of Sovereignty, or the elegant temple now playing host to the Fraternity of Scholars, the only place a man dedicated solely to study might reliably find others of his kind on Mahid.
More commonly, however, Birtule is built from common stone and scavenged, repurposed materials, often incorporating small parts of surviving ancient construction where possible. Here are the social, insightful, and vain qualities of the Northmen found in their most potent concentrations; literally living above the world as no other group does has undoubtedly shaped the general character of the citizenry.
On the hard ground surrounding the city proper, however, lie vast, roiling slums, collectively referred too as Irimorgu, trailing off for miles up- and downstream. Most of the lucky few in the city proper try to forget or ignore this enormous hive of misery, many times larger than the city itself, where vicious little wars are continually fought among the various slumlords and roving bands of brigands, but the way of life on the great hulk in the sky requires cheap labor in abundance and Birtule considers itself above slavery. Some in less scrupulous cities hold the immeasurably dangerous slums of Birtule as proof that slavery is the lesser evil, and the point from time to time is one of contention, in the form of steel and blood.
Roughly half of the water from the Birtulan Canal is used up by the time it leaves the shadow of the great platform, and all that is left travels a few dozen miles, past dammed up and now dust filled side branches and the watchful eyes of the Birtulan soldiery, far enough south to where true crops can be grown. Eventually it enters a great basin that has been carved and molded to quickly divert all water into one great, even plain of moist soil, the second biggest patch of food-productive ground on Mahid.
The place, known as Dilimbanda, lies on the very edge of the furthest extent of the dust-storms that blow off the Ashen Sea, which help to fertilize it, and is surrounded by high cliffs in most places and great walls in others. The fortress Lu-Ennug towers over the only known entrance or exit, and keeps a stolid watch over the massive breadbowl and its thousands of workers keeping Birtule and the wretched masses at its feet alive.
All this population and industry lies in the hands of a system of noble houses, which fade in and out of public favor (and therefore power) in an intricate and deadly political dance. Presently, the masses follow House Tiduun, whose charming and honest-seeming patriarch (who, by tradition, goes only by the House name) has won many friends and seemingly cinched the right of rule in Birtule till death. Under his tolerant, or perhaps lax, leadership Birtule has become an even wilder, more cosmopolitan place than usual.