The Seven Cities
The Pale Quarter
Outside and west of the walls of the Old City lies the Pale Quarter, so called because virtually no tieflings (who tend to be bronze to ebony in coloring) live there. It is mostly populated by humans and halflings, who tend to be pale of skin relative to most other races. Once a muddy shanty-town, the populace of the Pale Quarter was instrumental in the 101 RA uprising that put the current Kazzar (not to mention the Blood King) in power. In gratitude and recognition, the Kazzar has named a magistrate to govern the district, and has begun a number of public works projects meant to make the Pale Quarter into a proper part of the City. There is a new wall is being built west of the Quarter, and new sewers have been built to route the waste from the rest of the City under rather than into the PQ.
The Pale Quarter is fairly large, making up about 20% of Mz’iir’s population.
The worst parts of the Pale Quarter are still made of lean-tos, grass huts, and vagabond camps. As 102 RA draws to a close however, many of the structures are stone and adobe like the rest of the City. Crime, once rampant, is kept under effective control by a Waaz Ora’adz (in the tradition of Okorian) called The Shade, a former street gang elevated to official status by virtue of their aid to the current Kazzar and Kazzar’Ul during “the troubles” of 101 RA.
As a function of the Shade’s need to organize and locate people and places, the Pale Quarter is divided, conceptually, into eight areas called “blocks.” Because the streets and alleys of the Pale Quarter wend between hundreds of unnamed (and in the poorer areas temporary) structures, the paths don’t generally have names. Rather, one identifies a location by it’s location on a block. True denizens usually refer to something being “on” a block as they would a street, rather than “in” a block as one might a neighborhood or district. So, one might say that Mama Cat’s Orphanage is on Tom’s Alley, northeast, almost on The Hill. The boundaries between blocks run roughly along some of the broader and more permanent paths through the Quarter. The blocks are (moving counter-clockwise from the walls of M’Ziir towards the center of the Pale Quarter):
The area north of The Gap Gate along the high stone wall of the inner districts of M’ziir is, uncreatively, called “The Wall.” This block has seen tremendous development and construction since the Unification. Most of the structures on The Wall are stone and/or adobe, and more than a few have multiple stories. This is where the administrative and official buildings stand. Magistrate Pendred’s office is here, as is the headquarters of the Freeman’s Guild for unskilled laborers.
Snob’s End lies in the center of the northern border of the Pale Quarter where it abuts Westrick . This block is also mostly stone and adobe structures, largely made up of homes for the wealthiest “palers,” including the higher-ups in the Freeman’s Guild and a number of less-successful merchants. There is a lot of new construction here, and rumor has it that the High Priest of Tulvar is having a small manor built here.
Of greatest interest to many is the founding of M’ziir’s first mage’s college, a small wizarding academy run by a mysterious dark-haired eladrin Tallis Edratha. The school only includes a handful of mages and apprentices, but the nearly-completed tower and grounds could easily house several dozen arcane practitioners once fully up-and-running.
Old Warwick is the block that’s grown up and around the old ruins of some forgotten part of M’ziir. The ruins, rubble, and old cut stone have been cannibalized by “palers” for decades. Now, Old Warwick’s ruins have been almost entirely harvested. The block is used as storage and a staging area for new construction (including the New Wall); as well as for temporary and semi-permanent housing for the many Masons and other laborers (many Mules) that spend their days renovating the Pale Quarter.
The former residence of Tanner, a dwarven stonemason who died in The Troubles in the days leading up to the Unification, has been tranformed into a memorial for all the palers who perished in those difficult times.
Near the southwest corner of Old Warwick the church of Tulvar is building a new temple. In truth, the construction is a remodeling. On this location once stood a temple to the goddess Khalipanofax. It was laid ruin, as with everything to do with the Jade Queen, when The Redemption swept the the Blessed Lands. While no worship of the Dragon Queen has been seen openly in M’ziir for a century, few were willing to brave the ruins, and so the temple stood empty (and allegedly haunted) since the days of King Oz’Adaraz.
Over the last year, the church of Tulvar has cleansed the temple and grounds of the Jade Queen’s lingering poisons and resanctified them in the name of the Lord of Walls and Order. The temple is being refurbished, renewed, and repurposed. The plan is to complete and formally sanctify the temple in time for Harvest in Tulvan of 103 RA.
There also used to be a cemetery south of the temple. That land has been cleared and cleansed, and the bodies properly (if with minimal ceremony) interred in the Kellisian catacombs below Temple Hill.
This block’s name is somewhat tongue-in-cheek. Though it does rise somewhat above the elevation of the rest of the Quarter, the difference is a matter of only a few feet at the crest of the so-called “hill.” That said, this area was substantially less prone to mud and muck than the other blocks even before the urban renewal projects that accompanied Unification.
On the northern edge of The Hill stands the Grey Manse, headquarters of The Shade. The old manor house was abandoned around the time of The Blighting, and, prior to Unification, the Shade leveraged the haunted reputation of the building to help keep their hideout secure. Since the Shade’s restructuring as an official peacekeeping organization, the Manse has been remodeled, rebuilt, and is now the hub of a substantial compound out of which the Shade operates.
The Shade’s compound now takes up most of The Hill, and some Palers have taken to calling the block Shade Hill.
Particularly cramped, narrow and winding “streets; for some reason there are a ton of cats here. The structures and alleys of this block have changed little since Unification, but it has become a refuge for many of the poorest Palers, displaced from The Muck by the urban renewal projects there. Tom’s Alley is now packed tightly with people living on the fringes even by the standards of the Pale Quarter. Even the Shade has trouble keeping order here, and most of the folks on Tom’s Alley look to the dwarven orphanage proprietor ”/characters/mamma-cat" class=“wiki-content-link”>Mamma Cat to settle disputes and mete out justice.
With a number of small piers stretching out into the filthy waters of Lake Aven west of The Muck, Southbank is the Pale Quarter’s waterfront. The denizens of Southbank are poor fishermen, poor shrimpers, and brigands or smugglers. The sewer extension that changed The Muck hasn’t changed the foulness of west Lake Aven, and the lives of those on Southbank haven’t changed much either excepting the extra crowding caused by the displacement of people who used to live on The Muck.
Situated where the drains from the City’s sewers system once outlet, The Muck was, before Unification, the muddiest, stinkiest, poorest block in the muddy, stinky poor Pale Quarter. In those days, to say that a person is “in The Muck” or “down in The Muck” means that they’ve hit rock-bottom, whether they actually dwell on that block or not.
Since Unification, the Muck has changed drastically. Shortly after Kazzar An’Ikaal took the throne, the Muck was cleared and a massive urban renewal project was started. The sewers of M’ziir, which had for centuries simply outlet into the Muck, to run down into Lake Aven, were extended all the way to the Lake.
The sewage of the city now runs through The Muck in a great six-foot diameter culvert before emptying into the Lake. It took some six months to complete the project. The Pipe runs above-ground, and occasionally leaks a little, but compared to the bog of stench of previous years, it’s practically a paradice. Now, as residents slowly return, the Muck is no worse than Tom’s Alley or Southbank.
Along with the updated sewer, the new ruler of M’ziir ordered a paved path laid between the newly renovated Gap and the western edge of Southbank. The path passes over the Pipe, and has given rise to a rickety boardwalk and market that runs the length of the pipe above the ground level of The Muck.
The Pipe Mall, as it has come to be called, is home to a peculiar mix of grey-market merchants and carnival-style barkers. The Mall has, so far, not grown sufficiently robust so as to garner any but occasional Shepherd attention, but each day the denizens of The Muck add to the rickety raised causeway. Many believe that it’s only a matter of time before The Shade’s policing is insufficient to keep things low-key and the Shepherds’ Guild shuts the Mall down.
Once home to the Pale Market, the Square is an open area with a newly-dug community well at the center. Given the nature of the Pale Quarter, it’s inevitable that small camps and lean-tos encroach on the Square over time, but ever few weeks the Shade comes through and gently (or sometimes not-so-gently) clears out the camps to keep the Square open for public announcements, events, and executions.
Not a “block” as such, The Berm is the name given to the new fortifications being built along the western edge of the Pale Quarter and north of Westrick. Anyone approaching M’ziir from the outside will encounter a murky moat 15 feet across, with a great earthen rampart rising 15’ or so feet above the surface. The rampart is actually quite solidly constructed, with a core of stone and metal spikes arrayed across it’s outer edge. The interior edge of the Berm is a gentle slope down into the Outer Quarters, so that anyone and everyone could, if necessary, climb to the top of the fortification and help defend M’ziir.
The Berm would be almost no use against siege engines of any quality, but it would block cavalry entirely, and certainly provides an advantage to anyone defending the Pale Quarter. It is rumored that plans are in the works to build a proper city wall replacing the Berm, but construction has not yet begun.