The Eldest Journal
Aden. The Ever-changing City. The City of Many Colors. The City of Sin. The City of Peace. Whatever people choose to call it, there is little doubt that Aden is the reason Nava enjoys its independence. The city stands in the middle of a large plain and guards the routes to and between Nava’s great cities. While raiders and bandits plague the countryside, no army has been able to safely pass the Tower of Aden’s far-reaching sight.. The great tower’s mysterious appearance on the plain and its function are unknown, but that has not deterred nomads, merchants, soldiers, and others from building a safe oasis in its shadow.
Aden is ruled by The Council of Nine Tribes, and the relative wealth of its residents is reflected by their proximity to the Great Fountain, located just south of The Tower. The city’s nomadic roots and the constantly-changing nature of the fortunes of its residents is a large part of the lack of permanent structures. Instead, most of Aden’s homes and businesses are tents, covered wagons, or yurts. There are a few wooden storehouses, stables, and taverns, but very few choose to live in buildings. By original Council decree, no registered city resident may starve, thirst, or go un-bathed. Work is found for all who eat the City Bread. To pay for these services, plus those of the City Watch and other functions, much of the city property within the gates is leased. All plots, of differing size, may be bid-upon by anyone for either 1 or 3 years. All bids are blind and ties go to the current resident, followed by a complex system of political and financial maneuvering. If the property changes hands, the current resident is given a few days to move Whatever stays behind is the property, or liability, of the new owner. Because of this, taxes are low and the city has enjoyed a considerable budgetary surplus.
Because of the constantly-changing nature of real estate, the city streets change almost daily. While the main roads are always kept clear, they are inefficient and clogged with commercial traffic. Tents rarely take up all of their alloted property, so a maze of alleys, small streets, and paths allows locals to quickly traverse the city. Consequently, there are no city maps and travellers commonly hire a guide to help them navigate the labyrinthine streets and political structure.
Though much of the city is made of tents, there are a few notable exceptions. First is the aforementioned Tower of Aden. The Tower is made of dark gray granite and houses the various functions of the city government. The lone tenant is a black dragon who helps protect the city in exchange for a safe roost and the occasional prisoner. She also runs the city’s bank. In front of The Tower is the Great Fountain, a waterworks of ice-cold water with attached bathhouses. It was created by magical means and the genasi are responsible for its upkeep.
Just outside the southern gates lies The Arena. This massive stone and wood auditorium is the site of the weekly horse market, where Aden’s famous horses, gladiators, and servants (slaves) are traded. After the conclusion of business, spectators fill the stands and food vendors hawk their wares while contests of martial, artistic, and magical arts are put on for all to see. Stone bathhouses and wells are located around the city and are considered prime property. These range from opulent marble structures in the city core to the rock-lined holes around the city’s edge.
All financial transactions in Aden must be made using Aden currency. Exchange fees are 10%, but deposits and withdrawals in Aden’s bank can be made in any currency without fee. The bank is extremely secure and well-respected. All deposits are insured 100%. Because of this, Aden’s currency is becoming more widely-accepted and accepted by all traveling caravans. Because of the steep exchange rate, there is an underground currency in Aden. Many transactions work out in trade or barter. Being the center for Nava’s spice trade, Aden values the following: thyme, oregano, basil, or rosemary leaves = 1cp; whole peppercorns = 1sp; a stick of sandalwood = 1gp; a nugget of frankincense = 1ep; a nugget of myrrh = 1pp. Elsewhere, herbs are cheaper, while spices and insense are far more expensive.