Modern Exalted: Bring back the Light
Meruvia’s eastern coast, once rich in timber and minerals, is now the most populous and industrialized part of the Blessed Isle. Several wealthy, multicultural cities dominate the area. Largest and richest is the Meruvian capital of Crane Bay. Red-crowned cranes no longer fly over the once-verdant bay. Instead, passenger jets cast their shadows on sprawling docks crammed with cargo vessels from every seaborne nation. Shining skyscrapers loom over a tangled morass of neighborhoods grown from a dozen colonial-era towns, where bohemian artists’ enclaves and blue-light districts stand cheek-by-jowl with museums and financial centers. The Imperial Palace, a many-winged marble structure flanked by gardens and fountains, stands on a height. Many of the colonial-era noble estates encircling the palace grounds have been assigned to Dragon-Blooded heroes.
THE IMPERIAL RIVER
The Imperial River is born on the slopes of the Pole of Earth. It is known that two of its headwaters are sites of power, with one capped by an essence reactor. Construction on the other reactor has been stalled due continual terrorist actions by local spirits. The Imperial River is not as deep as the Caracal, so most of its traffic consists of flat-bottomed barges, many of which are laden with the gems and jade from the mines of Juche, bound for the Crane Bay and beyond.
The Scarlet Span: The Scarlet Span is perhaps the most impressive bridge in all of Creation. It stands high above the river, supported on delicate arches of concrete and steel, and standing high enough to permit even the greatest of cargo ship easy passage.
COAST OF XIANYU
The Coast of Xianyu is named for a early hero who hunted down the Deheleshen pirates that constantly harassed the fishing and farming communities that dotted the coastline.
Despite its nearness to Crane Bay,The Pangu Dominion is considered a rural backwater by most in the Relm, known only for its cattle, its grain and its stories of long-ago piracy and heroic pirate-fighting. More politically minded folk recognize Temi Rain’s clever deals within the legeslature, and wonder if he will do when the Prime Minister steps down
Pangu has a reputation as the breadbasket of the isle, and it is well earned. The farming communities here produce tremendous amounts of rice, grain and livestock meats. The Pangu Dominion consists mainly of low-lying plains and coastal areas. The plains have served as agricultural fields and rice paddies for many generations now. The coastal areas have likewise been settled for many generations, with both massive sea-salt production and fishing being the main industries.
There is only one large city in the Pangu Dominion: the city of Pangu.
The city of Pangu is not particularly large, despite being the largest in the Xianyu Coastal area. Pangu is really the result of two separate settlements—a rice paddy agricultural area and a fishing town—situated quite close together and simply merging over time. When the Meruvian government decided to situate a small bureaucratic and military outpost between the two, the establishment of Pangu was complete. It is likely the only dominion capital that has taken the name of the dominion it is capital of, rather than the reverse.
Most of the towns of Pangu Dominion fit one of two descriptions: a farming community or a fishing town.
Blind Love (Pop. 17,521):One of the fishing towns of Pangu Dominion, Blind Love is situated almost directly across the mouth of the Imperial River from Crane Bay.
On clear nights, the lights of the greatest city in Creation can be seen there. Most of its citizens consider themselves caretakers of the scarlet cranes that nest in the area, as this is one of the few places that the cranes still nest.
(Pop. 19,506): The great pirate-hunter Xianyu is said to have made his headquarters under Kan-Toshi, deep within a set of sea caves that stretch under the town. No one has ever discovered such a site, though occasionally some local or tourist finds a coin or piece of jewelry washed up on shore, and then the stories begin again. Each new discovery is surely evidence of the great wealth that Xianyu is said to have stored away in his lair. Kan-Toshi’s Mayor, Tidal Pearl, has hired geomancers to search for it in the past, however, and she seems to have some knowledge that leads her to continue to do so.
THE JADE COAST
Unlike the sandy beaches of the Coast of Xianyu to the north, the Jade Coast consists mainly of rocky coastlines, including some of the most impressive cliffs on the Blessed Isle.
At high tide, the waves roar against these tall, white walls like barbarians pounding fruitlessly at the gates of a great city.
The Jade Coast earned its moniker for the deposits of jade that can be found here, but that’s changing because of the proliferation of the rich. Successful businessmen, politicians and Dragonblood all consider this coast to be a prime vacation spot.
Because of this high value, the Jade Coast proper is dotted with impressive estates, manor houses and resorts that take advantage of the fantastic scenery. Many people dream of owning one of the famous manors situated high upon the cliffs, washed twice a day in the spray from the pounding surf below.
The cliffs of the Jade Coast make for excellent defenses as well. Rare and well defended are the few ports of call here, forcing ships that approach them to risk the military port of
Sdoia or the bustle of Dragonsmouth.
Of course, the inner prefectures are wonderful farmland and usually produce ample food and knick-kacks for sale to the resorts along the Bay Highway and—to a lesser degree—to Crane Bay.
While the single most notable feature of the Scarlet Dominion is undoubtedly man-made, travelers to this region are often surprised by the natural beauty of the dominion. Even that beauty, however, is as often crafted as natural, the result of centuries of occupation by some of the most powerful individuals in all of Creation. Regardless, whether formed by nature or by the hands and wills of the Dragon-Blooded who have made their home there for generations, the “natural” beauty of the Scarlet Dominion is a wonder to behold.
Obviously, as the largest city in all of Creation, the Imperial City stands alone as a model of urban civilization in the Scarlet Dominion. When faced with such a striking primary example, it is easy for other notable locations to become eclipsed by its glory. A number of other towns of note exist
within the Scarlet Dominion, though.
As the largest port in the Scarlet Dominion—with more than 600,000 residents—Dragonsmouth is an avenue for most of the sea trade that supplies the Imperial City with food and finished goods.
The notion of goods flowing into Dragonsmouth, down the Strong and Flowing Throat of the Dragon to the all-consuming throngs of the Imperial City is not lost on those who make their living unloading cargo day after day in the port town.
Home not only the most extensive dock system on the Blessed Isle, but the Imperial Shipworks, which rivals the shipyards of the Western islands in efficiency. Only the most trusted bureaucrats and military
leaders are stationed in the port city, so vital is it to fulfilling the needs of the Imperial City itself. The Governor, Cathak Brynna, served as the city’s harbormaster for 20 years before being installed as its
governor. Brynna has always felt the call of the sea. Her decades of work supervising first her family’s interests in the imperial port and then those of the city as well have given her an understanding of the city on an intrinsic level. Brynna possesses an uncanny knack for knowing which situations can be allowed to work themselves out and which require her particular attention.
The city’s new harbormaster, a position with only slightly less influence in the city than the governorship itself, is Nellens Alamar, formerly head bureaucrat of a major fishing interests out of the Imperial Bay. Alamar provides a good balance for the new governor’s instinctive decision-making policies, tempering them with constant reminders of the laws and regulations of which she might not always wish to be reminded.
Located at the southeastern edge of the Scarlet Dominion, Glorious Haven caters to those who wish to enjoy the striking vistas of the Jade Coast but cannot afford to lease their own vacation homes there. Its permanent population is relatively small, numbering just under 50,000, and the vast majority of those who live in Glorious Haven all year are involved in the service industry in one form or another. At any given time, there are easily as many visitors and guests in the town as permanent residents. Accommodations in Glorious Haven number more than 100 hotels—varying from small apartments of only a few rooms to the palatial Jade Auberge, which boasts of its ability to host a small town in its sprawling wings.
Glorious Haven welcome tens of thousands of guests every year, and those visitors pay royally for the privilege of enjoying one of the most dramatic landscapes the Blessed Isle has to offer.
Glorious Haven is just off the Great Coast Road, and its siren call is a temptation few pilgrims making their way south to the Palace Sublime can resist. Unlike Yolin Am, Glorious Haven does not cater only to the wealthiest of the wealthy, making it a popular stopping point for those who aspire to live the life of the upper crust without bankrupting themselves. Therefore, it does not retain the same bragging rights for the high society of the Realm that a stay in Yolin Am does. Those who visit are more likely to refer to their stay as “on the Jade Coast” rather than referencing Glorious Haven itself.
While many of the largest—and wealthiest—cities in the Realm are located directly along the Great Coast Road, the island-bay port of Yolin Am is several days off it, connected by the Path of Pleasant Hills. Yolin Am is set atop a majestic wall of cliffs, offering its 130,000 inhabitants a breathtaking
view of the Inland Sea. Yet, it is not the cliffs that bring the the masses flocking to Yolin Am, nor the view that has given the town its reputation. Like many of the cliffs of the Jade Coast, the ones upon which Yolin Am rests protect a small bay far below. Unlike other towns on the northern Jade Coast,
however, the bay—and the gleaming green-sand beach it protects—is accessible from the cliff tops.
The bay beach is warm and tranquil, quite unlike the rest of the rugged Jade Coast, and has been valued for centuries as a respite destination for those desiring to “take the waters.” The bay is so shallow that Yolin Am is unreachable by water for any but the smallest of ocean-going vessels, but the inlet is ringed at a distance by a small chain of tiny islands. While each is too small to support more than the
most basic of structures, industrious architects have built an extensive docking system reaching seaward from this chain. This system sits at the edge of an underwater shelf that allows even the deepest-bellied sea vessels to put up in the expansive docks there.
The town, for its part, has played up its elitist clientele, offering some of the most exclusive,extravagant and expensive lodging and dining to be found in the Scarlet Dominion.
THE IMPERIAL RIVER BASIN
To the minds of most of the Blessed Isle, there is no difference between the Imperial River Basin and Juche Dominion. Indeed, Juche Dominion takes up the entirety of the region..
According to imperial records, Juche Dominion covers the entirety of the Imperial River Basin. The dominion proper, however, extends only from the Dragon’s Nest Range at the base of the Pole of Earth to the headwaters of the Imperial River.
The farmers of Juche Dominion are well-known sheep and goat herders. Of particular note is the Juche longhorn, known for its thick, soft wool.
Juche Dominion is made up of high mountain land, with just enough farming done in valleys to provide food for the local population. Juche Dominion not only acts as the main source for the raw materials that feed the Relm’s Industry.
Most of the settlements in Juche Dominion are based around local pastures, including goat herding, or a mine. The largest settlements are founded around both.
Perhaps the third most populous city in all of the Blessed Isle, Juche is a bustling center of commerce, art and bureaucracy
Juche is quite well known for its artisans and jadesmiths. An entire tradition of sculpting, referred to as the Juche School, exists, founded over 300 years ago by a skilled sculptor who taught his apprentices this unique style.
In all, Juche is bustling and busy. There is little time for nonsense, and the rulers of the city are well aware of their importance to the Realm. As a result, the city is kept in excellent condition—or at least, the best condition that one can expect from a city whose primary population includes foundry workers, miners and quarrymen, and the merchants who deal in such goods.
Arum’s Rest (Pop. 8,000):A small village, Arum’s Rest has grown up around the estate of the same name. The estate itself is a horseman’s paradise, meant as a place for stables and a center forhorse-breeding enterprise.
The Kleinen Har Dig: The site known as Kleinen Har (Old Realm for “Vault of Glass”) is perhaps one of the best known continuing archaeological digs in Juche. Most of the work to be done here is fairly safe and dull, but it has uncovered more than a few magical, demonic and automaton guardians, necessitating a constant presence by Dragon-Blooded soldiers. The treasures discovered have made it more than worth this necessity. More adamant and glass-like compounds have been discovered at this single site during the last decade of work here than in all other Realm archaeological sites combined.