The Nine Kingdoms: A History
The Black City, In Brief
The City is comprised of massive edifices of black stone, in essence a rising spiral of towers that float above the ground. The lowest ‘tower’ sits a mere five or six feet above the desert floor, where heaps of mechanical artifacts and devices lie in varying states of disrepair. To those with the Knowledge, many of these are (or rather, were) Numenera but non show a glimmer of life or activity any longer.
A well-worn path snakes further South from the base of the City, where the very tops of large white tents can be seen just over the Cold Desert’s dunes. People walk up and down this path constantly, many carry spades and all are wrapped in grey or black clothes with their faces obscured. Those coming from the tents are caked with dirt and sand, likely from digging which appears to be extensive enough that at this distance a small cloud of sand can be seen floating around the tents.
The ‘entrance’ to the City appears to be a series of rough ladders and pulley systems, that seem able to ferry both people and larger items up and down to the lowest tower. Grim-faced guards in black uniforms, bearing a small silver symbol, stand at most of these points occasionally stopping a person ascending briefly before letting them carry on.
Inside can be seen the vast stairs that spiral up the interior tower walls, connecting to ledges and platforms that extend across the tower. Narrow bridges and walkways, all made of the same stone as the tower, criss-cross the air as the eye travels up to the top of the tower. Large archways open up the tower to the ‘interior’ of the spiral, where wide bridges connect it to other floating towers which float further and further up in the air.
Looking out from one of these arches, the true vastness of the city can be seen.
The various ledges and walkways are host to small marketplaces, terraced houses and other buildings all carved from or in the black stone. Surfaces are rough, nothing looks like it was cut in the usual manner for stone, everything has a decidedly organic feel to it. One would almost feel this place was made by burrowing creatures rather than those who inhabit it. The only exception are the deep grooves that are cut into the stone, containing a liquid that glows a faint green. These grooves carry the liquid across floors, up walls and over bridges. It appears all through the inhabited areas of the City.
At many intersections of walkways and bridges are large walls, where these grooves congregate and appear to have been cut into inscriptions and imagery. These places have the feeling of reverence and importance as many appear to pray or leave offerings, others bustling past will stop and pay some brief respect before continuing on. The only way to describe these areas would be as places of worship, though of what or whom is not clear to an outsider.
The black uniformed guards are visible, known as the Lawminders, accompanied by people who look almost exactly the same as each other. They don’t appear armed to the casual eye but they carry a demeanor that suggests otherwise. As one moves through the city to the Protector’s District, which sits in the ‘middle’ floating tower, the Lawminders are much more prevalent. Moving through each tower, so named for each of the Protector’s Councillors, the Lawminders vary subtly in appearance and gait.
Each tower hosts a specific district overseen by one of the Councillors, and contains all the many and varied services their leader provides or maintains. The Tower of Tears hosts the infirmaries and clinics, the Harvest Tower contains the growing vats and gengineer labs, the Arboretum is home to all the gardens and crops, whilst the Thoughtspire holds schools, libraries and other miscellaneous services.