Thirty miles from north of the Colossus of Rhodes, a steel cast depiction of Rudolf Diesel, the proud and defiant Pawtucket Gate stands against the desolation beyond, taunting Bostonia in the distance with its splendor. Wrapping out to east and west is the proud, tall wall of Rhodes that shields it from the barbarism beyond.
Resplendent newly built streets, vast bridges, complex ferry structures, gondolas, ships, and more allow one across the various water gates of Rhodes to travel the city’s many districts. A city around a bay it has an enormous display of wealth and construction, its naval yards second to none in the E.F.S. This is shown by the massive vessels constantly being birthed forth, and the rowdy crews that man them drinking all over the city.
White walls, starched streets, and blood on the bridges: Rhodes is a city of splendor and violence. All beyond the wall is wastes ‘til one reaches Bostonia in the north, or New York to the south.
The various sestieri (districts) of the city have independently functioning councils elected commonly by all citizens of the sestieri in rolling yearly elections wherein only one seat is open at a time. After each election an internal council election is held to determine the sestieri’s speaker, who in addition to setting the council’s agenda will meet together with every other sestieri’s speaker for Metropolitan Council sessions to form the legislative body of Rhodes.
Patronage from wealthy industrialists and public favour from those of Ancient Lineage are necessary to have even the slightest chance of winning a sestieri’s election. Politics is generally decided in backrooms and no real alternative offered for the council election, although multiple candidates must and do run by law the opposition is normally a patsy. Of course, to save face, the council will ouster by unanimous-minus-one votes their least popular member on a regular basis “for their love of the people.” This tactic is generally appreciated, not least of all because a sestieri holiday is almost always called to ridicule the ousted councilor and feast greatly.
In the open, the Guild of Labourers set forth grievances annually when the city legislature’s session commences. These grievances are always at least paid heavy public lip service by the Metropolitan Council, if they know what’s good for them. From the shadows, the Nanepaushat Pact determines what will and will not be permitted in terms of crime within the walls. The Ancient Lineages feign disinterest and plot the city’s course in secret.
The Scriptorum at Old Narragansett, the southwesternmost expanse of Rhodes, houses one of its most sacred treasures: the list of Ancient Lineages, those of blood that Rhodes before Rhodes even rose from the mud of the Lost Age. The Eternally Glorified Founders have passed onto the city their progeny, and their progeny more progeny, each time growing wiser and more refined. They are keepers of knowledge, guardians of the people, champions of peace, and ostensibly have absolutely zero power or responsibility.
In practice, one is hard pressed to so much as maintain a coffee shop’s customer base without the official seal of at least some obscure Ancient Lineage decorating the signage: as it turns out, a stamp of approval can be the difference between wealth and poverty. The Ancient Lineages have made plenty of progeny by now, and at least one of them is probably willing to underwrite a mediocre mild roast for free drinks and a fat purse up front. In this fashion their economic livelihood is eternally secured: their appearance at any event, endorsement of any product, or speech on any particular subject is never dismissed out of hand in Rhodes. Of course, the word of less prominent Ancient blooded folk rarely contradicts that of those higher up the metaphorical totem pole. This is by design, and enforced by fear.
Accidents are known to happen in Rhodes.
Long held cultural norms relegate different forms of violence to different times of day. Bridge riots, commonly called “scrapes” fought between the youth of different districts, may only occur from noon to sunset. Pickpocketing may only occur from sunset to midnight. Robbery of a home may only occur from midnight to sunrise. From sunrise to the noon, “the thief and the brawler sleep,” as it is said, and breaking this commonly held truce will generally earn you the ire of criminals and law enforcement alike.
While this cycle factors into other parts of daily life it is frequently inscrutable to an outsider and esoteric to a local. Most Rhodians do not overly concern themselves with these concepts because they have been omnipresent to them, and rarely do they give them great consideration beyond observing their commonly upheld strictures.
There is a popular belief in a creation myth in Rhodes, and while details vary, all agree it was the act of an entity of pure spirit known as Manto. While there is not more in the way of theological rigor in Rhodes than any other given state, sects that cannot square with the concept of Manto in their creed are generally unpopular--and woe unto those who curse Manto’s name.
While not really possessed of a religion, Rhodes has enough quasi-religious cultural occasions to require a dedicated official to preside over them. The Pauau fills this roll dutifully. Elected mutually by every sestieri’s Council at the turn of the decade for a ten year tenure, the Pauau has myriad duties. They call in and dismisses every session of the Metropolitan Council, preside over city holidays, regularly inspect the Scriptorum, and maintain a colourful retinue of bodyguards and attendants in full regalia and fearocious armament.
When not writing philosophical tracts or attending to their various duties, the Pauau also entertains guests at the Pauau’s Palais, an elegant palatial manor on Prudence Island.
Besides ships and walls, Rhodes is a great producer of handicrafts and technology. The mainframe in Browntown is a mark of continual pride for the city even if half of it does not begin to fathom the meaning of a mainframe, but in a city that reveres the ancient largely rebuilt from nothing the technology industry is oft a point of pride. The secrets of the past are best known in Rhodes, they reckon.
Most people who do not work in industry work in shipping. Those who work in neither industry nor shipping work in service. This informs the city’s character, but the working joes of Rhodes do not subscribe to the common proletarian culture of the E.F.S. They rather prefer to submerge themselves in the art and culture of their city, and the status they are constantly affirmed to have as Rhodians that renders them above outsiders makes this all the more desirable.
Add atop that the patronage, the public wine and food provided by their sestieri for even minor occasions, and the various brawls between sestieri across the many bridges of the city that grant no end of public sport and one has a rather lovely picture of the city in economic motion: money circling the city to keep the machine well greased and rolling.
A strange crystalline jungle of purple-and-pink formations exists in the wastes beyond Rhodes’s walls. At the heart of several clusters of the strange formation is a tall spiring hunk of the odd material. It can be legally mined by anyone for sale directly to the E.F.S. only. Few corporations establish a venture to do so because of how logistically difficult it is to operate a business beyond the walls of Rhodes, coupled with the fact that Rhodes will not tolerate a mining company based outside their state to try their hand at it. Additionally the beasts of the wastes are attracted by the sounds of mining.
Everyone from shoeshines to the Paupau is concerned with matters of honour and good conduct. Even the most scheming and treacherous of Rhodes’ denizens seek at all times to present themselves in the best possible light, even in the midst of a highly public betrayal or scandal. By being Rhodians they inherently have some modicum of honour and feel the need to answer for it: be it by explaining themselves or drawing steel when an insult they cannot ignore is offered. Especially by one they consider without honour. Family, culture, and economic success are all great indicators of honour for most folk. But besides being from Rhodes, the most honourable thing the commoners can do is defend what honour they have through violence.
Scrapes, large conflicts fought across the city’s bridges, are largely controlled release valves for violence and organized honour conflicts betwixt neighbouring sestieri.
Those who get on the wrong side of the law within the walls will find themselves quickly descended upon by the various enforcers of the city, but the byways of the land beyond the walls know but one agent of order: the Rhodes Warriors, whose swift ‘cycles and sure blades cut down those who would profane the subject lands of Rhodes.
Dangerous creatures are far less common within the walls of Rhodes than other sprawling ‘urbs, particularly impressive given its size: however, something does stalk the night. Few will openly mention their name, but for those who wonder at the static sizzling in the air late at night or swear by sudden flashes and rolling claps of thunder on cloudless nights there is a name they are called by: Neimpaûog, the thunder-kin. Their nature secret and discussion of their existence brutally suppressed, those who would track the lights in the night meet in absolute secrecy where they do not converse solely through cipher. When discovered, they usually prefer suicide to being taken alive, for they know full well what will be done to them by the authorities: electrocuted and left where they will be found by a blown fuse box. The paper will cover it in grisly detail with warnings for the public of “playing with lightning.”