Cold as the Depths
People and Culture
As of the last year the city of Ilyssa’s Landing held a population of just over 16,000 souls. Most of the population being of human stock while a great deal of the rest of the people where of dwarf and half-elven blood. The rest is a fairly even collection of elves, halflings, gnomes, and a surprisingly growing goblin community.
The people of Ilyssa’s Landing live in a culture dictated by the weather, and by business. Under the harsh sun of midday the adults are a relaxed group, laid back and most often found in the shade sipping from cool drinks and engaging in games of wit that do not require much physical activity. Even most of the young seem to share this minimalist notion of movement. Yet, also the city deals with roaming gangs, or Clubs, of teenagers who thrive on constant motion. These “Clubs” can be found running, climbing, and dancing in even the worst heat waves. Yet, when the sun is first rising or setting, the clubs seem to disappear from the streets as the adults become active in that which is the life blood, the beating heart of the city. Business.
That is what made the community of Landing something more then a village of local natives. It is the heart of the city, the blood that keeps the men and women of Landing alive. To interfere with a man’s business is to invite retribution for when it comes to protecting their stores, to making a profit, all men and women of the city are vicious, underhanded and cunning.
When the sun has set, and the temperatures cool, then the other passions of Landing are explored. Under the light of the moon, in the cool air, the city becomes a place of food, wine, and drink. Whole sections of the city seem to become giant parties that last well into the evening, while in other parts of the city the churches of the various sects of the city hold their ceremonies and rituals.
Mixed among these laid back natives are dozens, sometimes hundreds of visitors from other nations. From the distant eastern nations or the southern isles. These people bring with them their own way of doing things, their own ideas and languages to the city. Some sections of the city cater to these visitors and dignitaries, providing for a truly marvelous blend of visiting cultures and the ways of the people of Landing.
Of the many businesses in the city, there are some that stand out as being some of the most important. As primarily a trade port, the various stores and businesses that deal with the hospitality or the sailors and maintenance of the fleets of foreign nations hold a great deal of sway. Also, the city exports a few very profitable items. The large pearls harvested at great risk from giant clams at the bast of the bay off the coast of the city, the whaling products brought in by the city’s own fleets, and its large number of fruit-based alcoholic beverages are some of the most valued items the city exports.
But the single most important business for the city is acting as the final, safe port for ships traveling west from the Realms. It is a city which has structured itself to this purpose, the cause of making sure nearly any service sailors, captains, and visiting dignitaries might ever desire. But with the legal businesses also come a steamy underground. A black market were nearly anything can be bought and sold.
Food and Drink
In a city that plays port to so many nations of the world, the cuisine of the city is as diverse as its people. Being so close to prime fishing waters, seafood is a major staple of the average diet of a citizen of Landing along with a great deal of fruit and rice harvested from local plants in the nearby jungles and farms. Various breads are also very popular as wheat is cheaply imported from nearby nations and traded for the valuable fish-meal and whaling products produced in the city. Given as there is no room due to the vast swamps and jungles that surround Ilyssa’s Landing, small animals have become a popular source of meat as well, often including guinea pig, chicken and rabbit which are often breed in rooftop kennels. Animals often hunted in the jungles for their meat are some of the smaller breeds of alligator, turtle, and other reptiles such as lizards and snakes that are numerous in area.
As one might think, the way these meals are prepared various often on the districts that are being visited. Poor districts tend to have very bold, spicy flavors produced by simple, inexpensive, and locally produced products. While the more well-to-do districts tend to have very complex, subtle flavors that heavy spices would hide, and include imported spices. But no matter where one is cooking or shopping
A diet of the common man in the city might be mostly fish, rice, bread and fruits, but the diets of the more well to do members of the city can become quite diverse. Among the rich of the city the meat of the small animals kept by the common people gives way to an interesting mix of local and foreign ingredients. The meat of the large dinosaurs of the jungle are often served as a delicacy, with the meat of the most dangerous predators being some of the most expensive in the city. From the sea the meat of large predator fish such as sharks and various eels and squid makes it way to exclusive tables. One of the most important signs of power and wealth someone can serve is beef, as cattle cannot be found in any of the near by nations, and must be imported from great distances. The spicing among these dishes also becomes much more subtle and intricate then the sometimes harsh spices of the majority of the district.
Given the heat, it would become obvious that the most often consumed drink is water, and thanks to developed techniques, the city never lacks for fresh water. But with this abundance of water has come the art of water flavoring, or The Tasting. Culinary artist have developed a technique of imbuing oils, ice, and thin bamboo sticks with various flavors so that when added to water, it provides that flavor to the liquid. So popular is this art, that some of the most talented practitioners are retained full time by the royal houses, guild masters, and even the Czar to work exclusively for them.
Along with these flavored water, popular drinks are various juices and mixes created from the many fruits that grow in the jungle as well as in privately held gardens. But more often then not, these juices are kept and fermented to create the most popular alcoholic drinks of the city. Breweries abound in some districts of the city dedicated to the creation of these beverages, and bottling them up for shipping to other nations where the light, delicate flavors of Landing’s wines, brandies, and beers.
One of the most important aspects of daily life in Ilyssa’s Laning, short of the influences of the desire to maintain good business, is the influence felt by religion. Especially the cults of the Forgotten God, religious organizations that have a heavy effect on the city.