Frontiers – Fort Sajoo

   Posted by: Andrew Linstrom   in Frontiers

There’s a place where the Mighty Sajoo River hits a rock. A big-ass rock. The rock is called the Axehead, and it splits the Sajoo into two rivers like a branch. The North Sajoo River flows toward the thriving Konetti colony of Northport. The South Sajoo flows towards Northport’s mercantile rival, the Stalwart city of Cinder Keep. And on the looming promontory of Axehead itself is a city whose riverboats and rail junctions tie the two together and to the frontier, a city planted by a now-fallen empire as a signpost pointing her legions west, a city known by the old walls that surround it and by the waters that it watches: Fort Sajoo.

The fort’s first incarnation was built over a century ago as a launching point for Imperial exploratory missions into Nasertia’s interior. As the Empire began expanding its influence and developing its colonies in the New World, Fort Sajoo was rebuilt from a tin-and-timber presidio into a stone-walled fortress town. After the Empire fell and colonization no longer proceeded according to the designs of a far-off emperor, Fort Sajoo experienced the same surge in growth as other cities in the New World, with the town soon spilling out from the fort’s walls and across the rushing rivers from the Axehead.

The city lies in several distinct parts. First is the fortress proper, an area off-limits to most civilians. Next is the town within the wider fort walls. Within the walls, the streets are wide and straight, well-patrolled, and lit through the night by gaslight. Residing within the walls is expensive, but during the day the gates are open and folks can come and avail themselves of the services that lie within. Outside the walls is the rest of the ever-expanding city and its narrow, twisting streets, smoke-belching factories, squalid tenements and walled estates.

The Great Sajoo descends into a wide canyon as it approaches the Axehead, and remains in canyons after it splits. The Axehead itself rises high above the canyon walls. Great suspension bridges stretch across from the northern and southern canyon walls above the Great Sajoo to anchor into the face of the Axehead, where tunnels spiral up through the rock to the city proper. Across from the fort, the bridges terminate in towns: Promise Gate on the north side and Vagabond Gate on the south. Both gate towns have steam-powered clockwork lifts that lead down to mooring stations for the cabled winch network that can hoist modestly-sized barges and steamboats and carry them across the churning waters of the river’s divide and deposit them on either the North or South Sajoo–for a price.

The same man, Governor-General Ulises Lorenzo, has ruled in Fort Sajoo since he was appointed by the last emperor over thirty years ago. A strong-willed and capable administrator, his firm hand kept the city together during the chaos following the emperor’s assassination and subsequent tumult. He’s kept the city Stalwart, but rejects the label of warlord that his critics and opponents paint him with, unwilling to be associated with the power-hungry officers squabbling over land and resources around Treb in the Old World. He’s opened Fort Sajoo to trade and private enterprise, but retains full control over the city’s police force and army–still styled after the Imperial legions in Stalwart fashion–and the docks and rail stations. The taxes he levies are large, but not so onerous as to stifle trade, and go to keep the city maintained and its legions well-manned and equipped. The merchants and captains of industry grumble, but willingly pay, for there’s no clearer and quicker route from the coast to the riches of the frontier than through Fort Sajoo.

Fort Sajoo is fast becoming a cultural capital, too. The Governor-General has poured tax funds into museums, concert halls, and a new opera house to rival the likes of those in Northport and Cinder Keep. The old money and the Stalwarts are enamored of old songs and Old World stories of the Empire’s glories, but the newly rich and the frontier-born are eager to tell new tales, and to pay to hear them told. So while the city’s library boasts the largest collection of High Treb poetry west of the Final Islands, the print shops are churning out runs of newly fashionable “dinar novels” brimming with gunslinging heroes and bold explorers, and while the new opera house’s first season will end with the Dnassan epic Der Rächer, its opening concert will be Nasertian-born composer Jascha Matteson’s Presidio, an opera sung in the common language of Low Treb and featuring plains elf chanters, ring-tailed stompers, and a steel string guitar quartet.

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This entry was posted on Monday, May 3rd, 2010 at 10:11 pm and is filed under Frontiers. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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