Fancy Bastard Scales of War
Deep in a mountain, reached only by an enormous fissure, stands Citadel Mercane. Built centuries ago by a race of planar merchants to serve as a trade hub for their enterprise, the citadel still serves in this capacity, but also as a refuge for exiles, criminals, and other planar scum. The founders have long since vanished, ceding power to the marut mercenaries who were hired to guard the settlement and to a new cabal known as the Seven Diamonds Society.
A trade compound in the heart of a mountain, Citadel Mercane sees traffic from all sorts of planar peoples.
Population: 9,000. The Citadel boasts a diverse population consisting of just about every kind of civilized creature imaginable, from angels to devils, from humans to maruts. Githyanki are numerous since they often duck into the Citadel to trade plunder for supplies.
Government: The Society of Seven Diamonds rules Citadel Mercane with the permission of the marut mercenary companies who enforce the law here. The Society is made up of seven raavasta, each of whom conceals its true appearance behind a mask. The high cabalist is Tordaka, a raavasta who appears in public as a humanoid with golden skin and sporting overlarge feathery wings. His greatest rival is a corrupt and decadent fiend named Trethrix, who prefers the disguise of a svelte young woman.
Defense: The maruts protect the stronghold from attacks. Three mercenary companies billet here, and the Iron Sons are the oldest and have the most influence.
Commerce: A bustling black market thrives in the Citadel, and any goods can be had for a price. Drugs, poisons, cursed items, terrible rituals, astral vessels, magic items, slaves, and anything one could want are all for sale. Most trading takes place in the open-air market that sprawls just inside the outer wall and surrounds the inner fortress. The best inn and tavern is the Dreaming Spire, boasting thirty rooms and a menu with cuisines hailing from no less than a dozen worlds and a hundred civilizations.
Organizations: Temples of any sort are not permitted in the Citadel, but priests of every god, living and dead, are free to move about the city. Many planar factions including the Xaositects, the Fated, the Mercykillers, and even the Doomguard have offices here.
Just inside the outer wall is the floating bazaar, an insane collection of floating platforms and free-floating structures filled with planar travelers. Even before you pass through the gate, you get a sense of the chaos and wonder of the Bazaar. It is a maze of floating earthmotes, each crowded with merchants hawking their wares. Visitors float from stall to stall, swapping platinum coins for all manner of goods. You spy larger structures too, some sideways towers, others spherical buildings, while others still could pass for ordinary in your native world if not for the fact that they float about, drifting through the marketplace. Astonishingly, there are no collisions even though everything is in motion.
Beyond, or perhaps beneath, is an interior wall, hundreds of feet away, and it sports more gates and tall statues of strange humanoids that look up at commerce’s dance above.
Merchants use stalls situated on small earthmotes ranging from 2-by-2 platforms to more sizeable structures containing bits of architecture, fossilized bones, and other oddities. The free-floating maze is in constant motion, so mapping the place is both unnecessary and impossible. To help navigate the Bazaar, tiny mechanical servants – guides – flit through the crowds, offering aid to any traveler who appears lost. These creations are artfully crafted, each unique and strange. Examples included tiny dragons, cherubic babies, metal skulls with glowing eyes, shimmering balls of light, and so on.
Below the Bazaar is the Inner Sphere, a sealed orb of stone and iron pierced by a half dozen gates protected by adamantine doors that have powerful wards placed upon them. No one outside of the Society of the Seven Diamonds and the marut bodyguards are permitted within the sphere. Standing all across its surface are twenty-foot tall statues depicting the Citadel’s founders. Some say the statues are in fact the founders, now forever trapped in stone.
Rumors hold the Inner Sphere contains vast wealth and plenty. It is a paradise of which one can only dream. Outsiders clamber to catch a glimpse of what goes on beyond its walls, but none have seen anything but shifting mists.