Thalsa - the capital city.
Located deep in the heart of the Salsham'ai forests where many ancient braashak trees grow. The Salsham'ai are a civilized and cultured people but the atmosphere of the city is almost like that of a village but for the sheer size of the place.
The outskirts of the city are mostly swing ropes
and rope bridges linking individual tree platforms, with rope ladders and
ropes for ascending to higher levels. As you move into the centre however
it becomes more and more "built-up", larger platforms, more stable
bridges and ladders until right at the centre there is the Great Trunk,
the residence of the Great Trunk Mother. There, extending over the small
river that flows through/under Thalsa, about 10 meters above ground is
an area about 100 meters square that is completely solid under foot. A
doorway into the Great Trunk leads into the Great Trunk Mother's public
chamber, a low roofed, circular room about 7 meters in diameter. A throne
is carved into the opposite wall and 10 seats around the sides for the
Trunk Mothers Council. The tree's own sap has hardened and created a natural
varnish on all the surfaces. A stone hearth lies in the centre and one
or two curtained stairs lead to her family's living and working quarters.
The Salsham'ai are a very informal race, and have
no great regard for pomp and circumstance and material splendour so there
is little decoration apart from some exquisite woodcarving, lots of comfortable
looking cushions (some of which look to have been made by beloved grandchildren
rather than great artisans) for those not privileged enough for one of
the few seats and the family banners of the Mothers. The doorway itself,
although it has a guard is only an, admittedly luxurious, animal pelt to
keep out the drafts. This is the room where the Great Mother holds council,
meets ambassadors and other such formal occasions, it is also the room
where family and friends gather on winter nights to drink shoka, tell stories
and sing songs.
In fact most of the braashak trees have such a room
at "ground level", it might be the common room of an extended,
and wealthy, family who live in the tree, a tavern, a trader's showroom
etc. The Merchant's League reside in a braashak, as do several foreign
embassies. Most braashaks are home to several families and businesses,
almost like natural apartment blocks.
The other two important areas of Thalsa are the Great
Library and the Merchant's Quarter. The Library is actually made up of
about 20 braashaks and other great trees. The Loremasters and students
have their own living quarters scattered throughout the Library and use
the main "ground level" chamber for cooking, classes, conducting
experiments etc. The Library is divided up into sections on thematic lines
- history, theology, magic, science, literature etc. One of the braashaks
is the medical library and hospital. The Salsham'ai tradition is to use
scrolls but long contact with the Empire means that books are common too,
and many other styles of record keeping, clay tablets etc, from other cultures
are not unknown. Not all the Loremasters in Thalsa are located at the Library,
many live within the ordinary community serving the people in the traditional
The Merchant's Quarter, centered around the League's
braashak, is even more built up, proper staircases wind up the outside
of the trees, handrails and bridges are solid and comforting to unsure
feet and hands. Here most of the foreigners live, and there is a substantial
number of them.
The army serves as both local police and defensive
force, in Thalsa there are several barracks located on the periphery of
the city housing the rank and file, but the braashak which houses their
headquarters is known as Ironwood, because metal, particularly iron, is
associated mainly with the army. Thalsa has no walls but is very well protected.
Several clever mechanisms are in place that will immediately arm vicious
traps, the ropes and ladders providing access to the ground are easily
removed and the trees themselves are cleared of all lower branches which
might make them climbable. Of course a hostile force has never actually
reached Thalsa, the miles and miles of dense woodland would probably be
protection enough but they are supplemented by several surprises
along the highways.
The city itself, apart from being above ground contains
all the types of things you'd expect, taverns, craftsmen, residences, warehouses,
slaughter houses, shops, poor people, rich people, matoos and muitas being
herded about, people going to and fro. Crime is much less than in other
cities but it still exists, Ironwood has a small jail but convicted criminals
usually pay a fine or work as bonded labourers and usually stay with the
people they are working for. Thalsa is loosely divided into 6 districts
- Trunkside (the area around the Great Trunk), Riverside, Merchant's Quarter,
Irontown (around Ironwood), Great Library and Newtown.