So I really love epic fantasy novels. One of my favorite fantasy tropes is long-winded descriptions of fantasy cities. Want to know about the salty smell of the harbor where dwarven stevedores hustle to remove exotic spices and leathers from docked cogs? Or read about the winding alleys that filled Moth's Corner, where the city's poorest gathered in rundown taverns to drink watered down grog called "the king's spit?" Then read a fantasy novel. Do it!
Anyway. I started thinking about what it would be like if American cities existed in epic fantasy novels, and how one might describe them. To that end, here on Frakking Shiny, I am beginning a new series entitled:
AMERICA, the Next Great Fantasy Epic, in which I will create descriptions of major American cities in an epic fantasy style. Up first, my current hometown, Chicago.
Lying upon the shores of Lake Mich'gan like a crow riding on the back of a timberwolf, the city of Chicago, known as the White City, towered over fields of amber corn. Chicago was the capitol of America's Winter Kingdoms, and was a crossroads between the ancients cities of the east, and the gleaming Western Coast. By land, the City was accessible only by a series of gates, known as the Brown Gate, the Purple Gate (which was only open during the waking hours of the work-week), the Orange Gate, the Blue Gate (known to the common people as the Sky Gate), the Metro Gate, The Dan Ryan Gate, the Pink Gate, the Yellow Gate, the Green Gate, and most famous of them all, the Red Gate, which opened upon the red road, the city's main artery. By water, the city was protected by a mighty wall erected in the lake by ancient forces before the first settlers came to the land. Incoming cogs could only access the city through the Navy's Pier, an enormous fortified dock.
The city proper was divided into four sections:
In the Northern District, wealthy elf-lords lived in luxury. Homes carved from red stone and enchanted green maples lined the streets. During the week, the elf-lords followed the red road to the Palace Loop to conduct their business, returning each night to their homes and families. On the weekend, they amused themselves by drinking golden shandies while watching dragons devour bearlings at the Wrig'l'Ey Field. The city's lord, known only as Rahm the Ruthless, called the North his home.
Much of Chicago's industry laid in the west: her manufactories, her slaughterhouses, and the great skyport from whence trained griffins carried the rich and the poor to other parts of the kingdom.
The Southern District, known as South Side to it's residents, was home to much of the Chicago's working poor. The people of South Side were known for their white socks, their work ethic, and their loyalty to the city's former lords, the D'al'ey wizards. Tensions between the South Siders and the Elf-Lords of the north were a constant source of strife within Chicago.
In the midst of it all was the Palace Loop. The Loop was filled with gleaming towers of glass and stone wherein the elf-lords and their clerks toiled day and night. Hundreds of years before, the city had been burned by demon-fire when the arch-devil O'Leary unleashed her fury upon the city. The fire left very little of old Chicago, but the hard-working Chicagoans swore they'd rebuild, and they did, constructing a series of buildings that seemed to scrape the very sky.
Rising above the rest of the city, the black tower of Willis rose like a crack in the firmament. The ebon spire was erected by the dark wizard D'al'ey, first of his name as a sign of his power over all who dwelt in the White City. There were whispers saying the tower had once had another name- a secret name that had been stricken from the world's memory by the very sorcery that had created it. Many said that if the name was spoken, Rahm's rule could be broken, and the D'al'eys would rise once more.