Tales from the Inner Sea
The Principality of Calvia
Calvia is a Principality of many contrasts and contradictions; for much of it’s history it was a military port and base for the Armavine Empire and one of the last cities relinquished in the Inner Seas by that great Empire. It’s transition to a free and independent city has been turbulent and by no means guaranteed when many other post civil war cities fell into barbarism and then destruction.
The man who first managed to grab hold of Calvia and stamp his authority on the rest of the ship captains was Horvakh Menteva, a ruthless and cunning Imperial Navy officer. His line have ruled since then, but not always peacefully. Certainly, the last 5 years have been the most trying some whisper, due to his descendent, Her Serene Highness Princess Kherkya Menteva and her rulership. Inheritor of the Osprey Crown at the age of 20, she has proven to be a clever if random leader of the principality. In truth she was never supposed to be the ruler, and only the deaths of her 2 older brothers (one by duel and one by illness) forced her into this situation, as until then she had adventured without limit (to the scandal of many), indeed bearing a child by a former lover out of wedlock. The fact that her daughter is now her sole heir has exasperated and annoyed some of the Calvian nobility.
Her rule has been characterised by bold and somewhat controversial exploits; banishing the influential Guerthe family from Calvia when they took grave and military offense at her refusal to marry their eldest son was one such action. She also refused the political (and some suggest romantic) advances of the King of Voya, which has caused much political and military tension. Many tales are traded in Inner Sea taverns about her character, from the deeds of adventure she has supposedly carried out and her quick sword arm, to tales of her great beauty and supposedly decadent private life. The average Calvian loves her though, as she seems to embody all they love and enjoy in life.
Calvia now is a city that occupies a precarious position, with the militaristic and aggressive Voyans to the east and north and the mysterious and unknowable Dark Trolls in the Black Wastes over the water to the west. Calvia has a strong navy, that whilst short on great warships, has ones well suited for the treacherous coastline and seaways of the Calvian coast and armed with the cunning Repeating Ballista. The land military is largely made up of good quality light and medium infantry (about 4,000 light and 6,000 medium) along with 5,000 who make up a force of marines and sailors for the gallant warships that patrol their surrounding waters. The light infantry have a corps of siege weapon experts who man, maintain and operate the various clever Repeating Ballistas, stonethrowers and mobile catapults. A Watch/Secret Police called Hawkeyes maintain order (such as it is) throughout the Principality with their numbers around 1000 low key men and women adept at discretely removing trouble and keeping an eye on an excess of civil unrest. Free spirits amongst the people is all well and good (for what is Calvia without free spirits?), but not to the detriment of trade.
The actual city of Calvia is a strange sight, as one half of it sits on high cliffs overlooking the Crescent Bay with a sheer drop to one side down to the sea and the other half of the city down at sea level. The Upper City is where many of the nobility, better off merchants, affluent citizens and the Palace of the Seahawk are to be found, along with various walls and defensive towers (each armed with stonethrowers and other siege weapons) overlooking the Bay and approaches to the city. The Lower City is where much of the life in the city as actually lived in, with theatres, brothels, gambling houses, markets and most ordinary commerce and merchants are found. One the long sloping land running between the 2 halves of the city there is an extensive residential area called The Drift that links the Upper City and Lower City; the houses and dwellings in this area are built into the hillside and the roads from the Lower to the Upper can be exacting on even the most fit and healthy. The harbour itself sits in the corner of the Crescent Bay, a curving well sheltered area of coast further protected by a sea wall 20 metres high, again with siege weapon armed defensive towers. The former Imperial dockyards are now owned and run by representatives of the Osprey Crown and a merchant or captain can have a new ship built here, or repairs done for reasonable cost. Attached to the Palace on the top of the hill is the Lighthouse, a 30 metre tall wonder that is the highest point in the city.
The population of the Principality is around 330,000 with the city itself having a population of 30,000. Those outside the city occupy small cities, towns and villages that dot the Calvian peninsula up through the Terthan forests to the northerly border with Voya. The second largest city in the Principality is near this border and is called Allyria, numbering 10,000, and is heavily fortified and defended.
According to many citizens of the Inner Sea, the average Calvian (if there is such a person) lives in a city with fast paced trade, a commercial life best described as illicit and a great chance to get stabbed for 10 different reasons before a man has had his lunch. This perception is due in large part to the no questions asked attitude of the port authorities with regards to a ships past and its cargo, with competitive port rates encouraging the bold. It is also one of the few places outside of the Altai Territories that those horses can be traded for and a heavily defended harbour on the Altai Coast named Port Caros is the meeting ground between the Altai and Calvia for mutual trade. Calvia also has it’s own trade goods, with excellent lumber and tar from the Terthan forests to the north and it’s own deposits of iron and other metals.
Everyday life for the urban (and urbane) Calvian is lived within the cramped city streets, with gambling houses, brothels and the Colissea being ever popular, and various gangs and crime syndicates vying for control of them. Theatre is also a popular pastime, with the freewheeling lifestyle in the city lending itself well to those of an artistic temperament. There is also a well appointed Hippodrome here, that whilst not large, is well attended and a good springboard for a charioteer to be noticed. Outside of the city each smaller city, town and village operates at a speed only slightly slower than that of the capital.
In terms of religion, Sensu has the largest temple within the city, and most other religions are represented. Whilst open temples to Mowta, Yesan and Neraka are proscribed, a small but well appointed and attended temple to Ba’ath the Moon Goddess exists which causes some tensions within the local religious community. It is reputed that Princess Kherkya worships at the Moon Ladies House. Sorcerors are regarded as shifty money oriented characters who are useful for what they do, and so fit right in as a result.
One tactical and strategic advantage that Calvia has is that for some unknown reason the Sorcerors of The Valheen Magocracy have a delegation within the city, and in characteristic Valheeni understatement have stated that they regard Calvia with “goodwill”. Whether the implied threat of Valheeni reprisals if Calvia is attacked is enough to deter aggressors is a matter of speculation and debate, especially in Voya. Calvia likes to keep a decent military just in case.