Syrol has been inhabited on and off since the Age of the Rime Lords. It began its history as a temporary camp at the foot of the Balisár glacier were sacrifices were made to appease the Frost. It gained prominence as a trading post after the end of that Age, when the Bay of Silence was opened up by the withdrawal of the glacier. During the Age of the Storm, Syrol became the site of a temple dedicated to Syrse, and was soon one of his chiefest places of worship. The ancient sacrificial Temple of Balisár was overhauled and rededicated, to become the center of the Wheel of Faith in the heart of the city.
It was subjugated by the the armies of Dyrak four generations ago. Worship of Syrse was banned, leaving the heart of the Wheel empty. The emperor Ancabulis established a palace inside the city to serve as a retreat during the winter months when the northern frontier was frozen. Since then, Syrol has become a major center of administration for the southwestern Empire of Dyrrakos and is also known as the City of Peace -- when there is war, the emperor dwells in the east at Carnafon, the City of War.
Syrol is characterized by a number of hills, sloping down toward the Bay of Silence. The Wheel of Faith is the northernmost district of the city, located in a shallow depression between the Palace Hill and the Balisár Hill. This is a religious district that is constructed in a very clear hub-and-spokes format, with the long-shuttered Temple of Syrse at its heart.
Eighteen gates pierce the walls of Syrol, each with a unique name, and each with a detachment of the Carifex Guard stationed there. The city is home to the Carifex Reserve, the emperor's personal army of wizard-functionaries and mercenary-soldiers, number about 400 men, who inhabit a large porphyry barracks in the imperial palace. Their commander, the Phidrian Lahkud, is second only to the Imperial Secretary when it comes to rule in the city.
Districts of Syrol.
The Imperial Palace.
The palace sits in a district of its own at the northernmost curtain wall, between the Argetgate and the Highgate, and has its own gate in the curtain wall that is most often known as the Dyrangate, though it may also be called the Emperor's Gate. The palace proper is a huge compound with walls of its own. It contains the Carifex Reserve (400 hand-picked men who serve as the elite garrison for the city, and which contain five imperial wizards in their ranks) as well as the Peacewarden Army (1,600 heavily armored soldiers who serve the palace and emperor). When the emperor is present, the inhabitants of the palace can swell to as many as 4,000 people.
The district immediately surrounding the palace is the quietest and most peaceful in the city. It abuts the Wheel of Faith and the Ancabuleum. Peacewardens under Reserve Captains patrol the city streets fairly regularly. The area is peppered with the great manors of the wealthy nobility and the ministries and chancelleries of the Winter Palace.
The Wheel of Faith.
Once the center of life in the city, the Wheel of Faith does still contain the Syrsen Market at the Balisár Temple. However, since the coming of the Dyrakkon Conquest the Temple of Syrse has been shuttered and the priesthood all but extinguished. The other great temples of Syrol are situated around the central depression where the Temple stands.
Peacewarden patrols are also fairly frequently found in the Syrsen Market, though there is a significant amount of crime here compared to the palace district.
The great gardens built by Ancabulis contain the Horvedic Baths, the Statuary, and the manors of the highest imperial relations and allies. Located in the north-west of the city, the Ancabuleum is a vast and nearly trackless region within the city walls. For this reason, there is a great deal of crime hidden within the confines of the Ancabuleum. The Peacewardens maintain patrols near the Baths, the Statuary, and the manors, but do not regularly check the illicit dicing and unlicensed whorehouses that spring up in the Ancabuleum's darker corners.
The mercantile interests in Syrol are obviously some of the most powerful in all Dyrakkos. To this end, they have apportioned an upper region of the city to themselves, in the northwest. There, the great manses of the merchant-lords, who are just below the imperial nobility, are to be found. They benefit from proximity to the imperial household and the Secretary, as most of them make at least some portion of their living from imperial shipping commissions.
Private guards patrol merchant's height at all times, and the manors are staffed with them. Each merchant-lord is thought to be partially responsible for the city's defense. The Secretary has the authority to draft their bodyguards into the general militia, should necessity arise.
Along the water there is a district at the western edge of the harbor known as Scowline, which boasts the largest concentration of rope and sail-makers, shipwrights, tar-boilers, and other nautical equipment in the western empire. Scowline is where most of the ships built in the western empire originate from, and is a particularly seedy area of the city.
The central city is known as the Murks. This is a network of stews, slums, whorehouses, and other places of ill repute. The only law in the Murks is the private law of individual "entrepreneurs."
A district settled originally by retired imperial soldiery, Reefsend occupies the south-western segment of the shoreline in Syrol. Here, there are a number of farms, mills, and imperial granaries.
The approach to the harbor is guarded by Watchlight Isle, which boasts a massive sorcerous lighthouse in the form of a pyramid with the blazing Watchlight fire at its peak. It is maintained by the Carifex Reserve.