Altdorf

" Here, truly, is the mightiest city ever made by the hands of men." Prince Caenthras of the Sea-Elf vessel Starsong

The walls of the city soar to dizzying heights overhead. Altdorf seems to spear free of the swampy landscape to claw at the very clouds themselves. It's tiered battlements and arrowhead eaves spill across a full league of countryside, a tumble of heavy stone, crumbling plaster, rotten tiles and weatherworn oak. Surrounding that, the New Quarter sprawls further still, to the edge of the river and Forest Drak. It's wooden and thatchwork structures are enclosed by the outer parapets, and play host to the largest concentration of free men in the realm. From within the city, eleven colossal towers reach up to pierce the heavens. They seem to groan under the weight of their own sheer scale and ambition. You recognize each of these world-famous structures, the Rieksfang, (the Prince's Tower), the Cathedral Spire of Sigmar, the College of Engineers, and the eight College towers of the Schools of Magic. No matter the sights you have seen, none can compare to Altdorf in the morning light.

As the first and oldest human Imperial settlement, Altdorf bears the marks of it's immense age. It's structures are patchworked with repairs, many houses seeming to lean and loom with menace or decrepitude. The confluence of the Rivers Riek and Talabec form the Rieksport, a staggering jumble of floating shops and trading ships from every corner of the world. As the southernmost navigable port for seafaring vessels, this is possibly the most prosperous and diverse economy in existence. It's streets and canals explode with the industry of merchants, traders, armorers, spice-dealers, farriers, beast-handlers, conjurers, apothecaries, tricksters and charlatans, no trade left unplied in humanity's capital. Tragedy and decay are overlain with glory and grandeur, as dim, rotting corridors give way to lush gardens and ornate boulevards. Towering monuments and statues to the Empire's greatest heroes can be found at every turn, rivaled only by the number of dank, dark drinking warrens or gambling dens. Rendered unmappable by powerful protective rituals, Altdorf's citizens go about their business by landmarks, innate directional sense, or simple trial and error. It's many perils (beyond getting lost) include thieves, brawlers, mercenaries and drunks of every description, to say the least of professional pirates and duelists who are drawn to the promise of adventure and gold. The wise keep a wary hand on their purses - the rich employ carriages and Ogre bodyguards to ensure their own protection. Nowhere else in creation are the desperately poor and impossibly wealthy held in such close proximity.

A traveller is rarely alone in Altdorf, for the press of the living surrounds him at all times. At most times he will be cast in shadow by surrounding buildings and undulating levels of this unique city. The smell of working bodies, their waste, and the turgid stink of nearby waterways make for an intense and confronting experience. He will be bumped, jostled, harassed and cajoled, insulted, admired, admonished and swindled before he can reach the first guesthouse. Many provincials have found themselves utterly overwhelmed by the experience - yet few can deny the appeal of a truly great city.

In Altdorf, the destiny of mankind is made manifest. His industry is given form in the lofty peaks of famous towers, vaulted cathedrals and soaring observatories raised by his hand. His mastery is heard in the roars of the many fantastical beasts housed at the Imperial Zoo. His ingenuity can be smelled in the swirling confluence of aromas that pour through it's many bustling markets, where all the worldly culinary cultures collide. His genius can be felt in the underfoot rumble of passing steam-trains, or the whip-crack of guns on the artillery range. And his glory can be seen in step of the steely-faced soldiers and thunderous wings of Starscale, the Imperial Dragon as he beats his daily path across the skies of the city. Altdorf is a dank and terrible place, a strange and wonderful place, but most of all, it is a place in which dreams and fortunes are bought, sold and forged.

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