The city was a hive of congestion and urban sprawl lining a narrow north-south running river. With no thought having been put into planning, it had grown around the palace and followed no logical path. As they came closer they saw merchants clogging the streets peddling everything imaginable. The entire city was one giant marketplace. Not a single house could be found within the market. Only shops, stands and tents lined what had to be called streets for lack of a better term. Shacks which dared to be called homes, encircled the trading zone
Linvin stuck his face between the bars of their cell and called to a nearby soldier marching alongside. “Is that where we are going?”
“Yes,” replied the guard who looked around to make sure no one saw him talking to a prisoner.
Linvin asked more. “What is that place?” Again the goblin looked around and then said, “Marinhalk...It is the capital of the Empire.”
“Why are we being taken there?” Linvin inquired. Before the goblin could speak a whip struck him from behind. “Silence,” ordered his Goblin Sergeant. “You do not speak with the Emperor’s prisoners.” Linvin found the comment to be strange. They had become ‘The Emperor’s prisoners’?
Linvin could not help but compare Marinhalk with the other capitals he had known, Sarice and Fraylic. In the comparison, Marinhalk was the dismal poor cousin.
Sarice was the finest fortification in the world. Its inhabitants built a dense, well-organized capital for an endangered kingdom. Her walls displayed might and her stone interior resisted fire that could be used in a siege. The complex multi-level buildings made all possible use of the protected area.
Fraylic was an entirely different, though equally impressive capital. Having no pressing defense worries, the Sartanian Capital took no measures to fortify its exterior. The founders laboriously planned an infrastructure of wide, straight streets stretching out from the city’s center like the spokes of a wheel. As the city expanded, so did the roads. Trade could flow swiftly and efficiently through the economy. It was the perfect hub for a trade route.
Marinhalk possessed none of the others’ characteristics. Linvin needed no history lesson to discern the seat of power had been chosen in the empire’s early days due to its central location and proximity to fresh water. A wooden fort had been built and merchants clustered around. As the empire grew, engineers spent their energies building roads and distant fortifications to project the empire’s borders. Clearly the philosophy of the empire was to take the fight to the frontiers and never let it near the base of power. Such an aggressive and expansionist viewpoint meant the capital was left to grow on its own, without guidance or direction. In addition to a lack of adequate streets was a total neglect of sanitation and access to drinking water. With the addition of the autumn rains, the city was a quagmire of refuse and human misery. In the capital of the mightiest empire in the world crime, poverty and starvation held greater power than any army.