The Path of Tidus may be free of bandits, but it was not without its challenges: the baking sun and waterless valleys have made you thirsty. Weary from walking, the signs of civilization appear — clifftop villas, cypress gardens, olive groves and green vineyards — before at last the suburban sprawl begins. Apartment blocks soon crowd out the sky and the travelers pack the road. Soon enough you will see the towering arenas, giant hippodromes and white palaces of the greatest city in the world.
The city dominates 19 square miles. By far the largest and most densely populated city in the known world, tall apartment blocks squeezed together manage to house the massive population. Each day, many tonnes of grain are unloaded from ships in the Imperial Harbor to sate the endless hunger.
Emperor Anthanius founded a military camp (Camp Anthanius) at the site of an indigenous Anthanian village. After leading his army across the natural peninsula, conquering the Geddic-related natives from ca. 50 to 71 YE, he named the province after himself (Anthania) and made the camp its capital.
By the year 200 YE, it boasted a population of 150,000. In 370 YE, during the reign of Emperor Gabolus, the Eloesian king Arestides captured the city and destroyed a sizable portion. He was eventually driven out and defeated.
Spoils from the Third Eloesian-Imperial War heralded a period of growth for Imperial City. By 500 YE, the population of the city had expanded to 400,000 persons.
The Imperial Council relocated to the city in 491 YE. Following the final capitulation of Eloesus in 510 the growth rapidly increased. By 800 YE, the city’s population exceeded that of Thénai. Through the wars and minor skirmishes to the north and south, and the various rebellions, Imperial City remained untouched by war and violence. By 950 YE—considered by some as the peak of its power—it was by far the largest city in the world, and the wealthiest. Its population of over a million boasted residents from every known nation.
Unconquered Son takes place around that time.
The Imperial Cult, founded around 1000 YE, is banned from the city.
The patron god is Imperium, the spirit of the Empire. The patron goddess is Amara, mother of orphans and healer of the wounded. All gods are currently welcome within the city. However, from around 1000 to 1049 YE, gods considered Fharese in origin (such as Athra and Atman) were banned from the city.
The government divides Imperial City into 30 districts. A few are listed here:
- Harbor District: A thin strip of land that runs along the harbor, filled with wharfs and warehouses. The Imperial harbor is artificial, a masterwork of hydraulic concrete. Long ago, Imperial City’s only port was Tidusca. When the Alchemist Collegium invented hydraulic concrete, laborers immediately set to work on construction.
- Kings Terrace: The wealthiest section of Imperial City, filled with mansions and lavish townhomes. A favorite locale of the Imperial elite.
- Suburro: An impoverished area in the western portion of the city: a known red-light district and center of crime.
- The Ricci: The ratling ghetto, cordoned off by a high wall, located in the western portion of the city. Despite the homogeneous ratling population, their representation on the Imperial Council is human because only humans can serve in the government.
- Mud Bottom: A shanty town in the western side of the city. Its squalid living conditions are of frequent concern to city administrators. The population is poor and mostly unemployed, living on a diet of free bread.
• Imperial Square is the center of Imperial City and—some claim—the world. At night, the square is lit by colored lanterns, and idlers can be found there until the morning.
Prostitutes have become an increasingly common sight; they appear at night and sell their bodies to lookers-on. Music can be heard in the square at all times, both from professionals and from beggars. A visitor to Imperial Square will also see advertisements painted on brick walls, both for shops and taverns as well as for political campaigns.
The square is bordered by the Temple of Imperium—the most sacred place in the city—and the Imperial Treasury. The Treasury, built in the shape of a towering basilica, is flanked by statues representing Justice and Prosperity.
The square is called a “great wonder of the world” by Eloesian travel writer Theokriton.
• The Imperial Palace: Originally a modest house, it expanded and eventually became a giant white complex of colonnades, arches, gardens and domes. It overlooks Imperial Square.
• The Council House: A dome-roofed building connected to the Imperial Palace by a sky bridge. Councilors meet here, discuss governmental affairs, and pass laws.
• The Arch of Conquest marks the entrance to Imperial City. The triumphal arch was built by Emperor Eratis following the conquest of Gad.
• The Walk of Triumph: A road leading into Imperial Square, lined with statues of emperors and historical heroes.
• The Imperial Arena: The largest gladiatorial amphitheater in the known world. When the teams compete against each other, they often use the alchemically-treated “tourney” or “game” swords. When notorious criminals are disposed-of within, they use real blades.
• The Augur Collegium: The center of the augur order, closed off to the public.
• The Imperial Hippodrome, a vast chariot-racing arena, dominates the center of Imperial City. Seats can hold as many as fifty-thousand spectators who eagerly watch their favorite teams and the carnage that often ensues when chariots turn at a harsh angle. Originally, teams consisted of the Reds, the Greens, and the Yellows. The Silvers, the Purples and the Golds were added later. Loyalties to these teams runs deep.