Life In Shimin

Life In Shimin, an Account by Tammuz Talwar-Kadath


I grew up within her walls, and must agree, she is the greatest city on earth. Of course, I mean to say more than merely having the greatest population, but rather that she is also the most beautiful place. Indeed I miss her so. A great many have asked me about this place, and so I write of her here, to describe her virtues and her wonders. But where do I start? Let me begin with the last thing I saw before I left place forever, and what travelers will first see should they make the journey all the way to Heaven’s Tear.

The Approach


Approach from the south at dawn-break or else at day’s end, and peer through the banks of mist. Behold! There as if floating on a cloud are great walls, and reaching up from behind them the towers of a magnificent city comparable to a scene from any Bazrami epic. Continue your journey north, and as you pass through the misty fields, note the people you see. Humans, Beastfolk, and Halflings cultivate the rice, wheat, chilies, moong dal, jowar, and bajra that feed the multitude of Shimin.

Outer Districts (Low Born)

  • Trader’s Square

Outside of the city gates, farmers with crops and merchants with wares all around meet, offloading their goods . From here, depending on the buyer, they will be taken to the storehouses, stalls in the markets, or finer shops. You can anything imaginable in the traders square for cheaper prices than in the marketplace, but if you buy anything mind you, it’ll more than likely have to be in bulk.

  • Inn’s & Lodging

Visitors to Shimin should have no trouble finding temporary lodging, should they have no friends, family, or accommodating persons waiting for them there. Many bars and similar establishments allow patrons to rent affordable rooms. Being a local, I had no need of them, and so I cannot laud or denounce the quality of their lodging from personal experience. I have however patroned enough of them for food and drink to confidently recommend “ Vashatsena’s”, a modest place run by the titular Loxophanti woman and her husband.

  • Beneath the Streets, The Shimin Subterrane

The streets of Shimin are full of people at all hours of the day, but if you only walk the streets above, you’re only seeing half the populace. Shimin like many great cities has a history of additions, very one atop of the other. As a result, this has left a complex network of tunnels, passages, and waterways below. There are short stairways from the surface all over Shimin, and some people even have basements that open into the Subterrane. If it has become too hot or there is an unexpected rain, one might cross the city in the shade or stay dry very easily. I would liken it best to Avalon’s Undercity, albeit Avalon’s underground is of far greater depth, but what it lacks in depth it makes up for in area. I find the Undercity of Avalon quite plain and in need of beautification; the Subterrane of Shimin has lovely tile murals on the floors and ceilings, as well as columns and walls with reliefs. Besides offering an alternative route to anywhere, there are a number of things of potential interest. Like many boys, I spent the hot months exploring the Subterrane playing “Adventurer” as a child, and like many men I found other things of interest when I was older.

  • Storehouses: Larger businesses will need more space than a simple “back room” for their wares, the city needs a place to keep food in case of famine, adventurers may find they don’t own enough space to keep all of their valuables, and even ordinary people will have need of storage from time to time. There is an entire district of underground warehouses and the like that will store anything depending on volume and for how long it is to be kept- Even animals, depending on how much trouble they are. I have heard stories of Wizards who’ve had need of storing all manner of magical beasts, some of their own devising. I’ve also heard tales of strange things escaping, and taking up residence in abandoned storehouses as well as the “deeper and darker” parts of the Subterrane that are supposed to exist but have been forgotten. Likely an urban legend.
  • Shanty Towns :There’s no official residences or housing proper down there like there is in Avalon’s Undercity. That doesn’t stop people from trying to live there though. There are number of shanty towns haphazardly put together out of everything and anything you can imagine. Most of them are crude tents, though some of them are sturdier dwellings composed of crates, while a few others are unusual- such as a shelter built entirely of discarded chairs. Periodically some official will go inspecting the soundness of the architecture, happen upon one of the shanty towns and rule it a fire hazard. The city guard will go clear them out-though only as a formality, and as usually they’ll set up right back where they were. In truth, no one wants them living on the streets above, and so officials make no real attempt to throw them out. The only time the government is ever really concerned with their presence is when there’s something catching going around or when they’re looking for some wanted man.
  • Red Light District: The Red Light District is literally a series of passages illuminated by a weak red magical aura instead of the usual pale yellow or pale blue magical lights. The air here smells of spicy pipe weed and heady perfumes, and the reliefs which are seen everywhere take on more risqué or even explicit themes. As one would imagine, there is prostitution here. Of course- the legality and perception of this is different from other cities. In Shimin there’s nothing illegal about it, its not even that taboo. Still- as an ordinance all prostitution is to be confined to that place, and no solicitations are to made anywhere but. Brothels however, are illegal, and landlords above who house too many of the profession may be accused on running such. Babusor pimps and “live-in lovers” who support themselves from a prostitute's earnings are guilty of a crime, and any man living with a prostitute is assumed to be a Babu –even if the woman is mother, sister, or some sort of extended family. He is presumed guilty unless he can prove he is otherwise. Prostitutes come from all classes or castes, from those who more affluent and aspire to be courtesans of some noble, to those who have hit rock bottom due to some addiction or debt. While they may come from anywhere and belong to their respective castes, they are all regarded to be somewhere near if not at the bottom of whatever caste they come from and so they may be among the least of the upper class or the very lowest of the low born.

Annually, a woman is chosen through informal festivities as Nagarvadhu or “Bride of The City”. Those above and below from all walks of life to see her sing and dance, and she is respected like a goddess, though in truth she is a courtesan. The price for a single “Night Dance” with a Nagarvadhu is so high, that it is only afforded by nobles, princes, or very wealthy merchants. There are also the Devadasi whom are married to a particular deity or deva in Bazrami tradition. They perform various rites, ceremonies, and other clerical duties in the temples, and also collect “donations” through prostitution. A temple is not a brothel because no prostitution actually goes on inside of it, nor are any of the high priests Babu, because they don’t actually make any money as its supposed to go back into necessary services for the peoples physical and spiritual well being, or else be saved to purchase aid from a neighboring land in case of severe crisis. The temples have considerable funds, and while Bazram is no theocracy the clergies of various religions do have power. In most every society I have studied, religion holds the greatest or second greatest power. While religion may not always command military might, they always hold the two sharpest swords ever forged, faith in the left hand and wealth in the right.

Prostitution draws a large number of patrons to the district, and so naturally it has also drawn many entrepreneurs hoping to make money as well. If there is anything one isn’t supposed to have, poisons, dangerous alchemicals, harder drugs, scrolls or books of banned or restricted Arcanum (Some Necromancy, some types of Conjuration i.e. Calling and Summoning), and various stolen merchandise at below market prices. There are legitimate enterprises too, alchemists that sell aphrodisiacs and other curious things, peddlers erotic scrolls- for those who can read there is also literature, and also Wizards whom put on some very interesting shows with illusions. Gambling is omnipresent, perhaps even more so than in the marketplace.

  • Waterfront

A lowerclass dockland community of sailors, porters, fishermen, and the like that live off of the river. The waterfront also provides an easier route of trade than moving goods overland, and is vital to the citie's well being. During the day goods are constantly offloaded from ships and moved through the Subterrane to the Storehouse District, or from their to the Waterfront to be loaded onto ships. While those of the well born or middle castes would go to public founts, each morning, hundreds of people from the lower castes come to bathe or bring water back to their homes to do the days cooking and cleaning. As a child, and even when I was older, one of my favorite pastimes was sitting there watching the ships go up and down the river. I like Avalon's Waterfonts too, although Shimin does not have so many fantastic bridges, indeed, in my eyes Avalon is a city of bridges.

Middle Districts (Well Born)

  • Shreni & Jati

The Shreni or Jati are fraternities of a similar craft or trade, and they gather in meeting places of the same name. Avalonians and other foerigners would refer to these organizations as guilds, and the meeting places as guild halls. They protect the secrets of their trade, offer apprenticeships to those willing, and generally support artisans like themselves, sometimes offering lodging. No one is allowed to start a business in a particular craft without belonging to a one, and if one works in the trade they work under a master of the craft who is a member. This ensures the overall quality of a city's exports, and for Bazrami cities that are known for few particular exports , ensures the city's reputation.


* The Barracks
The barracks of Shimin house and maintain the cities defense forces, and act as central hub for city guardsman with smaller garrisons stationed throughout the city. The city guard rarely give people trouble, but dont think that's an excuse to be an ass or an idiot.

  • Residential

The middle residential districts have average middlecass housing, made in the style typical of the region. Because the city is so populated, most people live in some form tennament or rental housing. Those with more money may own a small house of their own, as my grandfather Midrashim did. People usually live with some sort of extended or joint family.

  • Nagartejas

The air here smells of sweet smoke and aromatics, and the sounds of hymns can be heard in many tongues. This district is home the larger temples to all of the gods worshipped in Bazram. In addition to the temples themselves, devotees of the gods may live in small clerical enclaves. They hold worship services for the faithful who visit the temples, as well as travel daily to the shanty towns to minister to the poor and the sick. The name of the temple district means "City of Splendor", and in a way is a city within the city. Most children gain basic knowledge or primary education from their parents, and any vocational training comes from their parents who know a trade, or by studying under professional. Those who desire their children to learn more, such as history, religion, or more advanced mathematics would likely send them to a temple run school under the supervision of a guru for secondary and sometimes tertiary education -although in the latter case, one is usually on their way to be if not already a part of the clergy.

  • The Grande Calicut Market

All of the goods brought into the city by farmers and merchants is sold here, as are innumerable local handicrafts. The name comes from a word in the Bazrami dialect that refers to a brightly colored, course cotton fabric which is sold there amongst other things. The marketplace is also an entertainment center, where you find all manner of street performers; dancers, acrobats, musicians, and even theatre performed upon temporary stages. Gambling in the forms of games of chance are common, there are also street fights Vendors sell street food that can be eaten without cooking, or can be prepared very quickly.

Inner District (High Born)

* Noble Estates & Wealthy Residential

The nobility, government and military officals, and social elite of Shimin live in large homes within an area walled off from the rest of the city. The only people allowed in are those who live there, or else serve in the house of someone who does.

  • Palace

The prince of Shimin and his court reside here. The building itself is large enough so as to be visible from most places within the city.

  • Civic Center

Centered around the palace are the offices of major officials beneath he prince. Heads of the various districts and wards may have offices here as well as in their district. Issues unresovable by local court houses in their respective districts are taken to the high court here.

  • Parks & Gardens

Greenery is something that is seen everywhere in Shimin where there arent buildings, whether that means trees, bushes, or flowers. In such a densely populated city with so much brick and mortar, open green space is a privilege , and the wealthy have more of it than anyone, even more than the mid castes. It is a wonder in my eyes, the large, carefully maintained park in Avalon city availiable to just anyone.

  • Izzat Bazaar

If you are looking for finer things such expensive jewelry, a custom Sherwani, or an upscale eatery, this is where you will find it- but be prepared with a full purse, the prices here are well out of the range of the low born, and very high for the middle caste. Magical items in excess of 300 gold or more are sold here, the stuff of adventurers that normal people would either have no use of or would be unable to afford.

The name comes from a word in the Bazrami dialect that means "Honored" or "Respected".

  • University of Shimin

The University of Shimin is the center for purely secular tertiary education, including the arcane and the alchemical. It is expected of all upper caste members to attend some tertiary school. Not all who attend are locals, as scholars from all over Bazram who have the funds will come to lecture, study, and exchange ideas. The university complex is made up of several buildings, each tied to a different department or field of study. The university is perhaps best known for its overlook from its hillside at the lush forests around Shimin, its large pond, and its high bell tower. I was able to study religion under my grandfather, and for a time, study arcana here- though not as a Wizard or other arcanist. It was on the same night that left Shimin, that I gained my sorcerous powers.

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