Under Feet of Clay
“Some wicked men are rich, some good poor. We will not change our virtue for their store. Virtue is a thing none can take away, but money changes owners all the day.” -Solon, Sage of Metals
North across the Charidian Sea from Periandropolis is the prosperous city of Solonos. Dominated by dwarves, the mighty city is carved from a living cliff and overlooks a natural bay with added breakers to protect the precious cargo. It is said that no coin in Calopius has failed to pass through a Solonite’s hand. so far does their control of the market reach. With seemingly endless vaults of gold in twisting underground mines, Solonos is a beacon of law on a largely untamed peninsula. With soil poor for farming, the dwarves and other residents rely on large fishing vessels and hunting for their food, with the wild boar being a prized catch.
From the harbor, the vertical nature of the city is easy to appreciate, as building facades rise nearly a half mile up the cliff, with pulleys designed in Cleobonomos lifting cargo up a network of platforms. Travelers come from far and wide and make reservations years in advance to dine in one of the Hanging Taverns, stone walled and floored buildings so secure in the cliff that the jut out over the water more than twenty yards. In the cellars, hanging secured in nets, the master brewers age their whiskey and wine in the open air to give it a distinct, salt air taste.
With little farming to do around Solonos, most citizens labor in the mines or are hired for service jobs for wealthy tourists. Most service jobs are handled by the men, while women work the mines, as cracking rock is considered safer than potentially angering a Pittacaen noble. Unlike other cities where barter is the most common means of acquiring goods, coin is king in Solonos.
Arbiters rule over the city of commerce, the heads of the businesses that dominate trade in the city. Policies are passed to ensure wealth flows in and tribute flows out. Representatives of the Arbiters are sent to temples in every other city regularly, offering coin in piety to the gods. Standing watch on the breakers over the harbor is the towering copper Colossus of Purosphuros, considered the father of dwarven kind and protector of the city.
The dwarven sage Solon was guided here to begin digging by an oracle of Purosphuros, and in thanks for the gold he found, the sage swore his city would forever honor the most noble forgemaster of the gods. Soon most dwarves in Calopius found their way to the city, and joined the effort to craft a polis not atop the land, but within it.
Despite the opulence of the city, there is surprisingly little corruption in the city. This is due in part to the volumes of law governing the exchange of wealth and creation of contracts for business, and is aided by the loyal mastiffs trained by the residents to watch for criminals. Punishment in Solonos is swift and severe, but few are driven to desperation because of the mandatory 20% charity tax on income. Though most businesses care more about their bottom line than the charity work they do, they know that failure to at least tokenly participate in these works of justice will quickly bring the wrath of the priests, who hold the will of the people in their sway.
The folk from Solonos are generally stoic, but good natured and kindly. They dislike being praised, but readily heap it on another. They enjoy a good, honest fight, and the coliseums never host death battles. They value order and good will, but expect fair compensation for their deeds. While good-hearted, they are not charitable. The polis is approximately 70% dwarf, 10% gnome, 10% Halfling, 5% human, 5% other. The heroes among the dwarves count themselves as descendants of Solon, while humans here and around the wild places, human heroes look to Calydonia as their progenitor.