|The City of Shalazar | Society and Social Roles | Religion | Law and Justice | Council of Elders | The Status of Men | The Great Families | Government and Military | Trade and Economy | Prices | Health | Transport and Communications|
How you travel in Shalazar is in direct proportion to your means, social status, and your preferred level of ostentation. Throughout the reign of Rahseeda , with the increased efficacy of the Palace Guard and the Order of Khal'Nayak, both loyal to the Calipha and sworn to protect the people of Shalazar, travel has certainly become a lot safer for legitimate merchants and travellers.
At its basest you may choose to walk the teeming streets of the central city, visiting the bazaars and listening to the hawkers offering their wares. During the day this is dusty and tiring in the hot climate and if a longer trip to the suburbs is required where the great noble's properties are more spaced out and the sound of waterfalls and the smells of exotic fruits linger in the air from behind high walls, then the journey by foot will feel long indeed. Walking out alone at night is not advised, by anyone.
For all the citizenry of the Caliphate, travel has been revolutionised since the split of the Alchemists' Guild. Carpets are now widely available, however commercial Carpet operation is permitted only by members of the Transport Cartel. Personal Carpet ownership is increasingly widespread and has become the preferred method of personal long distance travel. However, they are not capable of transporting too many goods, or any significant weight so are not widely used for trade.
For a leisurely way to visit the suburbs, buying passage on a canal barge or pleasure boat is the first choice. There are types of boat and barge to suit every pocket, from the highly scented, heavily veiled Barques of Delight, from which you can purchase a number of extra pleasures while on board, to the honest, scarred wooden decks of the barges that bring in food from the fields outside the city. You may even save your fare if you are willing to help load and unload the cargo at either end.
A leisurely way to travel in style, and one favoured by the priestesses of the Great Temple, would be by palanquin. It is customary to have at least four brawny slaves toting you about in your own personal moving silk pavilion, but it is not for the poor. Some noble ladies of the great families almost consider it an opportunity for one up man ship, and their palanquins are laden with gold, jewels, beautiful embroidery and thick with pearls. They compete to have matching sets of the most handsome slaves and will pay high prices for such in the slave markets.
Horses and Camels
Horses, camels, and even donkeys and mules are widely available for hire or purchase, and an excellent way to traverse the city, or even between cities, if one can load up enough animals with water and supplies. If you look for good racing or breeding stock, there are certain taverns and coffee houses where you may talk bloodlines to your heart's content, and further towards the outskirts of the city are great corrals of animals where a whole caravan's worth may be bought in bulk. Nearly all inns and guest houses throughout the city have stabling for individual mounts.
Rickshaw/Horse and Cart
On a hot Shalazar afternoon those with a few coins to hand will usually opt for catching a rickshaw, or group horse and cart to their intended destination. Rickshaw operators roam the streets and are never in short supply. It's not glamourous, but it's quicker than walking and not too hard on the pocket. More luxurious, richly decorated rickshaws and private carts are also available, but at a price. Furthermore, unless one wants ones' family cursed and ones' mother insulted, it is customary to tip cart and rickshaw drivers with a coin, or a drink of water.
Still the time-honoured preferred method of trade and long-distance travel (being the only form of transport capable of carrying enough water or supplies for any journey of appreciable length), caravans can be acquired or hired with relative ease, especially after the boom of goods-shipping that followed the establishment of the Jerezad and Bookwala Punt trading outposts.
After the fall of the Izar house the mechanical beasts and men of burden became increasingly scarce. Over the years many have fallen into disrepair. Owners prefer to keep them close to home, as repair to a damaged Mechanical creature has become extremely costly. These are gadgets only for those of tremendous wealth, or those not afraid of a risky investment.
"Oh, you want to send a letter there? Well, if I were you, I'd use a hawk. The ferrets are better for house-specific deliveries, but then there's a couple of rogue dog-operators in that area. Yeah, real cowboys: their mutts ate three messenger-ferrets and mauled one carrier-Chihuahua just last month. Yeah, you could use a runner… I generally don't after I sent a china statuette to my brother and it arrived there in powder!"
Communication channels are vital in such a huge city as Shalazar. Private communications can be strapped onto a variety of trained carrier-beasts, from efficient but expensive eagles, to cheap yet vulnerable weasels and ferrets. Alternatively, individual foot-messengers, known as 'runners' will relay a message, or a light package for a reasonable fee. A better service is offered by the 'Priority Rik-shaws', who can carry sacks of mail at a time, for a price. Tipping message carriers is an accepted, and expected, social practice in Shalazar.
Public notices are either written in chalk onto huge public billboards, or broadcast by the prestigious town criers twice a day. Any flat wall or surface is covered in a variety of messages - adverts, upcoming events, or political slogans. However, district officials are always vigilant about such public displays, and misuse of wall space will not be tolerated. In public emergencies, a series of huge bronze bells in their high shining white towers are rung to warn Shalazarians of approaching danger. (Notably, these bells have not rung in many lifetimes.)
For getting messages between city states, horse-riders, mail-carts or barges are the cheapest services to use. The recently formed Honourable Company of Messagers will convey a message between any two cities in less than a day, and the discretion of the messagers is guaranteed by a solemn oath before the priestesses.
Generally, in Shalazar messengers can be trusted. Interception of a missive is rare, but trusted operations will carry the official seal of approval from a district official as notary.