|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. 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. 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. However for the weary traveller there are other methods you may choose:
Rickshaw or donkey cart
A great many of these colourful vehicles throng the city streets. With a tasselled sunshade perched on top and gaily painted bodies these little two-wheeled carts will take you wherever you want to go - for a price. A rickshaw is generally a little cheaper than a cart and it is considered customary to give the rickshaw puller a flask of water or other drink as a kind of tip, as well as his fare.
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.
Horse or camel
Horses and camels, and even, in a pinch, donkeys, are available for hire or purchase at numerous establishments throughout the city. There are certain taverns and coffee houses where you may talk bloodlines to your heart's content if the subject interests you, 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.
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.
For the more sorcerously inclined or those rich enough to afford them, there are artificially animated artefacts or golems. The Calipha herself is said to own a whole stableful of wondrously bejewelled mechanical horses. Many sorcerers, and others, have the power to animate a clay figure or clockwork beast to do their will. They can often be seen striding about the city on errands for one master or another, or carrying that same master to fabled lands on legs that do not tire. Some, if you know the right contacts, are for hire.
The old stand-by. When wanting to rise above it all there is nothing more comfortable or convenient than a magical flying carpet. Some carpets are legendary - for example, the Black Silk Carpet of Yassah Hassim which carried its master three times round the world in just one night - but most are of more ordinary make and animation, with good hessian backweave, and standard location spells. Many are for hire at special points around the city, for a very reasonable fee. Some come with drivers, some with a standard set of magic words, but most of the common sort are limited in distance to the greater city environs. To gain a special carpet takes skill, or money, or both. Then again, everything is for sale in Shalazar.
"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 most popular services to use. If you have the funds, alchemists or magic-carpet riders are the Shalazarian equivalent of express delivery services. An alchemist can use his skills to send an instantaneous message to the recipient, but for a very high price. Similarly, using a magic-carpet rider to deliver your message/package will set you back a fair amount.
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.