The Sacred District
Heiros is the hub of South American culture. Its main region of influence spans all of South America, as well all of Central America below Mexico.
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Heiros is a vibrant, colorful district with as many different beliefs as it has people. Visiting residents often chuckle that here, every day is a party. And they wouldn’t entirely be wrong; from traditional Incan festivals hosted by the Minister, to vibrant parades, to solemn Catholic ceremonies, celebration is never in short supply. The Citizens who live here embrace the eclectic, melting-pot nature of Sybal Heim more than those of any other district, and have a reputation for being somewhat unpredictable.
Perhaps this is true of the lower echelon, but at the top, little could be farther from the truth. Since taking the reins from her predecessor (who was, and continues to be, something of a party animal), Minister Chaska Palla has taken the once-stuttering economy and fashioned it into a well-oiled machine. While she takes pains to care for and invest in her people, Chaska is well known as the least compromising of all the five Ministers when it comes to the rule of law, and there is resentment towards her from those who preferred her predecessors’ more relaxed approach. The brilliant face of Heiros is a facade that hides deep rifts between those who enjoy the District’s economic stability, and those who prefer the freedom to pursue their immortal lives as they see fit, without the ‘help’ of heavy-handed regulation, taxation, and active police presence.
Points of Interest
The Reflecting Sanctuary
Chaska’s Estate is a citadel of white stone among the riotous color of the rest of the district, and sits close to Shri Panch in tabloid competitions for ‘most peaceful place in the City’. Most Estate business is conducted in the central complex, an elegant cluster of buildings which include the Minister’s office, kitchens, a Long Hall for meals, and the courthouse. Surrounding the complex is a series of carefully manicured, angular gardens, one for each of the four gates. A low moat, lined with white stones and passable by footbridge, separates each garden from the other. Interspersed through the gardens are the other important buildings of the Estate; the Newcomer’s village in the West, the Minister’s personal apartments in the North, the Archives and Observatory in the East, and the guardhouse and police barracks in the South. Minister Chaska doesn’t tend to get out much, preferring the company of a good book and soft pillows in her personal apartments after dark, but once a week she hosts an Astronomy club. More than one member might admit to attending just to get a taste of her deep fried sweet-potato cakes, which she makes especially for the occasion.
The gardens, courthouse, and municipal offices of the Estate are open to visitors from 9AM to 4AM, and watched at all hours (either by the human guard, or a regular patrol of Constables after dark). Chaska is a stickler for orderliness, lawfulness, and peace, and so she strives to maintain these things where she has full control to exert her influence.
Sa’y Ka’aguy Yptu (The Color Gardens)
An expansive beautiful park of exotic flora initially intended to commemorate and record the magnificent breadth of plant life on the other side of the Forest. No one knows when it started, but over time, citizens started leaving their mark upon the gardens by adding paint, carvings, statues, banners, or other unsanctioned decorations to the park. Chaska sees this as blatant vandalism, and complains loudly whenever a particularly grand ‘installation’ is discovered, but that hasn’t stopped erstwhile artists from showing off...nor appreciative citizens from showing up to view the wilder displays Sybal Heim’s craftsmen have to offer.
Al-Muzen-Cab’s Markets (a.k.a the Bee Streets)
Once, when the city was new, this riverside block was the city’s largest honey farm. Over time the farm-front shop expanded to a fruits and veg stand. A jam, jelly, and pie shop followed. When a local chef decided to open a farm-to-table restaurant next door, the rest more or less became history. Before the owners of Al-Muzen-Cab Apiaries really knew what had happened, their humble plot of greenery had become a bustling marketplace, and over the next century or two, it expanded to become the largest in the District. When Minister Chaska approved a petition to have the area paved, she compensated the beekeepers handsomely and had their livelihood moved to the outskirts of the City, where they continue to produce their honey to this day.
(Note that this subsumes, but does not replace, the Aurora Marketplace. All events to have taken place here under previous nomenclature have no conflict with current canon.)
La Unidad is a complex of three buildings clustered around a central fountain, which is itself a popular meeting spot for dates. Each building is devoted to a different important aspect of the individual; Graciela represents the heart, Adelmo represents the body, and Ugo represents the mind.
The Graciela is dedicated to the arts in all shapes and forms – performance and visual. Creative individuals from all over the city come here to collaborate, perform and create together. Large performances are held in the amphitheater here at every time of day or night.
The Adelmo is Heiros’ arena and training grounds. Like all the districts, Heiros has a proud warrior history, and there are many citizens who spend a lot of time here training for competitions at the Met.
The Ugo is Heiros’ largest public library. It features books on countless subjects, from gastronomy to architecture, and it’s always growing. Citizens are encouraged to bring information from their past lives here in order to keep the library alive and ever changing. Thanks to the Minister’s investment, it boasts the largest collection of books and scrolls on astronomy and astrology in the entire city.
Jako a Bèl (The Handsome Parrot)
The Handsome Parrot isn’t unique among restaurants in Sybal Heim in that it is one of a few that are open only after night falls. What makes it truly special is its location - perched on the third story of one of the city’s stone water towers, without step or stair, it is accessible only by those capable of flying (or floating) up high enough to enter. The bouncer at the door is mercilessly discerning; Minister Tristine tried for years to be allowed to dine here, but since jumping is not technically considered flight, she was always turned away. It’s something of an urban legend that her first action after settling into her Ministerial boots was to come here and demand entry. The proprietor does nothing to dispel the rumors. After all, good stories mean good business!
El Brazo Roto
El Brazo Roto is a small, smoky cantina in the middle space between Heiros and Doxa, where cultures bleed together most prominently, and people can come and go as often as they please without anyone really asking questions. The bar is always full, although more upstanding citizens tend to avoid it. Rumors fly that it’s a main meeting spot for Insurgent sympathizers, but despite many attempts to prove it, there has never been any hard evidence of such activity. The owner, one Xavier Alvarez, vehemently denies these claims. Anyone caught starting fights or breaking the law in his establishment, he insists, is asking for a broken arm.
The Gilded Spire
The Gilded Spire is a solution to an old problem. In a City where capital punishment is against the rule of law, and life is everlasting, extended jail terms have always been exercised as a deterrent against crime. Heiros has struggled for years to balance an ever-growing population against the need for a secure, centralized, and humanitarian prison system.
Under construction since 1890 and originally set to open in late 1895, the abrupt implementation of the Civil Affairs Commission and changing City atmosphere convinced Minister Chaska to invest more aggressively in its early completion. The Gilded Spire opened its doors on September 4th, 1894, and over the course of the next six weeks, all long-term prisoners from around the City have been transported there for their own comfort and safekeeping.
The move is not without its controversy. Some are beginning to wonder if Minister Chaska Palla has something to prove. Others think maybe she’s got the right idea. Still others are convinced she’s becoming a zealous tyrant, willing to put her citizens’ sense of freedom at risk in order to quell dissent.
Minister Chaska Palla’s serious demeanor may be at odds with the culture of the rest of her district, but her fascination with the stars is not. Her construction of the Heiros Observatory gave birth to a number of ancillary establishments that happily make use of the telescope there for their own purposes. Astrology is a booming practice in Sybal-Heim, bolstered by the special significance of the night and by the existence of not one, but two sets of stars. Thanks to Chaska’s extensive investment in promoting astronomical knowledge from the outside world, a complicated industry involving the celestial movements of the city sky, the outside world, and the relations between them using the metrics of multiple astrological systems has developed. And true to Heiros form, many residents use them for one reason chief above all: entertainment.
While serious seekers of astrological advice might be better served going to Yong Heng Temple in Heilig or to other astrology venues in Heiros, Ephemeris Matchmaking is a light-hearted and popular matchmaking “service”. Using proprietary astrological calculations, they pair two citizens together every lunar cycle for dates based on their respective days of entrance into Sybal-Heim. The two parties involved need not have signed up for the matchmaking, but the monthly results have taken on a sort of tongue-in-cheek sacredness that results in the couples being playfully badgered into going through with the date by what can sometimes feel like the entire population of Heiros. Since it’s all in good fun, being romantically uninterested or in a committed relationship is no barrier, and the citizens of Heiros are eager to avoid any precedent that would give Chaska an excuse to back out when her turn inevitably comes around.
The Heiros Stormways
Sybal Heim’s sewer system is a series of tunnels that run beneath the entire city, ranging from narrow stone corridors to wide, rough-hewn aqueducts built to redirect and remove waste and runoff. As with every district, the Heiros passages are avoided by the majority of citizens as these stormways have a less-than stellar reputation- not to mention a less than stellar smell. Docile Sybals avoid it at night, as it is known to be the lair of more than a few of the district’s feral citizens. Chaska’s particularly zealous police force makes careful note of each and every entrance, and patrols these places regularly, but even their reach only extends so far...