9 Cities

Windhelm (Skyrim)

The city of kings has seen better days. It’s an old city, maybe the oldest on the continent. Legends describe it as the home of heroes, the shining jewel of the empire. Now, Windhelm is a shell of its former glory. Its stone walls are chilled by the northern wind as its people huddle around the fires. The king sits in his palace, dreaming of conquest, as his people starve in squalor. Those in the slums, forced there for their race, fear the day their king is victorious. After all, if the nation is to be ruled by the quote-unquote superior people, what will happen to those cast aside?

Rapture (Bioshock)

The city at the bottom of the sea is leaking. Its charismatic capitalist founder built it below the waves, where no one could reach it, so it could be free. Free from the government, free from the church. Free from morals and empathy. A place where the strong survive and the weak suffocate. The city is a utopia, if only for those with a warped idea of what that means. The poor starve as they are crushed under the boots of the rich. As the years go on, their resentment grows hotter and hotter. Any day now, it will boil over. And, when the people finally overthrow the great chain, the city will sink.

Northstar (Double Elimination)

The city of saints has two guardian spirits. One kind, the other cruel. The kind guardian works in the day, saving lives. She treats wounds, extinguishes fires, plants crops. Her sister works at night, ending lives. She finds the sinners, the murderers, the thieves and the scoundrels, and she tears them apart. Some question why the day spirit doesn’t stop her sister’s cruelty. Some say that she needs the night spirit to keep her hands clean. Some say that the two spirits are one and the same.

Los Angeles (Blade Runner)

The city of rain has a name, but no one ever says it. Nothing in the dark, trash-filled gutters feels even remotely divine. No, to see divinity, one must look up, away from the crowded streets to the pyramids where the city’s richest man lives. The people of this city, one whose name is now a deep irony, spend all their time looking up. At the pyramids, at the blimps covered in advertisements, at the stars they know they will never visit. But, eventually, their gaze returns to the streets below.

Columbia (Bioshock Infinite)

The city in the heavens is filled with things to worship. The angelic monument that stares down on the city’s people. The city’s prophet and his holy daughter. The glorious saints, loved not in spite of their evil, but because of it. To match the contrast, the city must also fill itself with the putrid. The questioning, the poor, the colored, the rebels and anarchists that the faithful kill without question. The city in the heavens must keep its idols clean, less they forget to worship them.

Nightvale (Welcome to Nightvale)

Everyone in the city of shadows smiles. They smile as they are watched from police helicopters and glowing eyes in their closets. They smile as desert storms blow through the town, taking people with them. They smile as armies march down their streets and bodies fall from clouds. They do not smile because they are forced to, but because they chose to, because they are at home in a pleasant nightmare with a friendly voice on the radio.

Gotham and Metropolis (DC Comics)

The cities of heroes sit on two sides of the river. One is always sunny, filled with shining buildings and brilliant scientists. Their hero is a benevolent god, a symbol of hope who is always there for the common man. The sister city is shrouded in red clouds and filled with broken-down buildings. Their hero is human, mortal, a symbol of fear who hunts the monsters of the night. The people of the second city never leave, even though they see the beauty across the river. Their home has grit, is more human, they say. And the people in the city of hope admire them for their perseverance.

Helmontton (Weird Alchemy)

The wizard’s city once had a great golden tower in its heart. Their warrior king stared down on them as he commanded the storms. On rare days, when he felt generous, he would open upon the clouds and let them drink. The golden tower is gone now, knocked down when the cowboy came to town. The wizard is dead, but the rain has returned without his magic. No one in the wizard’s city knows what the future will bring. It will be up to them to decide it.

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