Daybreak is an ithsmus town, on ten miles of land between the Cauldron and the open sea. Cauldronside, a wide crescent harbor hold ships at anchor, and to the east the Bay of Legs cuts into the land. A wide canal and a series of broad locks (Inkey Lock, Harold Lock, East Lock, and the Dock Lock) connect the two shores. The harbor at the western mouth of the canal is always full, and the canal is often clogged as well. The long way into the Cauldron, round Halfisle Head and through the Strait Away, only takes an extra day or two, but its a rough sail up into the hardy north winds, especially in winter, so most ship captains prefer the canal.
Most of the city is north of the canal, on the western, Cauldron shore. Ironically, this means Daybreak faces west, and can only see the sun set.
The low neighborhoods – Harbortown, the Iron Quarter, Raggamud Hill, etc – are nearest the harbor, and High Daybreak – Middlehill, Boulevard, Little Nymris, etc – are uphill, near and around Lake Harold. On the eastern shore of the lake are the old palace grounds, where the military now resides. East of that is a few miles of farmland, small towns that might call themselves neighborhoods, and then the ocean shore, a small town square, a port, and a castle at the mouth of the bay.
The canal has a number of narrow branches and offshoots. Some end in the back gardens of old mansion houses, some service hotels and restaurants, and some burrow into the hill beneath central Daybreak. The waterways beneath the city are dark and mazelike; much has been forgotten of those old channels, and much happens down there that never sees the light of day.
Daybreak has a long history of laws and politics. The first law, in fact, was invented there, to curtail the delinquency of Harthacnut, the king who never showed up. Now, there is no more king or queen of Daybreak, and the governing of the city is quite unclear. There is a mayor. Probably a council or board or some sort, looking out for the interests of the city and the Ingle. Perhaps there is a bureaucrat, or a group of them, somewhere. Daybreak is technically a democracy, but the population famously does not vote, so the whole system is a mystery.
And that's how everybody likes it. This ignorance and unaccountability might create an unhealthy power dynamic, or perhaps even oppression, if the people of Daybreak paid any attention to the government. But they don't. Government is laughed off, a hoax, a boogeyman, what do you mean there are laws?
If anybody had answers, the Daybreaker Muckraker Daily Paper would report on them, but instead it (mostly) spouts nonsense. Some recent headlines:
- Mayor Sex Scandal w/ Devil Himself! Details inside...
- Hotel Telemet's Telescope d'Hell: Telltale Tell-all
- New ailment "Sun Burn" discovered; bad day to be Person With Skin!
Here are some of the neighborhoods of Daybreak:
The Daybreak elite work in Boulevard, the political and commercial center of the Cauldron. The old palace is there, overlooking Lake Harold, as are the Houses of Wheel, where government supposedly happens. They say there are rivers under Boulevard that connect, somewhere, to the canal, leading up through the halls of power.
Boulevard wraps around the southeastern edge of Lake Harold, which feeds the canal below. The lake is a good source of drinking water, and a good place to spit when you've got the day off.
Boulevard is full of opaque organizations in rowhouses that should be residential, with offices in bedrooms and file cabinets in bathrooms, heavy with bureaucratic forms. One such house is home to the Centers for Policy Institute, whose purpose is exactly what its name implies.
A high, central part of Daybreak, along the western shore of Lake Harold. Rowhouses and old hotels and mansion blocks like the Arcadian look out over the sea to the west and the lake and fields to the east. Full of buildings they'd build at the turn of a century. Grand, optimistic.
Middlehill is affluent and quiet, but still residential, unlike Boulevard.
Harbortown, the hectic peoples-choice center of Daybreak, sits just north of the canal on the Cauldron shore of the city. It's bursting with markets and taverns, closet-sized factories, tailors, cobblers, coopers, candlemakers, butchers, bakers, blacksmiths, brewers, and maybe even a tree, somewhere. It's a busy place in its own right, but the sailors and shipwrights and shady-eyed merchants come down off the ships put it over the top. The Daybreaker prides itself as a Harbortown institution.
East of Harbortown, on the quieter part of the canal, is Little Nymris, a traditionally Edyan neighborhood. Most of its Edyan residents are actually from Ealdor's Rest, for few folk actually live on the Nymris archipelago, but the name is catchy, so it stuck. The neighborhood is full of bakeries and colorful flags, and the canal's towpath there is shaded by curled, cinnamon Freybark trees.
The Moon and Martyr is there, a famous old tavern with ceilings that betray the height (read: lack of height) of people all those centuries ago when it was built. So is the Elbalathlion, a white-stone fountain beneath a mural of old Edyan tiles depicting the flood of Erungalar.
Like Little Nymris, Big Wheezle is an expat corner. Unlike the Edyans, however, the immigrants from Wheezle reckoned the quiet neighborhood they chose in Daybreak was actually larger than the old country, so Big Wheezle it was. It's a strange place - the food is odd, there, and the children smell - but it's an important part of Daybreak nonetheless.
The Iron Quarter
A vibrant, prolific, creative place, with good food and small gardens. It is beautiful and steeped in culture. Traditionally inhabited by bright and colorful émigrés of the Ironfells, the Iron Quarter is now more of a cultural buffet.
Raggamud Hill has restless energy. It's slanted, perched on the side of the hill, and the whole place feels ready to roll. It's full in the summer, of restaurants and troubadours in tavern gardens, but it quiets down come October.
Lots of houses on Raggamud extend into the hillside, cool and earthen, for wine cellars and cured meat and aging cheese, and some have deep passages into the underground heart of the city. The canal extends at some points into the hillside as well, and a maze of waterways connects the oldest houses of Raggamud with the canal, the basements of Boulevard, and many other forgotten things.
A group known as the Gastropunks frequents the waterways under Raggamud. Underground dinner parties, rogue cheffing, spatulas a-twirl, that kind of thing. They are a sort of adventurers' guild, seeking out mysterious ingredients for strange tastes.
Hidden away in an old corner of the tall part of town, Alimony Row is an ironic neighborhood. It's bad, yes, gritty and soot-stained and dark with the grief of great artists, but in a self-inflicted sort of way. There are stories told to children of master painters forged by the authenticity of the place, of destitute writers with hearts of gold and an unblinking eye for life and truth. The story they tell of Alimony Row is the story of nocturnal art in a culture that spits in art’s face, a story not of genius because, but of genius despite.
However, in the experience of anyone who's actually been there, it's mostly expat heirs and heiresses masquerading as starving artists.
A boring-in-the-wealthy-sort-of-way neighborhood some distance south of the city. It's the kind of place you move to when your money exceeds your taste. Residents view it as a part of Daybreak, but those who actually live in the city say otherwise.
It is also home to a large fairground, at which every April people from across the city throw aside their snobbery-against-snobbery and have a good, fancy time. There is beer, music, little flags between skinny wooden poles, and even a horse track.
The eastern coast of the city, that which faces the Bay of Legs and the open ocean, is high and sparse and tree-lined. There is a small port and customs house at the mouth of the canal, and a disused castle guarding the bay, but for the most part Sunnyside is a quiet escape.