Arafel/Taboor is a city with two names straddling the juncture of three seas. The City at the Center of the World is the oldest in the known world. While the Dwarves claim to have built the foundations of the city proper, Arafel is the name of the Gnomish settlement that existed on the spot from a time long before the Dwarves had climbed up out of their caves in the far west. When the Threefold Empire rolled over the region, the Dwarves tried to change the name, but it never took, and has long since been forgotten. The second name, Taboor is actually the name of the Dragonkin settlement that was formed just south of the city after the first conquests of the Nameless, hundreds of years ago.
The city has seen any number of iterations, at one time the capital of the Threefold Empire at the height of its power, then later marking the boundary of the territories laid waste by the swarms of the Unconquered Sun. Even the True Dwarves took a turn at the helm, following the rise of Tauron the Pious and the Tauron Unification Church. Now the city has become a true metropolis, where religion, politics, commerce, philosophy and culture washes in from the seas, leaving a shoal of fine sand and simmering chaos.
To the west lies the remnant of the Threefold Empire – a series of loosely connected Dwarven city-states – and a massive fleets of Minotaur corsairs. To the east, the Elven Federation watches in fear as the Second Sun has risen from the ashes of the first Elven empire, and even Arafel’s Elvish population fears what will happen when a fresh wave of fanatics sweeps in from the wilderness. To the north, and new Human nation state is growing, and in the south, the Nameless continues to grow in power as the Dragonkin consolidate power over their rivals in the deep desert, the Jinn.
The City itself is built on a tripartite bridge soaring high enough over the gap for ships to pass beneath when the Iron Sisters open at dawn and dusk. The cavern formed by the bridge is a perfect harbor, sealed off completely for most of the day and night, with numerous docking bays carved directly into the gleaming Whitestone that comprises most of the city’s base structure.
The city itself spills out over the bridge in all three directions, though the Old Wall still outlines the original perimeter of Dwarven Arafel. To the south, is Taboor, the settlement of the Nameless. The Dwarven Aristocracy lives largely on the north shore, while the east shore is almost entirely given over to the Elves. These interests and factions spill into the city proper, while the center of the city has become a crowded hodgepodge of every race, religion and faction, all vying for power and breathing room above the Honeycomb.
The bridge itself looks like a single, massive white mountain of something like marble, honeycombed through with tunnels and dwelling caverns. The surface of the bridge is a strange melange of walkways and rooftops, the distinction between which has never been a strong suit of city-dwelling Dwarves. Three main thoroughfares cut a straight line up to the central spire, which is occupied by singularly impressive building – Tauron’s Cathedral, which was originally called the Cathedral of the Three. Arafel is covered in golden spires sinking into the stone, but the highest point, towering over the Cathedral, consists of the Nixor Lux, a 500 foot statue of Tauron reaching for the stars.
The lowest part of the city comprises the three Underborroughs. Cities in their own right, the Underborroughs are built on the three spits of land that jut out from beneath the base of the bridge, and have been settled as ghettos by Gnomes and Humans since the Dwarven city’s founding. The Underborroughs do have an advantage, however: since all ships pass through the Grotto and Customs, there is a thriving smuggling culture that helps to sustain the Gnome population, while further deepening the reputation for seediness and villainy in the Honeycomb.