Overview: At over a million inhabitants, Jorandek is the largest city on Terranis by far. Located at the nexus of several major trade routes at the southeastern corner of Occidus, it has become known as the “Heart of the World”, and is a nation unto itself, independent of any of the Five Powers (though not for lack of trying on their part) by dint of its raw economic power. Traders come from all across Terranis to sell and buy goods in Jorandek, and it is likely there are very few things that cannot be purchased somewhere on its winding streets.
History: At the time of the Fall, Jorandek was a small fishing village, its main trade being the harvests of fish and other sea life that it sold to cities further inland. After the Fall, when sailing vessels began to ply the Inner Sea for more than recreation, its location was found to be convenient and easy to find by vessels coming from the south and east. Before long, Jorandek grew into a bustling port city. As it was well outside the borders of any country, it remained entirely independent, and its ruling mayoral office gave way to a joint stewardship from the largest trading organizations that had a presence within the city. By the Third Century, as Saniel's borders began to reach the city, it attempted to annex Jorandek, first diplomatically and then by force. The ruling organizations, who had begun to turn into hereditary cartels, promptly embargoed Saniel and resisted any forceful overtures with mercenary forces of their own. In less than a year, Saniel withdrew its attempts to annex the city.
Over the following centuries, Jorandek's influence would continue to grow, as more and more trade came to be centered around it. As more merchants went there to ply their wares, more merchants in turn would come, hoping to find what they were looking for. The city experienced a constant and explosive level of growth, prompting a haphazard and rushed nature to its layout, with buildings being built, renovated, demolished, and replaced at a breakneck pace compared to most cities, and little consideration given to planned layout. Today, it's not uncommon for natives to find themselves easily lost, let alone visitors to the city.
Although the city has suffered invasions, plagues, trade wars, and other disasters, it remains unbowed and unbroken, continuing to grow with no sign of stopping. The ruling trade cartels have come to be known as the Families. While their exact number has varied over the centuries, at present there are currently seven such Families, each controlling a different portion of the city, and constantly vying to outdo each other for greater control.
Political Structure: Whereas most countries on Terranis have some kind of centralized government, Jorandek is, in a sense, seven cities in one. The City Watch is a neutral organization that attempts to maintain order on the streets by handling petty crimes and smaller-scale problems, though they have neither the manpower nor the inclination to stop the constant shadow wars fought by the Seven Families (In large part because the Families each contribute to their funding). Beyond the Watch, every street, block, and building is controlled by one of the Families. While this has little bearing on the day-to-day lives of the common citizenry, it's generally a good idea to know which Family controls your street, as this can change every week during particularly turbulent times. The Families collect taxes from the areas they control, using that money to fund trading abroad, buying local territory, making “investments” into local businesses loyal to them, or hiring agents to advance their agendas on the streets (such as leaning on merchants or ensuring agents of another Family meet with “accidents”). Should an external threat to the city arise, the Families have been known to (mostly) put aside their disputes until the crisis is resolved. The number of Families has not always been seven; the exact number has changed numerous times over the centuries as Families destroy or drive each other out of the city, arise from the ashes, or new ones emerge.
Culture: With residents originating from every corner of Terranis, elements of every culture can be found mixed together in Jorandek, along with more than a few customs native to the city. It wouldn't be unusual for a resident to enjoy a dish of local suncarp surrounded by Weijini soba noodles, and topped with spices from Korneth, all washed down with a mug of ale imported from Doramor. In fact, such cultural blends are perhaps some of the main exports of the city. Its most tangible export, though, would be its currency. The zyer was developed as a unified currency for use by the trade cartels in the city as early as the Fifth Century. It saw increasing use outside of the city over the following centuries, until, in the late Ninth Century, the Terranis Union formally endorsed it as a global currency. While each of the Five Powers maintain their own local currencies, the zyer is accepted (and frequently preferred) by merchants in every country.