Ursalina, the City of Bears

Named after its traditional bear fights, Ursaliña lies along the rocky northwestern coast of Ber, where the sea meets the Anthras Mountains. Those peaks once made it a prize domain for the dragon tyrants, and like every Beran city their influence persists in the architecture. The city rises and falls in steep terraces on four main hills, each crowned by a major civic building. Poorer neighbourhoods weave through the low ‘troughs’ between hills, and imposing bridges connect the terraces in labyrinthine combinations.
Fanciful fountains thread mountain streams along the terraces and bridges, and fierce gusts of winds in the troughs kick up mist that cools the cramped streets and alleys. The hills fall sharply near the coast, where ornately-carved staircases link the harbour to the different levels of the city.
Similar areas of steep hills and valleys dot the landscape around Ursaliña, and for centuries servants of the dragon tyrants bred and domesticated megafauna in these natural paddocks. Countless caves provided lairs for the famed local dire bears, allowing the predators to hide and survive despite fervent attempts to exterminate them.
Today, two centuries since the dragon tyrants fell, Ursaliña proudly claims a two-headed dire bear as the city sigil. Many of the civic buildings have been restored to their original splendour, straddling a line between glorifying a brutal past and patriotism for what the Beran people managed to build.
The population is majority orc, with minotaurs and goliaths the next most common races.

Coming and Going

Each of the hill-tops is ringed with a defensive curtain wall with only a handful of gates, all well-guarded and requiring tolls unless a traveler carries a city passport (which costs 5gp per year). Boards at each gate post the latest news (see Case Notes: Ursaliña News). The low-lying areas are effectively undefended, though, and normally people could come and go as they please. Practically everyone must pass through the Troughs first before reaching the hills.
Like most large cities, Ursaliña has a teleportation beacon. Those who teleport more than a mile at a time and aim anywhere within three miles of the city are shunted to just outside a customs station in the western docks.

Cadagyr Estate

Northern District
Atop the northern hill of the city, broad gardens overflowing with aromatic flowers ring the manor house of Lord Winslow Cadagyr, orc governor of Ursaliña and the surrounding state. Wealthy Ursaliñans live here, with access to the freshest water from the mountains, and the most distance from the fish stench of the docks. Streets teem with fountains and statues of statuesque orcish women.
One eyesore in the district is the relatively new Executores Lodge, an unadorned, imposing cube of steel-grey granite, built thirty years ago as a reminder to the wealthy not to abuse their power. Normally it houses a detachment of a dozen executores and their house staff, and its only two public spaces are a training field where onlookers can gawk at women practising brutal combat, and the stocks, which are seldom occupied.

Jaula de Oso

Southern District
Colloquially known as the Jaula or Cage, this arena’s long and vicious history put Ursaliña on the map. Gladiatorial games were held within the towering edifice for centuries, but since the unification of Ber the site has been limited to animal bouts, concerts, and the occasional formal duel.
Constructed of the same granite that coats the city in steel grey, Jaula de Oso consists of three upper levels for spectators and a lower level for combatants and administrative offices. A small villa nearby is the home of Arena Master Pili Roque.
This district also is home to many prosperous restaurants that serve dishes thick with beans and cheeses, the best of which have high balconies with grand vistas.

Mercado Delicias

Western District
The primary market for Ursaliña, this plaza sprawls across nearly the entire top of the city’s western hill. A dizzying array of foodstuffs can be found, from fresh fish hauled in from the ocean, to all manner of game meats, to even stranger fare such as the megafauna that inhabit Ber’s interior. City ordinances, however, prevent the operation of restaurants in this district—a concession to the business interests of the Jaula de Oso district.
In addition to food, the Mercado also holds goods imported from
all over the world, as befitting a coastal trading town. Of interest to many weary travellers is the assortment of brothels, like the high-class Vela Roja or the more affordable Cristal Azul that is popular with sailors and fishers.
Two obelisks of black diorite, polished to a mirror finish and pierced through in regular intervals, flank the east and west sides of the wide paved plaza, once served as timekeeping devices for merchants by tracing the sun’s path along floor mosaics. Now they’re just reminders of daytime the world will never have again. Both obelisks predate the founding of the city, and Jaula de Oso’s records indicate that the monuments existed well before the current arena did.

Triunfo Vida

Eastern District
The traveling minotaur bards of Ber are the first to hear of any rumors in the nation, and capable of delivering scathing rhetoric to inflict lasting damage to reputations in all social classes. The Triunfo Vida is the local branch of the loosely affiliated bardic colleges within Ber, and this edifice of bright blue stucco walls, adorned with white marble statuary and fluted columns holds some of the most lavish pageants and shows in its grounds.
Bards that study at the Triunfo often make their living through dance and acrobatic performances, and the patronage of the wealthy Lord Winslow Cadagyr is hotly contested among the students and staff. Or it was. Now the college is closed to visitors due to ‘renovations,’ and most of the former occupants have scattered to other parts of the district.
The most active site for entertainment now is the Red Peacock Café, a fine restaurant with adjoining art gallery and fine clothier shop. Local working class citizens dress nicely and come here on special occasions to experience upscale life. All the staff are beautiful orc women in the finest fashion, or tiny goblins and kobolds who slink around practically unseen in drab hoods.
Likewise, this district was home to Ursaliña’s rudimentary industrial capacity, but with the city in lockdown these factories have run out of firegems for their furnaces. Like so many other cities, when things go bad the poor workers suffer first, protest first, and are punished first.
Dieter Cadagyr, son of the city’s lord, keeps a house here. He often spends his evenings at the Red Peacock.

Resto del Pescador

Western Docks
The city docks are currently idle, and sailors tell tales of strange glowing albatrosses descending upon ships that attempted to leave the harbour. A contingent of two thousand marines on twenty frigates that were scheduled to sail up and assail the Risuri city of Shale are stuck in dock, and the soldiers get progressively rowdy as time goes on. Their orc commander, Commodore Anjela Deinosa, grits her tusks in frustration but still waits for orders from the Bruse.
Just off the southwest docks and warehouses lies an expanse of lush green grass, dotted here and there with sprawling shade-providing trees. A popular destination for both the noon meal or to enjoy the cool breeze that wafts from the ocean, the Resto is a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of industry.
Many open celebrations are held at the city’s public house, Casa dola Biches, and parades typically muster here then march through the city, weaving along the bridges between hilltop districts.

The Troughs

The low-lying areas between the high districts are crowded and dark.
Cowed and suppressed by the city patrols, the populace runs about its daily business, knowing that people who act out of line disappear. It’s become a quiet protest for people to sarcastically adopt repetitive speech patterns, especially when police are around. If standing out will get you arrested, then they’ll just all say the exact same thing so no one stands out. Two of the most popular phrases are, “Come inside to shop and get out of that harsh sun,” and “Fool’s Day was even better than last year! Lord Cadagyr’s patronage truly showed in the costumes. Such a variety of colours!”
From dawn to dusk, Ursaliña follows a regular schedule: merchants set up their booths, display their wares, and then close up promptly when the dim light of the Gyre sinks to the west. People are borderline brusque in their behavior, but in the presence of police they feign joviality.

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