Five Fists of the Middle Kingdom
Two hundred years ago, when the Emperor united the Middle Kingdom into one nation, he commanded that a massive wall be built to protect the heart of Imperial power, 800 li in diameter and “tall enough that even the gods should see it.” After fifty years of construction, the massive Imperial Wall is the single greatest structure the Middle Kingdom has ever seen, a gleaming edifice of marble and red jade. There are only four entries through the Imperial Wall, one massive gate at each cardinal direction. The Eastern Gate looms, deep green and studded with countless large golden door nails. They say that there are 9,999 such nails, but the doors stand so tall as to make counting them all impossible. Immense hidden mechanisms open and close the eastern gate, and the booming of this event can be heard even beyond the Lesser Walls nearly one li away.
The City of the Eastern Gate originally rose around the nobles of the House of Long, their families, retainers, guards, militia, servants, and the craftsmen they hired to design and construct the eastern Wall under the Emperor’s orders. And so it was with their families, and so on. Over the fifty years of the Wall’s construction, it was more expedient to simply put down roots and build from a permanent base of operations than to try to supervise through proxies over the long distances involved. It became a multi-generational endeavor, and each Gate City formed similarly around the banner of a noble family close to the Emperor. Each Gate City sees roughly one-quarter of all trade going into or out of the Imperial Heart, and commerce is no stranger to the residents therein. More so than elsewhere in the Middle Kingdom mercantile endeavors are held in esteem, rather than seen as a parasitic career generating no real craft. Without trade, the Gate Cities would cease to exist, and the City of the Eastern Gate is certainly no exception.
Home to around 20,000 Imperial Citizens, most of whom are beholden to the Long Family in some way, the Inner City is a crowded sprawl of multi-tiered, tile-roofed buildings organized along intersection of the Emperor’s Road with two long, curved thoroughfares known as the Inner Long Road and the Outer Long Road. Four smaller roads, the Meridian Roads, connect the Long Roads. Almost all other paths around and between buildings can at best be described as alleys. Most buildings within the Inner City are connected to each other by walkways, balconies, or simply by stepping across one building to another. Such is the cramped patchwork build of the Inner City. The sole exception to this is the Majestic Residence of House Long. Occupying nearly a full block of land within the Inner City surrounded by a two-meter tall stone wall, the Majestic Residence houses gardens, domiciles for the Long family’s servants, buildings for bureaucratic matters, and the Highest Tower of Resplendence, a fortified palace over eight stories tall and home to Governor Long Zhao Bao and his family.