Founded in the 67th year of our occupancy of Promise, Firmament rapidly became a city worthy of the world's name. Situated strategically at the mouth of the great Sweetwater river, from which the nation it resides gained its name, it is one of the largest port cities of the world. Boats sailing up and down stream, and to and from the ocean fill the coffers of the city's merchants and create a constant swarm of activity at its many docksides.
When the city was first founded as a simple seaside village, it had no proper ruler. The people managed themselves, and, for a time, this was enough. As the population becomes swollen with thousands of beings, the need for a true governance became clear. A woman rose to the position in 131, clearing the streets of crime and laying down good laws that the people respected. This woman was Sandra Good. There are many debates as to whether she lived up to a fortuitous naming, or if the name was given to her by a thankful populace. She was a Heavy Folk of hippopotamus descent and practically defined the clan.
Her line ruled the city without interruption since then. Sometimes a male would rise to the throne, other times, a female. It did not matter, the Good King ruled benevolently, and theirs was a prosperous reign. Ascendancy to the throne was determined, if there was more than one valid heir, which there often was, by choice of the previous ruler. This choice was often made while the rule was still young and vigorous, and is usually unchallenged. In 288, however, The Good Queen did see fit to change her heir after the first choice laid shame on himself in a gambling fiasco. She was quoted as saying "No child of mine who would take a gamble they were not already sure of winning is fit to rule my people." The disgraced son fled the city in shame and fury, and became Apostate, forsaking all clans.
In defense of its roads and borders from banditry, beasts and hostile nations, the kingdom of Sweetwater has an enlisted army. All beings of the country are encouraged to serve for one year. Doing so entitles to a modest life long stipend. It is insufficient for comfortable living, but in combination with a profession, allows for an improved quality of life. Those who enlist long term are treated to more generous retirement packages. Soldiers who retire old are respected by the community, and rewarded by the kingdom with enough yearly income to uphold a large home easily. Those rendered unable to function due to injury in the line of duty are given the most generous of all, usually promoted for their valor and offered more safe positions of instruction or leadership from Firmament, where their needs are well taken care of.
Firmament is the headquarters of this army. New recruits train in the barracks near the north wall, and supplement the guards, honing their skills on the criminal element, wherever they turn up. The city is relatively safe, compared to others of its size, due to this constant presence of law to remind the lawless the hazard of their chosen life.
A moment to discuss the geography of our fair city. The river flows through it, from north to the ocean to the south. The city is surrounded by forest on the north and east sides, and arable farmlands to the west. The forest yields a bounty of meat and leather for skilled hunters, as well as wood for construction. The farm lands are tilled and put to work raising a variety of crops and domesticated animals. The city's food needs are further supplemented by a healthy fishing industry that pulls bounty from the waves all year round. Our nearest neighbor is the town of Little Oak, which may yet outgrow its name. It is located to the east, further into the forest. It is two weeks hike distant, making it a destination only for dedicated travelers and merchants. Most stick to the boats, which can carry one up the stream to small outposts dotting it, or out to sea and visit another nation altogether.
Firmament is home to most major guilds. If you are seeking the Maritime Guild, the Guild of Bards, Free Swords, or most any other, they are homed within the protective walls of the city. Guilds pay a modest fee to the city for the land and operating taxes and in return are allowed to mind their business and enforce their laws, insofar as they do not conflict with the stated laws of the land.
Constructed around 400, the Academy is a testament of the people's desire to learn. Most children who live within the city spend some of their time there every week as part of their schooling. Adult beings come from across Promise, seeking to study its vast library of arcane and scientific lore. The Academy is supported by the Good King directly from the national coffers. The nation benefits from an educated populace, and first chance at any discoveries that emerge from its hallowed halls.
The people's religious needs are met through a variety of small shrines to the popular Creator Saints, as well as the primary Creators Church, which stands near the south side of town, overlooking the harbor. Its bell tower doubles as a light house in especially inclement weather, serving as a beacon of light and direction in more ways than one. The Good King has, by and large, been a loyal observer of the Creators' guides. They have treated those based on their merit, and provided for the impoverished and sick. They have stood witness against corruption and lawlessness, and brought swift justice to their house. It is important to write, however, that the Creators Church is not given official voice in the government, unlike some other cities.
The government of the city is split into two major components. One, which I have already written at length, is the royal family. The Good King or Queen writes laws into action and serves as the head of military. They are the sole most important and powerful person of the nation. Beneath them is the Peoples' Council. The Council has ten seats. Any being that has been a citizen of good standing of Sweetwater for at least five years time may nominate themselves or be nominated by others for a seat. The seats are voted for yearly in the spring time. Against an incumbent, a 75% margin of vote is required to depose them for the first two years, then a simple majority will do. If a chair is vacated, then any being with the most votes will ascend to the position.
The Council's duty is to be the word of the people. When the Good King or Queen announces a new law, or a problem should arise, they will speak for the people of the nation. It is possible, though rare, for the council to overturn a royal mandate. Such requires a unanimous vote, and is often cause for much rumor and scandal when such is even attempted. The people have faith in their royalty, for good or ill, but the mechanism remains. As the first Good Queen said, "Absolute power without fear of objection will only give rise to unreasonable despots. Let my people always have a clear voice, and if a descendant of mine should lose their way, let the cry of this nation's people turn them back to their good task."
The council's other primary duty is that of jury and judge. Criminal cases are brought before them to be weighed on and decided upon. In most cases, royalty does not attend to or judge on crimes, unless the crime is of national importance, such as charges of treason. Those accused are expected to defend themselves. A counsel may be hired, but faces shared sentence with the accused. To quote, "When beings are paid to defend against the law and yet stand outside of it, we train them to look at it as an obstacle to be avoided and overcome. Let any being that stands in the way of law face its potential wrath, if their way is proven false." A harsh rule, perhaps, but it has served the nation well so far.