On the Archcanon's Secret Service
Facets of Belluna
Cosmopolitan and tending toward decadence, Belluna undeniably favors the arts. Its many piazzas are adorned with sculpture and frescoes. Statues of the Cinque Santi watch over the affluent part of town and only the poorest home fails to display a portrait of the paterfamilias. The city also favors the artistic temperament. Few and far between are those in public life who haven’t seen themselves lampooned by the pen of a playwright or a painter’s brush, often at the same time they’ve been lionized in song or poetry. Bellunans are passionate, and expression is their way.
Belluna’s legacy has its roots in the Tursi culture, known primarily for its contributions of codified law. (The Tursi are known less favorably for their ruthless military ambition, but Belluna hasn’t seemed to inherit that trait.) Thus, Belluna is a city that holds its civics in high regard. From the grand opulence of its government buildings to its abundance of public spaces, Belluna has a distinct sense of community. Its people are friendly and its structures are appealing — mostly because the city’s wealth in tariffs and commercial taxes allow it to be. Even those on the opposite side of Belluna’s codified law are cordial, though less so among one another. You’re more likely to be robbed with a wink and a smile in Belluna than you are to be blackjacked and dumped into the canal.
As a port city, much of Belluna’s character is defined in terms of both its seafood diet and its love for commerce. It’s easy to import and export in and out of Belluna, so long as one is willing to pay the proper fees and tariffs. It is too lawful (at least on the surface) to serve as a pirate’s destination, and the Doge’s guardia have little tolerance for those openly flying pirate colors, much to the relief of legitimate merchants and sailors. Thus, as a commercial destination with a culinary tradition, many sailors and captains favor Belluna. Curiously, comparatively few sailors originate in Belluna. Neither does the city have much of a shipbuilding reputation.
Intellectually, Belluna has much to offer scholars of the sciences. Indeed, these halcyon days of technological innovation owe much to the patronage of Belluna over the past century. Both the Doges and private families of Belluna see great value in machines of industry, and this enthusiasm carries over to implements of military and even quirky invention. It’s quite a status symbol to outfit one’s footmen with the gunpowder muskets lovingly crafted in the city, or to wear a flashy prosthetic device to one of the seasonal Masquerades despite the fact that they tend to spoil any secrecy gained by wearing a mask.
Practitioners of magic enjoy the city as well, as the Art, as some call it, benefits from the proximity and competition of the mechanical sciences. As magic has a longer-standing tradition than invention, it has the benefit of great troves of knowledge that have accumulated in the port city over the years. Few indeed are the great families who don’t number one of their own policy-makers as a practitioner of the arcane arts.
Finally, devotion is common in Belluna. It has more churches per capita than any other city in the Monte Bianco region, and almost every family keeps some modicum of respect for the Church and its faith. With such a tenured history of cooperation with the Church, Belluna sees many of its clerical members actively shaping aspects secular life in the city. Even the most incorrigible scoundrel of Belluna’s waterways knows to cross himself and confess his sins to the Redeemer.