Zone Summary: Ul’dah is a plutocracy in the merest wrapping of a monarchy, and so it needs access not only to overland trade but also the eternally lucrative ocean trade routes. Western Thanalan is this access, positioned directly opposite Vylbrand and dotted with ports and thoroughfares aplenty. The landscape of the western coast is one of the most valuable and fertile in Thanalan, and thus is home to many, varied species as well as imported food crops, and threats such as the Garlean remnants in Cape Westwind. When one studies the sites of interest in Western Thanalan one thing becomes obvious; it is a landscape defined by the wealth disparity of Ul’dah. The wealthy merchants of the Syndicate move their trade interests from one port to another, devastating the lives of their previous workers and transforming previously minor settlements, while in other areas they literally pound the land flat with huge, impractical machines in order to create and idyllic escape from having to live in the same city as refugees.
The Eighty Sins of Sasamo
Sasamo Ul Samo was an Ul’dahn princess roughly two centuries before the modern day. The story of her life as seen by the Ul’dahn populace is that she plotted to overthrow her sister, the Sultana, and take the throne for herself in collusion with the remnants of the Thorne family, famous for taking control of Ul’dah for an extended period after deposing an Ul’ sultan of their own. Sasamo’s plot was discovered, however, and she was thrown into the Marasaja Pit, the most heinous of Ul’dahs dungeons. Sasamo was charged with eighty crimes, and in order to punish her sister the Sultana demanded that the former princess would descend and ascend the eighty steps outside Ul’dah’s western gate eighty times a day for eighty days, reciting one of her crimes with each step taken. As she toiled to climb the steps the people of Ul’dah gathered to torment her, but over time they bore witness to her determination and humbleness, eventually turning their torments into a silent vigil, and then a chorus of cheers. The sheer exhaustion of her ascent overwhelmed Sasamo, and on her eightieth, and final, day she collapsed and died of fatigue. The people of Ul’dah carried her for the rest of the circuits of the stairs, concluding her punishment and absolving her of her crime. The Sultana fell into grief, and commuted her sister’s sentence, naming the step she climbed for her fallen kin.
Other sources, including the diary of Sasamo found more recently, however, dispute this tale. They imply that Sasamo’s advisors, under the influence of her jealous and paranoid sister, constructed this plot to frame her, and disappeared afterwards. The forces of the Sultanate would go on to deny pilgrims and mourners access to the stairs, and a few years after Sasamo’s death declared the name of the stairs changed from the Eighty Steps of Sasamo to the Eighty Sins of Sasamo, despite the Sultana’s apparent absolution of her sister. The wear and tear of nature has worn the steps away over time, and there are now only seventy-seven of them.
When the Seventh Umbral Calamity struck Eorzea, refugees flocked to Ul’dah, their homes either destroyed by the Calamity or occupied by the Garleans that had brought it. The merchant-led faction of the Syndicate, the Monetarists, grew enraged as the access of their trade caravans was impeded by these masses of refugees outside of the city. So they built the Gate of the Sultana, a third exit from the city, and declared it to be named in honor of Nanamo Ul Namo, to hide their selfish use of resources.
The merchant elite of Ul’dah, the Sultanate’s functioning rulers, grew accustomed to a life of beauty and luxury brought via their political control and extraordinary wealth. This was jarred slightly when in the wake of the Seventh Umbral Calamity the city was flooded by refugees fleeing the destruction wrought by Dalamud. They set aside a portion of Western Thanalan just outside of the city for themselves that they might build an exclusive system of estates and resorts to luxuriate in far away from the desperate poor of the new Ul’dah. In a characteristic display of Ul’dahn excess they brought in a series of large mechanical towers known as the Hammers which use their mechanisms to quite literally blugeon the ground flat to better suit their desired housing. The workers who are helping to realize this project are being plagued by the greed of the magnates they work for even as they labor in their name, as the goblins pushed out of Ul’dah by the Syndicates racist trade policies have taken to robbing components from the Hammers, much to the chagrin of the workforce.
Nearby Hammerlea is the port village of the Silver Bazaar, once the core of Ul’dah’s naval mercantilism until the harbor at Vesper Bay became more useful. With this loss of lucrativeness the fading settlement has become yet another of Thanalan’s haunts for the dispossessed and impoverished. Many a merchant desperately trying to claw gil from the dirt can be found here, but few have any true success, while powerbrokers like Spotted Meadow from the Ul’dahn elite work to buy up property from residents so that they can demolish the settlement and re-develop it, possibly as an extension of the Hammerlea development. When the Silver Bazaar was still prosperous its merchants lit grand bonfires on the hill near the settlement, which functioned as an impromptu lighthouse. As wealth grew in the area however, the locals and the merchants their serviced joined together to build a grand lighthouse on the hill, the Beaconhill Lighthouse, to more adequately serve this purpose. The lighthouse is now under the guard of the Brass Blades, private soldiery of the Ul’dahn elite, possibly implying that they retain ownership of it.
The Scorpion Crossing is a crucial center of overland trade, taking goods from merchants both small and those part of such illustrious organizations as the East Aldenard Trading Company or the Seventy-seven Caravans. These goods are sorted after arriving from Vesper Bay, with the more lucrative wares going on to Ul’dah while the scraps are sent to Silver Bazaar to be sold on from there. This critical process is overseen by grouchy bureaucrats such as Gigiyon and overworked laborers like the unfortunate Guntram Greenbank, Oswell the goods loader and Imme the chocobo keeper. Of course the value of the goods passing through the Crossing has seen the Syndicate send the Brass Blades here as well, including the suspicious Roegadyn by the name of Solitary Elk. Presumably these Brass Blades are a member of the sub-order named the Brass Blades of the Rose, which oversee Western Thanalan.
Horizon’s Edge is a large, rocky region of Western Thanalan dominated by rocky cliffs that allow a view all the way to the horizon – hence the name. These views also allow a glimpse of Ul’dah from afar, with its distinctive central citadel dome surrounded by the brightly colored walls, decorated with their glasses and mosaics. The miners of the Amajina and Sons Mineral Concern such as Drunken Stag and Torrid Whisper linger around the region, without work after the recent trouble at Copperbell Mines. Local fishermen communities such as those Nanali the Lalafell bemoan the calamity driving away their fish, and have had to attempt to turn to subsistence farming to make up for this change.
The town of Horizon, which defines the life of the region, sits atop the ancient Royal Allagan Sunway, a road built by ancient Allag that runs throughout Thanalan. Nowadays it is used as a trade artery from Vesper Bay to Ul’dah, and Horizon is used as a garrison by the Brass Blades of the Rose to protect trade and the travelers that pass using the Sunway. Horizon provides a beautiful view of the Sunrise and Sunset Gates, which provide vistas of the setting sun at dawn and dusk respectively. In the settlement Brass Blades like Chechezan Yayazan bemoan the business of their post, and yearn for simpler roles such as fighting on the Bloodsands, while bureaucrats like Mimina Mina work loss-prevention for the mercantile caravans. Further afield, greedy glory-seekers like the treasure hunter Valiant Heart lurk to discover the ancient secrets of Thanalan.
It had long been claimed by the powers of Ul’dah that the abandonment of the copper mining operation commonly known as the Copperbell Mines three hundred years ago was due to the drying up of the veins within, and that the mines were off-limits due to monsters that had moved in after the abandonment. When the powerful Amajina & Sons Mineral Concern reclaimed the mines, however, using new mining techniques in an attempt to reach valuable veins too deep for the ancient mines to exploit they discovered the true end of the Copperbell Mines. The Thorne dynasty of Ul’dah, rulers in a two hundred year interregnum of the ‘Ul dynasty, were ardent reformers of the city-state’s policies and relentlessly sought methods of stabilizing the state before handing control back to the Ul’ line. This had classically been held to involve such matters as the establishment of trade with Radz-at-Han, the movement of the city itself and the formation of alliances with the Amalj’aa of Paglth’an. As it turns out, they had also enslaved members of the hecatoncheires gigant tribe as miners to further bring prosperity to the state. The gigants turned on their overseers, butchering them in revenge for their oppression. In response, Ul’dah blew the mineshafts shut with the mining explosives and sealed the hecatoncheires in the dark to starve and die. Three hundred years later as the Amajina & Sons miners blew open the old shafts they were confronted by an army of these gigants charging from the depths of the earth. The former slaves had been driven understandably mad by the centuries of isolation in the dark as well as their hatred for those who had enslaved them so, and fell upon the miners in an attempt to butcher them. The Concern called in a party of adventurers, who purged the gigants and rescued the surviving prospectors.
Nophica’s Wells went from a generic borderland between Hammerlea and Horizon to a center of the fertility that has come to define Western Thanalan when it collapsed into a series of caverns that were previously hidden beneath the ground, and were full of water. The verdant nature earned by access to this water is what has given the region its name, as Nophica is the goddess of agriculture and abundance. The profoundness of this blessing has apparently resulted in an uptick of Nophicas worship in Ul’dah, a society that does worship all of the Twelve but generally focuses on the twin gods Nald’thal. This can be seen by even so cynical a group as the Brass Blades, like Cenmin, proclaiming it her blessing and actively protecting its pristineness. The Brass Blades in this area are under the command of Fufulupa the Unbending, a rare figure known for his morality and code of ethics amongst the Brass Blades, and who is a personal associate of the Warrior of Light, having helped to supplant the corrupt Captain Baldewyn of his order. Plenty of traders, such as the unlucky Dadanen with his shipment of all left-handed silken gloves, mill about the area due to its proximity to Horizon as well.
The Footfalls are the declining lowlands of Western Thanalan, named as they are for a legend that the area was trampled by a parade of giants who were travelling to Vylbrand, resulting in the lower elevation of the region. In the far south of the region is Crescent Cove, a small fishing village even further impoverished by the Calamity depriving the area of its fish by changing oceanic currents. The village was named for its beach which mimics the crescent moon, a fact boasted of fondly by local fishermen like Raffe, in-between mourning the loss of the fish that sustained their lifestyle. Other fishermen like Osment really drive home the misery of the village by pointing out that what fish they do manage to fish up are shortly stolen by bandits that plague the area.
Perhaps the most striking landmark of the region is the Silent King, a huge Belah’dian statue of a robed man that may represent a monarch, possibly Lalafuto III, who disappeared, either to flee with his paramour or killed by his wife for his favor of said paramour. This theory of identity is because of the presence of correspondence between the Sultan and his lover hidden in the statue. It was revealed after the collapse of a sinkhole following the Calamity, and thankfully the Order of Nald’thal have managed to save it from the repurposing of Belah’dian stones in the region following the Calamity, which were used to repair destroyed houses and other structures, though the local Brass Blades such as Nunuzofu spurn their efforts as pointless.
Vesper Bay is the premier settlement of Western Thanalan, a vital trade port that is functionally owned by the unscrupulous chairman of the Syndicate and master of the East Aldenard Trading Company, Lord Lolorito Nanarito. It is ran in his name primarily by the harbormaster, Wilfrid. Vesper Bay is also the main gateway for travelling into and out of Thanalan, via the bevy of passenger ships that dock there, and all who arrive or depart are treated to the imposing bronze statue of Lord Lolorito in the center of the settlement. That statue is regarded as in poor taste by less fortunate inhabitants such as Bashful Geyser. Merchants such as Goberin keep the more wealthy of the settlement garbed in ‘style and finesse’ via his large collection of glamor prisms for sale. Nedrick Ironheart, grandson of the cartographer who drafted the first known comprehensive map of Eorzea has employed the Bay as a base for updating the map to match conditions after the Calamity, and can offer plenty of tidbits of information stemming from his extensive experience with travel. The colorfully named Pissed Peiste serves as drinking hall for the people of the port.
The least hospitable region of Western Thanalan, angry Garleans not withstanding, is undoubtedly Parata’s Peace. Legends tell that this valley is the resting place to the terrible beast Parata who terrorized settlements across the Merlthor Straits, and with whose death a toxic gas rose to plague the valley. Locals claim that this is a curse from Parata, while others claim it is a mere deficit in earth aether, and others might suggest it could be both. The cave, Moondrip, that is connected to Parata’s Peace is known for its beautiful, slightly luminescent waters said to contain the radiance of the moon. This has resulted in the liquid being sold as a curative agent for great sums of gil, though in truth the water is simply home to many bioluminescent microbial creatures.
Once a quaint, charming stretch of coast named for the westerly wind that graced its shores, Cape Westwind is now rarely visited by any but the Garleans who have occupied it, their guns and blades trained on any who should trespass on their stolen land. Castrum Marinum, the hold of these invaders, now dominates the Cape, jutting imposingly out of the Rhotano Sea. It is the most southerly holdfast of the Garleans in Aldenard and functioned largely as a resupply base for the wider XIVth Legion. The connection from the Castrum to the mainland is guarded by an Imperial Outpost, a more makeshift fortification.