This map shows a lot of white, which is pieces of property that do not grow as much food as the residents eat. Over much of that area they grow a good deal of what they eat. Regions colored very light green or yellow are properties which produce just about as much as the residents eat, with the yellow being more annual crops.
The great avenues are not shown as such, but can be seen by the strings of enormous apartment towers lining them (shown in red). The greatest, and the ones shown on postcards, are those that crisscross the eastern half of Lower Norbin Island.
The black dotted lines are kingdom boundaries from the forties. They have no meaning today other than cultural. Porbut's and Mukoy's kingdoms were absorbed by New Dam in the 43rd, but by that time it was little more than combining the merchant's councils. The king of Old Norbin claimed sovereignty over the remainder of the universe but his actual authority was tenuous at best beyond this map. Today the Old Norbin business council does estabish trading guidlines for the whole basin, but they are pretty much the same as the Highlands.
The names are not left in true Kassiorian because most people in the basin do not pronounce them as proper nouns. The decision to do this is questionable because people in Norbin often 'forget' to raise the pitch of proper nouns, so it is not clear if the place names are thought of as common nouns, which we usually translate, or proper nouns, which we usually don't.
The beautiful and industrious city of Norbin today is one of the most sprawling of Kassidor's cities. It covers a lot of land and has a lot of structure, but the entire contiguous urban area has less than forty million people. It reminds the few Centorins who have seen it of a cleaned up version of Navorkensville.
The Kshoned River runs thru the heart of the city, and like Navorkensville, the center of the city is on a large island. Like Navorkensville, the city was once a tiny fraction of the island while today the urban area is far larger than the island. Unlike Navorkensville, the older cities embedded in it around each lock are still visible and have distinctive characters and those of the south side of the island have a different character yet because the south fork of the river has a lot less current and thus those cities grew up with a different mix of industry. The city is in a region of steep slope on the Kshoned and the lakes along the lockway are small, usually not as wide as the slow river both above and below the city. That pattern has persisted until the present. The purpose was always water power more than lake building.
Like Navorkensville, Norbin is one of the few big cities on Kassidor without many multiple levels of streets. Along the busiest waterfronts there are a few, but most of the city is served by broad avenues filled with wagon traffic with pedestrians on the side instead of above. There are more streetcars than most cities.
There is a tube system, it follows both sides of both rivers with cross links at each major city. On the island, it follows all the main avenues. It is expensive and used only by the well-to-do. Since there are quite a few of them in the city, it makes a profit and is slowly being enlarged. There are stops in the less concentrated areas between locks and it is possible to walk from there to the countryside in some areas.
Unlike Navorkensville, the towers for all this are lofty bigleaf and flyleaf shaftwoods and mammoth archwoods instead of boxes of glass and steel. Norbin is the most grown of cities. It is not standing on crystal as in Korsto or Yclel-vi, or even on ruins like in Borlunth. The roots of the trees are in the ground, a couple feet below the wheels on the avenues. The businesses are between the lower trunks, the residences in the branches above.
The styles in Norbin are nearly as organic as Trenst. Mammoth apartment trees line the avenues. Decor is rich in flowers, vines, wickerwork, tooled leather accents on furnishings, brilliant beadwork tapestries and dramatic use of mirrors to guide sunlight into hidden places. There are more lanterns, but torchlight like is found in Trenst or Zhlindu is common. The style of the torches is more like the holey mushrooms of Trenst than the flaming wands of Zhlindu.
The sensuous love songs that Norbin is noted for are heard from hidden speakers in thousands of little cafes that line the riverbanks for hundreds of miles, a scene reminiscent of Dos, Prvest or Bordzvek. The people you meet under the torchlight at one of them are just as sensuous and beautiful as the songs. The Elves of Norbin are a bit daintier than those of the Highlands, but half the population is the same genetic type as found in the Kshoned basin, and a quarter is some mix of the two. They all keep themselves well and dress in cute and sexy things when they're out hunting.
Norbin means approximately 'Busy Factory' and it is very much a manufacturing center. Another disagreement the founders had with the Kassikan was over the production/research ratio that was best for society, and the city of Norbin reflects their emphasis on production. The city is at the head of a narrow extension of the lower Kshoned valley and the river drops nearly a mile within the current city. This results in the enormous locks and lockways that the city is famous for, more than 90 locks or lock groups bar the Kshoned during it's path thru the city. Because the Kshoned is a large river with lots of flow, Norbin has the highest per capita water power available of any major city in human space. That water power gives industry in the city an unbeatable advantage.
Even so, it is no longer as busy as it once was. As in most Kassidorian societies, what needs to be made is already made for the most part. Population growth is minimal, products last for long periods of time and as in most of the modern world of Kassidor, most are not motivated to produce and consume more than they need. In the Norbin basin, where a surplus of goods has been the norm for nearly 4000 years, the newness of prosperity has worn off.
Water power is used to compress air and compressed air utilities are big business all over the urban area. Trunk lines as big as water mains crisscross the region, industries can choose from competing suppliers. The technology for safely handling such volumes and pressures of air are more advanced than anywhere else in human space. Note that Bordzvek, the Yakhan, Yclel-vi and Zhlindu also have compressed air handling equipment superior to Centorin's.
Employment is temporary piecework as it is in most other Kassidorian cities. Industries are usually owned by large families and family members usually occupy most of the permanent or career positions. In truth many people have only one or two businesses they can walk to for employment so they are stuck with the going rate. The rates are pretty standard for Kassidor but prices are low so the standard of living is one of the highest on the planet. Most of the urban population grows more than half of their food supply, the overall average for the city is a high 81.1% like in the Yakhan or Ydontrostl.
The city and the narrow strip of lowland along the Kshoned River have the mildest climate in the Norbin basin. Frost is rare and unknown in the summer. In all but the upper parts of the city, archwood can be used for housing, and some of the biggest single archwoods ever grown line the main avenues of Norbin, many are more than a thousand feet across and have a thousand trunks.
At no time in Norbin are you in danger of finding inadequate facilities, poor food or lack of entertainment. The inns are in city centers or along the main avenues. Inns provide food and entertainment as well as lodging and there are several chains and hundreds of independents. The biggest cultural attractions are along the avenues today, but the more avant guard is in the old city centers. Major concert halls look like cathedrals grown out of living trees.
Wandering thru the neighborhoods is more like Kassidor City than not. Lots are similar in size, homes are similar in size and construction, but different in style. They are more decorated here and laid out differently. The tub is not a central point for entertainment as in the Yakahn, instead most have only a shower. Homes tend to line the street and not be set back into the yard. More people tend to specialize in one crop and there is more trading. There is no tree farming, and most people keep their upper branches trimmed to allow as much sunlight as possible to reach the ground. There are more feedlots and people eat less garden pests than in the Highlands, but almost everyone has some. Since seeing this type of living is easy in Kassidor City, there is little reason to make a special point of it here or in Trastrab or Knidola or any other city where such a way of life is common.
Most of the historical attractions are in Old Norbin, but you will find little mention of the most important factor in the city's history, the attempt to keep youth from the masses. There are some important buildings that have been preserved from the original settlement, and a museum containing a huge diorama with a model of the original 8976-wagon caravan that came here from the Highlands back in 651BC. This makes Norbin one of the newest cities on the planet. In the early 2500's the museum was moved from it's original home on the Old Norbin waterfront to a new one in the area now called Museum Hill.
Note that this basin brews the best ales on the planet and the city of Norbin brews the best ales in the basin. Though the ingredients are different, there are no hops or barley on Kassidor, the result is at least as good. Indeed, as soon as the tube system reaches the city, ales from Norbin are likely to win most taste testings until the major brewery Houses make importation illegal. If you make it to the city, you can try them now. Be prepared to find your old favorite thin and tasteless when you get home.
For those who admire beautiful women, the strip shows are the most unique part of the culture of Norbin. They are mainly found at plazas along the river, perhaps a nod to the tradition of being naked around water that holds over most areas with a strong Elven presence. Most are tasteful and artistic by Centorin standards, and most of the girls who participate are quite pretty. Figures are not as extreme as a plastic-filled Centorin professional, but you will find a few who have used genetic science to much the same effect. Few are as anorexic as Centorin professionals. They are never professional but are likely to be as sexually adventurous as the ones you meet in the sex clubs in other basins. Most seem to genuinely have fun doing it. Tasteful sexual comments are welcome and are a good way to meet someone for the sleep. Crude comments are not welcome. If the girl gets heckled she will probably flee.
Norbin is not quite as artistic or romantic as Dos, but for some it is more exciting. Ketais Island is a resort and vacation center with beaches, casinos, big name popular entertainment, circuses and side shows, big time sporting events featuring the top mish players in the basin (and therefore all of human space) and a free-wheeling attitude that some would say is reminiscent of ancient Las Vegas, except that the most staid parts of Norbin are much more free than any of Las Vegas ever was. Ketais Island is also the part of the city with the most strong drugs, including some that could be dangerous such as semphaneet and dummeeg. There is yaag available on the island that is more than enough for the average person to experience.