Most visitors to Kassidor will never get off this map. Before the stargate opened, this was as far as the tube system went. If this is all of Kassidor you see, you can still get lost for weeks, especially if you don't speak the language and the battery in your comm dies.
Most geographers consider this the largest urban concentration on the planet. The method they use to determine what is a single urban area is, if the parcel of property produces less food that it's occupants eat, it is urban. If those properties abut, it is a single urban area. That property is marked in white on this map. That property marked in red has multiple stories of human-occupied space on it. This map has over eighty million people. Contiguous tendrils of urban land extend for another hundred miles off this map and house at least another twenty million people. Testigar is the first of twelve large cities connected down river almost two hundred miles, halfway to Miolyra as the river flows.
Most of the population cannot afford to use tube service and this urban area can be two weeks across for the average resident. The middle class can use 'publics', which are boats built like rowing shells with little alcohol powered steam turbines that cruise the canals at five knots, much faster than the keda-drawn barge traffic. The main canals in the center of the city are less than a pixel wide on this scale, but some hint of their routes can be detected from the height of the towers that line their shores.
Most people walk just about everywhere they go. In the red areas of the map, the main pedestrian streets are on the sixth floor, plus or minus two, and don't come down to ground level till the white. In the Yakhan most wagon traffic moves on ground level, but it's usually indoors among the foundations of those towers in the red and orange areas.
The properties that are yellow are actually producing agricultural products, but much less than they use. Those in very light green are producing almost as much as they use. Almost 30% of the agricultural products consumed by the people on this map arrive on ships that dock on the waterfront of the dam.
This is the center of the culture that is 'modern' Kassidor, 'modern' being since Earth's year passed 0. This city embodies the mainstream of this culture and it distills and studies all cultures on this whole vast planet. If it wasn't for that fact, we of Centorin would think this was the whole world. There are discos here that have been open continuously since before the oldest ever excavated from the ruins of Earth. This is where they trace the science of stringed instrument design back to 4100 B.C. in the Thulitlanth collection. The Thulitlanths claim it was taught to them by roving troops from distant lands, though no physical evidence remains. This is home to the companies that have won the l3 of the last 17 video creativity awards given by the Centorin Film Academy.
For the visitor, the cultural opportunities in this one city are too vast for you to exhaust. One can spend a week within the walls of the Kassikan alone. The four hour roller blade tour gives you enough of a sample to let you get a feel for it, so you can narrow your search to only those parts that interest you. There are 150 miles of crowded nude beach in the city. There are nine cubic miles of abandoned undergrown catacombs to explore, a number second only to Yondure in all the cities of all human worlds. There are nearly a thousand miles of major urban canals. A list of events and points of interest is simply not possible.
This is also a society where some try but don't quite grow enough on the stony ground near the forests where there are lots of pests. This is where a race of grey, light-intolerant humans was discovered living in the abandoned catacombs. This is where the leading cause of death is drug overdose (if you count falling from a high railing while too stoned to stand up). Most people on this map are older than Centorin. Four are older than the Biblical Abraham.
In many ways this is the most typical of Kassidor's cities. Most housing is grown, and in the warmth of the inner city, even archwoods can be grown. In the white and green areas, only hangleaves and shaftwoods. Most freight is hauled by water. Barges are drawn thru the canals by keda teams, as they are over much of the planet. In the red parts of the city, the teams are on a separate level from pedestrians, also a common theme in most cities. Dams, locks and water power are an important part of the city's industry, a theme common to many cities of Kassidor. Even the 'needleboats' as those motorized racing shells are called, have spread to many of the more affluent parts of the planet by now. For a thousand years, this was the only city with them.
This city is different in that its residents are more affluent that average, they work and play harder than average, and that they are more vain about their appearance than average. A greater percentage of the population has lighting in their home than in most cities, especially those of other basins. A greater percentage has automatically heated water than in any city but Bordzvek. A greater percentage has data access than anywhere else on Kassidor.
The Yakhan is really a collection of linear cities, each along one of the great canals. Each is lined by lofty towers, sometimes for a hundred miles. Most freight and commerce moves on the canals. Most major streets follow the canals. The tube lines follow the canals. Even in the very center of the city the canals are separated by a quarter mile or more, usually many blocks of six floors or less. Outside the very center of the city, there may be miles of farmland between them.
The canals were numbered in reverse order. Each was the lake front at one time. When the first major one was started, it was given the name Ninth Canal, to indicate there were eight more to go till the lake would reach its full height. At that time the Kassikan was still on a promontory five miles away.
Between the major canals are many small ones. This allows most of the population to have some water access and a kayak. Kayaks are to the people of the Yakhan what automobiles were to the people of ancient Los Angeles. The canals are full of them and commercial barges sometimes have to push rafts of them out of the way. Many are enthusiasts and will take them sailing on a lake. For some that will be a trip that takes them weeks.
Each canal has a characteristic, which is not always true of every part of them, but often true in the central part of the city. First Canal is full of heavy industry. Second Canal has the front entrance to the Kassikan, many think-tanks and some financial firms. Third Canal has the back door to the Kassikan, lots of music venues and art galleries. It is also industrial in its northern reaches. Fourth Canal has most of the major financial and media companies. Fifth Canal is the shopping, fashion and pop culture center. Sixth is known for haute craftsmanship and electronics works. Seventh Canal is known for coachworks and kayak manufacture, Eighth Canal for real estate and Ninth Canal for light industry. There are some additional smaller canals between the canyons with numbers ten thru thirteen, and that is where the textile industry is concentrated.
An interesting trip is to follow third canal north or south about fifty or sixty miles. (Use the tube, it will take you ten hours on a public needleboat.) Once you are there, you will be in land characteristic of a smaller Kassidorian city. There will be some crystal buildings along the shore on both sides. You can walk a mile from the canal and find small-holds typical of the homes of four billion of this basin's population. You may meet someone who has never seen a Centorin before and many will put up with your translator just for the adventure of meeting someone from another star. They will probably invite you in and you will get the best possible look at the reality of life on Kassidor without traveling a local year. You may also be plied with food, drink and sex till the battery in your comm runs out.
The Kassikan sits on the lip of what was once a 900 foot drop to the bottom of a canyon eroded thru the Highland Escarpment. This was the deepest of three canyons eroded into this escarpment in this area. Today all three of the canyons have been 'filled in' but they are filled with previous layers of urban construction that have been buried as the city grew.
This would not be of much interest to anyone but hydraulic engineers if it wasn't for the fact that they are not completely filled in. For a thousand Earth years, the Gnome race inhabited them secretly, hollowing out passages and re-occupying buried buildings. In addition, they tunneled into the buried canyon walls. Their passages can still be seen opening in the cliffs above the upper reaches of Canyon Lake. In the days before the Instinct they guarded their warrens to the total exclusion of all others. There is still no accurate record of all the tunnels that were excavated.
Around 1000bc., they tunneled up into the basements of the Kassikan. For the next 200 Earth years there was sporadic warfare between the Gnomes and the Wizards. This was a dangerous situation because the dam could be undermined and result in a disaster. The peace that was made required a pledge from the Kassikan of employment, and to this day tens of thousands of Gnomes shuffle paper in the basements of the Kassikan.
Parts of the canyons have become hip and some deeply buried old structures have become art galleries and sex clubs. It is down in here that you are likely to find the more avant garde and extreme. South Canyon is especially known for the Kshownd-style enhancement and display of female genitalia in some of the clubs down there.
If you venture into the canyons, STAY ON THE LIGHTED PATHS. Do not sit in darkened areas with aromatic food, stay away from any glowing fungi and beware of any breathing noises emanating from floor drains. It is best to carry a torch with you just in case, though once again, avoid any areas where you need it. If you need it, a flashlight is not going to help, you need flame.
When you get out of the tube, you will find yourself in an ancient glass dome over what had been a stadium during the middle ages of Europe. That immense and ancient dome soaring overhead usually stops first time visitors right then and there. This dome is the second largest and newest of the three megastructures on the Kassikan campus.
When you reach the bottom of the ramp that spirals around Kassidor's interstellar portal, you will see one of the few signs in Centish you will ever see on the whole planet. It points to the Centorin tourist office on the hallway that leads eventually to the Centorin consulate, just outside the Kassikan's walls. There is a passage to the right of it that leads to Front Canal Promenade. That will soon lead you to Second Canal Court, the main public space of the Kassikan and the best place to get a good look at the pyramid, the largest and second youngest megastructure on campus.
You must follow Second Canal Court thru the pyramid, past all the monuments detailing the course offerings in each Study, to get to a hall called Administrative Way and take that left about a quarter mile till you come to a colonnade on the right that will take you to the Mathematical Gardens. From there you can see the Northeast face of the Pyramid and New Orthanc, the third megastructure on campus.
Beyond that point 'ground level' isn't clear any more. You will eventually find that what you thought was 'ground level' has up to a hundred levels beneath. There are 175 levels above when you walk thru the base of the pyramid. The campus is huge but there are over a hundred information booths all over campus. The girl at them will not speak Centish, but she will be patient with your translator.
The pyramid contains the 'new' part of campus. Its exterior is coated with faculty residences, its interior holds guest rooms, class rooms, libraries and labs. Much of the work of the Kassikan is done in the pyramid. It is a one-piece cast granite shell, filled in with cast limestone and cris-crossed with hallways adorned with carvings of scenes from Elven history. While it is not a public display area, roaming these hallways is allowed and it is worth the ride up a few elevator shafts just to see the interior.
Beyond the megastructures there are student quads to the walls both north and south, but primarily to the north. Those on the south are newer and are laid out on a grid. Those to the north are a haphazard maze that you'll have to ask your way out of. As you walk the student areas, you will find little of the teenage boisterousness of Centorin campuses. Instead you will find the same people you meet outside the Kassikan. Most who study at the Kassikan are older than any living Centorin.
Below level zero, you will find many more locked doors. Below a certain level you will notice a distinctive smell. That indicates you are reaching areas frequented by Gnomes. The casual tourist is advised to avoid those areas, especially without a guide. There are many senior executives of the Kassikan who don't enter those regions. You aren't in physical danger from the Gnomes themselves, they are human enough to be subject to the Instinct, but the areas are very dark and not all their denizens are human. You will not find information booths down here and the passageways lead down into the canyons and you could wander for several days before finding your way out, if your light and luck lasts.
One must remember that the Kassikan is not a government, nor is it a government institution. It is not bound by any laws but the laws of nature. It receives only voluntary public scrutiny, and its leaders have lived thru trials that make the unification wars look like a Saturday night bar fight. With that said, the institution is welcoming and you will not find yourself able to get into anywhere you 'shouldn't be' without breaking a door down. If you do anything like that, the Centorin government cannot protect you and the Instinct only protects you from physical harm, not psychic.