Centuries past, in the Bizzannite city of Ardales (Ar’-do”-lez) nestled in the Jabal desert valley, a massive tower was built. It was hailed at the time as being both a magnificent piece of art, and a triumph of Human engineering. As the wealth level of the inhabitants increased, the Emir declared that nothing within two miles of Ardales Tower could exceed two stories tall. Or course, since that measurement was ill-defined, the wealthier citizens began building homes and businesses with as tall a roof as possible. This lead to a further refinement of the maximum height law, punishable by having the building in question demolished, as well as additional fines paid. While the aristocrats could no longer compete in height with one another, they did not want to be seen as having the smaller building. As a result, nearly every large structure was built to nearly the exact same height.
Alas, time affects all things. Though the air in the Jabal valley was quite dry, the wooden beams of the Ardales Tower eventually decayed nearly to the point of collapse. Scaling the Tower was now forbidden due to safety concerns, and visitors were not even allowed at its base. Time finally took the Tower in the form of a fire 120 years ago. As the original artist/architect’s plans were lost in the intervening years, and most realised that a new tower would be merely a copy, the Tower was never rebuilt. However, the old edict limiting the height of buildings within that two-mile area was never repealed.
Improved irrigation was brought into Jubal Valley, in large part because of increased fears over more fires. This new water allowed the wealthy landowners of Ardales to grow personal gardens on their flat rooftops. The shade helped cool the buildings, and competition renewed among the aristocracy for the lushest garden. Over time, the increased population caused an increase in building density, especially in the city’s heart, where the Ardales Tower once stood. New aqueducts were constructed, leading straight from the nearby mountains, across tall pillars, and into the gardens of these wealthy citizens.
Today, a traveller approaching Ardales can stand at a mountain pass and gaze down onto a solid sea of green in the heart of the city. The gardens seem to mix and flow into one another. As it is relatively simple to step from one building to another—and across wide and short bridges spanning the streets—to the traveller’s vantage, it seems as though it is a large park, rather than the roofs of many buildings. It is only when one looks further, to edge of the garden area, does the illusion vanish. Walking through the downtown streets of Ardales, one is cast perpetually in shadow. The harsh sun is filtered through leaves, vines, trellises, and arching bridges. The gardens (althought it may now be more accurate to not use the plural) are far above—40 feet of open space separates the streets from the plantlife. The buildings themselves are striking, made from the native white stone, and built with tall pointed arches and collumns. 2nd storey balconies stare down from some homes, even these are 20 feet above. The air is cool, dark, and damp; a welcome respite from the sun bearing down on the surrounding city.