The city of Rosenberg rests comfortably in the shadow of the Vigil; the Crimson Keep rising above the town with the air of a reserved and dignified gentleman- stern edges alluding to his military history while wisps of muted color in the battlements hit at the ease peaceful times has brought to his soul. Once the Crimson Keep had been a fortress built to protect the Gothic citizens of Rosenberg from Hestrali armies across the Vigil, but in the years of peace that followed the entrance of Hestralia into the Throne Rosenberg has become a bustling city devoted to trade, arts and cultural exchange.
Although a town has always existed in support of the Crimson Keep, Rosenberg’s expansion – and the artistic re-birth of the Crimson Keep- was not seen until after the Hestralian – Throne alliance. In its original incarnation the Crimson Keep acted as a military fortress utilizing the geographic advantage provided by the Vigil. The keep is fortified by in-accessibility, built high on a cliff with panoramic views it reigns as a statement of prowess and beauty, a stone behemoth juxtaposed against an expansive sky. As the keep transitioned from active duty to a life of leisure it underwent renovations to better reflect the artistry of the young cities inhabitants. Through the combined vision of master artisans of all variety the Crimson Keep was re-imagined in the image of heaven itself. One of the most noteworthy additions made to the Keep during the renovation period was the addition of expansive rose gardens; which appear to flow between the Keep and the town below. It is said, that if you position yourself in the center of one of the five major roads which divide Rosenberg and look towards the keep (at the appropriate time of day) the Crimson Keep will appear to be haloed in sunlight, against the open sky, floating in a sea of roses.
The Rose Gardens of the Crimson Keep
To say the gardens are a feat of Herbal Mastery is an understatement- the Rose Gardens of the Keep have no likeness anywhere in the Empire. Part labyrinth, part art exhibit the gardens both bring both beauty and security to the Crimson Keep above. One path leads the way through the impenetrable thorns, which can be well defended were advancing forces to try the maze.
The roses themselves are unique among plants; an abnormally large variety yielding a high volume of bright red blooms without experiencing a period of dormancy. In addition to their size and vibrance, the plants have nearly wood-like stems and thorns more closely resemble large, jagged teeth than typical foliage. Theses ‘eternal blooms’ are said- by some of the more pious of Rosenberg- to be a living reminder of the eternal strength and beauty of souls of man. The origins of the Crimson Keep roses are a topic of debate among residents of the city and visitors alike. Some parties believe that the plants were the work of Master Herbalist Clotilda Huber, who was known for carefully cross-breeding plants for artistry as well as usefulness. Others attest that the roses are mundane in origin, but were transformed by the Earth Mage Renke Saur. It has been said that aside from enchanting the roses to grow to an unnatural size and bloom indefinitely Renke was able to call the brambles to life, rearranging the labyrinth if needed to protect the Keep and its occupants.
The Five Streets of Rosenberg
When the city of Rosenberg was first constructed by Architect Trennan Brügger it was built with artistry in mind. The city is laid out in a unique fan pattern of five major streets: Morgengrauen-Straße, Mittagstraße, Nachmittags Straße , Dämmerung Straße and Nacht Straße. Each of the five streets has its own gate, and visitors to the city may choose to arrive through any of the entrances each of which artistically represents the name of the street, and the people who inhabit it. While the five gates are miles apart at the entrance of the city, they are positioned to move closer to one another the deeper you travel into the city, eventually all arriving at the entrance to the rose gardens of the Crimson Keep.
Trennan’s city layout was inspired by a desire to amplify the Crimson Keep’s divine beauty and as such each street was positioned to work as a enormous sundial. As the sun rises on Imperator Tag, the vantage point allowed by Morgengrauen-Straße makes it appear as though the Keep has a halo of light illuminating it. This effect can be viewed on each subsequent street throughout the day, until fightfall when the first moon of summer will bath the Keep in silverlight as viewed from Nacht-Straße.
From each major thoroughfare, a unique sub district has sprung to life and were a visitor to ask a resident of Rosenberg which district was most ‘authentic’ it is likely that she would receive a different answer every time she asked.
Morgengrauen Straße is known as the district of dancers and thespians. A stroll down its pale gravel streets would lead a visitor to encounter numerous performers, dancing nimbly in the morning air or rehearsing stage art on one of the numerous alcoved stages built into the allies and side streets. The stages of Morgengrauen have been the birthplace of some of the most moving pieces of theater in the Empire, and recently dancers from the Vermillion Larks (a well known dance troop) traveled to the imperial court to perform at the Emperor’s midwinter ball.
The buildings of Morgengrauen are delicately painted with soft white designs lending it an airy, cleanly appearance. And residences of this district include dancers, actors, tailors and numerous craftsmens who often lend their skills to the staging of productions. Many of the most successful artisans make their homes in airy lofts above the shops of Morgengrauen and can be seen in the early hours enjoying the sunrise view of the Crimson Keep from their quaint balconette. The less established artisans and artists can be found residing in small houses or even renting rooms in one of the many boarding houses that pepper the allies and culdesacs of the district.
To walk the streets of Mittagstraße is to gain a preview into the next great fashions of the Empire. Whether it be new styles of armor, weapons, gowns, or shoes chances are if you catch a glance of it in a softly lit window of the Mittagstrabe it’s only a matter of time until its like will spread across the empire. Taylors, Mechanists, Leather Workers and Smiths alike travel from all corners of the empire- new designs in tow- hoping to gain a window feature or a lucrative commision that will launch their career.
The buildings of Mittagsrabe are built with display in mind, featuring large show windows and wide walkways with the majority of living space built behind the shops- as to not deter from the display of the wondrous creations. Some artisans reveal their Hestrali roots by choosing to make their homes in covered caravans, discreetly sequestered in the side gardens of some of the larger shops. Unlike their Hestrali cousin’s these caravans are typically monochromatic and are only decorated with small illusions to the profession of its inhabitants.
When walking the allies that connect the five streets of Rosenberg a visitor will smell Nachmittags Strabe before they ever set eyes on it. Full of groceries, butcher shops, cheesemongers, bakers, taverns, brewers and wine merchants this neighborhood is best explored with your tastebuds. Much of the cuisine of this city is born out of Rosenbergs Gothan roots, it has been influenced and shaped by travelers, immigrants and visitors alike.
Unlike most of the city, where the occupants live above or alongside their establishments in a predictable fashion the shopkeepers, artisans and cooks of Nachmittags have built their residences in accordance with the specific needs of their cuisine. Some live in cellars, while others are attic dwellers, others live in back rooms of their shops, while some shops appear to be more home than anything else. Many of the businesses boast small arrangements of benches and tables on their doorsteps, allowing patrons to enjoy their wares while surveying the bustle of the lively streets.
One of the most famous locations within Nachmittags is the Thirsty Thorn, a tavern known as much for its masterful wood carvings as its floral cuisine.
Dämmerung Straße stands out as the district of the tangible arts. Painters , sculptors, and wood workers flock to this sector Rosenberg, where their labors of passion may be placed on display in one of the numerous galleries or perhaps catch the eye of one of the curators employed by House Sauber, tasked with commissioning the next great masterpiece to adorn the alcoves of the Rose Sea. In addition to the artists themselves, Dämmerung Straße attracts merchants and tradesmen who supply the artists and the width of the Dämmerung Straße is far more substantial than most streets in Rosenberg- to allow for large ox-drawn carts to deliver shipments of marble and wood to the artists who will summon artistry from their depths.
Those living in Dämmerung find themselves nestled in small cottages- built as additions or predecessors (it is impossible to tell now) to the large galleries and show rooms. Some of the larger homes overlook small sculpture gardens or have been built to take advantage of the views of the Crimson Keep in the distance. Some of the more devoted artists and their apprentices can be found living alongside their masterpieces in large (but drafty) lofts and workspaces.
The Nacht district is well named, as its occupants can be heard best as the night wind rolls through the allies and courtyards this partially residential district. Compared to its four counterparts the Nacht Strabe district would appear primarily a street of high walled residential buildings clustered around artistic courtyard gardens. By night, Nacht Strabe is alive with music and song- the quiet courtyards transformed into performance space for bards and musicians. Some courtyards are open, to allow passers by to wander between their gates at their leisure while others remain locked and guarded only allowing those invited guests to partake in the night performances.
Many of Rosenbergs citizens reside in the Nacht District. Those with the most lucrative incomes residing in the upper levels – or even occupying entire buildings- while more modest merchants often occupied ground or even basement level dwellings. The musicians of the Nacht straub can be found in all levels of living. Some share converted cellar dwellings with a dozen compatriots, while others live alongside their wealthy patrons in the more extravagant upper buildings. Although frowned upon, it is not uncommon for a traveling musician to make a crude camp in one of the gardens, especially during the summer months when the infamous Nachtstraub night market increase the likelihood of their gaining exposure.