Imagine (or otherwise pretend) that you’re looking at an old, hand-drawn map: You see a curved chain of mountains, nearly a ring, falling to rocky, forested hills and eventually river-riven lowlands in the center. At the northeast side of the ring is an especially tall mountain; some distance (difficult to tell, for this map has no scale to show miles or kilometers) to the southwest of that mountain is a mark indicating the presence of a city, high on the slopes of one of the lesser mountains.
K is for Kyre.
Don’t worry that you’ve never heard of this city. Few have, since it isn’t in our universe, and stories of it have not yet reached many people here. [Translation: I’ve only had a couple of short stories and one novella in this setting published… so far.]
Kyre is sometimes referred to (by people in Haefenspoint) as “the elves’ city,” which is definitely a misnomer. For one thing, at least half of the people living there are human. It’s just that there are no non-humans (we’ll humor a certain young man in his stubbornness for now) living in Haefenspoint, the other city in this region, and no elves ever come south of the River anymore.
Take a closer look… Buildings mostly of greenish grey stone with tiled roofs, narrow streets weaving back and forth through a city like waves splashed up the side of the mountain: like Haefenspoint to the south, Kyre had its origins as a seaport, when elves and humans both first arrived from now-forgotten lands across the moons-tossed sea, and as the sea receded when the world turned cold, the city was left high above, spreading slowly down toward the new shore but never able to reach it again until the sea was gone and only the city remained.
The land drops steeply after a way, which is why it was never practical to keep building ever further down the mountain; roads lead along the few routes where heavy wagons can travel to the gentle hills and lowlands, home of the towns and villages and farms, and from there out across the wide green wilderland empty of settlements of any size except immediately next to the old High Road, which used to be a causeway above shallow sea and marsh.
I have always liked the idea of a setting old enough to have real weight of history on it. I also like how a story’s physical location affects its history and culture — and the immediate plot, and the people who live the story. Kyre couldn’t have the history it has without being where it is. The people who live in that city wouldn’t be the same people if they lived somewhere else instead.