Veyo City is unique among capital cities on Atla in that it has no government offices, no police force, and is no longer used as a hub for trade or commerce. It was at one time a thriving port city with more than 30,000 people living along the rocky coastline. Today, only 1,000 people call the city home and most of them are part of vast criminal organizations whose influence stretches to the farthest reaches of the province.
Veyo has always been an important port city, as it was one of the last major outposts along the journey to the eastern half of the continent. The Arctic Sea is impassable, and as a result, all ships traveling to or from the east were forced to journey along the southern tip of the continent and around the province of Meroma. Due to the harsh conditions around the Meroma Desert and the sparsely populated savanna above it, Veyo was the last place suitable for a major port between Meroma and Sed. For hundreds of years before Atla’s unification the city was one of the 5 busiest port cities on the continent. And after the signing of Atla’s constitution when trade became more streamlined and consistent, the city nearly doubled in size.
Between 25 EM and 200 EM Veyo reached the height of its popularity, prosperity, and productivity. Nearly as many ships stopped in Veyo as FreePort or Westlake. As a result, droves of people moved to the city to open everything from brothels and hostels to churches and trade schools. Though the city was prosperous, crime began seeping into its darkest recesses and before long the city was overrun by criminal organizations. Goods would go missing from the ports, stores were robbed, people went missing, and all of it existed just out of sight. From a distance the city seemed normal and productive. However, as the years passed the legitimate business owners and traders were displaced, sometimes forcefully sometimes due to the growing number of crimes, criminal organizations filled their places.
Initially, even during the slow transition from busy port city to crime haven, the people of Veyo prospered and ships continued to take advantage of the city’s location and services. It wasn’t until the first motorcarts were invented that the city changed irreversibly.
Motorcarts were invented around the turn of the second century, and with them came new opportunities for transporting goods throughout and across Atla. Within a few years the first major highways crossed the nation, connecting Alpine, Arodil, Floran, Pelenak, Sed, Westlake, and Morrid. While the first roads were more wide strips of compact gravel and less like the highly maintained asphalt of today’s roads, they were more than adequate for transport carts.
By 205 EM the volume of ships traveling around the lower coast of Atla dropped by more than 15%. That number continued to increase each year as manufacturing companies and farmers alike opted for cart transport over sea transport. Given that it was faster, safer, cheaper, and easier, it’s little wonder why the people of Atla adopted the change so quickly.
But this change, beneficial as it was to the nation as a whole, impacted a few locations negatively. Of all the cities hurt by the rise of the motorcart, none were crippled more than Veyo.
Veyo was one of the few cities in the nation that was not connected to any major motorcart highway. While there were many roads connecting it to other cities in the area, most of them were dirt footpaths or horse and wagon trails. Motorcarts, especially the primitive and relatively fragile designs common during the early years of the second century, were incapable of handling the dusty, dirty, rocky, and uneven paths that humans and horses had used for hundreds of years.
Within a decade almost all of the legitimate business owners closed their shops and left their homes. In their wake was a city overrun by prostitutes, criminals, mercenaries, assassins, and slave traders. Instead of vacating the city as everyone else had the city’s population once again increased, with criminal organizations treating the city as a safe-haven, far out of reach of the Grand Council. In Veyo the people found freedom to conduct their business without harassment or fear, and before long the city was bustling once again, only this time it wasn’t a city but a den of thieves.
It didn’t take long for new of Veyo’s criminal exploits to reach the Grand Council. However, just as people in Veyo anticipated, the Council was almost helpless to do anything. While it was obvious Veyo was overrun by criminals, it would have taken a major investigation to uncover the full scope of their activities. And, given that the crime families mostly quarreled with and harassed each other, the impact was mostly self-contained. For those groups that had networks stretching to the limits of the entire nation, investigating their activities would have taken months if not years. And while that was a worthwhile goal, reaching Veyo would have required a massive financial investment. Until the activities in Veyo had a broader effect on the nation as a whole the Grand Council couldn’t justify the expense of launching a full investigation and establishing a local government (complete with law enforcement and criminal investigation personnel).
When raillines began spreading across the nation Veyo became even less relevant and more isolated than ever. Today the only way to reach the city is by sea or from Old Light City following a network of old footpaths and carriage paths. It is no longer a trading hub, most of the buildings have fallen into disrepair, and the few criminal organizations remaining in the city have converted it into what many consider a small fortress. Mercenaries now guard the ports and major estates while the rest of the buildings are filled with homeless vagrants or are in states of disrepair.
Though they have yet to act, the Grand Council is considering a number of ways of restoring Veyo and eradicating the criminal presence. Dozens of universities throughout the nation have expressed interest in purchasing land for small educational centers or research outposts. By clearing away the crime and providing educators with the opportunity to access the ruins throughout the Meroma Desert, the city would once again experience a rebirth. Another option the GC is considering involves altering the boundaries of the existing provinces. One solution would see the removal of the province, with both Westlake and Sed incorporating the lands into their enlarged boundaries. Either option would take time and money to accomplish, but both of them could be the answer the decrepit town of Veyo needs.