The City of Hearts | E. Christopher Clark

The City of Hearts

The City of Hearts, formerly known as Saltgate, is the capital city of The United Kingdom of Wonderland. Set upon the peninsula of Nymph’s Neck, the city boasts the largest natural harbor in Eden. And it is that strategic position on the Sea of Tears which has been the source on conflict between the provinces of Neverland and The Realm since The First Age.


The City is home to the Crimson Keep, the Royal Library, and the Chessboard, among many other landmarks, but it is perhaps best known for the arched rock formation that gave the place its original name.


At the mouth of the Somniorum River, where that waterway empties into the Bay of Whispers, stands the famous Saltgate itself. It was here, at the start of the Second Age, that the Knights of the Realm drove their Neverlandian rivals back to the sea from whence they came. It was here, in a battle with Sobek the Splashing One and the notorious Peter Pan, that James Fitzroy earned the nickname Captain Hook. And it was here, in the year 263 CE, that Frieda Jacobs was crowned as the first Queen of Hearts.


According to the 1550 census, 59.8% of the city’s inhabitants were human, 20.9% were elvish, and 15.1% were halflings. The remaining 4.2% were a mix of other sapient species.

Industry & Trade

The city’s primary industries are government, tourism, and salt. The folks who aren’t moving through the corridors of power or catering to the needs of visitors from far-flung parts of the world are down by the shore harvesting, just like their forebears did.


And their forebears before them.


When The Calamity brought the six-hundred and sixty-fifth iteration of reality to an end and survivors began popping up all over the five sub-continents of Eden, the race for resources was cutthroat. In the South (today known as Wonderland), no plot of land was as fiercely contested as the peninsula that would come to be known as Nymph’s Neck. Salt, after all, plays a crucial role not only in food preservation but in the production of chemicals, where it is one of the most commonly used raw materials in the universe.


The town of Saltgate grew up around a trading post established by the seafaring peoples who would coalesce into the nation state of Neverland. And yet, the kingdom which would come to be known as The Realm had their eyes on the peninsula and its riches as well. And when the arrival of the Monster Hordes began pushing the Realmish off the lands they had originally claimed as their own, Saltgate and its rocky hills seemed like the best place to fall back to.


The growing settlement traded hands several times over the ensuing years, and it was in Neverlandian hands when The Seven Voices sang the next iteration of reality into being—an event which exiled all but the goddess-chosen halflings from Eden altogether. But though the halflings could have had the run of the place during the thirty-seven Wander Years that followed, the years before reality’s refugees would once again find themselves in Eden, the small folk let Saltgate sit unused while they explored the other parts of the world.


In the first years of The Second Age, the reconstituted Knights of the Realm—led by King Jacob Winters—took the city for good and all. And it was then, seeking to give the place a new start with a new name, that Winters rechristened the place “The City of Hearts”—a nod to the bravery of his soldiers, and to his daughter’s favorite suit of playing card.

Founding Date
1 CE
Alternative Name(s)
Inhabitant Demonym
Location under
Owning Organization


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Jul 6, 2023 01:01 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

My heart loves how important salt is to this city. City of Hearts is a grander name, though. :)

Jul 6, 2023 10:37 by E. Christopher Clark

Thanks! The salt thing was a kinda accidental but lovely discovery. When I was a kid, I wrote a fantasy novel called Heroes of the Realm (or, well, the beginning of if) and I came up with the title Sage of Saltgate. I'd always known I wanted the City of Hearts to have an original name, then everything came together over the last couple of weeks.

Now it's time for the awkward wave.
Jul 12, 2023 13:30 by Chris L

I love the demonym "Cockles". It makes me laugh!

Learn about the World of Wizard's Peak and check out my award winning article about the Ghost Boy of Kirinal!

Jul 12, 2023 17:04 by E. Christopher Clark

Thanks! It's one of those words that, ever since I heard Denis Leary say in his song "Asshole," has stuck with me.

Now it's time for the awkward wave.
Jul 15, 2023 12:51 by Haly the Moonlight Bard

What I hate about SC is that I've met all these great people, and found all these great worlds, and I have zero time to sink in and and explore, LUL! (I know, I know, the "burden" of my problems, right?!) But especially as a Wonderland fan, I love explorations and retellings and I am super looking forward to August when I can just sit back and thrive in Eden for a while.

Jul 15, 2023 13:19 by E. Christopher Clark

Oh, thank you so much! My next big project (a graphic novel) is set in the Wonderland portion of Eden and will hopefully be right up your alley.   Anyway, I really appreciate all the love you've given my articles this month. Thank you!

Now it's time for the awkward wave.
Jul 15, 2023 13:31 by Haly the Moonlight Bard

Diiiiid someone say granos? I. Am. Here. For. The. Granos. Like, whether you meant to or not, you will, unfortunately, never get rid of me now.

Aug 17, 2023 20:58 by Haly the Moonlight Bard

I told you I'd be back.

Aug 18, 2023 23:22 by E. Christopher Clark

Hahahaha. Love it! I'm glad you came back for more.

Now it's time for the awkward wave.
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