Balic is a cultured, semidemocratic city ruled by the sorcerer-king Andropinis. Its peaceful citizens value philosophy and art. Andropinis is the only sorcerer-king without expansionist goals, and he refuses to take part in the destructive power struggles of the Tablelands.

Balic is the safest city in the known world. It is located at the southernmost edge of the Tablelands, shielded from other city-states by distance and the Estuary of the Forked Tongue, a river of silt. This leaves Balic's phalanxes free to focus on containing the ubiquitous bandits and raiders. This stability, plus relatively fertile farmland, has made Balic the richest city-state in the Tablelands.

King Andropinis rules with a lighter touch than any other sorcerer-king. He leaves the day-to-day business of the city to the Senate, a body of seven nobles elected to seven-year terms by every land-owning male citizen. Andropinis concerns himself with settling disputes before they grow large enough to threaten order, and with promoting art, philosophy, and culture.

There is no state religion in Balic. Unlike most sorcerer-kings, Andropinis rejects any divine explanation of his immortality and magical might. He teaches that the sorcerer-kings are a race of beings known as avangions. They are unaging, nigh-immortal, and magically powerful, but have no more moral authority than anyone else. Balic derives his own authority from a vote of the Senate, who reelects him as king every forty-nine years.

In the absence of an official religion, Balicans have turned to their philosophers for explanations about the world and spiritual comfort. At any moment, there are a dozen or so prominent philosophies with hundreds of followers each. These sometimes form into societies or cults that last for a generation or two before being displaced by newer ideas that build upon the old.