The City of Solamnus
The city of Solamnus is not the economic center of Vingaard, but it is the cultural center and its capitol. It is the Seat of Power of Queen Madeleine II Soleme. The old High Temple was purportedly established by St. Cuthbert himself in 50 BE. After his death, the legendary Disciples of St. Cuthbert backed the local warlord who would unite the Vintas under one banner, supposedly according to Cuthbert's dying wish. This man would assemble the Army of Candles around the High Temple at Solamnus and become known as Eolus, first King of Vingaard. In the wake of his conquest, he enshrined the Disciples and their followers, creating the Knights of Vingaard. As of the year 200 census, the population of Solamnus was 50,000.
The Royal Court
As the center of the Queen's power, Solamnus is home to many powerful entities and organisations, such as the Iron Crown and the University of Solamnus. Besides the Queen herself, there are many figures of importance in her court, or who have her hear.
Princess Anne Soleme is 18 years old, and has been in Vingaard rarely in the past 3 years. She is married to Duke Victis, brother to King Alfrend of Warden. This political alliance has improved relations with Warden that were worsened by the recent conflict with Lurkmoor.
Prince Alfred Soleme is only 7 years old. Like Princess Anne, he was born to King Consort Alaric Eltan, who passed away in 200 AE from a suspected poisoning. Alfred is a sickly and solemn child who idolises the High Magus and wishes to study in the University of Solamnus. As the Crown Prince, the Queen has not yet relented, but has consented for the High Magus to begin tutoring him in the magical arts. She hopes that the archaic complexity of magic will dissuade the young prince.
Duke Ernesto Soltene is the Lord of High Tarus and the Duke of Tarovus. He is also the Queen's younger cousin. During the Tarovus Calamity in 203 AE, he was taken hostage along with several other nobles. He was released during the events of the Disaster at High Tarus, and now dwells in his apartments in the Great Beldorn Palace at Solamnus. A career diplomat and expert negotiator, he is now attempting to work with the Queen of Lurkmoor against the threat of the dragon Zargothrax.
The High Magus is usually known only by his title. With those who are familiar to him, such as Prince Alfred, he is called "Malvolio". This is almost certainly not his birth name. He is one of, if not the strongest mage in the country, having attained the 16th level of experience. His skill in alchemy, enchantment and magical wards is legendary - the rare spell of his that is in circulation always fetches a high price, and they are known as the "Royal" spells. The High Magus is a severe, serious old man, though he has a soft spot for the Crown Prince. Although the royal family treat him like a father, he has not been known for long. He first appeared around 170 AE, already middle-aged, and became famous for fighting and winning a series of high-profile magical duels. He then disappeared from 175-180, whereupon the newly-made position as High Magus was announced abruptly. Some say that despite his magical prowess, he is beginning to feel his age, and seeks a protege.
Lord Commander Gottrick de Falconatius is the head of the three orders of the Knights of Vingaard - the Order of St. Cuthbert, the Order of the Crown, and the Tyrean Order. He is rarely involved in their operations in times of peace, allowing the three Knight-Commanders of these orders to administrate them. His signature is required to be on letters summoning would-be knights to the Accolade. In this capacity, he is known by his official title as "Grand Master of the Knights of Vingaard". In his capacity as Lord Commander, Gottrick's main duties lie in training and commanding the Royal Guard, advising the Queen on tactics and military matters, and managing the standing army of Solamnus. He is with the Queen at all times when she leaves the safety of the palace. Gottrick is a 6th-level priest of Belzor, a 15th-level fighter, and a High Master of the longsword.
Ser Baurus of the Iron Crown is an honorary Knight of the Crown and the Commander of the Iron Crown - Vingaard's elite organisation of adventurers and "problem-solvers". A 12th-level fighter, his true talent lies not in his skill with the longsword and shield but in his shrewd tactical mind and his complex contingencies and backup plans. These plans are often augmented by the magical prowess of Marvolo the Red, Baurus' oldest friend and companion - and a 13th level wizard. Baurus is famed for carrying two swords - one is a mithril blade which is said to be swift and deadly in battle, and which shines with the light Belzor when unsheathed. The other, which is never drawn, is the subject of much rumour - the prevailing belief is that it is the legendary Vorpal Blade.
Castellan Venn Hauptmann is responsible for managing the Queen's affairs. He is the governer of Solamnus, and orders the affairs of the Royal Provinces. A shrewd organiser and diplomat, he is a master of prioritising, smoothing wrinkled relationships, and ensuring that the wheels of the Royal Court run smoothly. It is well known that his work in organising the fiduciary and political affairs of the Royal House takes up nearly all of his time, and is poorly kept secret that he delegates the governing of Solamnus to a number of trusted agents.
The Council of Chancellors consists of 6 men and women selected by the Queen or her late father as advisers to the crown. In addition to any other titles, members of the Council are known as Chancellors.
- The first position has always been held by the High Clerist of Belzor. Currently, High Clerist Pontian Callixto holds it. In his capacity as Chancellor, however, he represents the Temples of Enod and Ravi as well.
- The second position is accorded to Melfandrien of Lurkmoor. However, he is rarely present, and has deferred this honour to Jan Anterus, the Dean of the University of Solamnus.
- The third position is held by Howard Landover, who is nominally a merchant adviser. It is known that he reports to the Castellan and is a member of the Iron Crown. In truth, he is more like a spymaster than anything else. He is an 8th-level thief who speaks a remarkable number of languages.
- The fourth position is held by the Chief Lawgiver of the Courts of Solamnus, High Inquisitor Merek Barbican. In addition to commanding the courts, he is also assisting the Queen in the creation and adjudication of new laws, as well as interpreting them. He has the final right of judgement on any uncertain trial.
- The fifth position is occupied by Leia Brangian, Commander of the City Watch. She advises the Queen on the common sentiment of the city and the state of the Colleges, and of crime in the city.
- The sixth position is occupied by Guildmaster Baird of Grey Street. He is the master of the Tailor's Guild, and is a member of the Merchants' Council of Solamnus.
Besides the important figures of the Court and the Council of Chancellors, there is a larger council known as the Council of Reputable Associations. This includes all of the members of the Royal Court and Council of Chancellors, as well as one representative from each of the honourable organisations of Solamnus.
The Saints' Society: Nominally associated with the preservation of the noble ideals that founded Solamnus, the Saints' Society is a group of minor nobles dedicated to preserving the customs and traditions of the kingdom. Their interests align in particular with the feudal order, and they are wary of anything that may threaten it. They also have significant wealth between them, and are known to pool it into investments in the city or to beleaguer those they consider a threat.
The Collegiate of Bards: An association of bards and minstrels whose tendrils of powers extend throughout Vingaard and across Leng. Despite their pretensions to being dedicated only to the preservation of history, their political clout is well known.
Tinker's Guild: Affiliated with the University of Solamnus and based on the Road of Mysteries to an extent, but most affiliated with the affairs of gnomes in Solamnus. Responsible for clockwork, machinery, engineering and anything involving calculation. Erudite and composed largely of scholars, but also of skilled precision smiths and inventors. Their function is mostly the recognition of individuals as Engineers or Tinkers, which verifies that they are either properly educated in engineering, or skilled enough to make precision mechanics, respectively.
Guild of Bakers: A powerful Guild that has always been affiliated with the Colleges. All bakers in the city must abide by the laws and standards enforced as to the quality of bread and the price charged for it, and violations are punishable by law. The Bakers' Guild is powerful, as they control the one thing everyone needs. A lot of the city's attention goes into making sure it is free of corruption - a constant struggle fought in the shadows.
The College of Mercenaries: Previously one of the infamous Colleges of Solamnus, since the destruction of the Aventi they now focus solely on acting as a "Mercenary Guild", and have dialed back their clandestine activities. They are still fairly amoral, but they are trying to get accredited as an official Guild. Their representatives have only very recently been accorded a place amongst the reputable associations of Solamnus.
Guild of Artisans: An overarching council made up of the many individual artisanal guilds of Solamnus - the Guild of Glassmakers, the Guild of Masons, and so on. The purpose of the Guild of Artisans is to negotiate and coordinate in order to efficiently divide labor - for example, the Guild of Smiths may coordinate with the Guild of Masons on the construction of a new house, dividing the necessary 8,000 nails between many blacksmiths across the city.
The Guild of Tailors: Notable for not being part of the Guild of Artisans, they have an honorary seat on the Merchants' Council. Although nominally they are merely in charge of ensuring the quality of cloth and overseeing the royal warehouses for silk and other valuable materials, in practice they have a great deal of sway in the Silk Districts, one of the areas of Solamnus where the most money flows. They are in the practice of making strategic loans and investments with their coin, and are known as a patron of many high-profile causes. Their representative is, of course, Guildmaster Baird of Grey Street, who is on the Council of Chancellors.
Merchants' Council: One of the most powerful organisations in Solamnus, composed of many smaller guilds. While Solamnus is full of taverns, small shops and independent craftsmen, it is difficult to become a serious merchant without membership of one of the guilds of the Merchants' Council. Guilded members are vetted beforehand, must pay yearly dues, and sign contracts that make them liable for hefty fines if they violate the council's tenets. As a result, they are established as being trustworthy, and most merchants will be extremely wary of doing any kind of high-volume or significant business with an unguilded merchant. The guild also has significant contacts both in the bureaucracy of Solamnus and a trade network that spans Vingaard.
The Elvish Embassy: Not a Guild per se, the Elvish Embassy located in the Wood of Brothers has significant sway nonetheless. Almost every elf who stays in the city is a member, and this produces a strong feeling of fraternity and community between them. They regularly boycott businesses that they consider hateful to elvenkind, or that pursue unethical practices that are abhorrent to nature. Likewise, anyone who offends the Elvish Embassy is likely to be known to any elf in Solamnus - which can be a problem, as some of the most skilled bowyers and mages are elves.
Features of the City
Saint's Hill is the royal quarter of the city, named for St. Honoria of Ravi who ascended to the heavens on its grassy slopes. It located just east of the center of the city, a walled compound whose three gates are attended at all times by the Royal Guard. Passage into and out of Saint's Hill is not freely available to commoners; all seeking entry are questioned as to their purpose on the Hill. Those who are unaccounted for will be searched and possibly even imprisoned.
The Fortress of Law: Dedicated to Belzor and Incantus, the Fortress of Law is attended at all times by priests of both orders, as well as learned judges. The attendants of the fortress are known as Inquisitors, and theirs is a prestigious position. Above the ranks of the City Watch and even the Lawgivers, Inquisitors are called upon to jduge the most important and difficult of cases. The Grey Cells beneath the fortress were designed by High Magus Benevolio, and are nearly impervious to magic.
The Fortress of Law is presided over by High Inquisitor Merek Barbican, who is also a Chancellor of the Council.
The Great Beldorn Palace: Constructed in 60 AE, this palace is the seat of power of the Solamnus royal court. It was constructed by Queen Elayne the Pious to commemorate the great knight Ser Beldorn, who fought and died in the War of the Black Rose. The Queen of Lurkmoor - the same one who rules to this day - sent some of her most masterful mages to "build a palace befitting of a noble and pious friend of the elves".
The Gilded Lily: Located on one end of Cuthbert's Road, the Gilded Lily is a magnificent mansion that belongs to Count Lehtinan Blackwater of High Hill. What began as a summer house has become home to a group of young fops and fledfling knights known as the Blackwater Company, who are renowned for their boisterousness, hot temper and thirst for battle. Many of the Forsworn were members of the Blackwater Company, and as a result they are currently keeping a very low profile.
The Houses of Iron: Located across the Street of Shining Stars, directly opposite the palace, the Houses of Iron are the complex that is home to the Iron Crown. They were constructed after the War of the Black Rose at around 17 AE for Caemonn the Stormcaller, one of King Astor's closest friends. A great complex that is as much stonework as iron and half-built by sorcery, it has stood as the home of the Iron Crown ever since.
The Silk District
The Silk District is a small central district that hugs the south and southeastern walls of Saint's Hill. It is named for the silk pennants that their inhabitants hang from their windows - bearing the insignia of their noble house, or in the case of rich merchants their trading company's sigil. It is protected from the masses of the Sprawl by the Military District to the west, and is adjacent to both Saint's Hill and the Road of Mysteries.
For the most part, the Silk District is home to the lower upper class and the very upper echelons of the middle class in Solamnus. Successful merchants, retired mages and minor nobles are a few of the kinds of people that make their homes here. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Silk District is one of the most heavily patrolled areas outside of Saint's Hill itself. The efforts of the Solamnus City Watch are so well-coordinated that even the College of Peers rarely attempts a heist here.
The Garden of Dryads: Ostensibly, this tall marble plaza is a winery that sells only the very finest vintages - elvish wine from Lurkmoor or even Murthrid, century old wine from the vineyards that supposedly once flowered in early Vingaard, and exotic fruity vintages from the western coasts of Leng. Some do use it for this purpose, and it attracts exactly the kind of clientele that one would expect: those who deal in power and intrigue, or those that would like to think they do.
Partly as a result of the extravagance and popularity of the Garden and partly because of its unique design, however, the winery serves another purpose. The long, low tables found throughout the great single-roomed building are segmented from each other by trelisses resplendent with hanging vine leaves - the holes between them just wide enough to make any eavesdroppers visible, but just narrow enough that some privacy is afforded to anyone speaking within. On the ostenisble purpose of tasting and selecting fine wines, nobles and the wealthy can spend hours in the Garden.
It is both a place to move in the circles of high society and collect gossip, as well as a place to hold quiet conversations with the full knowledge that the Lady Thamian and her stoic, loyal guards will guarantee privacy. Because of its reputation, it is also a place that attracts many of those who have attained the physical trappings of wealth and desperately crave the social trappings, as well. In short, it is a nest of vipers.
An expansive district that follows the Dragon Road running from the west wall of the city up to Saint's Hill, the Crux is the second-largest district in Solamnus, taking up a large part of the western quadrant - only the Sprawl is larger. It accomodates the middle class of the city - the artisans and craftsmen, merchants and traders. It is dotted with taverns, forges, workshops and warehouses. Because of its significance as the pulsing heart of Solamnus, it is also well-known as a place to avoid on market days - the flood of traders and farmers from the outlying area floods the streets, resulting in streets that are packed with bodies. It can take hours to make a short journey during this time, and the streets are rife with pickpockets looking to make a few coins on the unwary.
Rising on one of the two tall hills upon which Solamnus was built, Guild Hill is located on the southern end of the Crux - where it borders the Sprawl. While there are artisans and tradesmen throughout the crux, it is on Guild Hill that the financial power of Solamnus is centered. For one, the local branch of the Bank of Lorknir operates from Guild Hill. So, too, do all the headquarters of the various merchant guilds of Solamnus.
Besides extravagant guild halls and similar functional buildings, the vast part of the Guild Hill is taken up by warehouses - very few people actually live here. Needless to say, it is one of the most heavily patrolled areas in Solamnus, as a great deal of goods are stored there.
The Military District
An imposing tangle of military installations, the Military District is built on the same broad hill that Guild Hill occupies. It serves two purposes, the first of which should be fairly obvious - as a place for the standing army of Solamnus to be quartered. Although the Queen does not usually maintain her full forces, the Military District houses small contingents of elite soldiers, as well as officers and commanders of the Queen's armies. Besides the usual features - barracks, storehouses, drilling grounds - the Military District is also home to Bleak Tower, which serves as a magically warded prison for "dangerous" detainees (as well as an emergency fortification to retreat to in the unlikely event of an invasion).
The second purpose of the Military District is as an unofficial supplement to the city guard. Placed where it is - on the border between Saint's Hill and the Sprawl, bordering both the Silk District and Guild Hill - the Military District is perfectly placed to ensure that clandestine activity from the Sprawl does not reach into the upper-class areas of the city.
The Road of Mysteries
The area of Solamnus which is most commonly talked of is the Road of Mysteries, which runs south through the Silk District before terminating at the gates of the University of Solamnus, near the city's south wall. It is strangely placed - with the Green Quarter to its east, and the Sprawl to the west. But then again, the Road of Mysteries is an unusual district, without parallel in any other human city. It is a district entirely inhabited by, and catering to, scholars and spellcasters.
On the streets of the Road of Mysteries, minor elixirs can be purchased from alchemists - or laboratories rented for those who prefer to do their own mixing. For those who have not managed to secure entrance to the University itself, a variety of taverns and private rooms provide ample opportunities to mingle with scholars and share research. There are even a number of small private libraries, where - for a price - you can gain access to a fraction of the knowledge contained in the University's venerable halls. And of course, there is the constant trading of magic and magical lore between the scholars that frequent this place.
The Green Quarter
Occupying the southeastern quadrant of the city, the Green Quarter was designated by Queen Elayne the Pious to be "a place in the city where no grey stone or looming parapet will dominate, but shall be a district of planted trees and greenery, where our elven friends are encouraged to rest their weary limbs". It is the upper-middle class district of the city - while the Crux is inhabited by the artisans and traders scraping a living as best they can, the Green Quarter is home to stately homes and inhabited by rich merchants, scholars and those with the luck to be independently wealthy.
Of course, the Green Quarter lives up to its name - it is also a place of parks and small woods, making it a popular place for a day trip within the city. With the Elvish Embassy nestled in the Wood of Brothers, it is a very popular area with elves and gnomes.
In stark constrast with the Green Quarter to its south, the narrow district that lies directly east of Saint's Hill is known as the Cloisters. It is home to temples - but not such temples as are found throughout Solamnus (and indeed, Vingaard). These are no mere places of worship, but the headquarters of various holy institutions.
It is within the austere stone streets of the Cloisters that the Paladins of St. Cuthbert train in the Temple of Virtues. In the Conclave of the Trinity, senior priests of all three of Vingaard's gods convene to discuss the affairs of the nation and its people. Each of the High Temples of Belzor, Enod and Ravi are situated here.
But it is not only the Trinity of Leng that is honored within the Cloisters. Although the so-called "old gods" worshiped in much of Leng are unpopular in Vingaard, there are many other gods that the Vintish consider worthy of veneration: Tempus and Jaeril, Nirrin and Cyric. And of course, the Cloisters are the entrance to the Solamnus Catacombs - those ancient marble corridors attended by the mysterious Deathpriests and their grim deity.
An area of Solamnus that barely protrudes above the surface, the Gnomish Quarter is older than the city itself. It has its roots in a small gnomish settlement that existed when Solamnus was still a small township built on a hill. As the city expanded, the Gnomish Quarter became subsumed into its walls, and the city has been popular with gnomes since the old days.
The Gnomish Quarter does not have buildings so much as it has "entrances". A few larger buildings, such as temples and inns, have large structures above ground. For the most part, however, the gnomes live beneath the city's surface. An intricate connection of tunnels lies beneath the streets of the Gnomish Quarter, connecting homes, inns and merchants in a manner strongly reminiscent of a gnomish city in miniature. Above the surface, the Quarter is a place of wide squares (perhaps graced with a decorative feature such as a fountain) and small facades which lead beneath the ground. As a result, it is quite popular as a meeting place.
The so-called "Gnomeworks" below the streets of the Quarter are both famous and notorious. The Guild of Tinkers is based there, and all know of the wondrous creations they are capable of producing - none moreso than the scholars at the Road of Mysteries. Some of Vingaard's most skilled engineers have come directly from the Gnomeworks. However, their subterranean and maze-like nature makes them a natural spawning ground for clandestine activities. It is from the Gnomeworks that the guild known as Redbeard's College operates. This is abetted by the fact that the Gnomeworks eventually lead into the Solamnus Sewers and Catacombs. The scoundrels of Redbeard's College are said to be the only ones who have a complete understanding of the Undercity of Solamnus.