Ciosa or "Port Cael" as the
poets often use to refer to the city, is an ancient harbour of about 35.000
inhabitants with a history dating back nearly a dozen millenia. It can be found
at the southeastern tip of the Santharian
province of Manthria reaching far into the
Adanian Sea and was named after the famous leader of an exploring Glandorian
expedition, who stranded at what is now known as Gebl's Nose Cape and
eventually founded a settlement. Later the
Avennorians (descendants of the
Glandorians) built a large exploring fleet, which was stationed mainly in
Ciosa. From there adventurers set out to discover mainly the eastern and
southern parts of the world, reaching until Aeruillin and making a fortune in
trading with such distant regions.
Much later, after the unification of the kingdoms south of the Tandala forming Santharia, Ciosa also became a center for all people interested in astronomy and astrology. The so-called Starcharts Astrendum under the guidance of the elf Mowi Farseer developed more and more to the key location for all people interested in observing the stars and discussing their movements and purposes in relation to the destiny of Caelereth.
Picture description. View on one of Ciosa's famous landmarks, the famous Starcharts Astrendum overlooking the port town. A huge Mowickle clock can be seen above the front gate. Picture by Seeker.
things will catch your eye from afar when approaching Ciosa from the sea: For
one you'll notice that the town was built on half a dozen gentle hills, the
further inland the higher the hills. This gives you a splendid view of nearly
the whole town and its dark grey, at times even black buildings when entering the harbour, and if
you've been away for weeks and months at sea, you can't wish for a better
welcome home - the magnificence of Ciosa's leveled town stands for many a sailor
for a greeting of the whole Sarvonian
continent. The second thing you'll notice is the prominent building on top
of the highest hill of the town in the east contrasting strongly with the White
Widdow mountain in the background. The building is a compound of black granite
houses resembling in shape the great Sanctuary of the Twelve in Elsreth and seems to reign over
the many houses below. The structure has a round dome located in the center and
two massive dominating towers in front of it, in between the towers a large clock
face in the shape
of a sun can be easily spotted at the
area above the main entrance: it is
the Starcharts Astrendum, famous home of
Santharia's astrologers and astronomers society. Finally you'll also for
sure discover another landmark, which is very difficult to miss: To the west of
the town, where the Hawkeye Quarry is located, there is a natural face set in
the rock, which appears like a thinking man, who overlooks the town - the locals call
him "Brooding Jepp". He has been a companion to the Ciosans for literally ages
now, as the town has a long tradition not many towns in
Santharia can offer.
Ciosa in fact is one of the most ancient towns in the whole kingdom, its founding is said to date back more than 15 millenia, a fact that is also obvious when looking at the town today. Nevertheless, the construction of buildings made of solid stone, especially from granite and limestone found in the nearby quarry, was started only around a millenium before Santhros' ascension to the Santharian throne. The dark granite variety of the Hawkeye Quarry comes mostly in the shades of black and grey and is extremely durable. And though it was very difficult in ancient times to get the stones out of the quarry in proper shape and use the material at important buildings of the port, some of these very old buildings have survived until this very day like the Baveran Temple, the so-called Port Hall or the ancient buildings of some of the greatest Avennorian merchant families (called "kilvs"), who made their home here. These few buildings still stand proudly in between newer dark grey granite and limestone constructions, the latter representing the vast majority of houses found in Ciosa. The amount of whale bone structures used for housing has diminished here, though, you'll find many more of these traditional Avennorian constructions further south in Klinsor. - Summarizing we can say that the ancient character of the port town is omnipresent, providing a very unique flair to the city. It is a somewhat melancholic atmosphere maybe due to the predominantly dark colours of the stone many houses are built from, ranging from grey to black, and combined with the heavy fog often engulfing the coast, Ciosa invites to contemplate. On the other hand the town also emanates wisdom with its age with Brooding Jepp watching over it and at the same time there a sense of innovation and openness can be felt for the new, for adventure and opportunity.
The most important buildings and attractions of Ciosa can be summarized as follows:
The Starcharts Astrendum for sure is the most famous landmark of Ciosa, overlooking the city from the highest of the hills on which the town was built. Resembling in shape to a great degree the magnificent Sanctuary of the Twelve in Enthronia's capital Elsreth, it is a large compound of buildings with a dome in its center and two towers in front of it. Several smaller turrets are placed around the structure as well, connecting parts of the enormous complex of buildings, lending it an enchanting touch. A large clock in shape of a sun, the Mowickle, sits right between these two main towers above the entrance on a triangular area leading up to the roof. Sailors often call the Mowickle seen from afar the "Gaze of Foiros" as it appears like a watchful eye to ships coming closer to the shore.
Since a few centuries before Santhros' ascension to the Santharian throne the Astrendum has been home to astrologers and astronomers of the southern Sarvonian continent. In these buildings the elf Mowi Farseer was mainly responsible for the development of the Santharian Calendar and the first official Santharian clock. Also several important observations dealing with the stars and the darkwinds theory have been made on one of the Astrendum's towers or the many observation points within the main cupola. Vast libraries and chart archives are harboured in the different buildings and the Mitharim dwarves have even hewn several mine shafts into the mountainside of the nearby White Widdow to make room for the collecting of further information and lecture auditoria. Underground passages were also constructed to connect the Astrendum with key points of the town.
and the Port Hall
Ciosa is a large town with a port area of all in all nearly 50 strals stretching from the Hawkeye Quarry in the northwest until the flensing docks in the southeastern part of the city, the latter being mostly located on own islets. The main quay area is featuring several impressive piers made out of dark granite and is around 30 strals in length. It has a roofed ship construction compound, the "Port Hall" in its center built over the sea, where up to three ships can be built at the same time. In the Port Hall there's also room for important meetings among sailors and the recruiting for the long voyages on sea takes place. Parts of the Port Hall are pretty ancient, and in the course of time it was expanded, and at parts completely rebuilt. All over the quay you'll see an impressive fleet of ships, mostly of Avennorian build like fijors, bareks and the triton, the giants of the sea, nowadays of course shipbuilding also reflects some Erpheronian influences.
It shouldn't be kept secret though, that parts of the harbour area are recommended to be avoided by newcomers as a lot of scallywags is out there. As a simple guest you ought to stay clear especially of the famous Sneaker's Ave, a cursed area as some say, where the tale of a supposed retarded thief, Knupp the Sneaker, once found a tragic end. Now you find in these dark corners seamen, who want to entertain themselves with wine, wenches and organized fights including betting competitions. They also sell all kinds of stuff from overseas that are strictly forbidden to possess let alone to sell - if you meet the right men at the right time and place you'll get your wares though.
Temples of Baveras
Ciosa features two major temples of Water Goddesses, the one dedicated to Baveras, Goddess of the Sea, and the other to Seyella, Goddess of Time and Destiny (various other minor shrines exist as well of course, but aren't of relevance here). Both these Goddesses play important roles in the lives of the Ciosan residents. While Baveras is associated primarily with the gifts of the sea, Seyella is the one people mourn to when a storm rips a crew of young sailors from their ship, never to return again.
According to this interpretation of the Goddesses' roles the temples were constructed. The Baveran temple can be found on the east side of Ciosa, out of town already and was actually built over an existing bridge between the mainland and one of the islets to the flenseries. The structure has two levels, the upper level serving as the bridge itself while the lower level represents the actual temple where ceremonies are performed. The lower level is also flooded whenever the sea level rises during the flood, a common sight at buildings dedicated to the Goddess of the Sea. The temple is round with the typical slender pillars the Baveran buildings most often feature and it is filled with intricate mosaics of the animals and plants of the sea. And while Baveras is worshipped here the temple still serves as an always open passageway between the mainland and the docks on the iselets. One can pass through the upper level of the temple as if it would be a regular building, however, the fishermen and whalers piously rest for a moment when passing through the sanctuary, even if they only need to fetch something they have forgotten in the town. The temple is maintained by the richest merchants, but it is traditional for travellers to speak a last prayer when leaving the town by crossing the bridge and then deposit a small monetary donation.
The Seyellan temple lies underground on the other end of the town. It is located at the foothills of the White Widdow mountain in a stalactite cave, close to Brooding Jepp, who always has an eye on pilgrims entering the shrine. Unlike the Baveran temple with its completely open atmosphere, this one is secluded, but the air in the cave is fresh nevertheless and several shafts have been hewn into the mountainside to let some natural light come down upon the praying congregation. A small underground river flows through the temple, dropping down from a waterfall in the bowels of the mountain, branching off in two different directions, in the space between the ceremonies of the believers are performed, dedicated to the Goddess of Destiny. The agility and vitality of the water is always present while Seyella is worshipped, but it is engulfed and directed by the finiteness of the earth, the rock of the cave, reminding the beliefers about the end of all things mortal.
Picture description. A fishwife of Ciosa. Picture drawn by Bard Judith.
Kilvs and the Kilvs Avenue
Also always an interesting sight to behold are the so-called "Merchant Kilvs", the homes of the greatest (and wealthiest) Avennorian merchants. "Kilvs" is an ancient word supposedly of Glandorian origin, which loosley translated means "treasure chambers", though these houses are more than that. Unlike other tribes Avennorians do not primarily seek to enrich themselves, but even more enjoy showing their luxury off and gain prestige and appreciation hereby. The half a dozen merchant kilvs, which can be found throughout the long Kilvs Avenue in the center of Ciosa, are therefore not only breathtaking sites to appreciate and remember for every passer-by, but also represent the current results of a long and glamorous tradition of competitions between famous Avennorian trading families: At Kilvs Ave you'll stumble upon houses meticulously decorated with grogeous shells from top to buttom for example, with historical motives set into the walls all in gold, with fountains made of crystal dolphunes and houses ornamented with the most expensive marble. Truly impressive and a must-see on a trip to Ciosa.
Kilvs Avenue of course was named so after the kilvs of the most prominent merchants residing in town, but the merchants also have their shops in these streets close to their kilvs. Pearls, gold, crystals, splendorous works of amanters, precious mosaic designs, coveted kaimun crests and teeth, portable mowickles, eccentric clothing and everything else the wealthy lord or lady could want you'll find in Kilvs Ave. Even a magic shop, a Ximaxian dependency, sells rare magical bags, amulets, spellbooks and all kinds of oddities here. - If you're looking for something unusual or even outlandish, then try "Crotae's Magical Emporium", he has an amble selection ranging from weird stuff to the exceptionally strange right to the macabre. People with interests for the queer should definitely check his little hidden shop out.
Picture description. Ciosa's breathtaking landmark, the ever present Brooding Jepp - a millenia old stone formation on the east side of Hawkeye Quarry resembling a giant's face. Image drawn by Jordy.
Already millenia ago Wise Jepp watched over the first meager settlements and later the town in its bloom, day in day out, calm and patient, and he will still remain a lonesome guardian when the Ciosan celebrities of today are all gone. What people since ages call "Jepp", is a huge stone formation on the east side of the Hawkeye Quarry, resembling - with a tiny bit of imagination - a giant's face, broken nose included. It can be easily seen from the port area of Ciosa. The locals have given his expression attributes ranging from "mild", "cunning", "dreamy" to "brooding" and "wise", and for many Jepp has become a good friend or father-figure, who always knew, knows and will know, but keeps the eternal secrets all for himself. A bunch of stories goes around in the city dealing with this mysterious face, speaking of an enchanted giant or a mountain who once started to speak to prevent a desperate man from ending his life by throwing himself from the high cliffs - however there is no "official" version, and everyone has his or her own image of the face in the rock.
Jepp at any rate is omnipresent and he doesn't seem to be willing to tell anyone why his steaning face hasn't moved for millenia. "Only the Twelve know!" is a common proverb most Santharians would say to something where they can give no answer, but Ciosans only nod to themselves reassuringly, whispering "Only Jepp...", meaning practically the same. Don't tell a Ciosan by the way that Jepp probably doesn't have a mind nor personality and that it's just a rock which looks a bit different than others - everyone will tell you then that you obviously don't know Ciosa's eldest inhabitant well enough. The statement "Jepp knows" - believe it or not - is also often used as an intimidation at court to make suspects rethink their testimonies, as the stone face is supposed to have seen everything going on in the town. And looking at this emotionless but knowing face a whole life long is said to have more than once caused local delinquents to confess in order to get rid of their remorses, or to leave Ciosa forever. - Just coincidences or Jepp's doing? "Only Jepp..." a Ciosan would say.
Location. The port town of Ciosa is situated in the central Santharian province of Manthria, on the most southeastern landmass of the province. The latter is called Gebl's Nose Cape, due to the fact that the mushroom (Gebl's head) bearing this name grows well in the damp miasma of the swamps along the southern edge - and there is no relation whatsoever by the way between the odd elongated shape of the mushroom, the obscene stories people associate with it, and the outlines of the cape as they can be observed on a map. At least that's the official version. (With other words: The fact that the cape incidentally has the appearance of a nose and that some like to see certain similarities between this body part and other anatomical features of males and furthermore that this specific fungus is quite common in this region all has to be just pure coincidence!) Actually - despite its questionable name - Gebl's head is a delicious cooking mushroom, and the locals have quite a bunch of specialities in store you won't find anywhere else.
Anyway, Ciosa lies in a geographically rather diverse region with the "guardian of the town", the White Widdow mountain, to the north, swampy areas to the northeast and further west and finally the gigantic Hawkeye Quarry sitting right beside it. In between, on a large patch of fertile land with direct access to the sea and its hundreds of ships anchoring on the quay, there is Ciosa. And once you've been there and have seen the fog-covered idyllic mountains and the deep blue Adanian Sea, tasted the unique flair of the city and smelled the flavour of adventure, you will understand why the poets write so much about Ciosa, the "portal to the wide world".
People. Ciosa is also
sometimes referred to as "Port Cael", and this very well reflects the
people's self-interpretation and their way of living in this town: Since they
settled on this location, Ciosans have always seen themselves as inhabitants of
a city open to the world, a harbour that connects the north (Northern
Sarvonia, the region from where the first settlers originated) and the south
(Aeruillin, which was the Glandorian/Avennorian
second big discovery after Southern Sarvonia).
At Ciosa even trading with the very eastern
landmasses of Caelereth through their close connections with the
Realm, Denilou, take place, and it is one of the major ports associated with
the Stormcloaks Trading Guild with their headquarters in
Quios. So if you look at Ciosa coming
from this side it doesn't surprise very much that you find in the populace of
this port town traces of ancient and more
recent Northern Sarvonian lineage,
of the darker coloured "desert folk" - as they are called - coming from places
like Shan'Thai or even further south, or you might see
Doranians, Carmarhim elves and even
men returning to the main continent from the
eastern isles, jokingly dubbed "Ironites" in reference to the
Realm" of Denilou. And of course
you also find various half-orcs here, often employed as workers on the docks
loading cargo and sailing on trading ships, and even small
Brownie communities live here and there
among the big people, entertaining the latter at special shows. With other
words: If you want to get to know very different people from practically all
parts of the world, then come to Ciosa - a whole plethora of races and tribes
awaits here, cultures, customs, religions mix here like barely any other place
in Santharia. The
Avennorian saying "Don't talk
Ciosan to me!" has its justification here, as it needs a good ear and a profound
knowledge to understand all those diverse languages and dialects spoken in the
inns and taverns. People come and go, there are constantly new faces in the
streets - while the ones come from inland, others venture to
Sarvonia from afar to search their fortune
in Santharia. Well, the sailors of course
come back regularly, but still they are away for quite some time during the year
- some might even find a love interest elsewhere or drown in a storm, all facts
the city has learned to live with. Innkeepers summarize the fleeting character
of the town when saying "You might see a face twice in Ciosa, but never trice"
(referring to newcomers) and the sailors they often call simply "Visitors",
knowing that they'll only be their customers for a few days.
In this regard the mentioned poetic term "Port Cael" means two things: On the one hand a harbour, a safe place for everyone, whereever the origin, in the heart of the world of Caelereth. Because as a matter of fact, Ciosa is a friendly and forthcoming city, exemplary in this respect. On the other hand "Port Cael" means a city, from where you can set out in order to reach exotic places, which are a whole Cael away, thus opening new possibilities and providing new hopes. - This all for the right price that is. As it shouldn't be concealed that Ciosa with its Avennorian roots is not a cheap town, the jingling of sans, hak, w'aer and silverbards is often what brings people together. The fact that you can get wares from distant places here and that not many new people stay in the region has driven prices up, and only the locals are aware of the cheaper establishments. But all in all there isn't much to complain about for the inhabitants as the business runs fine. Many taverns, inns, hostels, markets or even brothels belong to just a few barely competing families - as far as business in town is concerned the big players don't get into each other's way, ensuring that prices maintain a pretty high level. - So if you're going to Ciosa, make sure you have a full purse with you. But beware as well, cutpurses are always where the big money is...
Coat of Arms/Sign. The Ciosan coat of arms is simple, but full with tradition. It shows the rising golden sun on the horizon on an allia coloured sky over a deep blue sea. The ball of the Injérá can be halfway seen and features seven spiky rays, said to represent the seven Glandorian explorers, who set out ages ago from the Sarvonian north - and one of them found his way to this place, which was named after him: Ciosa. The sun of course is also symbolic for their voyage south in general, as it is from there that the sun reigns over the world of Caelereth. Furthermore the Avennorians didn't cease to go further south after having founded Ciosa, discovering what is now known as continent of Aeruillin twice. Between the sun's rays there are six gems or stars, representing the six wealthiest ands thus ruling families in Ciosa, who regularly alternated in leadership over the centuries.
Of course the coat of arms also has its cosmological implications, which have to be mentioned here: The depicted sun and the stars surrounding it are also references to the extraordinary and unforgotten work of Mowi Farseer and his followers at the Starcharts Astrendum, Santharia's largest and most famous royal observatory. Thus both key elements Ciosa stands for, exploration of the sea and observation of the stars, are both represented in this sign.
The coat of arms by the way is usually set into a shield where the edges are covered with two elegant curved stripes at the bottom and two stripes at the top left leading all to the top right, thus pointing geographically at the origins of the Avennorians in Northern Sarvonia. The colours of the stripes are black and charcoal grey, colours said to be associated with the ancient Glandorians.
Climate. Sailors often call Ciosa - sometimes synonymously with the sea - the "Foggy Old Lady", which has its reason in the fact that the port region is often covered in mist, mainly in summer and then in the early mornings and late at night. Wafts of mist often slowly move through the harbour districts, lending the cobblestone streets a wet look. The air is very fresh, carrying the scent of the deep wide ocean, and the waves rolling to the shore constantly speak of enticing new adventures. However, sometimes it gets very chilly as well, especially when strong windy gusts are lashing at the shore from time to time and the water level rises to seemingly threatening heights. But the chances of floodings are slim, also the sailors have learned to live with the moods of the "Old Lady", and if you meet one and he tells you that "She's grumpy again", then it's very likely that he's not speaking about his wife, but about the "Foggy Old Lady", the Ciosan sea, most often his only true love.
The sun comes up in the late morning, chasing the fog away, and the dark stone of the town appears in a completely brand new light, losing its mystery and the melancholic touch it had in the early hours. The fishermen set out to "hunt for the Svealer" (see Resources) and the streets become bustling with life, and one finds oneself seemingly in another reality until the fog returns in the evening hours, engulfing everything, making things grey and somber again.
Ciosa sees no snow in winter and temperature is quite moderate the whole year through compared to other Santharian regions. Though it gets hotter in the summer months and colder in the first and the last months of the year, one cannot speak of any extremes - only the fog is a characteristic of the region all year long and a constant companion for the Avennorian sailors.
Flora. Gebl's Nose Cape, the peninsula on which Ciosa rests, is famous for the Gebl's head mushroom, an elongated edible fungus with a bright pink cap and fleshy stem. This chewy, delicious fungus is a main ingredient in many local specialities, often used in conjunction with the sulcho - try the Ciosan mushroom mash, you'll love it! The water gourd (or pompion), which grows best in warm, damp areas, is cultivated extensively near the Kaimun Marshes west of Ciosa and is also very popular therefore, as food, container or toy. Various mosses grow around the city as well, especially moon-moss, which serves pretty well for sanitary purposes and is even exported in larger quantities from Ciosa. Trees like pines, oaks and birches can also be found in and around Ciosa, along with different kinds of ferns and lichens.
Fauna. In the Adanian Sea around Ciosa especially barsa fish, boneheads and the small, but delicate glimnings can be found - a walk through the town and the fishmarket streets will convince you that great quantities of these fish are caught day in day out and are practically everywhere, in the sea and at the tables of the locals. Furthermore kraken and trysters are considered delicacies, but also whale oils and fats are attained in Ciosa, especially from Ashalea and Caefan whales, common near the Jhokathan reef. Of course wherever there are fish the ithild-grey Sarvonian gull also isn't far away.
In the nearby swamps kaimuni lizards are hunted in order to produce items such as bags, shoes or boots, armoured vests, belts and even decorative articles of jewelry. Up north, deer and tarep can be found, complementing the Ciosan's diet.
Resources. As natural resources which can be found in Ciosa one has to mention tryster delicacies, oysters, pearls, all kinds of fish, whales and of course building materials like limestone and granite which are mined and processed in the nearby Hawkeye Quarry. The harbour is directly adjacent to the quarry, so the large triton ships are in use to move the stone to where there is need for it.
The southern and eastern part of the harbour deals with the other mentioned resources - pearldivers look for precious gems in the shallow waters close to the coast and whale hunters set out to bring home ashaleas, caefan sword whales and even larger species in order to use their oil, meat or even bones to build homes or makeshift warehouses from them. Fishermen by the way have a major advantage around the area of Ciosa as closeby, usually only 30 or 40 strals from the coast to the east, an extremely cold stream can be found in the sea, a small strip only actually, which masses of fish use as their habitat - an easy prey for the fishers. That is, in case the stream can indeed be found, because as a matter of fact it shifts its location day by day and sometimes disappears altogether for several weeks and months. Locals call the stream the "Svealer" and use the saying to "hunt the Svealer" synonymously to "fishing". There's of course also a story associated with this name: It tells about a giant, immortal, though men-shy worm having its home deep down in the waters of the Yanthian Gulf. People say that he lives in so deep and cold waters that he himself can only survive because he is of purest ice. It is believed that he makes his regular rounds around the Jhokathan reef though, southeast of Ciosa, and attracts in his ice cold wake a whole plethora of fishes. Common fishes found in the area of the Yanthian Gulf are especially the barsa, the bonehead and the small but delicate gold-red glimnings (also called "boltfish"), found at the Gulf area down until Klinsor only.
Picture description. The Glandorian captian and founder of the City of Ciosa, Troi Ciosa. Picture drawn by Faugar.
is also a town famous for its literaric output, namely its outstanding poets and
poetesses. It seems the town's openness to the world and its partly melancholic,
partly adventurous flair attracts the men and women of letters and guarantees
fresh ideas. Actually it was the poetess Irphanin Dyrondell who first used the
term "Port Cael" in a homage to her hometown - a strong and acclaimed statement,
which the town officials have thankfully accepted as their self-interpretation
and motto. It fits just right to the
Avennorian soul, always on the lookout for the grand and the new. Other
famous authors of Ciosa are Katha Veirs, a novelist of the past century whose
fervent love stories sold and still sell better than fresh
loibla, not only among the
aristocracy but at the common folk as well. Or Thyrram Knaast should be
mentioned here as well, who made himself a name with writing pirate stories
based on legends of the region.
The most famous Ciosan poet, however, who by some is already seen as the new Monsonius, is the contemporary poet and sailor Chyrán. In 1558 he became famous overnight with his poetical novel, where he intentionally didn't provide any title at all. This work, by many known in the meantime as "The Ring" is an extraordinary cyclic story, claimed to be way ahead of its time regarding style and content. It is a story written from a subjective point of view where the protagonist returns from a long voyage on the sea and discovers himself sitting in his house already upon arriving home. He observes himself writing on a novel describing a man returning home from a long voyage on the sea. As the protagonist looks over the writer's shoulder he seems to read about himself and his return home, but still things change miraculously chapter by chapter when the character in the book discovers another alter ego and so on. This leads the reader more and more into a world where nothing is what it seems and at the same time the reader gets overwhelmed with fascination by the strong poetry found in the text. While some have shrugged off this work by saying that it's obviously the product of a confused mind or of too much vaninen consumption, people old and young of very different education levels seem to enjoy Chyrán's poetic novel. Even sailors take it with them on long trips, reading it again and again, constantly discovering new sides in the text, and being lulled into sleep by the rhythm of the lyrics found in the book, reminding of the breath of the sea while conveying an aura of peace and tranquility.
Information provided by Artimidor Federkiel