THE ZHUNITE CITYSTATE OF MARMARRA ("CITY OF WITCHES")

DESCRIPTION - KEY LOCATIONS - LOCATION - PEOPLE - COAT OF ARMS
CLIMATE -
FLORA - FAUNA - RESOURCES - MYTH/LORE - HISTORY

Also known as the "City of Witches" by its more socially acceptable neighbours, Marmarra is probably one of the most frightening places in all of Caelereth. Infamous for its ruthless Witch Queens, manipulative sorcery and unnatural magical creations - it is unsurprising that the word "Marmarra" strikes fear into the hearts of most inhabitants of Nybelmar. Marmarrans are amongst the most excessive, frivolous, hedonistic and wasteful people in all Caelereth, and though luxury may be an integral part of their lives, it is by no means regarded with any worth or value (a further testament to their unlikeable nature).

The city itself from the outside appears to be more of a fortress than a metropolis - but within a whole cornucopia of weird, wonderful and scary institutions and establishments can be found - if you dare to enter that is.

The first Witch Queen Eluda'shi Lashmara

View picture in full size Picture description. The first Witch Queen of Marmarra, Eluda'shi Lashmara, the incredible Lillivear who founded the Citystate, possibly accompanied by the first Kogian (Kijuur Destius). Picture drawn by Sheil.

Description. The City of Marmarra is one of the most powerful Citystates of the Zhunite people - though its power is only equal to its distrust. Marmarra is the most easterly situated of the four powerful Zhunites states (Cusca, Kimbar and Hootar being the three to its west). Marmarra itself is shaped as a near perfect circle, which is believed to be influenced by Eluda’s Lillivear roots, perfect circles being a typical convention of Lillivear settlements (towns like Mylthis serving as examples).

Marmarra is a very heavily fortified settlement, and its defensive provisions are certainly imposing. As you approach the city you see the impenetrable outer walls. These gargantuan walls of washed out grey stone seem to tower an impossible height- "Not even gorbas can break down our walls" was exclaimed by Hiartun Rarkan, the Kogian who helped to design the city’s defences. The walls reach to such a height that not much of the inner cityscape can be seen. The outer walls are literally overflowing with Marmarran heraldry, banner after banner of bearing the Marmarran "Eye" motif. The banners create a very terrifying affect of being scrutinised - although you know the depictions aren’t real each one seems to diligently stare at you, making you feel very exposed and vulnerable.

Once you escape from the spell of awe the enormous walls cast over you, you notice Marmarra’s armed defences. The tops of the walls are lined with hundreds of archers, the ground below guarded by formation after formation of spearmen, or so it seems. When counted the men do no total an incredibly impressive number, a typical army of one of the other Citystates probably consists of this many troops yet twofold. The troops are cleverly arranged though so that their numbers appear greater than they are - the element of fear being a common theme within all things Marmarran.

The most striking element of this city upon entry is sheer suspicion. Even the commoners, accustomed to the fact that keeping to their own business is the safest option with Royal informants snooping around, look upon you in a very invasive manner- spotting immediately that you dont belong. Everything about the area screams scrutiny, from the street guards who place their hands on their swords the second you make eye contact with them to the numeable stares you only just catch out of the partial glance of one's eye. Before even passing through the gate the scrutiny of the guards is amazing. Upon entry a team of four men is assigned to each visitor. The visitor is nearly stripped to their bare flesh and then thoroughly searched for almost an hour. All articles considered to be "illegal" by Marmarran law are confiscated and not returned. However, there is a pause by the guard before your possessions are purged into storage - for bribery of course. A vast majority of the guard, despite being trained and ready to defend the city from threats, are weak to sound of coins in their pocket - or ‘corrupt’ if you wish to use a literal term. Most small arms or other minor trinkets can be bought from the guards if you have enough money and are often overlooked by higher authorities. But allowing someone to smuggle goods into the city is considered a serious offence and may lead to the perpetrators "Hollowing" - a punishment more ‘constructive’ than execution, which involves removing the spirit of an individual and animating the husk. Return to the top


Key Locations. The City itself can be split into three distinguishable areas - the outer ring, the inner ring and the centre. The areas themselves are seperated by (in comparison to the outer ones) generally unfortified walls. Though there is very little in terms of officially segregating the city's citizens, someone who doesnt belong can be quickly spotted. Though the guards probably won't take action against you, nothing is to stop a particularly agitated civilian considering you a trespasser.

Location. The actual Citystate of Marmarra is located on the eastern region of the Zhunite coast, being the most easterly located of the four main Citystates (the others being Hostar, Kimbar and Cusca). The Plains of Zhun themselves are located on the central-southwest of the continent of Nybelmar situated now amongst the Nybelroid and Evalaris domains, as well as being in close proximity to the regions populated by the nomadic Doimo and Kavogerim. Return to the top

People. The people of Marmarra are somewhat varied - the most affecting factor usually being wealth. Though the Marmarra population is made up of a whole plethora of different cultures the initial ethos since (or even before) Eluda’s arrival has remained the same. Marmarrans are fiercely envious, envious to such a degree that aesthetic and economic pursuits are almost completely fuelled by a desire to fulfill their egostistical requirements. Before the birth of Marmarra as we know it now, the citizens of the relatively insignificant town could quite simply be categorised as the dissatisfied masses who desired to have the affluence of the greater Citystates, regardless of the cost. This single-minded idea is probably what allowed an individual of (though undeniable genius) such a malicious and disturbing psyche to dominate so very easily.

As aforementioned, Marmarrans themselves are quite a mongrel mixture of various tribes in the region. Though predominately of Zhunite denominations (including significant numbers of Karakanites), records of requests to join the Marmarran ranks in the city’s early concept list a number of Anpagan and even Krean - some of those applying to join the Marmarran campaign even neglecting to select an ethnic category. As such, only social conventions and the imposed city’s culture define the population.

Categorically, Marmarrans are often thought of to possess a mixture of pride and fear in terms of their identity. It is unheard of for Marmarrans to promote the produce, methods or ideas of any other kingdom, realm or domain. Marmarrans always believe that their way is best, regardless of more effective alternatives. Despite this, Marmarrans are known to possess a keen bitterness towards their own authorities, regarding them in a variety of emotions - tending to be somewhere on the spectrum of "Annoyance" to "Dread". Though Marmarrans are very much content with their position and are (usually) fiercely loyal to their homes, they exist in constant apprehension towards the Witch Queen and what may happen to them if they choose to set out of line.

Marmarrans are often thought to be incredibly vain, shallow and frivolous - at least when they can afford to be. Marmarrans, especially of wealth, are known for their extravagant dress senses and tendency to waste money - usually on trivial pursuits such as gambling, drinking or other easy perishable goods and experiences. Those who are in not in a position to spend such profligately generally have a heightened demeanour of jealousy, stimulating further egotistical pursuits and producing a relatively discontented people.

Typically, outsiders will treat Marmarrans with much distrust - and usually with due course. Marmarrans have shown in the past to be manipulative and self-centred in their aims (leading to particularly bad relations with Cyras, since under Marmarran advice they sent no aid during the Orcal wars - giving them a questionable reputation). Marmarran magic additionally has given them a terrible reputation - the consensus generally being it is simply very, very evil. The fact that Illusionary ambassadors have the ability to affect the senses of those around them, the Gaishen system involves the manipulation of dark spirits and that at higher levels of sorcery individuals are able to affect the minds and free-will of many others probably does not aid Marmarrans in producing a positive image - though a positive image has never been something desired by Marmarrans.

Amongst these other generally undesirable traits, a typical Marmarran could quite easily be classified by their cold demeanours, malicious grudge-holding nature and a tendency to overact to social changes or insults. Assassination is a lucrative industry for a reason within the City of Witches. Return to the top

Coat of Arms/Sign. Various insignia can be categorised as Marmarran in origin - such as the interlocking rings of the Pyrunai institute of the teardrop motif and the Red Sisters, though the official symbol of the Witch Queen (and by default of the city) is "The Eye", the design usually produced in white or yellow against of black or purple background. The design itself has a beautiful yet eerie feel to it. The thin, elipitical shape it assumes conjures up images of arrogant beauty as well as fear-invoking scrutiny. In many instances, it has an almost soul penetrating quality, the almost reptillian, thin pupil staring at you in an unsettling manner. This motif in particularly is extensively used throughout the city in all districts. They say its almost impossible to find a street corner that doesn’t either have the symbol mounted upon it, or a guard bearing one such a banner. The mass of eyes, it is claimed, is supposed to make the citizens feel safe and content in the fact that they are protected - though it seems to produce a sense of personal invasion - the ever-present threats that come with Marmarran authority being refreshed in your memory every time you see the simple yet powerful insignia. Return to the top

Climate. The climate of Marmarra is typically very grey, drab and possessing of a somewhat eerie gloom (as you might expect for such a gloomy population). Overcast and clouds are the most common weather, blocking out the perhaps purifying light of the sun from these relatively impure folk. Showers of rain are frequent though unpredictable - much to the dismay of a multitude of Marmarran fashionistas whose cosmetic efforts are ruined by leakages of the heavens.

Evenings, unusually, are slightly warmer than the afternoons and mornings - though in a refreshing rather than humid way. This abnormality in the environment is generally attributed to the extensive magical activity in and around the area - since similar trends in the climate have been spotted in the Broken Woods known to have high spiritual presences. The enjoyable temperature however does not distract from the generally poor natural light of the area, creating an oddly enjoyable sense of obscurity if you are a Marmarran. Return to the top

Flora. Though it is fashionable to cultivate a variety of plants in Marmarran gardens, naturally the flora in the area is very sparse, mostly consisting of a variety of funguses that grow in the less hygienic allies and back-streets of the outer ring. Though the odd tree or bush can be spotted if you look hard enough, the general lack of sunshine (or at least enough to support large plants) means that such floral constructs are usually pitiful. Despite the lack of dense foliage that one might spot on the Peninsula of Shar, the climate is capable of also supporting a variety of creeping vines (usually growing on the sides of homes) as well as most flowers found in the Plains of Zhun, Geraniums kept on balconies being able to survive for quite a while.

The most common plants brought into Marmarra are those to brew poisons, produce perfumes or a variety of other exotic purposes that a Marmarran with enough coin would pursue (though that is hardly a limiting description). Return to the top

Fauna. Though naturally you may encounter a few urbanised bird species that are commonplace in such a metropolis, and there is no shortage of pesky insects that are capable of thriving within the lesser-sanitized regions, there isn’t much in terms of natural fauna that thrives in the area. Particularly within the Outer Ring, infestations of rats as well as stray cats that prey on them are not uncommon sights. Many rather dirty-looking birds also find their way into the city, generally making nests within many of the holes found on neglected Marmarran structures. The sight of the "Zhunite Blackclaw" is a rare sight, though when the bird is seen it is generally considered a traditonial good omen. On some evenings during winter, it is possible to see bats flying over the city (presumably migrating from the Broken Woods).

Additionally, Marmarrans seem to have developed a penchant from exotic pets - and traders in such goods are never short of customers. As such, it is not unlikely for you to encounter the odd lisdra snake or even jupa ape, as long as said animal is kept secure and restrained by its owner, obviously very concerned about the investment they have made in their animal. Return to the top

Resources. There are no precious metals, particularly useful crops or (to be perfectly precise) anything of natural worth that Marmarra can claim as its own. Despite its inherent lack of natural blessings however, perhaps the most precious resource the Marmarrans have is their attitude - that ultimately is what turned a mediocre town into a metropolis rivalling even Hostar in terms of power and affluence.

Marmarrans have an inalienable nature that leads them to pursue what they want whatever the cost. This nature produces people that have the aptitude to become clever, scheming diplomats, calculating and extensively knowledgeable sorcerers or a whole manner of other professions which helped Marmarra expand its sphere of influence - compensating for the fact that they have nothing much to claim in their immediate area. Arguably, this inherently productive trait is their most useful "resource" if it can categorised as such.

The resources available due to the expansion of Marmarra’s grasp however are quite varied. Marmarra has quite a considerable presence in the Paddy fields of Arroza, meaning they are not sort of rizjo or their favoured rizjo wine. Marmarra also has influence in a handful of fishing towns and various other farms (including the Miarzan cattle farming settlement) giving them a variety of property to import into the city - essentially exploiting their outsourced domains to improve the lives (or at least satisfy the whims) of the Marmarran citizens. Return to the top

Myth/Lore. Such a settlement renowned for its meddling in the arcane and with such a reputation for conspiracy, especially one that is so keen to keep its motives and workings a secret from everyone else, stories from outsiders based on the inscrupulous activites of these rather sinister figures are almost guaranteed. The Cuscans, bitter rivals of the Marmarrans, are known for their slanderous tales that they tell about the Citystate. Amongst others, the Cuscans have often spun the tale that Marmarra itself is cursed and haunted - the high levels of Gaishen magic practiced in the area actually drawing more of the corrupting spirits to the area. So the story goes, Marmarrans spend so much time in contact with these (usually) invisible menaces it not only taints their minds but also causes citizens of the city to become impure to such a degree that the areas around them become corrupted. Cuscans have forced this tale to such a degree that some have gone as far as to believe that to have a Marmarran in your field will make your lands go infertile or touching the bare skin of a Marmarran will actually cause you to fall ill.

In terms of internal tales however, such stories should usually be kept quiet - mainly because if they are true it may not be good for your health to spread knowledge of their existence. One of the most prominent unspoken legends is that of "The Brotherhood of the Eye", believed to be an underground organisation that works with (rather than for) the Witch Queen to keep the interests of Marmarra safe. The numerable, ambiguous "Cloaks" seen about the city are often thought to be the visible arm of this most definitely invisible organisation. The roots of this legend stretch all the way back to the origins of Marmarra.

The organisation is thought to have been an idea conceived by Eluda and the first Kogian - Kijuur Destius. Essentially, due to the fact that Eluda did not entirely trust her potential successors to keep her own vision for Marmarra in mind in their own actions, and also due to the fact that the title of Witch Queen warranted absolute power, she needed to have some sort of everlasting hand in the works of the Citystate. As such, the legend states that she conspired with Kijuur to fake his death and that of Marmarra’s most capable sentries- the aptly named "Blades of the Witch". After the supposed deaths, and the brotherhood’s birth, it is said that Eluda defined a protocol to be enforced - with the cooperation of the current Witch Queen or otherwise. The men, well trained in the arts of espionage, combat and in many cases magic would ultimately be the most powerful organisation within Marmarra and would have the aptitude to remove a Witch Queen from power should the situation necessitate it. Return to the top

 Date of last edit 4th Passing Clouds 1668 a.S.

Information provided by Decipher Ziron View Profile