Náráh or Nárvá, somtimes also
called the "Mayor’s City", is the eastern
district of the Krean metropolis
Síhítárá ("Star-Pride"), located in the southern jungles of the Krathrian
peninsula in western Nybelmar. Like the other wards
of the city, the district looks like a giant rhombus of cleared terrain within
the vast jungle from a bird’s eye view. Within this district it is possible to
find the Midsummer Palace, the mayor and the province governess’ quarters,
nineteen gargantuan trade posts, three harbours, and a plethora of storehouses
and embassies. The majority of the people found on the streets are either
Krean officers or imperial merchants.
In the splendid district of Nárvá pounds the administrative heart of Síhítárá.
Description. Náráh or Nárvá is the eastern district of the Krean metropolis Síhítárá ("Star-Pride"). Like the other wards of the city, the district looks like a giant rhombus of cleared terrain within the vast jungle from a bird’s eye view. Within this district are located the Midsummer Palace, the mayor’s and the province governess’ quarters, nineteen gargantuan trade posts, three harbors, and a plethora of storehouses and embassies. In the district of Nárvá, as can be seen, pounds the administrative heart of Síhítárá.
For easier transportation and passage within the ward the dense undergrowth of the southern jungles is completely cleared. Compared to the rest of the metropolis, Náráh has fewer trees and wildlife. In fact, the only green areas left in the Mayor’s City, as the district is sometimes called, are planned recreational areas, parks and springs. Even the handful of trees growing on the sides of the ward’s graceful boulevards and corners are planted to comfort the throngs of merchants and officers passing by with pleasant shades and scents. Sandwiched between the drives are red and white parcels of an intriguing breed of tropic oleanders. Throughout the entire district, these oleanders are shaped into mythological entities stemming from the city’s legends. There is no doubt that the priestesses of Ankriss, the Krath High Goddess of Earth, play a significant part in sustaining these stylish hedge rows. The opulent smell of the oleanders is further enriched by the priestesses to mask the unpleasant stenches rising from the storehouses and trade posts by engulfing the neighborhood in lovely fragrances. The scents of the flowers seem to be radically amplified as one approaches the modest shrine dedicated to the goddess in the mayor’s garden.
In 5443 b.S, during the reign of Lvean the Blue and Wábharr the Bright, the uneven rainforest ground was made level with the rest of the metropolis thanks to the combined willpower of the priestesses. Pastors from all over the Twin Kingdom gathered to perform the implausible joining of wills.
Important Náráh places and buildings are described below:
The Mayor’s Residence,
the Eight Shrines and the Vaults
As it has been stated, the functions of Ward Nárvá are for the most part administration, legislation and the overseeing of the metropolis’ commerce. The mayor’s residence is a rather colossal building, consisting of an approximately sixty four pen estate on a one hold garden. On the outer reaches of the garden are seven miniature hills, each precisely wide enough to support a small shrine dedicated to the two High Goddesses at its peak. There are stone stairs leading up to the shrine on four sides of the minute mound; each set of steps representing one of the four cardinal quarters. There are four marble pillars supporting every shrine, each one of the columns facing the four secondary directions in between the stairs. The pillars have numerous deep stripes carved on them. In spring lush green vines scale around the elaborate columns, granting beautiful blooms during the Month of the Singing Bird before yielding to the summer heat. Within each building is a plain yet finely crafted altar, a deep contrast to the general sophistication of the shrine’s construction. The surfaces of these altars are faintly covered with the same ballot runes found in all Krean cities. Like on the standard obelisk, Lillivear runes will glow a bright green and Aesteran ones a radiant blue once activated, engulfing the altar in a sea of lights. As customary, the Aestera will cast their votes at dusk while the Lillivear will wait till daybreak. Each shrine is dedicated to one of Síhítárá’s seven residential districts. The common belief in the city is that the citizens would find it harder to leave the righteous path under the watchful eyes of the two Goddesses while voting. This is why the traditional voting obelisks were revolutionized in Síhítárá.
If truth be told, the design of these shrines reflects the Krean tenet of existence: No matter how ornamented things are on the outside; there is the same pure tranquility present within every unit of existence. Surprisingly the Krean do not scorn one’s acts to beautify himself and the surroundings. On the contrary, as it can be perceived from their splendid cities, they encourage the individual’s attempt to bring to surface the hidden beauty in everything - whether it is a dress, a house, a garden or a face. They believe that doing so will accentuate the contrast (between the ostentatious appearance and the graceful self), allowing others to witness it too. Similarly, no matter how intricately designed they may look on the outside; the buildings in Síhítárá have the same bare splendor in their structure.
The treasury of the metropolis is guarded in a separate building – protected by Blue Wardens and priestesses from both temples night and day – adjacent to the mayor’s residence. In total there are five keys to the vaults. The mayor, the keeper of the treasury, the head of the metropolis’ Blue Wardens, the Celebrants (chief clerics) of the two Temples each has a key. To reach the central vaults, where the artifacts of inconceivable power or value are stored, though, all five keys must be used at the same time with each of the Holders reciting an inscription passed on to them by the former Holder (of the same position) three days after his/her demise in a dream. As usual, a plethora of protective wards guards the vaults. The incredible security measures have led to a saying among the citizens of the metropolis, “safe as in/within the Vaults” implying that something is completely out of harm's way.
The Supreme Court
To the east of the mayor’s residence is the Supreme Court of the Twin Kingdom, a six story architectural wonder. From each side of the enormous octagonal dais monumental stone stairs lead up to the rounded body of the structure. The top floor joins the colossal dome, which in turn gives way to a breathtaking tower rising from its center like a staff reaching up to the stars. The tower itself is eight stories, dwarfing even the House of Councils. Each floor of the tower (except the last) houses six courtrooms, with the judges’ private chambers are huddled against each other around the central staircase. The central staircase provides the only means of access to the crest as the stone steps issuing from the main building end on the fifth floor. The citizens of Síhítárá believe that, just like the sun, justice rises from the east, getting closer and closer to perfection as it prepares to set in the west. This is why they consider the lands the Grand Empire of Krath thrives upon to be the most righteous and moral place on the continent.
The issues of the metropolis are dealt with in the lower courts (Floors 1 to 3). Regional disputes are handled in the Sepals (Floors 4 & 5). The whole of floor six is one enormous courtroom reserved for federal cases. There are no judges’ chambers on the sixth floor as federal judges reside within the tower.
Tower floors one through four contain an extensive law library rumored to contain every legal document ever produced in the Grand Empire of Earth. The library also encloses a comprehensive file on every case arbitrated within the empire since 3000 b.S. (along with some antiquated records of Twin Kingdom lawsuits dating back to 5467 b.S.). The gigantic bookcases are lined in endless rows on either side of the Hall of Reverence. The so-called Hall of Reverence is a spacious isle coated with a spilk floor covering spiraling all around the four floors of the tower library. The hall is further garlanded by breathtaking glass statues of former federal judges. The sculptures of the other judges are found within the main library of the Supreme Court. The Déárán Law Library, as it was later renamed, extends for a total of six levels underground. An ardent rumor among Síhítárán legal representatives dictates a perry of land for each level.
A horde of over six hundred librarians, scribes and paralegals – literally – works day and night to keep the files organized and accessible for cross-referencing. The library staff is also responsible for ensuring that the right documents arrive in court every morning.
Tower floor six was once exclusively used for the trials of the eight royal houses of Síhítárá. During the reign of Lvean the Blue and Wábharr the Bright its use was extended to include the hearings of the Twin Kingdom’s Royal Family. Later during Emperor Déárán’s time in office, the Síhítárán Supreme Court was levitated to the status of one of the seven Imperial Courts.
Floor seven hosts the chambers of the eight federal judges. These chambers are allegedly where imperial verdicts are decided upon before even the trials begin.
The top floor is completely encircled by gigantic glass windows supporting the striking dome of the tower entirely crafted from the extremely rare black Krath gold. The bottom of the dome flows into a disk (again carved from black Krath gold) situated right above the glass arches. A snow-white statue of an unknown mineral marks each of the four cardinal points with the imposing stature of one of the High Goddesses, the patron deities of Síhítárá. The statues fascinatingly appear to be born out of the obsidian dome rather than sculptured onto it. Like foam on Rháásthár at midnight, the mysterious white stone blends into the disk, giving the statues the impression of surfacing from the depths of the obsidian dome. Like the twirling vortex of the Ethereal Void, the black gold whirls around the sculptures' legs. Though how or by whom the dome was built remains a mystery - only few doubt the hand of divine forces in its construction.
Even more spectacular than the dome is the great crystal the top floor harbours. A sharp contrast with the obsidian talon grasping the gem, a soft, pastel pink glow starts to emanate from the opaque crystal as the sun embarks on its forlorn journey across the heavens. All through the day, the glow deepens to a rosy red as the celestial body descends and finally reaches a deep crimson after a very stirring tumult between various pitches of scarlet as the sun begins to set. As the jewel of the morning sky wanes behind the formidable mountain ranges so does the light of the Midnight Gem. After three millennia of fitful dormancy, the secrets of the “Twilight Nova” as one ancient text refers to the Gem, was lost to the Aestera Kreankra Lillivear. A tome dating back to the founding of the city secured within the Twin Temple’s vaults portrays the Twilight Nova as a perfectly transparent innumerably spiked crystal that filled the night sky from one end to another with a radiant white light that filled one’s soul with divine warmth before the verdicts of imperative cases were announced. It seems neither the vivacity nor the jagged blades of the great crystal is left, just as neither the righteousness nor the splendor of the Twin Kingdom remains today*.
[* Judging from the calligraphy of the original text, this part appears to be added some time during the turmoil of the Ages. Despite the efforts of Zhunite scholars whether the addition was made before or after the Year of Darkness cannot be derived.]
House of the Councils (aka “The House” in Síhítárá)
On the other side of the Great Boulevard, as the street crossing the government quarters is known as, a massive complex stretching for over the three powders of land is to be found. The square is decorated with a profusion of statues, fountains and gardens. The colossal seven story Council building that spreads over three holds stands as a monument to Aesteran architecture. Like in most public buildings found in Síhítárá, the House of the Councils is supported by a plethora of columns fashioned into the figures of adorable young men and women from the city’s myths. The grandest pillars are at ground level: statues of the legendary leaders of the metropolis thrice life-size supporting and serving the Senate long after death as they had done during their times. The ground floor – and if need be, the vast garden – is reserved for the Assembly of Rights, the citizens’ ensemble. The regional Council of the Cities, where mayors of a county can come together to further discuss an issue ensued in the High Council, shares the same space. However, their meetings are usually scheduled on the third day of every month to avoid disorder within the chambers. The councils may also congregate beyond scheduled summits under extraordinary circumstances.
Within the gardens, the city museum – renown for its open glass sculpture exhibitions throughout Krath – and the councilors’ cemetery are also located.
The complex hosts the governess’ (typically a female priestess) residence, burial grounds and the Hall of Honour, dedicated not only to those perished in war but also to the great benefactors, sorcerers, priestesses, artists and inventors of the city. The councilors, however, are buried in the cemeteries of the House.
For security reasons, non-Síhítárá residents are only allowed into the outer garden complex. From the first gate (located at the end of the outer gardens) on, a reflective blue-gray pool bordered by water willows extends towards the manor. The length of the pool is estimated to be between one to three dashes.
The construction was instigated three weeks ago in the month of the Changing Winds following Mayor Déárán’s orders. His exact words to his aide were: “I want this to be a very lively place, with lots and lots of birds, yellowish orange sunshine, blissful trees, and a myriad of butterflies to contrast the serious and fragile atmosphere of the rest of the city. Why is the Architectural Coven never around when one needs it?” Rumor has it that Senator Déárán has it on his mind to have the constructed completed by Burning Heavens.
There are no residential blocks within the eastern district. The only residences present are a set of guesthouses reserved for bureaucrats and ambassadors, inns to provide lodging for traders, the mayor’s and the province governor’s mansions. The embassy complexes are all built to reflect their hometowns’ structural designs.
Ports, Trade posts, Storehouses and Granaries
The rest of the city is dedicated to commercial activities to “generate income worth securing within the Vaults” as a Síhítárán treasurer once put it. There are three communal harbors (two in the south and one in the East) set aside for civil interests, strategically positioned on the river banks. Beside the nineteen gargantuan trade posts that are always worth touring during one’s stay in the Eastern District, there is an overabundance of storehouses, both public and private, for the hectic industry and trade of Síhítárá.
In case all else fails, which is rather unlikely if the endless cellars of the Earth Temple are taken into consideration, the food stored in Náráh’s granaries can supply the population of the metropolis for over eleven months. Needless to say, officers are more than paranoid about keeping the rations fresh and reinstating the stocks that aren’t.
Location. The district of Náráh is located on the easternmost diamond of Síhítárá, with three of the eastern branches of the Pirilsárín Néh (“Sparkling River”) running south and east of it. The metropolis itself is located in the Krath jungles of southwestern Nybelmar, situated between two climate zones, the tropical temperature of the south and the cooler weather of the mountain ranges in the north.
People. Since there are
no permanent residents of this ward, except the administrative officers which
make up only a very small amount of the district’s daily population, there is
not a set complexion seen throughout the wide boulevards.
Although the majority of the people residing within the district are a fine concoction of merchants from all over the Empire, and sometimes bureaucrats or traders from other countries, the chance of finding a Krean on the streets is very high. People - craftsmen and business owners who want to check on the progress of their dealings in particular -from the other wards always seem to be hurrying from one avenue to the next.
It is true that citizens are encouraged to even personally bring their troubles to the lower councils or to the mayor in extreme cases, however, this is awfully rare. The chance of finding an angry mob in front of one of the public offices is very close to never. Most of the time council representatives work efficiently enough to prevent the need for such actions. Despite the fact that the schedule and frequency of assemblies are a bit exaggerated and the amount of precious time wasted debating for the sake of discussion, the Councils tend to be very resourceful and quick in finding solutions to the metropolis’ problems.
In spite of the Krean’s passion for debating, there are almost no escalating conflicts within Nárvá’s boundaries beside the occasional quarrel between a supplier and a greedy merchant. Street fights, brawls, physical injuries and the like have not been spotted in the district since the reign of High Queen Lílýáshn! Whether this is due to the amicability and fine manners of the Krean’s or the strictness of certain law enforcement offices, including but not limited to watch posts, courts dealing with hostility towards the citizens or the city’s guests, the current Mayor Déárán’s(*) reputation for his glaring tempe or the “gentling” procedures handled by the Temple of Ankriss is the one to thank for the wonder is open to debate. [*Note: This entry was compiled and translated for the Santharian Compendium from Anpagan tomes that were written during the first Rebellion of the Zhunite Colonies on their dealings with the Krath-esh’talath.] Yet one thing is certain, if even tax collectors can make it back to the Eastern District without any injuries, the preservation of peace and harmony within the metropolis is indeed successful.
The citizens are always open to suggestions and welcome even strangers with friendly smiles and help out those in need. Usually a good discussion or exchange of tales will more than satisfy as a payment for this cordial behavior.
Coat of Arms/Sign. The regular coat of arms features a multi-spiked star in the center of every shield, banner, pennant etc. with a border of intertwining vines. Different bands of colour and symbols can be used outside the vine circlet to denote the coat of arms of distinct factions.
According to some interpretations, the star is representative of the Twilight Nova and the city whereas the vines of the jungle that surrounds and protects the city. Other versions decode the emblems as symbolic representations of the two high goddesses.
Climate. Situated between two major climate zones, weather patterns in Síhítárá are indeed complex. Literally stuck between the zones, the soil of the eastern district is very prolific. Sahnrix pines and bombox palms alike can be found within Náráh’s boundaries.
All in all, the climate of the ward is for the most time tropical. One should always be prepared for a warm light rain anytime during the day. The temperature varies from the heat of the coast, to the tropics of the jungle. Each region has its characteristic climate: hot and humid on the coast during the summer and cloudy and cool in the winter. In the north, it is temperate in the valleys and cold and dry in the high planes. There are two well-defined seasons: the period between the Month of the Dead Tree and the Changing Winds falls within the rainy season whereas the air is dry with hot sun in the day and cold at night between the Month of the Singing Bird and the Passing Clouds. The rainforest surrounding Náráh has a tropical, humid and extremely hot climate. Nevertheless, occasionally some winds coming from the mountain ranges to the north bring cold weather.
Since growing crops is really not something to do for the plethora of officers, bureaucrats and merchants, the city planning departments are not the least bothered by the shifting climate. All they care about is supplying the people on the streets with gorgeous shelters – whether from the rapid rain or the blazing sun, magnificent gardens and parks for recreation are a much appreciated shade at some point in a lengthy stroll along the warehouses.
Flora. Thanks to the efforts of the priestesses and the diverse climate of the region, a surprisingly large variety of trees and flowers (mostly orchids) can be found in the city not only in private gardens but also in public places. Under the influence of Ankriss, trees and green areas are to be seen virtually everywhere, even squeezed amid narrow lanes and openings between buildings, planted in gratifying harmony with the structures.
The diverse climate of the metropolis favors almost every kind of plant known to Nybelmar; from countless families of orchids and rainforest undergrowth to wild roses and sahnrix pines. Although the weather allows the growth of shágách trees, li’ana plants and giant aspidis, the cultivation of these industrial plants are left to the districts specialized in similar fostering. Hence, many of the more business related arboreal life is replaced with more pleasurable and attractive flora.
As the residents of Síhítárá often brag, “Name a plant and the nearest temple will supply it for you” - most also add, “For a small fee of course.” Although foreigners might be astounded by the amount and variety of plant life in Náráh, locals will likely tell them to “wait until [you] see the Temple District”.
Fauna. As Síhítárá is a highly urbanized area, Nárvá being perhaps its most hectic and mercantile region, there are not many animals living there in the wild. However, the incredible wildlife of the surrounding rainforest (also the portions of the jungles found between the diamonds of the districts) is more than enough to compensate for the lack fauna in the city.
Nonetheless, a wide array of birds – mostly tropical such as the famed chatterbirds, insects – can be seen in Náráh, though only the beneficial and good-looking ones like the various breeds of spiral butterflies are allowed to thrive. Fish (in the banks of the Sparkle River) and pets can be found within the ward.
The trees also help attract a bit of animal life to the city. Cute little squirrels eating their rations and watching the throngs pass by are a common and amusing sight to many outsiders. They have grown quite familiar with much of the population that once in a while give them scraps of fruits and nuts to eat, and dash through the streets fully enjoying the delight they cause in strangers. The surplus of tropical birds - frequently with either beautiful appearances, charming voices or both, are also widespread within Nárvá. They are incredibly active towards the end of the rainy season, especially during the Month of the Singing Bird as the name implies.
Almost every building is whole without a local pest! “No rodents are allowed into the city” as signs hanging from every tree at the district’s many entrances read. These signs have supplied many strangers with a good laugh, however, as the first Head of the Krath League discovered in 4697 b.S. the warnings are not to be taken lightly. Three months after the Twin Kingdom joined the Earth League during the Wébér the Persevering’s time in power, Consul Doloréth (“Snake-tongued” or “Rodent-face” as most Krean still refer to him) began making authorized visits to many Krean metropolises that had been secreted for centuries. It is not known whether his face, with a worn-out nose, constantly moving mustache whistles and an ugly chin, resembled a rodent so much that the runes decided to treat him as one – as the Temple often likes to claim – or the whole incident was the work of a mischievous priestess. What we do know however is that the barrier suddenly flared into hundreds and hundreds of web-like structures impeding the escort’s march and scorching chains that attached themselves to the Senator’s body. In his frustration the Consul almost ordered the head of the imperial army to crush the city with the League’s legions. The act of contrition the Krean High King of the time broadcasted apologizing for the whole incident on the Temple’s behalf for “failing to recognize that creatures too close in definition and/or manifestation [to rodents] would trigger the barricade” did not alleviate the situation much either.
However, upon the intervention of the High Priestess herself – to salvage her favorite ethnicity in the Empire and keep one of grandest temples dedicated to the Earth Goddess out of harm’s way – Consul Doloréth was forced to reconsider.
Resources. “Everything and nothing” as one Councilor has once put it. As one of the greatest trade centers in the entire southern peninsula, Náráh – and consequently, Síhítárá – never runs low on supplies and non-domestic products, no matter how exotic they are. On the other hand, the district has no farms or industries, none whatsoever, to support its populace. Food and other goods used in the offices are either imported from the dealers or brought from other parts of the metropolis.
Náráh, and most of Síhítárá, depends completely on trade to sustain itself.
Myth/Lore. The statues carved into the pillars are thought to be inhabited by the spirits of these mythical entities during the night connecting the thirty-first day of the Awakening Earth with the Changing Winds. The conviction is further accentuated by the slight repositioning of the sculptures every year.
The mentioned midnight is believed to be one of the nine times the gateway between the worlds is slightly opened. Síhítáráns regard going out that particular night a very star-crossed deed and prefer to stay within the boundaries of their houses. Furthermore, visiting the House of Councils at that time of year is a highly disrespectable exploit as the souls will be unable to leave the statues until the next Crossing if they are spotted moving by mortal eyes.
Information provided by Coren FrozenZephyr