Salsair is a large city of
20.000 people, mostly Centoraurian,
found in the northern Vardýnn province of
Santharia on the continent of
Sarvonia, once named after King Salman's wife Salsai
back in 1620 b.S. Where the
waters of Lake Aelignós gently lap against the shore near the source of the
Aelunn River, Salsair started out as a small fishing village. Over time it grew
in size and importance, where it now serves as a wonderful summer retreat for
the wealthy who want to enjoy the beauty of the lake. It also serves as a major
hub for both fishing and agriculture in the area. Being part of the
Aerelian Lakes system as well as on the Aelunn
River, Salsair takes advantage of the water system to be a center of trade in
Description. Salsair is for the most part a typical Centoraurian city. Narrow cobblestoned streets wind their way like a spider web through wattle and daub buildings. Some are whitewashed with timber frames others simple mud covered homes of poorer citizens. Some are larger stone buildings.
Key Locations. Key locations of Salsair can be listed as follows:
|Image description. View of the City of Salsair next to Lake Aelignos with the White Citadel in the center and the Foiron, the Temple of Foiros in the background, recognizable by its white tower. Illustration drawn by Seeker.|
The New City ("Open City")
Salsair is divided into a few different areas, the first being the New City, or "Open City", as it is currently not protected by a completed defensive wall. The population increased greatly in the last century, as the city transformed more from military importance to economical importance. The first expansion occurred with new construction being built against the old wall, then gradually fanning out from there, on both sides of the Aelunn. Construction on a new defensive wall is currently underway, starting at the east side of the city. Because of this, the eastern road to North Arlemaroth and Aregarth as well as the Farmsteadings is served by Farmstead Gate. However, the road north to Mirenn has no gate, as the wall has not yet reached that area of the city.
The New City is inhabited by the more agrarian Salsair society. Those who work the Farmsteadings live here, as well as woodworkers, foresters that cut trees in the Salvis Wood, stonemasons and others. Those that work the Farmsteadings are mostly wage labourers and not landowners nor peasants who live on the land itself. During the sowing and harvesting seasons, these labourers travel from the city to the farms and stay in temporary camps until the work is done. For the most part, this part of the city is very quiet and peaceful.
The Old City
The Old City is found within the original Salsair walls on the eastern side of the Aelunn. This is a much older part of the city. Here are found the alehouses, the merchants and Guild Houses and temples. Coram’s Gate is the only gate into the Old City, and all traffic in and out is scrutinized by the city guard.
The White Citadel
The White Citadel stands in the heart of the old city. This was the spot where Salaman built his palace at the founding of Salsair. Over the course of time the palace was redesigned and reconstructed many times. The last time was during the reign of Harhold, Duke of Aurora, in 987 a.S. He greatly reduced the size of the palace, using much of the leftover stone to build the old wall. Though smaller in size, it was built much higher, giving him a spectacular view from the rooftop gardens that linked to his private solar.
Lake Aelignós is famous for its beautiful white stone that forms much of its banks. Though this stone is too soft for construction of buildings, Harhold used it simply as cladding for the darker building stones beneath it. This White Citadel can be seen for strals in every direction and is a symbol of Salsair, being incorporated into its Coat of Arms.
The Foiron, the Temple of
The Foiron is a temple devoted to Foiros. It is a circular building, honouring the Circle which is a symbol of Foiros, the God of Fire and Justice. Like the White Citadel, it has the same white cladding stones with intricately cut geometric designs cut into it along the upper edge, inlaid with gold. During the day, with the sunlight on it, it seems to glow. A tower rises from the center of the temple, which used to be the highest building in the city until the construction of the White Citadel. At the top of the temple there is a room, the Foirostra, semi circular by design, opening wide to the south, facing Lake Aelignós, though in truth it was built to face the sun, the ultimate symbol of Foiros. This room has golden walls, while a huge brazier in the center of the room blazes. The effect is that it creates a marker for all the fishermen on the lake, which guides them at night or during poor weather, back to the safety of the city. Outside the temple, 50 ceremonial braziers are always kept burning, and they form a circle around the temple, as well as creating a pathway to the temples ornate wooden doors. A marble unicorn stands in the center of the temple, rising majestically on its back legs, while a unicorn against a blazing sun is carved into each of the double doors of ashwude. The Foiron is used by the Pheramethar of Foiros (the highest ranking cleric) as his summer retreat from his seat of power in Cemphiria.
The Exomater's Square ("Squealer's Square")
Exomater’s Square is where most of the city’s buying and selling can be found. Each morning, dozens of merchants haul their goods by cart to the square and set up in predetermined areas that they rent from the city council. Each night they are required by law to remove their carts, leaving the square empty, where city workers clean the square. Pigs do most of the cleaning, eating all the leftover garbage and rotting food left behind. The owners of the pigs get the free feed for their animals in return for cleaning any dung the pigs might otherwise leave behind. It is because of this that Exomater’s Square is sometimes referred to as "Squealer’s Square".
The Fisherman's Quay
Fisherman’s Quay is a stone projection into the lake where the local fishing fleet harbours their boats at night. The quay can accommodate nearly fifty fishing boats, and iron rings and stone projections are used to moor the boats to the quay. Fisher Street leads directly from the quay to Exomater Square so the fish can be taken to market and sold fresh. Smoker Street leads directly to large smokehouses where other fish is dried for selling in other communities.
The Canal Area
The Canal Area is an area found at the mouth of the Aelunn River where it flows from Lake Aelignós. The original sandbars where the first inhabitants lived are joined by six stone bridges called the "Six Maidens". Each arched bridge has a stone statue of a maiden at the crown of the arch in the center of the bridge. The six maidens refer to the architect’s six daughters, whom he immortalized in stone. They do limit the bridges to pedestrian traffic only, as a cart would not fit beyond the statues. Many buildings here are built upon stilts to protect them from flooding and flat bottomed boats are used to navigate between them, propelled by pole bearers.
The canal area also includes a large area on the western side of the Aelunn. The original city here was flooded in 642 a.S., when a storm completely changed the shoreline and how it emptied into the river. Many buildings were washed away, and there were many lives lost. The Night of Great Sorrow was the largest natural disaster in Salsair’s history.
The Sunken City
The Night of Great Sorrow, a storm that washed away many buildings and changed the shoreline, created something which makes Salsair unique in Santharia, is that it created the "Sunken City". Many buildings made of stone were not washed away in the flood, but rather simply sank whole beneath the waves. It is said that the ground beneath this area of the city became like quicksand. Whole buildings disappeared beneath the waves. Over the years the sand washed away, revealing an entire neighborhood just below the water's surface. Buildings that were once homes to families of Salsair now were homes to fish, shellfish and of course the rivermaids. Streets that used to take travelers from one part of the city to another were now conduits for the tides, creating currents that could sometimes be dangerous to those boats floating above, or even more dangerous to those foolhardy enough to swim in the area looking for lost treasure. Many a soul has been sucked below, only to be found days later washed ashore on some nearby beach. Gardens of fruit trees, vegetables and flowers now were gardens of underwater foliage as green and full as any above water. These thick areas were rife with hidden treasures and creatures beneath.
This area is now regarded as almost mystical by the populace and either avoided by most of them, while attracting the more adventurous among them. Tales of spirits haunting the buildings can be heard whispered at night, as well as tales of lost treasure hidden under the water.
One factor about the Sunken City that is true without a doubt is that there are many sightings of rivermaids there. These sightings are usually made when the first rays of light at dawn or the last beams of light at dusk and usually only for a moment. It is surmised that the rivermaids use the sunken buildings as shelter at night, then during the day travel down the Aelunn to their hunting areas. Some locals have come to calling the area Mertown. For the most part, there is no interaction between the locals and the rivermaids, though this is mainly because the rivermaids show no interest in human activity. Many a young man has caught a glimpse of these beautiful creatures and thereafter stood on the shores mooning over a lost love that was never really theirs to begin with. See the section on Lore for a story of one such lad.
The Western Shore
The Western Shore is a section of the city that has its own wall built around it. It is within this area that many wealthy nobles and even a few wealthy merchants own summer retreats. In the summer, this area is bustling with activity and a large contingent of guards keep the peace and undesirables outside the gates. By contrast, in winter it is a ghost town, as everyone has long gone back to their permanent residences. Only a handful of guards man the gates while a few patrol the empty streets on the lookout for thieves.
Santharian city of Salsair is found on the northern
shores of Lake Aelignós, one of the six bodies of fresh
water that make up the
Aerelian Lakes system. This is in the northern
province of Vardýnn, part of the
Kingdom of Santharia on the continent of
Sarvonia. Directly across the lake is found
Salsair's sister city, Corgammon.
To the north is the great city Milkengrad, and further on, the provincial capital of Voldar. To the northeast the rich and fertile Salsair Farmsteadings are found, sometimes called the Breadbasket of the North. To the east, the ominous smoke of the Hèckra Volcano rises toward the heavens. In the west the important coastal town of Thyslan is located.
People. Salsair is a
city of close to 20.000 people. The vast majority are
human, being mostly
Centoraurian. The Duke of
Aurora has made his home here for centuries, and before that the
Centoraurian Kings ruled.
Salsair has deep roots in
Centoraurian history. But, within the human
community, a large number of Helcrani
can also be found. Many of these are relatively new to Salsair, being merchants
who set up shops and industry. This was because Salsair was a good stopping
point between Milkengrad to the northwest and other
Helcrani communities such as
Menegula, Sostra Town, Codomma, Ahaiwanna and Heleroth to the east.
A community of Daran Gnomes also make their home within the walls of the Old City. This community is divided into two main groups. By far the larger of these groups has very good relations with the humans of Salsair. They are referred to by many as the "Salsair Daran", which has been shortened to "Salran". Salran trade, and interact with humans, not fearing to travel into human areas as well as inviting humans into their area. A particular Daran Gnomes, called "The Salran", is even called upon to serve in the city council.
The second community of Daran Gnomes is found deep within the Salran community, though they are separated by a wooden picket fence. This group refuses to deal directly with the humans, and humans are banned from entering this community. The Salran express their respect for the Darans by discreetly guiding humans away from the Daran area, and most Salsair humans have no idea this subgroup of gnomes even exists. This keeps the peace between the two gnome groups.
Other races and tribes can be found here as well, and for the most part they get along. Salsair has been at peace for many years and few want that to change by foolishly igniting the racial tensions that used to flare dangerously.
Coat of Arms/Sign. Salsair has a Coat of Arms that consists of a White Citadel against an azure blue background emphasized by darker blue wave lines. This represents the Duke’s Citadel, the white clad building within the city that is home to the Duke of Aurora, while the blue is obviously Lake Aelignós, which has long played an important role in the area.
Climate. The climate of Salsair is very much affected by the Aerelian Lakes. It is a place of generally mild winters and refreshing summers. During the winter, snow falls mostly between Dead Tree and Molten Ice. The temperature rarely gets extremely cold, and can sometimes warm to the point where the snows will melt. If conditions are right, a freezing rain can fall, leaving everything covered in a thin coating of ice. Mornings can be a beautiful sight, with the sun coming over the horizon and refracting off the frozen fields. This layer of ice usually melts during the day.
Summers are cool, again with much rain, though it is more prevalent at night. The combination of warm days followed by a cooling in the evening has contributed to Salsair's reputation as a summer retreat for those wealthy enough to have a summer home there.
Wind is predominantly from the west and southwest, which is why the farmsteadings to the northeast get such moisture that allows for near continuous bumper crops. In winter the wind switches to predominantly from the west and northwest. The winds of winter are much stronger than the winds of summer, which causes the occasional blizzard, but the general mild climate dictates that these storms are rare and short in duration.
Resources. Salsair is rich in resources. Of course, Lake Aelignós provides much of this. Fishermen here make a good living throwing their nets from their fishing boats and bringing in hauls of Mithanjor and other varieties of fish. Dried and salted, or smoked, this fish is then sold all over northern Santharia.
The Salsair Farmsteadings are famous throughout Santharia. Due to the good amount of rainfall, the mild summers, early spring and late autumns, plus the rich dark soil in the shadow of the Hèckra Volcano, crops grow quickly and full here. Most years, farmers here are able to plant a second crop, called the "Winter Harvest", which they collect in late autumn. This has led to the farmsteadings being referred to as the Breadbasket of the North. Because of the richness of the land, most of it is owned by only a few noble houses. To keep as much of the land workable, the nobles do not keep large buildings for housing. Instead, most of the labour used on the land comes from Salsair itself in the form of wage labourers. During the sowing and harvest seasons, temporary camps, made from tents, are created to house these labourers from Salsair. When the work is finished, the camps are taken down. Land is not needlessly wasted here. Grain here is delivered and sold throughout the north of the kingdom, not only in the province of Vardýnn, but neighboring provinces of Xaramon, Nermeran and Enthronia.
The Equine Plains to the northwest are vast tracts of rich grasslands. These are used by herders to graze many types of cattle and sheep as well as horses. Thus, Salsair is able to sell much livestock to other areas of the kingdom. Add to this the wool that these herds of sheep produce, and Salsair can claim to be a major trading hub.
Artisans in the city also use the wool to create much in the way of cloth, which is sold elsewhere. Most of this cloth is taken by merchants and exported to Carmalad to be dyed, thus increasing its value.
The Daran Gnomes create much in the way of jewelry. From wooden items to fine metal and gem encrusted trinkets, the Salran have created a name for themselves, and their Jewelry guild has insisted that each item be stamped with a tiny symbol bearing their mark. Items with this mark often times are sold for up to three times an item without the mark goes for.
Water truly is a resource that Salsair is rich in as well. From a haven for artists to come and create beautiful masterpieces commissioned by well paying nobles, to perceived special properties, it is the lakes themselves that draw people to the city. Artists flood the city each spring, most by commission but many to simply paint and sell their works on the streets of Salsair, and they stay through the summer.
As well, many of the breeders in and around Salsair firmly believe that the waters of the lakes have special properties that make their animals more special than other animals of the like. This is especially true of the horse breeders. Centoraurian horses are considered some of the most beautiful in the kingdom, and those from around Salsair even more so.
To add to this, and to expand the reach of the lake waters, a gnome inspired irrigation system is being created to bring water from the lake direct to the Equine Plains. A man made aqueduct is being built that will bring water from Lake Salestra to the plains. The aqueduct is fed by a oxen powered pumping station that draws the water up to the aqueduct, where a gentle slope takes the water ultimately to the plains. It is not yet finished.
Special Occasions. Salsair is also well known for a couple of special occasions:
The Salsair Festival of the Horse
Every fifth summer, people from all over Santharia travel to Salsair. This is when the city holds one of the most famous festivals in the kingdom. The Salsair Festival of the Horse takes place every fifth Burning Heavens during the second week. It lasts for one week and started out as a Centoraurian festival dedicated to their horses. The festival has grown and includes many events and tournaments.
The Renewal Ceremony
On the first day of Burning Heavens, the month dedicated to Foiros, the renewal ceremony takes place. This is when all the braziers around the temple, with the exception of the fire in the Foirostra, are extinguished. The Duke is then allowed to light the first brazier with a brand lit in the fires of Hèckra. The other braziers are lit by nobles, clerics and a few by people of Salsair chosen by the clerics over the course of the year by exemplifying the spirit of Salsair. This brand has previously been carried from Hèckra to Salsair, carried only by the High Cleric of the temple, and on occasion the Pheramethar of Foiros, if his health should allow it. This ceremony is said to express the renewal of a new year and bring good tidings for the next.
The last day of Burning Heavens is also important in Salsair. This is the Dedication Ceremony. Historically, this is when two people dedicate themselves to each other. More often than not, it involves lovers marking their betrothal, but can be a lower individual dedicating their service to a higher figure. Many nobles dedicate themselves to the Duke in this manner, though the Duke in most cases appoints a representative to accept the dedication on his behalf, for reasons to follow. The two people to dedicate themselves each strip off one sleeve, exposing their arm. The arm chosen usually is decided by the type of dedication to be done. Lovers expose the left arm, as it is closest to the heart, while men swearing fealty to their lord will expose their right arm, which is associated with strength and holding a weapon. A thin metal rod is heated in the fires, and on this rod is attached a small metal unicorn head about a thumbwidth in size, which is also heated. The rod is held forth by the cleric and the two individuals press the inner side of their forearms together with the unicorn head between them. The resulting scar in the shape of a unicorn head on each arm binds the two together for eternity. It is because of this that obviously the Duke does not partake of the ceremony himself, for he would have hundreds of scars on his arm from nobles swearing allegiance to him. On the rare occasion that the Duke does consent to this, as in a betrothal or even accepting of fealty from a particularly important noble, then this ceremony is private and held in the Foirostra, using the sacred flame.
Myth/Lore. Many tales are traded from Salsair's past, the most famous of course being the story of its founding:
The Founding of Salsair. It is said that
King Salaman was traveling across the Aurora Fields with his contingent of
horse warriors and immense horse herd, when they drove the herd to the
mouth of the Aelunn River to water them. Salaman’s wife, Salsai became so
enamoured of the location that she stated that she had finally found the
spot where she could put down roots and raise the king's children. It is
said that although as a true Centoraurian, Salaman could not understand
her desire to stay in one spot rather than the nomadic way of her people,
he was so much in love with her that he was unable to deny her every whim.
He chose a prime spot on a rise overlooking the sandbars that were home to
the local fishermen, and he built her a palace that all who saw it were
envious. This must have made her quite happy, for she bore him 15
children, all boys but two.
Another legend of the Sunken City is related as follows:
The Offering. It is said that immediately
after the storms and floods that caused part of the city to sink beneath
the waters of Lake Aelignós, that the clerics of Salsair begged the Duke
to make offerings to the Twelve where the city had disappeared and many of
the city's inhabitants had perished. The Duke, whose own daughter was one
of those who had died, angrily refused and cursed the gods. The clerics
were dismayed and ominously predicted dire consequences for the Duke's