THE PORT VARCOPAS ("TOWN OF MANY BLOOMS")

INTRODUCTION - DESCRIPTION - LOCATION - PEOPLE - GOVERNMENT - COAT OF ARMS
CLIMATE - FLORA - FAUNA - RESOURCES - OCCUPATIONS - BELIEFS - MYTH/LORE

Varcopas or Yómerinái (meaning "Many Blooms" in Styrásh) as their inhabitants often call it lovingly for its flowers growing there in abundance, is a city of great beauty despite its remarkable size. Its location at the northern tip of the Ráhaz-Dáth peninsula (reaching into the Aetryam Sea) and its natural harbour made it to one of the most important trading-towns and trans-shipment centres of Southern Santharia quite early and it kept this position till today. Underwater cliffs reaching from the Cape of Vaiavath till the western edge of the Narfost Cliffs not only break the heavy storms coming from the northwest, but make a hostile take-over nearly impossible.

Though representing one of the oldest known settlements in southern Santharia dating back to times where history merges with myth, Varcopas is one of the most modern and technically advanced cities of our times. Varcopas not only provides the whole northern Ráhaz-Dáth with the cities of Bardavos and Uderza with goods, but it is the main supplier for wares of every kind for the whole province of Sanguia with the capital New-Santhala. Their good relations and close collaboration with the elves of Elving were very helpful in difficult times and one of the the reasons, that the upcoming Avennorian presence on the coast in the Gulf of Maraya with their major port town Ravenport never was a real threat for Varcopas.

It is dominant in the trade with Nybelmar, competing here only with Milkengrad. Goods from Aeruillin brought by ships from Strata or Thalambath are traded here before they continue their way to Milkengrad and farther up, or at least the ships from the south or the north have to pay for using the harbour facilities.

Varcopas is famous for its white houses with blue roofs, but even more for the abundance of trees, flowering climbers and - especially as the gate to the biggest desert on the Southern Sarvonian continent - for its abundance of water in the form of fountains and wells. However, what impresses the first time visitor most, are the tall windmills with their white graciously rotating wings lining up at the heights mainly in in the west on the Varcopas rim, but in the north and south as well.

With over 130.000 citizens Varcopas is one of the biggest towns in Santharia and attracting more and more people. Where Ciosa became with the time a centre of astronomy and astrology, Varcopas always focussed on more practical things. So many inventions like the printing press developed in this century, the way how to polish granite and other stones effectively some centuries ago back to the first windmills who are said had their place on the height between peak Cáeymerín and the Cape of Váiaváth are made here, though not necessarily by Varcopasians. The attractiveness of the town, its southern sunny flair combined with the abundance of water, the open minds and the genuine friendliness of their inhabitants persuaded many to stay, who had intended only a short visit.

Introduction. Thousands of tiny jewels are glistening in the first rays of the Injèrá, which is climbing slowly over the horizon formed by the huge trees of the Sharadon Forest. Her first rays grace the sleeping town in her best dress - a myriad of water drops catch the sun's light. They are hanging in the creepers and climbers which are framing the white walls of any Varcopasian house and sparkle as if their only purpose is to praise the "Queen of all Cities" like the Varcopasians call their city.

The bright coloured blossoms of the creepers which are shading the streets when Injèrá has reached the climax of her path over the blue sphere are opening in the warmth of a beginning day, bringing an anticipation of the wonders of the not far away Cloud Forests.

Mysterious moisture is evaporating from the forests surrounding the city in little puffy clouds. It is soon licked away by the Injèrá's rays, who warms up the blue roofs and wakes up the numerous birds. The blue sparrows are starting their morning songs and the elf cat is stretching her back to greet a new day. Yómerinái awakes.


Description. Varcopas is a city which surprises the first time visitor regardless which way he is coming, by ship from Milkengrad or Thalambath or the land way from Uderza and Bardavos. Suddenly, if you reach the Uderza Heights east of Varcopas or are rounding the Cape Váiaváth, the city lies in front of you: Splendid white, with blue roofs and trees looking like green dots, interwoven with coloured ligaments. Beautiful and proud ships are slightly moving up and down in the surprisingly clear water of the harbour, on the far Varcopas rim the white wings of the tall windmills are rotating gently in every breeze and the slender white lighttower on Cape Váiaváth greets the travellers.

Finally arrived, the town impresses the traveller with its wealth. The majority of the buildings, the big seven storey houses for storing goods near the harbour, the partly monumental buildings of trade and business behind in the north-western part, or the majestic villas of the richest inhabitants in the southern, hilly part of the city are built of the mostly white granite found in the nearby hills. Not only that: Unique for most of Santharia, even the roads are paved with this stone, though you can see differences in the size used of the single piece. In general the bigger the stone pieces are in front of your house and the more even cut the wealthier you are. However, some time ago it got more common to make beautiful ornaments with smaller pieces, maybe with an inlay of an imported light pink, green, blue or black variety. Farther out to the rim of the town the houses get smaller, but even there, at least parts of the houses are built with the Varcopas granite. The stone, only used for the framing of doors and windows is beautiful carved - as if they want to make up with elegance what lacks at the sheer amount of stone built in. Normal people who can‘t afford too many stones have smaller houses build out of clay. But these are covered with white painted plaster and try to imitate their bigger, wealthier brothers. These houses are found mainly at the western outskirts, built high up in the slope of the Varcopas rim.

As all houses are white - be they out of white granite or covered with plaster and painted white - nearly all houses have blue roofs. All are covered with clay tiles which are produced locally, except the most expensive Uderza blue ones, which are imported directly from the Shendar town. The blue may differ and reach from sou‘cald blue over xazure to waterberry blue, in between is even a light Baveras eye or vontramarin, though these varieties are seen as cheaper and you won‘t find them in the richer parts of the city. The closer the colour is to the true Uderza blue, the better.

Staying on ground level, the next thing a visitor will encounter are the stairs. Even where the ground is not as steep that stairs would be necessary, there is a step now and then, in equal distance if possible, to raise the road level. Nearly all roads except near the harbour are built like this, be it the small side ways or the main roads. This makes driving on the four wheeled vehicles sometimes a bit difficult - though it is possible. Varcopas solved this problem with giving a common occupation a new meaning: The carrier (see below). Return to the top


Location. Situated on the north-western tip of the Ráhaz-Dáth region, the most southern part of the Sarvonian continent, Varcopas was built in one of the best places for an important harbour. Its bay, showing to the southeast to the Herrings Bay is literally a "harbour", protecting the ships and town from the sometimes wild storms coming in from the Aetryam Sea. The Nirmenith Mountain range provides it with plenty of water in a generally arid region. The Varcopas rim protects the back of the town. It is a ridge reaching from the (higher) peak Sava to the peak Cáeymerín, after a several steep initial peds gently falling down to the east coast, where the city lies. The western slope of the Varcopas rim however is a vertical wall, impossible to climb for any hostile intruder. In the north, the coastline from the peak Cáeymerín to the Cape of Váiaváth is as steep as the Varcopas rim, and the cliffs from the Cape Váiaváth to the Narfost Cliffs protect the harbour itself. Ships can enter only with the help of a learned guide. So Varcopas may be the only town in Santharia without protecting gates.

A well built and maintained road to Uderza and Bardavos keeps the trade flowering. Dasai never was a threatening concurrence: The Narfost Cliffs don‘t allow easily to provide Bardavos, Uderza and the northern Ráhaz-Dáth with goods. However, Varcopas is now - together with Lorehaven - door to northern Brendolan and the eastern part of Manthria with the port town of Klinsor and connections till Marcogg and Ciosa. To New-Santhala and Sanguia the trading bonds are already strong for a long time with the Thaehelvil River providing an easy way of transport, with the Eyelian town Chylikis as reloading port onto smaller ships suitable for the river firm in Varcopasian hands. (Chylikis, the Eyelian town, has always been a base for the Varcopasian trade. In the last centuries it advanced to Varcopas' main partner in the ship building business, with Varcopas providing it with the needed financial support for a good start.) The town elders always kept good relations to the elves of Elving and their important harbour at the northern coast of the Gulf of Maraya, trying to outwit the concurring Ravenport.

Still wondering about the stairs and steps, the next to admire are the fountains and wells. They are innumerable. At every crossing a bigger fountain or well is in the middle of the road, forcing the people to go round - or take another rest. Nearly every house has a small fountain in its outer wall often in form of an animal carved in stone providing drinkable water. The water is coming from the nearby hills and mountains and is guided in special buildings called water guides into the town. There it does not run openly, but in covered canals and pipes till it has reached its destination, a fountain or a well. These canals provide the pressure needed to produce the fountains. A second set of canals carries the "used" water away - and with it any debris such a big town produces. An ingenious system of collecting and deposing the dirty water masses through a tunnel through the Varcopas rim with the help of the daily tide makes Varcopas one of the cleanest cities.

Though the stoney city is impressive in itself, with the biggest houses in the city centre up to eleven storeys, it gets its charm through its trees and climbing plants of all colours. Space is scarce, though the roads are broad and there are enough places to gather. So not many gardens are found in the centre of the city, but mainly trees and climbers, which use every tiny space between two stone pieces to grow and climb up a wall - or a tree. Small ropes and other ranking devices help the plants to grow in an even wider area as naturally would be possible. On the roof-terraces and sometimes even in the walls space for some soil is provided, so that the creepers can flourish everywhere. Many smaller roads are shaded as a whole, having a pink , blue or orange flower-ceiling. Some roads are named after the colour of the dominate climber growing there. The town reaches now into the nearby hills, where the houses get smaller and gardens are seen more often. Who can afford it has a second, smaller house with a garden near the Uderza Heights.

The harbour is now divided into two parts: To the right, northern side, the big oversee vessels call, along with smaller auxiliary ships which gather near the Cliff of Váiaváth. Most of the huge harbour facilities handling the trade with the big towns of northern and southern Santharia are situated on the northern coastline, the storing houses, the taverns and inns and the craftsmen who are known as very skilled in repairing and maintaining big ships.

To the left, where Baveras' Rock is protruding into the water, most smaller ships call now at the beach- port, where fish and goods from the other port towns around the Gulf of Maraya are traded or just reloaded to be brought to the big oversee ships in the main harbour. The once noble houses and little gardens on the other side of the road along the coast, the former promenade, have vanished to make room for the trading halls for fish, vegetables and goods from all over the region. The famous beach with palm like trees growing near the water is still stretching till the Uderza Heights, but now footbridges are built into the sea to make unloading the various goods easier.

The terrain in general is first raising slightly up the hills in the west and south till it gets especially very steep in the west and at the slopes of the peak Cáeymerín and peak Sava - allowing a good view over the whole city. While the northern part rises constantly up to the council hall, behind which the very steep slopes of the peak Cáeymerín are reaching into the sky, the southern part has low hills, though they are all covered now with buildings and not as clearly distinguishable like in former times. At the southern border of the town a natural vertical wall is rising up for about hundred peds, the northern side of the Steeprock.

The northern part of the city is the centre of business and craftsmanship. A bit farther away from the waterline than the storing facilities, the representatives of the trading houses of other provinces and towns have their palaces, even further back are the buildings of the handcrafts which are conducted in a bigger style than usual, like f.e. the printing company, who is the first address if you want to publish your book.

The southern part of the town is gentler. The temple of the Twelve crowns it, standing on the highest elevation. Gathered round it are the houses of the wealthiest of the citizens and those of the nobles of other provinces and major towns, who reside here permanently, either looking after the trading interests of their families, or - living in an embassy - sent to represent and assure the political interests of their governments.

People. Other than Strata whose inhabitants are descendants of former Shendar and the people coming with Drafas Tristin, Varcopas was in the beginning a town where mainly Shendar settled. The local fishermen, who resided there already when the Darians (who renamed themselves later to Shendar) came from the north, were soon outnumbered with the increasing number of refugees from the north. The pleasure of trading however was strong and the fisher town developed after a few centuries to a small trading centre. With this opening to the outside world members of other tribes and even races settled in Varcopas, though it was just a small number for a long time. Today the town hosts a great diversity of people. The former Shendar who settled here found a new identity calling themselves first Shendarian and then Varcopans and only much later Stratanians when joining the Stratanian Kingdom. Most prefer to call themselves just citizens of Varcopas or Yómerináians, Varcopans however are only called those of Shendar origin. Now only a bit more of half of the citizens are of Shendar origin, around seven out of ten are human, one elven and the other a mix of all races. The living together of such a diversity of people taught their inhabitants to be open-minded and tolerant. Adding the genuine friendliness of the Shendar made Varcopas to one of the most agreeable towns to live in, despite its size. Though the access to knowledge is not comparable with that of New-Santhala with its huge library harbouring the big Compendium, but sufficient for most of its citizens. Especially the museums are well visited and the Yómerináians are under the best educated people in whole Santharia, even the lower classes of the population. Varcopas was one of the first cities to introduce public free schools for all citizens, when Tiandor, the current king stipulated this for the whole Kingdom of Santharia.

Crime is very low for a port town, for earning the livelihood is easier than elsewhere, work is available for everybody who is willing to strain oneself and the quarries of the town as alternative if caught are something to fear.

Another aspect which is liked very much by its inhabitants are the numerous inns and taverns all over the town, which provide their customers with music, often from the very early morning on. Here Varcopas profits from the nearby Bardavos, which not often looses its musicians to Varcopas, just because they are better paid here. Bardavos surely has a much higher standard concerning the music made there - but the streets are filled here in the city of springs and fountains with music as in Bardavos - and nobody minds a wrong tune. In the evening, when the Injèrá is about to set, but when it is still clear enough, most citizens gather on the streets and enjoy themselves by music and vine and sweets from all over the world, depending on the size of one's purse.

Often people wonder, how a town which displays such a merriness and suggest an easy way of living, can be so successful in trading and business. The answer not many want to hear: It is the lead of the woman - openly displayed, but mostly hidden, which has made this possible. Arina Kirinar, a daughter of Varcopas, writer and researcher has stated in her book "Rise and Fall of Kingdoms - About the Advantage of Females as Leaders":

"Varcopas is so successful, because its leaders never tried to force anybody in something they didn‘t want, be it a single person, nor a town or a whole kingdom. They always prefer the diplomatic way over the warfare, they pay higher prizes for a good they want instead of ruining their trade partners with dumping prices. They preferred to spend their money on defence than on aggressive means to get hold of something. That saved them money they could invest effectively in more promising enterprises. Varcopas never had a fleet able to attack any other port or country. Their defence was always the speed and durability of their ships. They preferred to research how to keep the sailors alive and healthy on long voyages rather than trying to invent catapults which might transport the missiles a bit farther. ..“ (Vol. 1, p. 143)

And in the second volume she continues: "The inventions: The Varcopasians are not cleverer than other people in Santharia concerning the invention of new things, but they know how to deal with people, they have an eye for promising things and a feeling for which persons have the trait of a genius. They spare no effort to make their guest workers feel at home and promise sometimes high sums to those they deem interesting for moving to Varcopas. Best example is the caving out of the Steeprock to get comfortable living quarters for the dwarves they wanted to hire to build the sewer systems some centuries ago. They didn‘t hesitate to spend a lot of money and resources to get this done - but it paid out. No other human town can claim to have so many dwarves in their midst." (Vol. 2, p. 219)

-- Arina Kirinar : "Rise and Fall of Kingdoms - About the Advantage of Female Leaders"
Return to the top

Government. Based on their Shendar heritage, mostly women are in the leading positions, in the council the women have always the majority, though they don‘t need to be human, "The First One" has to be always female.

The council: It consists of eleven council members, one of them, called "The First One", presides it and is chosen out of the eleven. In stalemate situations "The First One", which doesn‘t vote normally, will decide. The council chooses a representative of the town, who carries their decisions. It will be most times a man, meeting the needs of male dominated governments in other regions. He is called "The One" or "H‘rul", similar to the Hrul Zhaeón of the Shendar tribe.

The council is elected every seven years. Basically every citizen whose parents are born here have the right to vote, however, they can‘t vote for the council members directly, but chose a female representative of their district. These representatives vote from their midst a part of the members of the council. Seven of the council members are voted like this. The other four represent business and are either elected by the local business or in the case of the representative of the foreign business interests, chosen by his leaders. They could be male, but a female's word might be heard easier. Return to the top

Coat of Arms/Sign. Other as the Shendar, who think, that a coat of arms is something for war faring men, the Varcopasians enjoy seeing their flags flaunting in the air in an array of poles along the harbour. The blue ground of the flag pays tribute to Baveras, the fountain to Grothar. The circle of flowers around the fountain stands for Yómerinái, the many blooms. Return to the top

Climate. Varcopas is gifted with a climate which is not easily reached by any other Sarvonian town. It is south enough, to have always warm days, the temperature falls never to the freezing point, though it can come near that point in winter on a few days. But it is not hot like Bardavos or Uderza or the even more southern located cities like Strata and Thalambath. The sea itself has a balancing effect, and if it should get really hot on a day, a cooling breeze is always coming from the Nirmeniths or the sea. There is plenty of water coming from the mountains around, and the nightly short rainfall washes the dust of the white houses, so that the air is always clean and even the smithies and other craftsmen don‘t manage to pollute it. Sometimes fog is rising from the sea in the early morning, wetting the greenery in the town and ornating it with little tiny, brilliant jewels out of water, but the rising sun licks all away and the fog evaporates in an Uderza blue sky. Return to the top

Flora. Due to the favourite circumstances, creepers like the Lematice, fruit trees of all kinds, ferns and flowers grow abundantly, despite the scarce ground and soil they find. Though the houses and streets are all white, Varcopas is a colourful town all year round. Some claim, the Cloud Forest with its fabulous vegetation has a dependance here. Return to the top

Fauna. If a Varcopasian is asked, what kind of animals are living in his town, he will mention first the birds - especially the Varcopas sparrow (or simply "Varcosparrow"). But there are a great variety of others, and they come in every colour you can imagine, as if they want to compete with the flowers. Brown or grey birds are rarely seen. Of course, the ground has its fauna as well - mice and rats are common, though here are not as many as in other towns of its size, probably due to the sewing system, which carries most debris away. The strange thing is - a lot of mice and rats are white, as if only these have survived, which had enough camouflage on the white paved roads.

For there are hunters as well, though most are held as pets - the cats. The cats haven‘t succumbed to the town, and are not only white or bright coloured, but have the usual range of colours known at cats - with one exception: The white Varcopas elfcat. Some are living wild in the outskirts of the town, but most are - different to their relatives elsewhere - staying with a family, though it is probably better to say, such a cat owns a family than vice versa. They are build like any elfcat, but their fur is snowy white, their eye colour is blue or amber. The usual pattern is still visible as a grey-blue hue - but just, when the sun shines on the fur from the right direction, or in the shadows, when the light is fading - suddenly a cat with the blue of the coming night looks at you with knowing eyes. Return to the top

Resources. Still to be added. Return to the top

Occupations. Only few fisher have survived in the town which started as a fishing village. Traders of all kinds are predominant, and all what comes with trade, especially overseas business. Ships are build, repaired and looked after, the cargo has to be reloaded, counted  stored and sold again. And what ever a big city needs, like bakers, and barbers, blacksmiths, butchers and carpenters, fishmongers, jewellers and pastry cooks, sattlers, tailors and weavers - Varcopas has it. The town is famous for its swordsmiths and well known for its good, but price worthy musical instruments. Bookmaking is as common as the production of drapery. The city is well looked after by a group of healers, which are paid by the government, especially the Dalorins have a big school here - the demand for them is great. However, here you find more masons and sculptors than in any other town, due to the stone found here and worked with. Very important highly paid are the "seekers" through the cliffs, who need to guide the ships into the harbour. Two special occupations however, probably not found elsewhere, are the carrier and the funiculator.

The main occupations are organised in guilds, which provide security for the individual worker and guarantees a high standard of the product.

Due to the mainly flat stairs, but stairs nevertheless, an occupation has developed in Varcopas which is in this amount and variety not seen elsewhere: the Carrier. In general all forms are similar: One to twelve men carry with different devices people, goods, what ever is needed up and down the streets, either walking or if is an urgent transport - running. There is a competition between carrier teams, which team is the quickest and at the same time smoothest to carry the freight. A competition is held every year in Passing Clouds where the teams have to solve different tasks. Types of carriers can be summarized as follows:

Beliefs. In Varcopas can find every religion you can think of, for the diversity of people and their beliefs is nowhere else greater, for everybody is allowed to follow his own belief. However, like elsewhere on the big southern peninsula, mainly the Twelve are worshipped, though out of these Baveras, Grothar and Seyella are favoured most. The Yómerináians have additional temples to the one for the Twelve in the centre of the southern city. Even Avá, the elven goddess has a place of religious worship here on top of peak Sava, though it is not visited often, and only by the elves of Varcopas - most people don‘t know, that peak Sava is named after the Dreamer and is just a short form of peak sá Avá ("She, who is Avá").

In the north-western half of the town a temple is built for the foreign gods. Though the building is very well built and good to look at, there are not many specific symbols pointing to any foreign gods except for the Aeoliran gods and the Nybelmarian Mari. The empty rooms are waiting for any foreign traveller, to bring his own items of religious worship. Return to the top


Myth/Lore. Still to be added. Return to the top

Information provided by Talia Sturmwind View Profile