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Selhomarrian Settlements

by Geoff Gander

This section will discuss the distribution of the Selhomarrian population, and the appearance and structure of their homes.

Due to their long settlement on Suridal, most Selhomarrians live in cultivated, well-settled regions. Villages and towns literally dot the landscape, and the network of roads connecting them would look much like a spider's web from above. Despite this fact, however, there are still many open spaces free of settlement, as well as pristine woodlands.

The majority of Selhomarr's Lhomarrian population of about five million lives in such seemingly-innumerable towns and villages, while around 628,000 people live in the capital and other large towns and cities. Most of the population (about 45%) are farmers or herdsmen, while another 30% are involved in fishing, and another 1% are miners. The remainder are politicians, shopkeepers, blacksmiths, soldiers, and other sorts of more urban tradespeople, who live in the cities.

Most Lhomarrian houses are single-storey affairs, being built of stone and covered with plaster. Most often, the outside walls are covered with colourful murals and frescoes depicting heroic scenes or beautiful visions, or even telling a story. Even the smallest homes will have some such adornment - a home is just not a home without it, according to the Lhomarrians. As a result, the streets of any reasonably-sized settlement are virtually a riot of colour, as images of all sorts crowd each other on buildings. The roofs of buildings are also colourful, built as they are of baked clay tiles of various shades of red and brown. The average Lhomarrian would find settlements on the surface world to be drab by comparison.

The layout of the average Lhomarrian home is based upon the idea of a courtyard - all of the rooms open onto a pillared central room, which is often open to the sky at its centre - though there is often a means of covering the opening during storms. Most Lhomarrians decorate their interior walls by hanging family heirlooms on them, or by growing small plants in hanging planters, so that the leaves and stems grow to cover portions of them. The tiled stone floors are often covered with carpets, and brass lanterns often hang from the ceiling in each room. Lhomarrian furniture is almost always wooden, and functional in appearance, though many do sport the occasional decorative painting or carving on them. Great use is often made of tables and benches - they are present in almost every room of a house.

In larger settlements, where space is at more of a premium, it is possible to find taller buildings - some up to three storeys high. Even with the greater height, many buildings have decorative images on their surfaces, with some of the tallest buildings being used to tell epic poems and tales using colourful pictures. These taller buildings often lack the central chamber common in single dwellings, though there is often a large room somewhere in the building where people may gather to talk or relax. In most cases, the ground floor houses a business of some sort, while the upper floors are occupied by the family of the business owner, tenants, or both. The roads are also different in proper towns and cities. While all roads are paved in Selhomarr, they widen considerably in urban areas - sometimes wide enough to accommodate four horse-drawn wagons abreast. Frequently, trees and shrubs are planted along the middle of the road.

One feature that remains constant in almost every settlement is the temple of Xeron. In the centre of each urban area, there will be a central intersection, in the middle of which a temple to Xeron is built. Unlike the other buildings, temple walls are unadorned, built of the purest quartz - seeming to glow in their own right. The interiors are truly inspiring, with graceful pillars and statues, and rows of polished wooden benches upon which the devoted may pray.

Ilarnnian Settlements and Buildings:

Compared to the Lhomarrian towns and cities, Ilarnnian ones are a study in contrasts. Where Lhomarrian buildings are brightly painted and spacious, Ilarnnian structures are far more subdued, bordering on austere. In most Ilarnnian towns, the streets are very narrow - no wider than two chariots at most, thronging with people and dotted with tiny merchant stalls. Ilarnnian architecture is also notably different - buildings tend to be tall and thin, with three storeys being the average height, and most roofs being dome-shaped. The facades of most buildings are unadorned by Lhomarrian standards - there are no frescoes, and few statues. Instead, most buildings are whitewashed, with the outer walls so clean that they almost shine in the eternal sunlight. Only hand-painted signs, in the curling Ilarnnian script, indicate what the various buildings contain, whether they are shops, taverns, government offices, or private dwellings.

Another unique feature of Ilarnnian settlements is that many buildings are linked at upper floors by narrow stone bridges. Most often this is the case for public buildings, where several adjacent buildings receive a lot of traffic between them. Most of these bridges cross the streets themselves, giving the average street a very "busy" appearance, with people going about their business in all directions, both on the ground and above it.

Ilarnnian rural dwellings also have this crowded aspect. Even the smallest village will be a collection of tall, narrow buildings (perhaps two or three storeys), centred around narrow streets. Farms will be located outside the "urban" core, as well as any other buildings such as storehouses, stables, and the like. As a result, Ilarnnian farmers do not actually live on the land they till. These farmlands are separated neatly by low stone walls, and are arranged in a hub-and-spoke pattern, with the residential zone as the hub.

Unlike the interiors of Lhomarrian buildings, which are centred around a courtyard, Ilarnnian interiors are a hive-like collection of rooms of varying sizes, separated by fine cloth curtains. Generally speaking, most rooms are very sparse as far as furnishings are concerned, with small pieces of furniture, ornate lanterns, and elegant carpets serving as the main forms of decoration. The most common items of furniture are cushioned stools, low tables, shelves, and sleeping palettes. Also present are low, ornate cabinets and cupboards, which are used to contain the personal belongings of the occupants. In most rooms the walls are not decorated, though they are often painted in vibrant colours, such as red, gold, green, or blue.

The most important room in an Ilarnnian home is the kitchen, which is also where the family will meet to socialise. This arrangement is also repeated in taverns and other public houses; kitchens are not separated from common rooms. In both cases, large braziers and ornate stoves are set in the centre of the room, while the surrounding area is filled with stools and low tables. Family members, or patrons in the case of taverns, will relax around the periphery of the room, while the cook prepares the meal. Even when the occupants are finished eating, the kitchen serves as a place to relax and socialise, often well into the night.