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HRISSOPOLI (City-State of)
Location: Continent of Davania, east of Adakkian Mountains, west of Meghala Kimata Plains. DV
Area: Approx. 600 sq. mi. (1,555 sq. km.).
Population: 21,000 (with another 10,000 living on the surrounding farms and villages).
Languages: Milenian (Hrissopolian dialect), Rakasta.
Coinage: Crown (gp), laurel (sp), shield (cp).
Taxes: Citizens have their total worth assessed every year, and are taxed 20% of that amount.
Government Type: Monarchy.
Industries: Agriculture (wheat and vegetables), crafts, fishing, mining, sheep.
Important Figures: Katamvos (Khatambe) XXXIX (King), Androsius Tyropolikos (High Priest).
Flora and Fauna: The city of Hrissopoli sits in a grassy valley, whose soils produce ample crops thanks to irrigation and plentiful rivers. Along with the fields of corn, wheat, and potatoes found scattered about, passers-by will notice many varieties of wildflowers, shrubs, and lone trees dotting the hills and mountainsides.
The animals one is likely to encounter here include all manner of grassland wildlife, such as falcons, gazelles, gophers, leopards, snakes, wild horses, and vultures. In the hills one will find many varieties of mountain goat, lynx, and various species of rodent and bird. Also present are scattered orcish tribes in the hills, as well as griffons and hippogriffs.
Further Reading: None.
Description by Marina Takanitas.
Hrissopoli is seldom visited by the merchants of Kastelios; they have little that we cannot get closer to home, and they provide for all their own needs. Still, the readers of the Mystaran Almanac may be interested in what goes on in this remote outpost of civilisation-surrounded as it is by hostile creatures and savages.
Hrissopoli is situated in the middle of a wide valley, which extends southwestwards into the Adakkian Mountains. The valley itself, known in that region as the Valley of the Lions, is covered with tall grasses and the occasional patch of light forest-the latter tend to predominate in the foothills of the Adakkian Mountains. From those heights, numerous streams make their way towards the centre of the valley, where they form the source of the Ristos River, which in turn winds its way northwards towards the Sea of Dread.
Cut off from the moderating breezes of the Sea of Dread by the bulk of the surrounding mountains, the Valley of the Lions is quite hot all year round, with few rainfalls-unlike the Green Coast and Amalur Lowlands, on the other side of the mountains. Were it not for the natural irrigation system provided by the numerous streams pouring into the valley, this place would be quite arid. Nonetheless, the farmers here manage to grow enough crops to feed the populace adequately in most years.
Of all the known city-states in this region of Davania, Hrissopoli is unique, in that it is not governed by those of Milenian heritage. Certainly, the bulk of the populace shares the same ancestry as the denizens of Kastelios, Ilioloosti, and Mivosia; but Hrissopoli is ruled by a rakasta dynasty [they are of the simbasta sub-race. Ed.]. Thus, Hrissopolian society is stratified-humans comprise the working class, the bulk of the city-state's artisans, and the backbone of its army; the rakasta make up the ruling class and dominate the top ranks in the army and clergy. I was surprised to learn that the current high priest is, in fact, of Milenian blood.
This odd state of affairs has persisted as long as any Hrissopolian can remember, and indeed many an old soul can recount the exploits of past rakasta kings, told to them by their aged grandparents when they were young children. Why it should be so is not immediately apparent, but dutiful research, and asking the right people-it takes a competent merchant to root out all the facts-will soon reveal that this division of power has persisted for centuries, as the next section shall show. Suffice it to say that few people question the current state of affairs, after all, the "Katamvian Dynasty" (as it is referred to in proclamations) has provided security to the region, and upheld order. Personally, I think the people here are far too complacent; they seem all too eager to remain in their gilded cages, prospering in what would normally be a dangerous region, while placing their fates in the hands of a race whose motives are unknown to many of us.
A visitor can see the impact this has had on the populace. The Hrissopolians appear to lack the same drive and enlightenment of their cousins in other city-states. Here, you will find no attempts to regain lost glory, to seek out and revive those traditions of our ancestors that were noble, and worthy of emulation. It is as though the people here are content to drift in whatever direction their king dictates, and to fulfil his dreams for this city-state-whatever they may be.
Likewise, the minority rakasta are interesting to observe. Though they often speak their own guttural language when amongst their own kind, they seem to have taken up the local dialect of Milenian quite readily. Indeed, many of them seem to have "Milenianised" their names, such that the king, Khatambe, is often referred to as "Katamvos" by human and rakasta alike. Many rakasta have also adopted the local dress and habits as well, wearing light, loosely-belted tunics, and lounging about the city's agora to discuss whatever is on their minds. I would note, however, that both races still largely keep to themselves, though the lower-caste rakasta mix more freely with the higher-status humans.
One interesting thing I have heard (in private) is that the current king, Katamvos XXXIX, is in fact not the real king! It is rumoured that, due to centuries of exclusivity, many of the most powerful rakasta families (including that of the king) are severely inbred. Some people think the powerful, noble rakasta who makes proclamations and public appearances is in fact a stand-in, who follows the commands of the senior officials of the royal household. If this is true, then the true king could be a drooling idiot hidden away somewhere. Needless to say, this rumour is considered highly treasonous.
Hrissopoli was founded circa BC 400, initially as a rest stop for caravans bearing ore from the Adakkian Mountains to the heartland of the Milenian Empire. Over time, more people settled here, drawn by the relatively hospitable climate and the rich veins of silver in the surrounding hills. The increasing population led to a need to open the surrounding lands for cultivation, though the soils were drier than those of the Green Coast to the north, and the region surrounding the great Meghalo Fithi River, which was to Milenia as the Mesonian River is to modern Thyatis. Engineers from Ilioloosti were brought in to design a great network of aqueducts and irrigation channels (many of which are still in use today) to increase the yield of the region's soils. This grand undertaking drew more people, until the great city of Hrissopoli, by BC 200, boasted 67,000 people within its walls, and a great number in the surrounding countryside. So magnificent was this city that the emperor proclaimed that it should become the new capital of the Province of Kytheria-thus relegating the smaller city of Sybaris (the former capital) to a lesser role in the empire.
For another 100 years and more, Hrissopoli became synonymous with mineral wealth, along with its sister city of Cyclonia, which lay further to the south. This was not to last long, however; with the collapse of central authority in the remaining decades before the crowning of the first emperor of Thyatis, the city found itself in peril. The once-vigilant garrisons that protected the flanks of the empire from the ever-present humanoid threat faltered due to corruption and infighting, and the long-suppressed hordes of orcs, and worse creatures, thundered into the valley and seized whatever plunder they could find. Within weeks of the initial attack, all but Hrissopoli had fallen to the monstrous raiders, and those Milenians who were not able to flee had been put to the sword ruthlessly. Despite great efforts on the part of the city's defenders, Hrissopoli's gates were thrown asunder, and the invaders had their share of loot, though they lost many warriors in doing so.
Hrissopoli's story would have ended then, were it not for the rapaciousness of the raiders, who, in obtaining what they wanted, soon squabbled over the spoils. Taking this opportunity for one last attempt to regain control of the city, the remaining defenders rallied and, against all odds, managed to push the humanoids out of the city, and drive them back into the hills. The years that followed were dark ones-only one-fifth of the populace remained within the partly-ruined walls, and the source of Hrissopoli's wealth, the silver mines, were no longer accessible; many monsters still roamed those areas. Thus, Hrissopoli settled into what its historians called the Long Night, during which more raids were suffered, but none of the ferocity of the initial one. It was not long after one of these attacks, circa AC 300, when a great band of rakasta came out of the east, and, after surveying the partly-ruined city, offered the inhabitants a choice: either they could submit to rakasta authority and live in peace, or they could die. The Hrissopolians, all too aware of their precarious situation, acquiesced to the rakasta's demands, and opened their gates to them. Since that time, the senior male of the ruling family of that tribe (who always goes by the name Khatambe) has been king of Hrissopoli.
Since that time (since named the Dawning), Hrissopoli has slowly regained its strength, its armies led by powerful rakasta generals and a series of decisive kings, and under that protection the city began the slow and painful process of rebuilding-unaccompanied by the fear of humanoid raiders. Though the rakasta initially held themselves apart from their human subjects, some cultural exchange was inevitable: many rakasta began to worship the Milenian Immortals, and to adopt some trappings of the remnants of Milenian civilisation. Likewise, the humans became accustomed to the rakasta hierarchy and legal tradition. Under the guidance of the Katamvian Dynasty, Hrissopoli has reasserted control over its surroundings, and has even managed to regain control over the nearby hills-thus allowing some mining to resume, and for some of the aqueducts and irrigation channels to be restored.
It was not until AC 760 when, after undergoing centuries of recovery itself, explorers from the city-state of Ilioloosti came upon the Valley of the Lions, and Hrissopoli itself. The rakasta rulers, though eager to see their dominion grow in strength, have always been wary of outsiders, especially those from other city-states. They fear that prolonged contact with these other states will expose their subjects to foreign ideas-ones which might involve the abolition of the Katamvian Dynasty. Nevertheless, trade now exists between Hrissopoli and Ilioloosti, and some caravans from Kastelios are now beginning to make their way here, taking with them samples of fine silver work and rakasta art, as well as rare nuts.
Although a pleasant city with clean streets and tidy, well-maintained buildings, Hrissopoli lacks many of the inspiring monuments and sights that may be found in Kastelios, or other places. Many have deteriorated over the ages, or have been replaced by the ruling rakasta in favour of testaments to their own power. The Lake of Heroes, a great man-made pool rimmed with marble pillars, is said to have been filled with the statues of legendary figures from Hrissopoli's history, but at some time in the past these statues were knocked down. Today, a grand likeness of King Khatambe I rises from the pool. Elsewhere, within the Great Temple of Halav, which dominates the Hill of Hrissos, the once-legendary frescoes depicting that Immortal's triumphs have been replaced by those featuring past rakasta kings receiving holy blessings. Despite these changes, which have been accepted by the clergy of Halav, the temple is still a sight worth seeing.
Another interesting place to visit is the reservoir, which is the main junction of all the man-made channels and aqueducts that carry water from the rivers and mountains into Hrissopoli itself. While the reservoir is not grand to look at, being a great catch basin, from which pipes run to supply the town with water at public wells, it is remarkable in that such an engineering feat was completed so long ago, and still functions to this day! I do not know the volume of water carried by that system, but it must be great.
Although Hrissopoli is a fairly safe place, there are a number of places that should be avoided. First, visitors may not enter the palace grounds uninvited, under pain of expulsion from the city-state (if unarmed), or death (if the interloper was armed at the time). I find such a law highly restrictive, but nonetheless it is enforced. Second, care should be taken not to venture too far into the wilderness, unless you are armed. The lands immediately surrounding Hrissopoli are well-settled and productive farmland, but further out, the land grows wild, and it is known to be populated by all manner of dangerous creatures. Unarmed visitors wishing to take a hike in the hills may hire a guard at a reasonable rate (5 sp per day, more if anything dangerous is encountered), but otherwise are responsible for their own safety.
Finally, on the south side of Hrissopoli, sealed away by a sturdy wall, is a remnant of the old city. Although overgrown and weathered by centuries of neglect, many locals claim that the ruins contain forgotten treasures, waiting for someone brave enough to reclaim them. On occasion, a young man or woman, brimming with optimism, passes through the well-guarded gate, eager to seek their fortune. Few return, but some of those lucky enough to do so bring back jewellery, ancient coins, weapons, and other valuables. Many think that the ruins are filled with all manner of undead... and worse things.