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Ilioloosti (City-State of)
Location: Continent of Davania, western Meghala Kimata Plains.
Area: Approx. 1,100 sq. mi. (2,850 sq. km.).
Population: 32,000 (18,700 in Ilioloosti, 13,300 living in scattered villages and towns).
Languages: Milenian (Ilioloostian dialect).
Coinage: Danorii (gp), vesta (sp), pirnii (cp).
Taxation: All citizens are taxed at 20% of their assessed worth once per year (Kaldmont 28).
Government Type: Oligarchy, some democratic elements.
Industries: Agriculture (primarily wheat, fruits, and corn), sheep, crafts.
Important Figures: None known.
Flora and Fauna: The plant life present around Ilioloosti is what one would normally expect for a riverside region-being largely of such water plants as lily pads, papyrus and reeds, plus a midget variety of what is known to some people as the Cestian gobbler. On land one can see many species of grass, including large patches of grab grass, as well as the occasional piece of shrubbery. Among the trees present here are oak, olive, and pine. Not far from the city there is a large oak grove, which serves as the home for a very old treant.
The more exotic animals that may be encountered around Ilioloosti include blink dogs, displacer beasts, griffons, hippogriffs, and any type of giant insect. Among the more organized humanoids, tribes of bugbears, hobgoblins, and orcs have been spotted in the region numerous times in the past. Also, a large group of over one hundred minotaurs is known to inhabit a large group of hills west of the city; little contact has been established with them, but the city's leadership is aware of their existence. Further southeast, several tribes of rakasta are known to exist; contact with them is sporadic, but peaceful.
Further Reading: Previous almanacs.
Description by Marina Takanitas.
If there is any other city-state in northern Davania that I could call home-a place where I would not mind living-then that place would be Ilioloosti. For many traders, especially those from Kastelios, Ilioloosti represents the proverbial end of the road; it is the last outpost of civilisation before one enters the great vastness of the Meghala Kimata Plains. It is also the last "friendly" city-state towards the southeast. Beyond Ilioloosti lies the city-state of Mivosia, which does not welcome foreigners, and beyond that lies far-off Polakatsikes, which is now under the sway of the Heldannic Knights, whose true disposition no one knows. Aside from these other large settlements, there is nothing but the occasional town or village, and empty lands filled with danger. Ilioloosti is also not without its own pleasures, which I will endeavour to show you now.
Ilioloosti is built at the confluence of the Meghalo Fithi and the Milenia Rivers, where the latter river meets the Meghalo as a sort of tributary as it heads northwards towards the Sea of Dread. The city itself is built upon a small plateau that overlooks the rivers, and is connected with its satellite communities through a system of tunnels leading down to ground level. The various towns and villages that make up the rest of this city-state line the river banks, and in many ways serve as ports for Ilioloosti proper. The most important satellite communities within the city-state's borders are Thyrae, Ellipidemos, and Kamenius, all of which lie to the east. From the riverbanks, the land slowly rises in altitude until Ilioloosti's central plateau is reached.
The land itself is quite rich, as it is well-watered by the rivers and enriched by their deposits of silt from upstream. Because it is not too far inland, and there are no significant obstacles to the breezes that blow in from the northwest, Ilioloosti's climate is quite pleasant. It is too far from the desert to be subjected to its drying winds, and it is too far inland to be hit by the worst of the humid weather patterns that hit much of the northwestern coast of Davania. As a result, Ilioloosti's climate is quite similar to that of the region around Kastelios, though noticeably warmer, and slightly drier.
The people of Ilioloosti are very much a people in search of their past. From the lowliest artisan to the most revered philosopher, almost everyone within the city proper strives to some degree to rediscover what was lost after the collapse of the Milenian Empire. Whenever anyone uncovers a long-forgotten fashion style, an archaic Milenian word, or a piece of art or a tool thought long lost, many others will try to mimic it as soon as possible, and otherwise add it to the slowly growing list of what the Ilioloostian philosophers call "recovered history." Because of this ever-present search for knowledge, many educated Ilioloostian travellers seldom travel without a writing implement and some paper, just in case they run across something worth recording. When an Ilioloostian rediscovers something thought lost, or discovers something new, he or she is honoured as a hero.
In many ways, the people of this city-state view the time of the Milenian Empire as a golden age, one in which they say their city was a great centre of knowledge. As a result, many people in this city-state are trying to reinstate many of the old customs and traditions, with varying degrees of success. The result of this is fascinating-on any given day, an observer in Ilioloosti can see centuries' worth of history walk by them, as fashions and customs throughout Milenian history parade by them. Truly, the Ilioloostians, with their olive complexions and motley assortments of clothing, are an unforgettable sight. There are some in this city who are following the more successful route taken by my people in Kastelios-adapting those traditions that are desirable to modern situations.
I found it odd that this one city-state should have such a drive to rebuild what was destroyed a thousand years ago, but then I saw the answer in the faces of the people: hope. Unlike Kastelios, with its growing connections to the outside world, Ilioloosti exists on the very periphery of existence in many ways. Nothing of mention lies beyond this city, according to most people, and even then, what does exist should not be encountered. As a result, the people of this fair city-state feel rather alone. All that protects Ilioloosti is its orderly nature in a rather chaotic region, and its knowledge base. As more lost lore is rediscovered, the people feel more emboldened, better armoured, if you will. With every piece of lore, their philosophers say, the world becomes more comprehensible, more predictable, and more controllable. Although I personally doubt that this is true, the accomplishments of the people of Ilioloosti are nothing short of miraculous.
As I have implied thus far, the Ilioloostians revere both their history and their orderliness. They have taken great pains to preserve many of the ancient tales of old, and, in fact, without their work, the other enlightened city-states, such as Kastelios, would be worse off. These people indeed love their tales-whenever an accomplished storyteller sits down to recite an epic, you can be sure a crowd will coalesce in this city. Anything featuring Milenian history is of special interest to them, and many of them treat these ancient tales as parables for modern living. For the average Ilioloostian, it seems, history defines the core of a person's being, without which one has no direction.
Likewise, the people of Ilioloosti value order. To them, everything in existence has its own specific place, its own role to fulfil. This extends even to people-some people are meant to lead, while others are created to follow. While this way of thinking might lead one to think of the Ilioloostians as oppressive, it seems they are not. They seem to think that a person is free to move among the social strata if they wish, but that they must be prepared to defer to their superiors in society, whoever they might be. I cannot understand this doctrine myself - I am not a philosopher, nor am I a politician. Kastelios, for all its uncertainty and free-flowing nature, is much more preferable to me.
Ilioloosti was founded circa BC 600 as the capital of the Milenian province of Aesaloniki, and during its heyday only two centuries later, it had a population of 90,000 people. So large was the original city that its suburbs stretched over the Meghalo Fithi and Milenia rivers, which were spanned by no fewer than eighteen bridges. During this time Ilioloosti was known as a centre of philosophical discourse, and as the home of the Great Library, the largest single repository of knowledge in the empire.
This time of prosperity ended in BC 67, when the city was looted and burned by humanoid raiders descending from the Adakkian Mounts to the west. All of the bridges were destroyed, the suburbs were razed, and the Great Library was plundered. Only the Old City survived the attacks, and even then it was over three-quarters destroyed. Of a city that once had 90,000 inhabitants, only 7,000 remained. Here the history of Ilioloosti would have ended, were it not for the determination of the people to fight back and reclaim what was once theirs.
Led by competent generals, the survivors fought the invaders, and managed, after four months, to free their home from their presence. While the able-bodied protected the city, the surviving mathematicians, scientists, wizards, clerics, and philosophers set themselves to the task of preserving what still remained, and rebuilding Ilioloosti. The charred ruins of the Great Library were scoured for scrolls, and the elderly were encouraged to share what they had learned. In this way, Ilioloosti managed to avoid regression into barbarism, and, within twenty years, was clearly on the way to a recovery. During this time, a ruling council was formed, composed of those who were seen as the best-suited to lead the people. These people were capable soldiers, philosophers, wizards, and successful merchants. Using their skills, they guided the people through this difficult time.
Since then, the city has grown greatly. Once more Ilioloosti spread across the rivers, and its influence was carried into nearby towns and villages. In exchange for loyalty to the ruling council, the satellite communities received formerly lost Milenian lore, such as irrigation, advanced construction techniques, education, literacy, and so on. Ilioloosti did not expand very quickly, but those who fell under its sway were not conquered, but were won over. While Ilioloosti was expanding, it remained a backwater compared to other city-states such as Mivosia and Kastelios. This changed in AC 438, when the senior philosophers of the city decided to build what is now the Academy of the Arts, where the Great Library once stood.
Over the following decades, the academy attracted philosophers and sages from all over the region, all of whom added to the lore that was steadily accumulating there. Today, Ilioloosti is once again becoming a centre of learning and reason, as well as a prominent city-state of northern Davania.
Perhaps the most important thing to see in this wonderful city-state is the Academy of the Arts. The academy is renowned throughout the northwestern Meghala Kimata Plains as the foremost institution of learning, where anyone may come to study the various arts and sciences under the tutelage of acknowledged masters, so long as they are able to prove their willingness to learn. The instructors do not discriminate on the basis of race or economic circumstances, but on a prospective student's desire to uncover the mysteries of the world, and to question how it works. The academy specialises in astronomy, history, philosophy, chemistry, physics, literature, biology, and theology, and it has a vast collection of ancient scrolls and tomes-some of which date back to the Milenian Empire, or so I am told. I was very pleasantly surprised to see this wonderful place, for in accumulated lore it far surpasses the libraries of my beloved Kastelios.
Not only is the academy wonderful for what it does; it is also a beautiful building to look at. The Ilioloostian stonemasons have done a pretty good job building the academy to match the classical style of the old empire, with its graceful fluted columns, colourful floor mosaics, and lovely statues and reflecting pools. Were it not for the fact that this building was erected after the fall of the empire, I would almost think I was home in Kastelios.
Another wonderful feature of this city that I was thrilled to see was the great Colossus of Ilioloosti. Ever since I was a child, I have been told of this impressive work of art, and finally I had the chance to see it! An awe-inspiring 80 feet tall, this great bronze statue of Halav was built 500 years ago by Alexandria Karamanes, who was then the most powerful wizardess in the land, as a gift to her home city. Legend has it that in a time of great need, when even the Ilioloosti's greatest heroes fail her, the colossus will come to life and defend the city-state from all who would inflict pain and misery upon the people. Truly a remarkable tale, I think! The colossus stands astride the main gates of the city, which faces north upon the plateau upon which Ilioloosti proper rests. It is especially beautiful during festive days, when garlands of flowers are draped all over the colossus's body.
Not to be missed is the collection of statues of historical philosophers and leaders of the city, which surrounds Alexandria Square, the main market of Ilioloosti. Carved in the plinth of each statue is a brief biography of the person depicted-though those who cannot read Milenian will have a tough time of it! In Alexandria Square, a person may buy almost any good made in the region, whether it be cuisine or some sort of craft.
Another feature of this place lies outside Ilioloosti proper, along the eastern border of the city-state. Here, a long line of towers runs north-south along the eastern fringes of the lands controlled by Ilioloosti. Construction of this 25-mile long fortification was started in AC 1005 and completed around AC 1010, and it consists of towers, small fortresses, and trenches. Each tower or fortress is within visual range of the one next in line, and all are equipped with signal fires and mirrors to pass messages quickly. Ilioloosti's chief rival is Mivosia, and it has weathered many attacks from its eastern enemy, hence the need for these fortifications.
Finally, as with many other city-states, Ilioloosti has its share of fine classical Milenian architecture and decorations, though not so many as Kastelios. Many people from the lands of southeastern Brun find these features inspiring, and indeed they are, but perhaps we are used to them because they are always around us. Still, for all its beauty and tranquillity, Ilioloosti lacks the liveliness, and above all the history, of places like Kastelios, though as a place to stay, and to explore, it is well worth the visit!
Although I would love to say that Ilioloosti has nothing that should be avoided, this is not so. As with my own city of Kastelios, Ilioloosti has its less savoury parts, namely, the quarter by the south gate. Although reasonably well-patrolled by day, by night it is a dangerous place, filled with thieves, murderers, and, I am told, practitioners of those elements of Milenian lore that are best left forgotten, such as the worship of evil Immortals, and worse things. Mercifully, I did not have to travel in this part of the city, and thus I have only hearsay as evidence. Still, I am glad that I did not have to go there.