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Kastelios (City-State of)
Location: Continent of Davania, on coast of Sea of Dread.
Area: Approx. 600 sq. mi. (1,555 sq. km.).
Population: 26,000 (another 5,500 live in satellite villages and in the countryside).
Languages: Milenian (Kastelian dialect).
Coinage: Sun (gp), moon (sp), heart (cp).
Taxes: All citizens pay 15% of their earnings twice per year (Klarmont 28 and Kaldmont 28), as well as 7% of the assessed value of their land once per year (Kaldmont 28).
Government Type: Democracy (citizens elect the town council, who then elect a spokesperson to guide discussions).
Industries: Agriculture (primarily wheat and corn), cattle, crafts, fishing, sheep, shipbuilding.
Important Figures: Benji Trumblehorn (Shop Owner, male, halfling, F2), Marina Takanitas (Experienced Trader, human, female, T1), Xenthos Sarantakos (Council Spokesman, human, male, normal human).
Flora and Fauna: The plant life present in Kastelios is atypical for the region, due to human intervention. Where there should be water grasses, reeds, mangroves, and bogs one finds instead grasses, bushes, and trees - such as cypress, oak, and pine. Many flowering plants are also in abundance, such as daffodils, orchids, and tulips.
The original animal life that was present here consisted of alligators, various amphibians, and water birds such as flamingos and spoonbills. Due to the draining of the swamps, these have been forced north and south into the remaining swamplands. In their place have come the animals that the Milenians brought with them-primarily domesticated animals such as cats, cattle, dogs, pigs, and sheep. Also present are bobcats and wild boars. Kastelios is fortunate enough to be "monster-free," though this does not prevent the occasional sighting of blink dogs, displacer beasts, goblins, hippogriffs, orcs, and trolls (especially near the swamps in the latter case).
Further Reading: Previous almanacs.
Description by Marina Takanitas.
It is with great pride that I share with you, gentle reader, all that I can say of my home in a few scant pages! Ours is a city that is truly the gateway to Davania, perhaps rivalling even Raven Scarp in the Thyatian Hinterlands. Regardless, I have only what I see with my own eyes to show me that Kastelios is leading the way in opening ties with the outside world. My city has changed so much during my twenty-six years of life, I can hardly say whether it has been a dream, and just as much it is difficult to know where to begin...
The land upon which Kastelios was built was originally a swampy delta, which lay at the junction of the Amoros and Vasilios river systems. When the Milenians came, they used their engineering skills to drain the swamps, and then run sewers underneath the city foundations. This left an area with rich soils, upon which our city was built long ago. The lands immediately surrounding Kastelios are rich farmlands and plains, upon which the villages of Phossos and Kantrios are built. Both of these lie southeast of Kastelios.
Kastelios is itself broken into four pieces, though all of these are encircled by the city walls, and the sections are linked through the sewers and by ornate stone bridges. The smallest section consists of Euripidos Island, a triangular island bounded on the west by a section of city wall, and on the northeast and southeast by The Fork, which flows from the junction of the Amoros and Vasilios rivers towards the Serpent Strait, and the Sea of Dread. Euripidos Island holds the Docksides-the roughest part of Kastelios. Along both sides of The Fork are numerous docks and quays, which service the many ships entering and leaving Kastelios.
The second piece is called Northside; it is bounded along the south by the northern half of The Fork, and by the Amoros river, which, along with the Vasilios river, meet and then divide into The Fork before flowing into the sea. Northside is bounded with city wall along the north, and it has the Garganin Gate-the road from here leads straight to that city. This part of Kastelios has many warehouses and businesses, as well as some residences towards the eastern end. The Great Market, and The Ruins, are in this part of the city.
The third section is called Southside; it run south of the southern half of The Fork, and is bounded to the northeast by the Vasilios River. The south is guarded by the city wall, in which is the southern gate of Kastelios, called the Telosian Gate. The main road from here leads to the town of Telos Takesidhi. This section of Kastelios contains the Gymnasium, many small temples and residences, fine statues, as well as numerous pillared streets.
The last section is called the Old City. It is bounded on the east and southeast by city walls, on the north by the Amoros River and on the west by the Vasilios River. This section contains the Great Temple of Halav, the Public Forum, the House of Antiquities, and many upscale residences. This section is the oldest part of Kastelios, and it survived the collapse of the empire relatively intact.
Due to its proximity to the Sea of Dread, Kastelios is blessed with a mild climate-the temperatures are never so extreme as those that can be experienced even a couple of miles inland. Also, cool breezes blow in from the east and north almost constantly, making the city a very pleasant place to live.
The people who inhabit Kastelios are all of Milenian stock, though the blood of paler folk, such as the Hinterlanders, may have been added at some time in the distant past; for the men and women of Kastelios are decidedly fairer in complexion than those of nearby Kalavronti, or Ilioloosti. Despite this difference in appearance, we in Kastelios are no less Milenian than our neighbours. We honour the true Immortals-Halav, Petra, Zirchev, Protius, and Asterius among others-and we hold a deep regard for the honourable traditions of our ancestors.
Our dialect of the Milenian tongue is said to be the closest in form to that spoken by our people when the Milenian Empire was strong. Whether this is true or not may never be known, but one need only spend a day with us to learn what it is to be truly Milenian!
Unlike many of the other city-states, for example, Kastelios still follows the democratic principles of our ancestors. All citizens of Kastelios elect their representatives to the city council, who in turn elect a spokesperson-one who moderates council debates and represents the city to the outside world. We also regularly hold athletic games of skill, where adventurous souls may prove their mettle at wrestling, running, diskos throwing, and other events. These tend to draw great crowds, and are never dull to watch. Our people also have a deep respect for knowledge-those who are experts in philosophy or other arts are encouraged to share what they know of our world, and to debate with others. Such competition, both mental and physical, enriches our people, and allows us to be the best we can be.
My people are kind, and are always open to new ideas. This is why we are so eagerly opening up to the northern countries-so that knowledge and culture may be exchanged, and with them the forging of deep ties may come to pass. The people of Kastelios are also brave; we do not fear what lies across the sea, nor are we afraid to test ourselves. In doing so we become stronger, and we are able to broaden our horizons.
This, gentle readers, is what awaits you should you come to Kastelios. On behalf of my city, I bid you come experience what we have to offer-the memories alone will be well worth the voyage!
Kastelios was founded circa BC 650 by Milenian colonists pressing westwards across northern Davania. The Milenian Empire had already been established, but some yearned for the sea, and desired to live on the coasts as well as expand the empire while retaining some autonomy. As a result, a large group of Milenian settlers descended upon what was once a large swampy delta at the junction of the Amoros and Vasilios river systems.
Within a few years, the swamps were successfully drained by engineers, revealing rich loamy soil that yielded bountiful crops. Tiberios Andrasos, who led the expedition, decreed that at the very junction of the river systems a great port city would arise. So it was that Kastelios was founded on that spot.
The settlement grew quickly, and as time passed, more swamplands were drained to accommodate the need for more farmlands. Eventually, an area 15 miles across, with Kastelios at its centre, was drained. Many homesteads and villages cropped up in this territory, all under the jurisdiction of Kastelios. By BC 150, Kastelios was a sprawling city of 60,000, with great aqueducts, statuary, and paved boulevard leading from the sea to the inland territories of the empire. By this time, the Milenian Empire had largely retreated inland, except for this one city, its one great port. Many Milenians who left Davania in search of new lands passed through Kastelios, and so this city was also seen as a springboard to adventure and new lives elsewhere.
This era, which modern Kastelians call their Age of Joy, came to an end in BC 30, when the region fell into civil war and anarchy during the collapse of the Milenian Empire. Marauding soldiers and barbarians, some possibly from the modern Thyatian Hinterlands, passed through Greater Kastelios several times, looting and burning as they went. The city militia managed to fight off the worst of the incursions, but the damage had been done. What was once a beautiful city of 60,000 was now a third in ruins, with only 10,000 people within its shattered walls. Most of the citizens fled during the chaos, though few returned.
The true spirit of the people showed through in the aftermath. Realising that they could only depend on themselves for survival, the survivors banded together, and elected a council to lead them in the times ahead. A spokesperson was elected by the council to ensure that discussions would not degenerate into petty rivalries, and that survival and the common good remained priorities. This system of leadership was quite similar to the old governmental system of the empire before it fell into decadence, and it has remained in place ever since.
The Kastelians also kept in mind what made them great in the first place-a willingness to persist, reverence for their Immortals, and openness to new ideas combined with a respect for tradition. Thus, the old Milenian ways were maintained and enshrined, and with them remained reverence for the traditional Immortals of the Milenians. Since they had not fared so poorly in relation to other cities, the Kastelians kept their faith, and they were able to draw on the knowledge of their forefathers to rebuild their city.
The people of Yavdlom also played and important role in Kastelios' regrowth. They brought in food when it was needed, and helped the Kastelians repulse invaders during those first difficult years. Because of this, a close relationship has existed between the two nations ever since.
By AC 300, Kastelios was once again a beautiful city. The population had slowly grown to 15,000, and the vast majority of the buildings had been rebuilt and restored. New buildings were also built in the old style, but newer techniques were used as people uncovered new ideas over the years. The villages of Phossos and Kantrios had sprung up in the periphery, and these were added to the growing city-state. Look at the city at this time, one would never had guessed that it suffered any damage during the collapse of the empire.
Today, Kastelios has some 30,000 people living within its territory, and it is continuing to grow in leaps and bounds. Though there have been some setbacks over the years, Kastelios has emerged from the collapse of the Milenian Empire as one of the few city-states that actually came out reasonably intact, and flourished.
The Public Forum is always worth a visit when in the city! Here one can listen to philosophers, scientists, and other thinkers put forth their ideas on the front steps of this lovely white marble building, graced with massive columns and engravings along its front. It is especially lively when debates begin-these tend to draw crowds, depending on the topic. Inside is the Grand Chamber, where the thirty elected counsellors debate issues of the day, guided by the spokesperson. Most meetings are open to the public, though important issues, such as declarations of war and the like, are always held behind closed doors.
Another sight worth seeing is the Great Temple of Halav! This structure has remained undamaged since its construction in BC 250, and daily services in honour of this Immortal have never been interrupted or stopped for any reason since that time. Elegant white columns, with a massive red slate roof, encircle and cover the temple itself. Inside the temple is one large room, dominated by an immense altar-reputedly made from a single piece of quartz! Regardless, the intricate carvings depicting the great deeds of Halav and His many heroes are truly inspiring to the observer.
The Gymnasium is where all sporting events in Kastelios take place. A running track encircles a modest rectangular building, in which are baths, supply rooms, and indoor recreation areas. At least twice a year the city holds great athletic events here for all to see, where events such as running, diskos throwing, archery, and wrestling are held.
For those seeking necessities or luxuries, the Great Market is the place to go. Here one may find traders from places such as Yavdlom, Kalavronti, Ilioloosti, Hrissopoli, Sind, and increasingly Minrothad, Ierendi, Darokin, and Thyatis. Whether you seek common foodstuffs, weapons, or other goods, or more exotic items from deeper within the continent, this is the place to find them. The Great Market is increasingly becoming a meeting place for people of different cultures, too. It is no longer unusual to see adventurers come off the boats, and meet locals here to hire out as guides.
Of course, a visit to Kastelios would never be complete without a thorough tour of the many public baths, small temples, bridges, public buildings, theatres, and other reminders of this city's Milenian heritage. Graceful columns, imposing statues, and paved streets all date from the Milenian Empire, and everything from that time has been well maintained. It is also interesting to compare the different building styles through the ages, for, while the basic Milenian building patterns have been maintained, different architects added unique elements of their own.
Another thing worth seeing is something in Northside called The Ruins. This is a collection of rubble and half-collapsed walls that stood here even before the Milenians first came to the area. No one knows who built them, or what purpose they served, but they serve as an interesting attraction, nonetheless.
Finally, anyone wishing to learn more of the old Milenian Empire need only stop at the House of Antiquities. Here, proprietress Helena Demetrina has painstakingly collected, catalogued, and restored thousands of relics dating from the days of the empire. Tiny amphorae sit with statuettes on the many shelves in this building, while mosaics grace the walls and floors. Helena has also collected a large number of scrolls during her adventuring days, and she is more than happy to share them with visitors. Truly a treasure trove of history!
Newcomers to Kastelios would do well to avoid the Docksides. This is the seedy part of the city, a veritable maze of damp alleys and derelict buildings on Euripidos Island. This area is run by the local street gangs and thugs, who, fortunately, spend too much of their energies beating each other to seriously threaten the rest of the city. Various governments have tried to clean up the Docksides, but the locals always put up strong resistance. Now the city concentrates on keeping the nasty elements inside this part of Kastelios. This is perhaps the greatest blot on our city's record.