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Thyatis the Cityby James Ruhland
District I: Zendrolium
The Great Palace; Augusteon; Milion Arch; Magna Aula; Hagia Nika; The Lesser
Harbour; Blackrock Prison; Air Cavalry Enclave; Strategeon; Martial Campus;
This district is perhaps the oldest settled area in Thyatis the City. After the War of Liberation (BC 2), much of this area had been devastated by the Alphatians. It was rebuilt and re-designated as a predominantly military quarter, and its walls, which still stand today setting it apart from the rest of The City, were bolstered. These walls are some 30' high, and serve as a defensive barrier of last resort. The Zendrolium district rests on the slopes of The City's first hill. Though in years past much of the administrative heart of The City had been on Emperor's Hill, recently the focus has returned to the Zendrolium.
The Zendrolium could be called a small-scale city contained within Thyatis the City. By itself it certainly measures up to entire cities found elsewhere on Brun, and it has its own harbour, walls, emporiums, temples, and all the other amenities of a city found in one place. But The City as a whole is as vital to the Zendrolium district as it is to the entire City. If Thyatis the City is the empire in microcosm, then the Zendrolium is The City in miniature. Here can be found examples of some of the finest architecture, engineering, and art in all the world.
The Great Palace
Located on the gentle slopes of the first hill, running parallel to the Zendrolium's wall (across from the Hippodrome) is the Great Palace. The palace is an immense complex, an agglomeration of every sort of building; reception halls, pavilions covered in greenery, throne rooms, barracks housing soldiers of the Imperial Guard, bathhouses, libraries, temples, dungeons, treasuries, long galleries and pillared corridors linking the various buildings, verandas and terraces overlooking Vanya's Girdle, splendid towers, stables, aeries, and more, all focused around several courtyards and gardens filled with flowers and orchards of flower bearing trees. The Great Palace was built without a general plan, but with fantastic charm and unprecedented magnificence. Thyatian mages and priests have managed to tap into magics which are somehow related to the ancient Obelisk in the Augusteon (see below), allowing residents of the Great Palace a level of luxury and convenience not found elsewhere.
The Great Palace is clustered with buildings of a variety of architectural styles, built over many centuries, all scattered among gardens and groves, set out on well maintained lawns, with fountains of marble and pools of water sporting rare fish are linked by cobblestone pathways. Space prevents us from detailing the entire palace, but the descriptions of some of the buildings, given below, may serve to give you a general impression of its majesty.
The main entryway to the Great Palace, connecting it with the Augusteon, is the Chalke (or Bronze Gate). The doors themselves, recessed in the archway, are covered over in bronze. The building itself sports a gilded dome, while the walls themselves are inlaid with shining mother of pearl.
Of the huge number of facilities that make up the Great Palace (over 500), several are more likely to be experienced by a visitor. The first of these is the Trullian Hall, or "hall of nineteen couches." This ancient banquet hall is where the Emperor entertains guests at meals. Everyone eats their meals reclining on couches in the traditional style. Formalities are somewhat relaxed on these occasions, allowing the Emperor and his courtiers to have conversations of greater frankness than protocol might otherwise demand. Despite the name "nineteen couches," which would imply a maximum of 76 guests, the hall is large enough to accommodate several hundred diners. It is so called because their is one main apse at the head of this long building, where the Emperor's couch sits, then three apses on each side of the building which each normally hold three couches. The remaining guests dine seated in "common" fashion. There is a large fountain in the vestibule, as well as several ancient bronze statues.
Another building a visitor is likely to experience, if you are lucky enough to receive an audience with the Emperor, is the Golden Throne Room (Chrysotriclinos). It is octagonal in shape, with a high central dome surrounded and supported by eight smaller domes. This awe - inspiring chamber's ceiling vaults skyward, roofed over in alabaster cut so delicately that the light of the sun filters through. The floor is all in porphyry, with a cloth of gold carpet leading up to the marble dais. Columns of rich marble soar upwards, capped in capitals that are carved into golden filigree, creating symbols of religious significance. The walls are done over entirely in mosaics, with gilded tiles surrounding images of the Empire's greatest leaders and patron immortals. The throne itself is of gold, with deep crimson upholstery. A pair of golden lions flanks it, and beside the lions are pillars in the shape of golden trees, with golden branches and leaves, upon which sit enamelled birds. When the petitioner approaches, the lions can be made to let out a roar, the birds sing forth. As the petitioner bows to the Emperor, the throne rises, and when the supplicant looks up again, he is likely to see the Emperor clad in new garments. All this might seem like magic, but it is actually an example of Thyatian engineering - fine clockworks and steam power everything.
Built somewhat offset from the main complex is the Nea Eclesia, or New Temple. This is the main, but by no means only, Temple serving the Great Palace complex. This temple has five domes - a central one and four satellite domes. Its interior is inlaid with gilded mosaics and images of the Immortals most Great to Thyatis.
Where the Great Palace meets the Lesser Harbour (at the harbour's base) lies the Boukoleon, so called because of the ancient statuary diorama of a bull fighting a lion, and the statues of seated lions which flank the balcony which overlooks the harbour. This building functions as the marina and yacht house of the palace.
Thyatis the City's oldest forum lies just within the main gates of the Zendrolium on the southern end of the wall. The Augusteon's interior is lined with a colonnaded portico from which Vendors set up their stalls to sell their wares, making goods convenient to those who live and work within this district. The court of the forum contains statuary, Commemorative columns, images of various Emperors and Senators, and the like. The most important of which is the Milion Arch. This marble gate serves as the Empire's milestone, from which all distances are measured. It forms a square of four pillars connected by arches and covered by a domical vault. Here too is an ancient Obelisk, built even before the founding of The City. Its origins, indeed, are somewhat mysterious.
At the far end of the Augusteon, towards the fields and Vanya's Girdle, is the Basilica. To the south of the Augusteon is Hagia Nika, and to the north sprawls the Great Palace.
Magna Aula or Great Basilica
From the courtyard of the Augusteon wide marble steps lead up to the colonnaded entrance to this imposing building. The Basilica itself is constructed out of white marble, and bears the symbols of Tarastia, carved in friezes into its surface. The main doorways are twenty feet high, leading into its marbled halls. Though termed a Basilica, it is not basilical in shape, but rather a cross-in-square building with a central dome, which is sheathed in brass. This building houses the supreme justice courts of the Empire, as well as a chamber used by the Emperor and the Senate for ceremonial functions.
This temple, completed in 1013, is perhaps even more magnificent than the famous High Temple of Vanya in the Estates. Though built on a somewhat smaller scale, its soaring domes and archways, clearly visible from Vanya's Girdle, is a wonder to behold. Its interior walls feature frescos and mosaics depicting Vanya and her most famous followers triumphing against their enemies. Marble pillars support the arches leading up to the central dome that towers above the temple floor.
The Lesser Harbour
This anchorage, a spur jutting off the southern face of the Great Harbour, is the main base for the Imperial Fleet. Here are the Empire's main naval shipyards, arsenals for its navy, barracks for sailors and marines. Its piers, quays, and dry-docks are busy at all hours, and it is heavily patrolled. Fortified and manned sea walls separate it from the Great Harbour. With the commissioning of Thyatian sky and airships, these can be seen docked here as well.
This ancient, foreboding structure stands apart from most of the buildings in this area because of its plainness and lack of ornamentation. It consists of above ground guard and administrative quarters and uncounted below ground cells. Here are housed The City's worst criminals, in conditions that can at best be called spartan and at worst unspeakably horrid.
Air Cavalry Enclave
Located at the southwestern corner of the Martial Campus between the Great Basilica and Hagia Nika is the enclave of the Retebius Air Cavalry. This consists of barracks and mess halls for the troopers themselves, administrative buildings, and aeries for the mounts. In normal times this includes a flight of dragon riders and their fearsome mounts.
This compound is the military headquarters of the Thyatian armed forces. Located at the easternmost tip of the Zendrolium, between the Lesser Harbour and Vanya's Girdle, it is outfitted as a fortress. Within this structure is housed the general staff of Thyatis, its administrative aides, a war college including a library of ballistics, construction and enchantment facilities for siege and other military engines, a group of magical researchers, and the like. This is Thyatis' centre of military training, planning, and administration. As such, the buildings themselves form a gigantic structure, no doubt extending as far underground as above it.
These are the vast fields and exercise yards that cover most of this district. They form a block covering the entire southwest half of the Zendrolium. Here are yards for mustering and drilling troops, landing areas for Air Cavalry, playing fields used for rugby and polo, and the like. These grounds are meticulously maintained, the grasses are force - grown with magic if need be, trimmed to a precise height. Troops often muster here before marching out of the city to participate in field exercises or real battles. To the south of here, outside the walls of The City, is the main military cemetery of Thyatis the City, where once a year a prominent citizen is selected to give a funeral oration commemorating the sacrifices and valour of Thyatian soldiers.
Kastra Zendrolium or Fort Zendrolium
This actually refers to the entirety of all Thyatian military assets within this district. It encompasses the barracks of the Imperial Guards and Tagmata, built among the Great Palace, the Air Cavalry Enclave, the Lesser Harbour, the Strategeon, the Martial Campus, and the walls and their garrisons as well. "Fort Zendrolium" isn't any one structure, but a way of referring to all these bodies at once, rather than individually.