Milkengrad was the capital of
the ancient kingdom of Centorauria
and the metropolis of the Helcrani
tribe. It is one of the largest cities in the Sarvonian
continent. The city is built upon the Efirhal Island and dominates it.
Milkengrad is widely known all over Santharia not
only for the temperament of its residents but also for its extraordinary beauty
that surpasses many other human cities in
whole Caelereth. Elven
influence is visible all around the city and in every field; in architecture,
in the names, in the culture of its residents.
In Santharia Milkengrad can only be compared to the elven city of Elving, whose beauty is legendary as well. In everyday life the locals refer to Milkengrad simply as “the City” (and to the settlements in Helcrah as “the Villages”). The city’s population consists of a mixture of humans, elves and dwarves of Helcrani origin. However, one also can find other Centoraurians as well as many foreigners that earn their living in the metropolis of the western coast.
|Image description. View of the City of Milkengrad featuring its typical white town wall, the prominent Damarchan assembly building and of course the Curonesta Palace on Efirhall Hill overlooking the whole scene. Illustration drawn by Seeker.|
Milkengrad was founded in 730 b.S. At first it looked like a compilation of
seven minor settlements, each one far away from the rest. As time passed by
these settlements expanded rapidly and met each other to become what is known
today as the Fratric Areas of Milkengrad.
The city is distinguished for its broad roads, its sewer system, its cleanness, its wide squares and the impressing architecture of the buildings. There is also a plethora of magnificent public buildings constructed out of need to appease the internal conflicts since the Helcrani had developed an innate dislike for each other. Public buildings seem to advance the idea of a common identity and destiny, since they are considered sacred by the citizens. Furthermore, the elven influence is visible everywhere throughout the city, especially in the vast amount of trees and green throughout the streets. For this reason the city is called also by many elves Mékroi’lón’dár (Styrásh Mékroi’lón’dár), the “Forest City of the Humans”.
Some of the most distinctive elements of the city of Milkengrad are:
The Fratric Areas
Initially, Milkengrad was far from being a “normal” city. The tribes that formed the Helcrani, due to internal conflicts triggered by Tacunija’s slaughter, didn’t want to establish a common city. Instead, they built their settlements around the Efirhal Hill, where the palace was built. In fact, Milkengrad was rather a collective name for these separate settlements. However, as time passed by and under anactarian intervention (not without exploiting the rivalry between the Fratrae) the settlements finally expanded in such a way to meet each other and make possible the formation of a true city.
The Fratric areas are an evolution of these settlements. Today the Fratric Areas are the seven divisions of the city’s center. In these areas the Fratrae are responsible for several public services. Despite their name as fratric there is no restriction concerning who is allowed to live in them. The names of these areas are Phlegaessa for the Helerothi, Rystra for the Sostrian, Myrah for the Codomman, Pyrgammon for the Menegulan, Astgard for the Ahai, Styralon for the Styran and Nertera for the Nerterian.
The palace (and acropolis) of Milkengrad. It is built upon the Efirhal Hill. Almost each Anactar made his additions to the building. The Curonesta is a brilliant example of classical Helcrani architecture. It is made of white marble and decorated with magnificent mosaics, frescoes, statues and fountains. It hosts the Anactarian residence, the Anactarian court, the Milken Protectors of the Artapherana and Conservators of the Grave, the Anactarian treasury and the royal museum. Within its bounds is located as well a separate building hosting the common grave of Curogane and Tacunija. The Curonesta is fortified and equipped to shelter the city’s population in case of siege.
The Artapherana is a name collectively used for four unique and fascinating trees. Each one of them appears to represent one of the four elements and has a personality of its own. A glow of colored light emanates from each tree, according to its element and, when winds blow from the Thaelon, a melody is heard, sometimes sad, sometimes joyful. This melody has the ability to create certain emotions to those who hear it and is used as a means of communication. The Artapherana are believed to communicate with Eú’reóll with their music and in certain occasions with mortals too. Their individual names are Aeolerin, Nertelyx, Hydraloth and Helpheran. The exact origin of the Artapherana is still unknown, but sages in the 4th century a.S. connect them with the League, a secret elven guild that played an important, though subtle, role in the Helcran development.
The hill in the centre of Milkengrad. Upon it are located the Curonesta and the Artapherana. The island on which the city lies by the way bears the same name as the hill, which is of elven origin and means “Fireland”. An appropriate name for a people called Helcrani which means "firedamned". The first one to use the word Efirhal was Agaran, the leader of the elven Fratra who was on the Helcrani vanguard when they left Helcrah (730 b.S.) seeking a new home and saw a hill in the horizon suddenly taking fire. It was the Artapherana revealing their light for the first time, inviting the firedamned to their fire. The light kept its brightness until king Helronn reached the hill and met the Milken Protectors of the Artapherana and then it descended to normal.
The Temple of Avá in Milkengrad is the only human temple that is devoted to the typically elven High Goddess of Avá the Beautiful. In this place human, elven and dwarven Helcrani honor Avá and Her Dream and study the past. The Temple is built at the eastern edge of the Hypheralean Square.
The Square of the Singing Heavens (word derived from Styrásh) is the largest square of Milkengrad. On its eastern edge is located the Avaedhra, the Assembly building and the Hall of Honor, dedicated to the perished in war. It is decorated with a pleiad of statues, fountains and gardens.
The second largest square in Milkengrad is the King’s Plateau. It is named after a ceremony that takes place there right after the coronation of the new Anactar, when he receives the public approval by walking unarmed among citizens who wave their swords. On its northern edge is located the Marketplace of Milkengrad, which is also a place where ideas are shared and cultural activities take place.
The White Walls are a massive series if walls and fortifications that surround Milkengrad that replaced the destroyed Ogygian Walls. They took their name because they are covered with a white marble-like material of unknown origin that grants them not only its bright white colour but also unforeseen hardship. The White Walls surround the city three times. The first belt is 10 peds high and 5 wide, the second 20 peds high and 10 wide while the third is 30 peds high and 15 wide. Until the present day no enemy has managed to surpass this formidable obstacle as long as it is manned properly.
There are seven major entrances to Milkengrad located at the last line of the White Walls. Three of them are used for military purposes, three are open every day for civilians and one, called the Royal or Anactarian, is used only for ceremonial purposes, when the Anactar welcomes an important guest or returns victorious from battle. The Military Gates are called Middengard, Mephiqual (“Of the bright Hellfire”) and Hellwrath. The Civilian Gates are dedicated to Avá and are called Avathaeron, Avathyr and Avinjèra (“Of Guiding Avá”).
The primary entrance to the city consists of the three central gates, Avathyr, the Anactarian and Middengard. These gates are placed near each other in an impressing complex. Ten towers protect the Gates. On the two towers that guard the opening of the corridor huge fires burn day and night to show to both friends and foes the gates of the city. The Mephiqual and Hellwrath Military gates are built in such a way that no opening is visible from outside. In this way the Helcran army can launch surprising and devastating attacks against the enemies in case the city is besieged once more.
The Golden Bridge unites the Efirhal Island with the Sarvonian continent. It spreads over hundreds of peds to connect both shores and has a total width of 30 peds. On each end, the bridge is supported by columns that have the form of Curogane and Helronn on Efirhal’s side and Thar and Santhros on the mainland’s. The Blowcrusher Fort embraces the south edge of the Golden Bridge which is its northern gate at the same time. The bridge was built in an undefined historical period by a lost elven empire in the north of the Sarvonian continent. In fact the colossal statues that today represent the human kings were initially representing elven kings but after the fall of the Empire they were decapitated from men or weather. The original heads survive today in the Milkengradian Museum.
The Norgammon Brdige unites the Efirhal with the island of Midlanir to the North. Although it is not as impressive as the Golden Bridge it still constitutes a magnificent spectacle. In its southern edge lies the homonymous fort of Norgammon. It was too built by elves in approximately the same era as the Golden Bridge.
Ptoliedhra (The Forts)
After the founding of Milkengrad in 730 b.S., many Helcrani decided to settle the rest of the Efirhal Island. Anactar Helronn encouraged this migration not only because additional settlements would protect the flanks of his newly established city but also because this was a nice way to send away the most prone to start another civil war among the Helcrani (not to mention that this way he took under his command additional territory). Thus, seven minor settlements were created, each one populated by Helcrani of a specific Fratra.
After the liberation of Milkengrad and under the enlightened rule of Thar these settlements were heavily fortified and were collectively called the Forts or Ptoliedhra in High Speech. There are seven of them:
Map of Milkengrad and the seven forts around the Efirhal Hill. Map by Artimidor.
- Norgammon in the north guarding the homonymous
bridge populated by Ahai’s
- Blowcrusher (Apotropaeon in helcran) in the continental shore inhabited by Codommans
- Axeldam (Citizens Protector in the High Speech) in the western edge of the Efirhal with its Sostrian population
- Helbury lies in the eastern edge of the Efirhal populated by Helerothi
- Pelasgarth, the Styran fort, located just opposite Helbury, where the elves can see Thaelon far in the horizon. Both these forts (Helbury and Pelasgarth) block naval access to the city from the east. In Esperoth, the island west of Efirhal, you can find two Forts.
- The Menegulan fort of Esperoth to the Northeast of the island and the
- Fort of Turacanth are guarded by the remaining descendants of the former conquerors of Milkengrad, who were eventually granted their freedom some time after the liberation of the city. Turacanth was once the dwarven Fort and was named Nangaea, but the massacre of its brave defender during the war against the Red Alliance was so horrible that no Nerter ever wanted to approach this area again.
The Ptoliedhra are strategically placed in pairs so as to block every naval route to the city. Only Norgammon has no pair and this happened because the shores aren’t as elevated as in the south and the bridge blocks naval passage to major ships beneath it.
Milkengrad’s Forum is the place where the heart of the city pumps. Events not only of economical importance take place there but also cultural, political and social activities have their center on the town’s Marketplace. The Forum is divided in seven areas where there are sold food, livestock, raw materials of various kinds, weapons, crafted goods, seeds and grain and other goods of need. In the center there is a circular plateau with oak trees where the citizens meet to exchange ideas or attend to some of the many cultural activities that take place throughout the city. In the forum plateau, along with the two greatest squares of the city, royal heralds make the most important announcements.
The Marketplace of Milkengrad is notorious all over the western coast and there is a relative saying that “there are more here than in Milkengrad’s marketplace” to denote abundance of any kind.
Milkengrad has two harbors which serve as shipyards as well; one where the war fleet anchors and warships are produced and one where merchant ships dock and trade ships are constructed. The military harbor is called the Lion Port, named after the two lion statues that can be found on the sides of its entrance, and it is located in the east side of the city. The civilian harbor is located in the west side of the city. It is named Dolphin or Balgen port, because of Balgen of the Sostrians who covered all the expenses necessary to build it and donated a statue depicting a dolphin complex which was placed in front of its entrance.
These harbors have the capacity to host more than 1000 ships each, being one of the largest if not the largest in Santharia.
Assembly Building (Damorchan)
The Damorchan hosts the Great Assembly for Milkengrad. Its building is a magnificent three storied round structure surrounded by a triple line of columns. The inner line’s columns have the form of the Centoraurian, Helcrani and Santharian kings except those who were convicted, because of their crimes, to oblivion. This gigantic building is capable of hosting more than 60.000 people.
Gathering Buildings (Fratrawana - Home of the Fratra or The Great Halls)
There are more than one Gathering Building in Milkengrad. Each Fratra (and Centoraurian city) has its own Great Hall. In these buildings the Oecetors (the Helcrani clan leaders) participate in the Fratric Gatherings in order to take important decisions concerning their Fratra or to be informed by their Fratrageta about important city matters. Each Fratrawana reflects the collective personality of its Fratra. The architectural styles differ from the harmony and affection for nature of the elves to the solid craft and power of the dwarves.
Location. Milkengrad is located in the west of the southern Sarvonian continent in the northern Santharian province of Vardýnn. The city is built around the Efirhal Hill in the south edge of the homonymous island.
People. Milkengrad is
mainly inhabited by
Helcrani of all Fratrae and other
the majority of the Styrani (Helcrani
elves) live in the city preferring it over
Helcrah, while the exact opposite happens with most Nerters (Helcrani
dwarves), who like better the mountains and
mines of Helcrah.
The Helcrani traditionally were a bilingual population; they had their own language which they call the "High Speech" and they still seem unwilling to share it with foreigners even at the present era. Also, they have always been speaking as native language the Tharian dialect, which they simply call "the Common" and the residents mainly used it to keep up trading with other parts of Santharia. After the formation of the United Santharian Kingdom though, the use of the High Speech was significantly reduced. The High Speech was already a dead language in the early 10th century a.S. although it never ceased to be used in ceremonies and in the education of Helcrani youth and scholars.
The Milkengradians, just like all Helcrani, believe in the High Goddess Avá. However, they respect the Twelve Santharian Gods whom they consider to be a symbolization of nature’s powers rather than existing personifications. Despite the Helcrani beliefs one can find temples devoted to the Santharian Gods throughout Milkengrad, but they are not used for worship, at least not by the Helcrani themselves.
The Milkengradians still have a highly developed sense of autonomy and they even preferred until the Fulfilment of Tacunija’s Curse to determine themselves by their Fratra rather than the common name "Helcrani" which is used by the Santharians to denote not only the inhabitants of Milkengrad and Helcrah, but also the local Centoraurian noblemen. The most precious good for the Helcrani is freedom. Many civil wars have ravaged the city throughout its history, but still the Helcrani were one of the first and warmest supporters of a united Santharian which was finally realized through the mighty Erpheronian kings Thar and later on Santhros. Helcrani see each other as bad relatives: A relative might be bad but still he's a relative; and most of all, the countrymen are the only relatives the Helcrani have got. The dislike which is developed between the Fratrae is rather collective than personal. Individuals from different Fratrae usually cooperate harmonically with each other.
Amazing is also the level of scientific and aesthetic progress that occurs in Milkengrad. Its citizens proudly brag that they inhabit the most beautiful city in the world of Caelereth. An important amount of people of other races and tribes live in Milkengrad as the Helcrani are hospitable folks. These people, collectively called metewani, are traders or merchants, while some of them are specialized in a craft and earn their living in the western metropolis.
The Milkengradian and Helcrani Coat of Arms, designed by Koldar Mondrakken.
Coat of Arms/Sign.
The Milkengradian Coat of Arms is the same as the
helcran. It consists of Curogane’s
sword burning in a blue background. The sword symbolizes the struggle of the
first person who ruled all of the Helcrani
to unite his people and his battles against their enemies, while the
fire symbolizes the Curse of Tacunija,
which sealed the fate of the Helcrani.
Climate. The climate in Milkengrad, as in the whole region of the Efirhal, is temperate. A warm stream from the Dark Sea, called the Mermaid’s Trail, is considered as the source of its fine climate. The summer is hot and the winter is usually cold. The spring and fall are the ideal times of the year for visiting Milkengrad, although fall is the rain period. During spring and fall a warm breeze comes from the west, while in winter cold winds blow sporadically from the north.
Flora. The fair climate of Milkengrad favors all kinds of plants. Pine trees, cedars, willows, oaks and olive trees flourish all over the Efirhal. Quite impressing is the thick Centoraurian grass that covers the island. There is also a variety of flowers that grow in the wild. The locals cultivate all sorts of them (and pay great homage to gardening) although roses could be considered their favorite.
A surprisingly large variety of trees and flowers can be found in the city not only in private gardens but also in public places, especially in the Milkengradian Hall of Jeyriall. Under the elven influence, there are trees and green areas to be seen virtually everywhere, even in the dwarven fratric part, planted in harmony with the buildings.
Fauna. As the Efirhal is a highly urbanised area, there are not many animals living there in the wild. However, there are met living free around the island many animals not aggressive against man such as deer, grouses, garthooks, buloos, cats and other. Once there were many wolves living in the north but they became extinct during the reign of Artahir.
As far as domestic animals are concerned, in the city of Milkengrad and the rest of the Efirhal almost everything can be found. There are a lot of cattle, and many Strata cows, imported during the occupation of the city, goats, pigs, which represent a major source of income for the locals. There are also dogs, cats and other animals that don’t produce something special but who are also favored among the Milkengradians. In the surrounding seas one can especially find yellowtail fish, barsas, dolpholk and eventually some boneheads and sea wyrms (many of them tamed by daring Helcrani seamen).
A large variety of strange and exotic animals can be found in the Milkengradian Hall of Jeyriall, a place serving as a living museum of plants and animals and also as a tribute to the powers of nature.
Myth/Lore. The following lore has been traded over centuries concerning the city of Milkengrad:
The meaning of the city’s name is still debated among scholars, who can’t agree if it means “City of Wonders” or “City of the Milken”, according to the Brownie tribe that inhabited the area before the Helcrani (and prepared the ground for their arrival). Human glossologists insist that the confusion is created because the helcran word for “wonders” (milken) sounds similar with the word “milk” (small) which was used to name the Helcrani Brownies as the “small ones”. In the 13th century a.S. elven scholars have proposed an etymology deriving from the word Mékroi’lón’dár (Styrásh Mékroi’lón’dár, occasionally written Míkroi’lon’dar, Míkroi’lon’dar) some elves used to call the city. However, this opinion didn’t meet public approval.
The Mermaid’s Trail
The warm stream from the west is considered a gift from the Goddess of the Sea, Baveras. According to the helcran legend the climate of the island was once very harsh and this was the reason it remained uninhabited until the arrival of the Helcrani. There is a myth that describes the life of Oceandir, the Helcrani sailor who earned Baveras’ favor with his virtue and was the reason the Goddess replaced the cold stream that ended in Efirhal with a warm one, a trail to the mermaid Sirene that took Oceandir’s heart. [Read more...]
The Breath of Eú'reóll
The cool breeze from the Thaelon that makes the Artapherana sing is considered by the Milkengradians to be the breath of the Tree of Life. Eú’reóll is seeking its kin and the Artapherana reply with their song. There are too many stories about the breeze and its influence on people which are a part of Milkengradian folklore that they are almost impossible to be gathered here.
Information provided by Curgan