Thalambath is the exotic,
current capital of the Santharian province of
Truban, located along the western edge of the
Ráhaz’Dáth Desert, directly south of the prominent
volcano, the Norong’Sorno. Known for its longstanding independence from the
rest of the region before the Santharian Kingdom,
its powerful magic and artistry, and the Black
Castle of the ancient Chosen,
Thalambath himself, Thalambath the city is now an economic and trading
powerhouse. Older than most cities in Santharia,
Thalambath’s roots come from the ancient peoples of Kaizoumetrá, and some of
this heritage still lives within its long reclusive walls.
Foreign and mysterious despite being a major city in the Santharian kingdom, Thalambath is a prime location for travelers due to its exotic art and impressive architecture, its network of hot springs located at the base of Norong’Sorno, and the rich pleasure ships that roam the coastal waters.
Despite its draws, however, many distrust Thalambath, for it is a city of intrigue, both mundane and arcane, and has long been a rival in magical power to Ximax in Southern Sarvonia. Despite rumours of evil sorcery however, the citizens of Thalambath are prideful of their culture and heritage, and either don’t believe in whatever rumours abound, or simply do not care.
Description. Thalambath is an exceedingly hot city, known for its violent sandstorms and thick, warm air. Rain is rare, but wind and lightning are prominent especially in the later months, leading to more rumours of vile sorcery from visitors.
The steps of ground beneath Thalambath create a many-layered, rising and magnificent visage to those who approach the ancient city. Built on the ruins of the Kaizoumetrá city of Merioch and on the dried lava that originally washed over that city, Thalambath’s buildings run over hills and caverns. The richest districts and manors reside along the base of the Norong’sorno volcano, where the landmass has raised from layers and layers of dried lava beds, and tower above the rest of the city. Because of these layers, the city appears taller than it actually is, as even one-story buildings may rise over taller buildings due to the location of their construction. Dark red stairs and sand-covered roads weave up the cliffsides throughout the city, while many of the lower alleyways dig deep into natural crevices, covered by arches and bridges, or even entire streets. Though these narrow paths offer much in the way of shade, they act as a siphon for the warm air that clings to the city, choking its inhabitants during the day but warming the city during the nights.
Despite the relative lack of firewood, Thalambath remains an everlit city. Braziers and torches throughout the city offer ever-present light in most sections of the city, including the covered alleyways, and the black smoke that rises into the air from these burning ornaments can be seen a stral away. Most braziers are filled of burnable oil harvested from evoor fish and carteloreen, and are ignited by a strike of a burning stone.
Picture description. View on a Shendar caravon approaching the Norong'Sorno volcano. Image drawn by Seeker.
More prominent than these torches however is the Norong’sorno itself, which
looms ever-present over the vast city. The volcano often throws out clouds of
white and grey smoke high into the air, and
lava runs freely down the western edges of the mountain out of lava tubes and
vents, emptying out into the sea and over the strip of land that buries itself
deep into the ocean at the northwestern edge of the Truban Gulf. Once such
lavastreams destroyed much of the old town of the Kaizoumetran people, Merioch.
Now, every year, more and more great black manors are built onto and into the
volcano’s face, reaching to ever-greater heights over the rest of the city. And
at the very back of the city, nestled against the great volcano, lies the
ancient monument around which Thalambath was built - the Black Castle.
Thalambath is, in fact, several cities, that have merged over time to form the great capital city. The original city arose long before its current inhabitants, the ancient Kaizoumetrá city of Merioch. Though this city was wiped out during the Norong’sorno’s catastrophic eruption thousands of years ago, efforts to excavate the remains of the city continue to this day.
Thalambath’s history does not start with Merioch, however, but rather the Black Castle of Thalambath, and of that construction, there only exists the myth of its formation by the ancient Chosen, Thalambath himself, following the end of his long journey during the War of the Chosen. Around this ancient monument sprang the first beginnings of the city, and this original construction is now known as Old Thalambath. Stretching vertically down from the volcano to what was once the delta of the Norong River, when a lake existed in place of the Norong’sorno, Old Thalambath lies at the very northern edge of the city, comprised of many continually restored and ancient black manors and temples.
The second city that comprises Thalambath was the city of Nosir. Built along the Bay of Nosir, Nosir was originally a port town that supplied trade goods to Old Thalambath. As Old Thalambath grew and built its farming community into the western peninsula, the expanding trade between the two cities allowed both to grow, until they eventually merged to form the capital city of Thalambath.
In its modern incarnation, Thalambath now serves as the capital city of the Truban province as well as one of its major trading hubs. Many trading barges enter and leave the city every day by sea, and caravans travel outwards from the eastern edge of the city to smaller outposts within the Truban province.
In addition to foreign relations, a Ximaxian enclave has also long been a prominent (if not trusted) presence in the city, facilitating joint arcane and alchemical research. There are even rumours that a functional portal exists within the enclave for rapid transit between these two bastions of magical might.
Architecture. The architecture of Thalambath is old, but well preserved, thanks to long-developed methods of building construction. Most buildings are made out of blocks of sandrock, reddish-orange to more expensive black blocks that are stacked on each other and kept together with a paste made from Firestar. Most of the common blocks are made out of the local sand and applications of firestar, while the blacker blocks are built out of the darker sand from the Lands of Pain to the north. These sandrock blocks are extremely durable even in heavy wind and prevent significant overheating in the interior of the buildings.
While the majority of buildings are constructed of these sandrocks, the more elaborate manors and estates are made of pure nor’sidian. These come in black shades. Nor’sidian is much more expensive, as the material only forms in specific conditions from lava and must be heavily refined, and its strength makes it difficult to carve into usable blocks, so only the most affluent tend to use it for construction. The Black Castle of Thalambath is known in part for its entire construction being out of nor’sidian, despite its great size. Nor’sidian is extremely durable and heat resistant, and thus buildings constructed out of it weather time extremely well, as seen by the Black Castle which, despite its age and desert location, was very well-preserved until the collapse during the Year of the Unification, when the King of Santharia supposedly retrieved the Heart of Thalambath from the ancient keep.
The characteristic style of most Thalambath buildings is for the simple but monumental. Most are common shapes, like tall pillars or squares, but these are built to such heights and widths as to awe the viewer with their impressive girths. Many of the most important buildings have simple carvings or sometimes paint, but only the rich black manors are actually known to have complex building structures like statues. The more common shapes however are massive stone fortresses and sharp, diamond-topped pillars, facing down the viewer with large, sloping walls and few windows. The most important of these are black, built of pure nor’sidian, but even the ones of stone use the darkest shade possible. All of these stone buildings, like the other structures, are simple, imposing structures of sloping walls and flat roofs.
Most common buildings are anywhere from one to four stories high, straight rectangular in shape, often with a flat, square roof with the walls of the building reaching up to provide an exterior floor. Some of these roof-walls may end with sharp angles at the corners for aesthetics. Buildings with more sturdy construction often have wooden or stone supports for the roof, and these supports can sometimes be seen jutting outwards from the sides of the building under the roof. Many of these roofs are decorated with small, desert-friendly and low maintenance gardens or with racks for drying clothes in the sun, while others might have small worktables for pottery making. Many have some wooden stakes raised into the air onto which a coloured cloth drapery is held, blocking the sun and allowing one to sit outdoors during the day. These common buildings are built of stacked sandrock blocks, dark red or reddish-brown in colour.
The windows of most buildings are relatively small, either slitted or with a curved arch, and many poorer buildings have wooden stakes jutting out at an upwards angle, which hold a drapery over the window and block out the injera. More well off construction might have wooden or sandrock shutters. Many of these shutters usually have open holes to allow air to flow freely through the buildings while blocking out the sun, though those shutters that do are often sealed and unable to be opened to prevent thieves from easily entering. Only the very rare building uses glass, despite Thalambath’s ability to produce it, as these windows become easily tainted by sandstorms and do not allow airflow.
Buildings are usually connected together and closely situated on streets like walls, so many have archways and pillars that span over the many alleys of the city and provide optimum shade. In some locations the archways are fully built and provide an open-air second story, thus completely shading the lower alley and allowing a second walkway to keep busier streets from becoming too crowded, while the bottom remain lit with torches. The second story alley, and other alleys without the second story and without adequate archways, usually sport coloured cloth draperies spanning over multiple sections of the alley to provide shade.
The richer manors take on much more complex designs, often of a morbid or Marresquean style. These buildings can reach many stories in height, towering over the rest of the city, and are often exquisitely curved and sharp. Many are topped by simple black or gold domes or rippling spires, and the walls of the manors usually angle inwards towards the upper floors. These manors usually have fewer windows than more common buildings, though the windows that are present are generally highly embroidered, with golden metal in elegant shapes, and many are made of glass. Artistic edges and angles jut out from the upper stories of these manors, giving fearsome appearances, and some are adorned with carvings of grotesques, demons, and other statues. The interiors of these buildings, primarily the flooring, are often coated with obsidian or otherwise heavily polished stone, and rugged with the most expensive cloth materials available.
Thalambath buildings are also known for their ‘reverse’ art style. While many cities strive to show off artwork openly, such as with statues or building paint and murals, Thalambath prides itself instead on the personal, private art of its citizens. A building might have a plain exterior wall, with no ornamentation whatsoever, while its interior is covered from floor to ceiling in colourful paints, tiles, and cloths. Only the most important buildings, such as mystical monuments and temples, decorate themselves openly with symbolic carvings and writing.
Layout. Thalambath’s layout is highly organized, owing to its strong government. While, long ago, the city utilized a more organic construction, nearly every remnant of this has been swept away. Now, wide, straight roads weave through evenly-sized square blocks throughout the city. The major roads go from north to south and east to west. Aside from these primary ‘border roads’, a third type cuts down diagonally through the city blocks. There are only two of these angled roads in the city, and where they intersect lays the major congregational location in the city: Eltar Square. The two diagonal roads that go through Eltar Square are considered the lifelines of the city. The street from north-east to south-west, known as Khaled Street, starts at Thalambath’s northern-most east gate and runs through Eltar Square to the waterfront. The second street starts at the foot of the Black Castle, and is thus known as Thalam Way. Thalam Way crosses down through Eltar Square and terminates at East Gate, which leads out into the desert east of the city.
The Eltar Square
Eltar Square is the heart of the city. Though most of the important government complexes and noble estates are located at the base of Norong’sorno, the majority of the city’s trading happens in Eltar, overseen by the Templum of Trade in the north-west section of the plaza. Brightly-coloured stalls line the streets, which are separated into two floors. Most trading carts pass through the wider streets underneath while walking traffic is relegated to the upper level.
All merchant stalls are under government control, and require permits from the Templum of Trade. As these stalls are controlled and financed by the government, they are of significantly more permanent construction than traditional ‘wooden stalls’ one would normally think of. These stalls often are constructed out of the same stone and plaster of nearby buildings, and most are, indeed, inside a single large trade building. Most do their business on the upper floor, but have a walled stock room on the bottom floor that is stocked by the trade caravans. These stock rooms are usually linked to the upper stall through either stairs or a hole in the ground with a levy. Despite the government control of trade outlets, however, that doesn’t stop the occasional squatter or sideline hawker from plying their wares when they can get away with it, though the guards are usually quick to mop up these illegals.
Aside from trade stalls, hosts of other personal-related industry are also present in Eltar, including inns, a local barracks and jailhouse, bordellos, and taverns, all overseen and most residing within the large Templum of Trade building.
The Foot of the Black
Comprising of both the Black Castle as well as the surrounding city blocks, the Foot of the Black Castle is, as named, the location of the Black Castle of Thalambath. In the center of it all lies Castle Square, located at the intersection between Royal Way running east and Viseur Street running south, and which was the original hub of Old Thalambath. As the centerpoint of the Foot of the Black Castle, Castle Square still stands between the most powerful locations in the city, with the Black Castle to its north, the Temple of the Arcane to its west, and the Templum of Seven to its east. Viseur Street itself runs directly out of the steps of the Black Castle to the waterfront, intersecting with Khaled Street near the water’s edge at Niban Square. Thalam Way also starts here, running south-east from Castle Square.
- The Black Castle
The most famous building in Thalambath and perhaps one of the most renowned constructions in the world, the Black Castle is the supposed resting place of Thalambath himself. Sealed from the rest of the city by a great black wall, the Black Castle can only be entered by Keep’s Gate, north of Castle Square.
The Black Castle is a great black monument, rising high into the air and carving deep into the mountainside. Its bottom level comprises of the first quarter of a pyramid in shape, which flattens out two stories up. Above the base is a large rectangular rising, reaching some four or five stories into the air, and indented deep into the structure. Pillars surround this large stone slab, each carved to depict a ráhaz’estár wrapping around the stone, with jaw wide open. These pillars support a flat roof, upon which is carved a variety of arcane runes and symbols, some believed to be an ancient human evolution of Old Styrásh, or an original runic language of its own, but most meaning has been lost to time. The base is flanked on its south-east and south-west corners by two obsidian obelisks. At the entrance to the Black Castle, a small flat rise stretches out 10 peds south, and is ringed by seven pillars on its left and seven on its right, supporting a thick stone roof. These seven pillars each depict a robed figure in humbled prayer, meant to represent the Seven. It is rumored that these pillars were only carved after the Black Castle was actually constructed.
- The Temple of the Arcane
The Temple of the Arcane is a series of buildings lying against the mountain to the west of Castle Square, and are everlit of a dull blue colour from glowing arcane enchantments, crystals, and runic carvings. Despite the vast size of these buildings, they are surprisingly sparse of population on the inside - for only few are deemed worthy enough to be admitted as what are known as the Thalam Wizards. All sorcerers within Thalambath are required to join the Temple - foreign magic is forbidden within Thalambath. Even Ximaxian envoys require explicit approval and honourary positions within the Temple to be allowed to partake in Thalambathian studies.
- The Templum of Seven
The Templum of Seven is the political capital of the city. A large building, the Templum is comprised of a domed center, surrounded by three wings of rectangular build, and flanked on corners by smaller domed towers. At the front presides two black pillars, as well as statues of the Seven. A stone ledge stretches out from the center of the dome, from which official proclamations may be held.
The Seven of Thalambath reside within the Templum, and each have their primary quarters within the building, in the northern wing. The central dome structure is for the most part a wide-open space, filled with statues of each of the gods as well as finely engraved walls and flooring. The top of the dome is where the Seven conduct private business, along with the Viseur.
The western wing comprises of the Templums of Coin and Construction, where the Councils of like name meet to overview matters, while the south wing contains the Templum of the Sword and the Royal Throne for military and civic duties.
Each wing utilizes similar design philosophies to other rich locals of Thalambath, though the carpeting in each is of a different hue for the purpose of identification. The south wing is dabbed in indigo carpets and tapestries, due to its duties over royal charges. The west wing is coloured in a variety of blues, and the northern wing is known for its bright crimsons and golds.
Old Nosir – The
Old Nosir is the section of the Thalambath comprising of the majority of the original territory of the harbour city of Nosir. Today, it primarily consists of warehouses, inns, and homes for the local dockworkers.
The Waterfront, particularly the docks and harbour sections, are where the majority of the daily activity in the city commences. Even though the primary trading hub of Thalambath is Eltar Square, much ‘local’ trading happens in the docks, at Niban Square.
The docks themselves are primarily constructed of wood. However, recent construction projects have aimed at replacing the old and decaying wood for massive nor’sidian blocks reaching deep into the bay. Currently, only a fifth of the docks are built of nor’sidian. The most important traffic is directed to these docks, such as shipments from far away in Nybelmar or Aeruillin. Two pleasure ships, the Royal Sail and the Etherus, also have access to these great docks.
- The Ship Houses
The Ship Houses are an older construction that were the inspiration behind the latest nor’sidian revamp of the docks. The Ship Houses are massive stone structures, some nor’sidian, along the western edge of the bay that reach deep into the sea to provide covering during storms for wealthy vessels. In addition, the dry docks are located in some of these Ship Houses, where new warships and barges are built.
Renting a Ship House is an incredibly expensive venture. Only a very few companies can afford them, so there have been no new Ship Houses built in over a century.
- The Templum of Sail
The Templum of Sail is a large building ringing Niban Square. As its name indicates, the Templum of Sail controls all matters of port work, ship construction, and the provision of Trade Coins. Over the last several decades, the Templum of Sail has been granted more and more of Thalambath’s funds, in order to provide even more incentive for merchants to come to Thalambath instead of Strata. Despite this increased economic power, however, the Templum of Sail’s workers are no more wealthy than any other. Unlike other Templums, the Templum of Sail is overseen by an Archwizard and a garrison of Templar Knights, charged with making sure that the Templum does not abuse its impressive funds for personal gain.
- The Harbour Estates
The Harbour Estates are located along the north-eastern edge of the bay, and no port beyond personal estate docks extend here. These massive, nor’sidian buildings comprise of both permanent noble estates as well as secondary estates for those nobles who occasionally want to rest in the view of the bay.
As South Gate lies nearly directly to the east of these estates, land travelers from Strata are granted their first image of Thalambath’s nobility through these buildings.
- Niban Square
Niban Square is the former central square of Nosir. Ringed on its south side by the Templum of Sail and adorned at its center by a statue of an ancient oared warship, Niban Square is the primary tourist attraction for those coming from sea. As Khaled Street begins here and moves north-east to Eltar Square, the majority of traders pass through Niban as well. As such, Niban Square is essentially a miniature Eltar, and possesses many inns, taverns, and shops. Unlike Eltar, trade is largely unregulated here, and most cheap wares are provided here. Niban feels more like a traditional market square, as it is lined with wooden stalls and bright tapestries by the many merchants who cry day and night for travelers to buy their goods. Of significant stock is fresh fish, primarily bonehead and flyer crab, caught from the bay and prepared for sale by local fishermen.
A small branch of the Templum of Trade exists here, within the Templum of Sail building. Its duties are much reduced in comparison with the main Templum, and primarily only deals with renting out merchant shops and overseeing local disputes. Should any one business become too large, however, the Templum will force them to move to Eltar Square.
The North Estates
The North Estates are the luxurious districts in the northern-most section of the city, resting against and building up into the Norong’sorno. Not only the living space of the affluent, the northern regions are also home to some of the prime tourist attractions of the city, including the Norong’sorno Hotsprings and Lava Tubes.
- The Hotsprings of Norong’sorno
Thalambath sits atop the burning fire of the Norong’sorno, and over the centuries pools of boiling hot water were discovered within the volcano’s caverns. While this water is most often cooled and placed in containers for drinking, some enterprising nobles came up with the idea of building a resort within the caves, where the naturally hot water could be used in the form of spas and saunas.
The hotsprings consist of one large public bath, several individual baths, and various sizes of steam rooms. The hot water is first cooled slightly to prevent scalding the flesh, and then funneled into various pools and baths, where it is kept at set temperatures by a series of furnaces. The hotsprings employ multiple servants to see to the needs of the bathers, and, like other resort locations in the city, offer everything from massages to food.
Lying to the west of the city are the farmlands. Here, what few crops can be grown in the Ráhaz’Dáth are cultivated for the city’s consumption, directed by the Templum of Tilling. The soil off the Norong’sorno is incredibly efficient for plants, however, and rain is much more frequent here than in other parts of the desert, so Thalambath has been capable of providing for itself substantially over the years.
- The Western Residential Districts
Home to the hundreds of farmers that till the fields on a daily basis, the residential districts on the western edge of the city are some of the oldest buildings in Thalambath. Most of the buildings are connected to each other and rise three stories into the sky, with each individual family comprising of a single story. Unlike the darker buildings inside the city, the buildings here are relatively light, ranging from light yellow to orange.
Each family story generally comprises of a single main room and one or two side rooms, usually allocated towards bedding. These rooms are much less decorated than the richer structures inside of Thalambath, and most only have relatively simple carpets of brown tanned hide or cloth and silverware of hardened clay.
The East Gates
The East Gates are the series of four gates leading out into the Ráhaz’Dáth. Of the four, only three are currently being used, as the oldest one in the north has been sealed due to lack of use.
Location. Thalambath is located along the western coast of the Ráhaz’Dáth Desert in the Truban province, directly south of the Norong’Sorno volcano. It sits atop the old city of Merioch, and many dig sites are spread throughout the borders of the city. Because of this underground, and the build-up of dried lava from volcanic eruptions eons past, the surface of Thalambath is not entirely flat, and the city is comprised of several rising layers.
Picture description. A citizen of Thalambath. Image drawn by Bard Judith.
People. Many exotic
people have inhabited Thalambath over many centuries. Though the
Truban province is traditionally thought to be the
domain of the Shendar and
Stratanians alone, Thalambath has
existed even before those refuges and tribes arrived. Though most refer to the
citizens of the city as Stratanians
ever since Strata’s former political importance in the
Santharian Kingdom, native Thalambathians see that
title as an insult. Instead, those who carry the heritage of the original
settlers of the city still call themselves Kaizoumetran, shortened in modern use
to Kaizranian, and they believe that they still carry that ancient blood.
Considered a rich and untainted blood, the most important and powerful positions
in Thalambath hierarchy are reserved for pureblooded Kaizranians alone. Even
with the efforts to keep the races separate, however, mingling has left the
marks of a Kaizranian to be only slight. Most Kaizranian families are simply
traced back by patriarchal bloodline, even if there are no physical traits
remaining. Others can be recognized by a sharpness of features, notably the
eyes, and a dusky, rather than tan, skin, but even these are recognizable from a
Shendar by only by a keen eye.
This class distinction is a prominent aspect of Thalambathian society. The city’s longstanding independence has allowed it to maintain its ancient values, and Thalambath has made strides to keep foreign influences out of its development. In Thalambath, those of valued blood have higher power, and those who have lesser power have lesser blood. Blood is always given as the explanation for one’s power - while pureblooded Kaizranians have naturally greater status, an impoverished Kaizranian is considered to have somehow tainted or cursed blood which dulls the value of his blood, thus preventing him from rising to higher power. The purest blood is that of the Seven, and the Thalam, as the Kaizranians believe that such blood is what fuels magical power. Those arcanists who do not possess pure blood, such as the magi of Ximax, are considered to be the equivalent of thieves, making covenants with demons in exchange for the power of magic, and that such stolen magic is vastly inferior to the might of pureblooded arcanistry.
Up until active trading began, Thalambath was highly isolated, and limited access to the region to only specific individuals. While in modern times, the city is far more open to travelers, non-citizens still require a Trade Coin to walk freely in the city, and often face discrimination. These coins are granted to all travelers coming by sea, but must be returned to legally leave the city, again by sea. Being caught in Thalambath’s borders without a passcoin is considered a criminal offense and can be punished with hefty fines with one warning, up to exile or even death for repeat offenders, who are classified as foreign agents.
This strict form of border monitoring has been one of the largest factors for the strife between Thalambath and the Shendar over the centuries, as Thalambath has been known to arrest or execute Shendar that are found within Thalambath’s borders, despite the Shendar’s nomadic lifestyle. Currently, Thalambath maintains heavy patrols, walls, and defensive outposts at its borders. Foreigners and traders are funneled through the trade routes, but even then, they must acquire a Travel Coin at the border keep or other outposts.
Overall, however, the people of Thalambath are a private, suspicious, but prideful population. They place great value on their culture, pleasurable activities, knowledge, and artwork, and believe that many provinces are jealous of Thalambath’s wealth and status, a jealousy that they fear has the potential to turn into full-scale war despite the peace within the Santharian Kingdom. Nevertheless, Thalambathians do not overtly desire conquest and have stayed out of many of the wars that have plagued other kingdoms prior to the unification. They would rather build down, not out, and have an intense scholarly pursuit to uncover the secrets of the Kaizoumetrá empire and other ancient facts as well as a swelling of pride that leads to the pursuit of the perfection of self. Most who can afford it and aren’t already wizards are either historians or artists. While the city may not be as outwardly colourful as Strata or Varcopas, they make up for it through their architecture, carvings, and personal works of art such as body art, tapestry, pottery, and paintings. Most citizens have lavishly decorated interiors, and adorn their homes with the visual history of their own life experiences. Many citizens can read and write, as they pride themselves on their expansive knowledge, and even the poorest citizen is a scholar, using the interior walls of his house as a journal to write of his discovers instead of bound notebooks or parchment.
There is a dark shadow over Thalambath’s inhabitants, however. While the kingdom of Thalambath has for the most part not been bothered with war over other nations, it has kept a strong grip over its own. Foreigners are not the only ones who feel the chokehold in Thalambath’s looming walls. The city is very silent for a trading capital, and deals are made quietly and cleanly, for while Thalambath is a city of fine luxury to the hardworking, those who slip between the cracks are forever beyond aid, and no crime, however small, goes unpunished. One needs only look up at the immense black citadels to realize the power of Thalambath’s authority. Though some crime will always remain, Thalambath has been quite successful in controlling the majority of it within the city walls. However, the desert is a vast place, and there are rumors of a criminal network that operates outside the city walls. Many trade franchises have been shut down over the years under the suspicion of being a front for one of these criminal enterprises.
Government. Thalambath is ruled over officially by the Seven and the Royal Viseur, and the assembly of these eight figures is known as the Presidium. While the Seven have ultimate power, the Viseur is more often than not charged with direct authority of the city, and strong Viseurs have been known to have a significant hand in controlling the Seven. This is particularly true in modern times, as the Viseur also plays a second role as the King of the United South ever since Thalambath succeeded Strata as the capital for the Truban province. The role of Viseur is chosen by the Seven, but can only be removed by a majority vote, thus the removal of a politically savvy Viseur is rare.
For a brief time, the Viseur’s title as King of the United South was the Tristan, following the previous Truban rulers from Strata, though this was quickly changed by the Presidium to reduce the influence of the Stratanian culture.
All government powers in Thalambath are arranged in offices known as ‘Templums’, and each Templum has control only over one facet of city life. Each Templum is controlled by a Pryus, who is the highest ranking Thalam Sorcerer in that organization. The Pryus has ultimate authority over his Templum, and is in charge of establishing the chain of order in his Templum and relaying its status back to the Presidium.
Thalam Wizards occupy many of the highest positions in Thalambathian government, and are only subject to higher ranking wizards, Pryus’, the Viseur, and the Seven. All Thalam are exempt from most common laws, and a Thalam’s word will almost always be taken above any commoner’s word.
Climate. Thalambath is extremely hot despite receiving more annual rain than its competitor, Strata. While its large buildings and enormous walls provide excellent shading in many paths through the city for most hours of the day, the nor’sidian stone used to construct the larger manors and walls results in extremely warm air. Stepping outside of the buildings assaults one with thick, dry air that hangs lifelessly and in the warmer hours of the day can even suffocate those who are unprepared. This hot air results in the heavy heat ripples seen by those approaching Thalambath from a distance.
Rain in Thalambath is exceedingly rare, like most locations in Truban, however, its location along the coast and the winds traveling through the Nirmenith Mountains and Mount Norong’Sorno sometimes manage to bring rainfall to the city during the winter years, averaging only a few times a year, sometimes as much as once or twice a month in ‘colder’ winters, though there is more along the western peninsula, even some rare rainstorms, allowing decent farming in that region. More often than rain however are heavy winds and sandstorms coming out of the eastern edges of the city, which result in thick black and grey clouds, thunder and sometimes lightning that strikes the tall buildings, and near-hurricane strength dry winds. These winds mostly impact the high walls of the city, and are then funneled through the buildings to the point that an unwary individual may be knocked off their feet and choked from the large amounts of sand and dust carried by these winds. These powerful gusts are also not cool as one would expect them to be, and assail one with a hot force that makes one wish for no wind at all.
These winds are so violent that even those inside of the buildings can hear them as they impact against the walls, threatening to rip the ancient city from its berth. Ships tied to the docks along the Aetyram Sea must be securely fastened and their rigging is safest completely removed and placed below decks or in the stone warehouses along the shore. Even then, however, ships are often torn apart by these winds, and most captains avoid the city entirely when there is proof of an approaching storm, or pay the exorbitant fees for one of the massive stone Ship Houses along the waterside.
These hurricanes occur more often than rain, and can happen as often as three to four times a month in winter months and as often as once or twice every two months during warmer seasons.
Night in Thalambath does not do much to significantly cool the city like the frigid temperatures one would expect from other locations in the desert. The stone and nor’sidian buildings keep the heat trapped long after the sun has gone down, and nights remain fairly warm, though much more bearable than during the day.
Flora. Unlike some of the other major cities in Truban, Thalambath has limited amounts of flora outside of its farms. While some independent citizens might grow vegetable gardens on their roofs or on window ledges, there is very little visible greenery within the city beyond some sparsely placed sarauno cacti, adan’sonia trees, brown grass, or other small shrubbery. Some of the noble districts however grow vineyards within their estates, used in the production of the most valuable wine in city, Thalambath’s Blood.
There are, however, many irrigated farms west of the city and along the northern districts of the city where the mineral-rich soil from dried lava flows and more prominent rainfalls allow better crop growth. Whatever Thalambath cannot produce for itself it imports from other lands or villages.
Fauna. Thalambath has a more diverse system of fauna than might be expected from an arid city. Like the rest of the desert however, most of these animals are quite subtle in practice, and many hide during the day, though the shade has allowed some to thrive while others sleep.
The most common ‘pest’ animals are, like most cities, mice, both of the foreign dune mice variety that have adapted to the city, as well as the more local flying mice, also called sand mice. The flying mice of Thalambath are small, sand-coloured rodents, and have only a short, stubby tail. Their hind legs are large and powerful, however, and these mice can leap long distances. Beyond just leaping, their skin stretches, and they are able to glide over expanses of air, allowing these mice to traverse easily between the multiple layers of Thalambath. They come out mostly during the night, and tend to scavenge on food left in the streets or in warehouses.
Offsetting these highly mobile pests are the Rahaz’Norong, or more commonly "Thalambath Snakes". These non-poisonous and quick snakes are a dark, sandy-coloured reptile that tends to keep to the shadows of the city, but are awake during the day, where they seek out the sleeping mice. Most citizens of the city leave the snakes in peace in order to remove the mice, so the snakes have learned to ignore human presence and are quite tame to be around.
Aside from the wild denizens of the city, many of Thalambath’s richer population keep boar-faced coyotes or ly’caón as companions. The coyotes are slender, sooty-furred dogs that were once diggers and scavengers in the ash-covered hills of the Norong’sorno, and many are still used as hunters of the Thalambath mice. However, many have come to serve as simple household pets. Most are gray or dull-yellow, and have long, narrow snouts and large, fan-shaped ears. The ly’caón are similar in appearance to the coyotes, but are not as prominent around the Norong’sorno.
Some common livestock are also bred on the farms west of Thalambath.
Resources. Surprisingly, Thalambath is an excellent source of fresh water in the Truban province. There is plenty of rain for farming on the peninsula, and the hotsprings produce gallons of fresh mineral water daily. Most of this water is collected and sold in coyote-hide waterskins. Thus, Thalambath has been an exporter of fresh water to the rest of the region for many years, even before it expanded openly to major trade.
Other popular trade items include nor’sidian, Firestar mortar, obsidian, lead, copper, rhyolite, quartz, brimstone, burning stones, clay, feldspar, and glass, as well as various tapestries and other forms of artwork. In times of excess production, some grainery and wheat from the western peninsula farms are sold, as well as fresh fish. Iron and gold are also mined, but rarely exported in their raw form, instead being used extensively in their respective crafts.
A major item that Thalambath is known for exporting is weaponry. Due to the mithrilan salt acquired from trade with the Shendar, Thalambath has developed an exceptional business for weapon forging. Using traces of mithrilan in everything from kitchen knives to large, double-handed swords and maces, most weapons produced in Thalambath are stronger and lighter than if they were built elsewhere. Thalambath does trade some of the raw mithrilan as well, but most of it is used straight away and then the end products themselves are subsequently exported.
One of the most recently expanding franchises has been the trade of gem beetle jewelry, exotic and richly coloured ornaments made from the glassed carapaces of Truban’s native gem beetles. This form of jewelry, while expensive, is significantly cheaper to produce than equivalent ornaments made from actual gemstones, yet they appear just as regal and elegant as any true gem.
Myth/Lore. Thalambath, due to its age, has a wealth of myths and legends that have remained in circulation for the many eras of its existence. Foremost of these is the name of the city itself: Thalambath, the ancient Chosen, rumoured to have built or even somehow transformed into the ancient Black Castle that still stands to this day. - The historian Gean Firefeet retold the following myth, which can be found inthe Compendium to New-Santhala:
How Thalambath turned into a City.
The legend goes that the building is the wizard
Thalambath in own person. The
chronicles of the ancient city begin with a passage starting at the end of
the War of the Chosen, when according to the legend eight riders arrived in
the south. They were refugees from the Great War, wounded and battered in
many a battle and seeking a place for peace after years of horrifying war.
Their leader was named Thalambath. He was a wizard, powerful and skilled,
but had tried to avoid the mayhem of war by staying neutral in the dispute
of White and Black Wizards. The fighting parties, who both tried to convince
him to choose their side, eliminated his small realm in the north and tried
to destroy him, but failed. With his seven servants the weakened wizard
roamed the countryside, hiding from his pursuers, who gave up the pursuit in
the end. The eight went south, in the hope to find a few likeminded people
to cooperate with, but found nothing but destroyed and burned cities, only
inhabited by a few remaining citizens. So the heart of the wise sorcerer
darkened and it is said that he slowly began to hallucinate at nights, while
sitting weak and halfsleeping in his saddle at daytime. Madness came over
him and a few small communities were destroyed by his seven powerful heralds
before they arrived at the last spot he hoped to find a friend.