It is quoted in the Canon of St. Mancel that once in his life, that every devout soul should make pilgrimage to the holy city of Sangreal.
Sangreal is an ancient city, it's thick stone walls date back well over a millenia and it is a testament to the architectural wisdom of it's builders. Most of the city has been hewn out of native white limestone, and the walls and major buildings have been faced with imported granite, marble, and sandstone. Most expect the Holiest of Cities to be stark white, bedecked with gold and jewels. Instead it is a riot of muted colors, splashes of earthy brown and orange sandstone counterpointed by glossy and almost organically swirled white and green marble.
The Outreme Quarter really constitutes over 2/3rds of the city, and lies entirely outside of the Haven Wall. This part of the city is the youngest, though some of the buildings here date back more than 500 years. The smaller structures are rebuilt on average one every century or two. Broad avenues piece Outreme and lead to the four major gates of the Haven wall. Shops, taverns, and inns line these avenues, hoping for the wealthy patroniage of the nobles and lords who make the pilgrimage, others cater to the less wealthy. There is a bed for every soul who makes their way to the city, even if it is in a flophouse six blocks from the nearest avenue sleeping on a used mat of horsereed.
Saint's Bones is a sub-section of Outreme and is considered the 'bad side' of town. Here, relic dealers sell their wares, peddling animal bones as saint's bones as well as living among the poorest and most destitute of the city. This area is run down, and the avenues that lead too close to it are heavily patroled by the Order of St. Ogier, a martial order of holy warriors who pledged to defend the city from all who would despoil it.
The Haven Wall was raised some 900 to 1000 years ago. At the base it is nearly forty feet thick and rises to a height of some 30 feet. The outer casing of the wall is approximately 8 to 10 feet thick and the interior of the wall is thickly piled rubble mixed with lime and pulverized sand, creating a loose and fast sort of concrete. This has not been replicated in any building under 450 years old. The wall was built during the rising power of Sangreal, when it was frequently at odds with it's pagan neighbors. Decades of war scarred the thick stone, but despite several bloody sieges, the city never fell, and gave some sense of credence to the claim that the city was favored by the god of Logan, Mancel, and Duncan.
Divine assistance or not, the wall is well built, and the military tacts of St. Mancel the Wise are still followed today. The Arms Militant of the Trinistine Faith remain potent, despite a waning in the number of new recruits and income of funds. According to some records, at the height of their power, the Arms Militant, under the command of Pontiff-King Mancel XXIII numbered in excess of 15,000 able bodied men-at-arms, and knights. Each of these was bestowed with the honorific title Paladin.
Within the Haven Wall is the Old City. Most of the buildings here are over 500 years old, and many use the innovations of vaulted ceilings, flying butresses, and poured concrete. Unfortunately, these wonders of construction have been 'lost' as none of the modern builders have access to the architectural wisdom contained within some of the archives of the Faith. While not banned, or considered heresy, few if any of the building companies in the city have time to idle away reading books on ancient construction. In contrast to the heavy lines and solid construction of Outreme, the Old City is a place of soaring ceilings, and stonework that borders on delicate as opposed to the oppressive. Most of the structures here were built during the golden age of Sangreal when tens of thousands of pilgrims visited the city every year. There are basilicas raised in honor of various saints, as well as the great chapterhouses of the Arms Militant, the Motherhouses of the Mendicant Orders, as well as all sorts of centers for theology and the training of new clerics in the service to the Trinitine Faith.
Reaping the Harvest
Surrounded by plains on three sides and amply watered by the Agares watershed Sangreal is the breadbasket of Falhath. For centuries the soil has produced large crops of wheat and other cereal grains. The clerics claim the blessings of the Trinity while more geologically minded folk claim the annual flooding of the Agares river. During the height of the faith two centuries ago, the demand for grain was so high that new communities such as Buzzard's Bay were chartered to help ease the burden on the Sangrealian farmers. Now, with demand falling off, more of the fields are beig left fallow.
The city has fallen on lean times. The common people still pay lip service to the Faith, but the prominence of the Holiest of holies has fallen in favor of the local cathedrals and churches. There has also been a resurgence in the worship of the Old Faiths, and the naturalistic ways of the Elves. Some pilgrims still come, enough to keep the wheels turning, along with the religious equipment produced, and other industries of metalworking and glassblowing, the city stays ahead of it's debts.
There is a quiet desperation in the air. The demons are gone, and the orcs no longer beat upon the door, and the wolves have all wandered away. The people have drifted away from the large bureaucratic faith that held strong through the dark times, but seems frivolous in these cosmopolitan modern days. Sorcery is in vogue, and the mercenary hero has replaced the Champion of the Faith. The city that could not be defeated by 100 armies, is slowly being bled to death, one soul at a time.
Recruiting Drive - Trying to improve it's image, some more progressive Priests have hatched an idea to bring some of the modern mercenary heroes (IE adventurers) into the fold by offering them incentives to adopt the faith, or display it more prominently. Throw in promises of treasure, holy relics, the works. Now the PCs are 'employed' by the church to do it's work, be it good or bully.
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? Responses (13)
I love it. It gave me the Knights Templar Jerusalem vibe, or even that of Rhodes and Malta. A very good capture of a place where faith has been forgotten and decadence is prospering in it's stead. Ever been to Europe? (Hehe)
Plot idea: (PCs need access to divination, sciomancy or similar)
Tears of a Patriarch - His faith are losing its followers, and his city has become a place of corruption. It proved to be too much for the old Patriarch and one day the PC cleric find him cold before the altar, dead, tears in his eyes. Rushing to his aid, the minor priests soon declare that the old man's heart could take no more, he died of grief, mourning the city and faith he loved so much.
His body is interred with much fanfare. The temples get more revenue than usual. Once again the pilgrims flock to the city, drawn by shame and allegiance to a man who did great things.
Problem is the PC cannot forget the old man. Every night he visits the PC cleric in his dream. Each night he seems to say something, but the PC awake sweating before he does. Then, one night, the PC hears the first part of what he says: 'Treason...'.
The soul of the Patriarch cannot leave, his soul unable to find peace and his God denying him rest before he has righted the wrong committed in his name. The Patriarch was murdered by the council of supreme priests. They blamed him for the decline of the church and knew that his tragic demise would shake the people, for after all he was a man once. A man loved by the people.
If the PCs start asking questions they will get fierce responses from the priesthood. Their inqueries will be met with a cold shoulder and, once the supreme council discovers what they are doing, with assassination attempts.
Should the PCs get the opportunity to perform a medical study of the body of the Patriarch, they will discover a large concentration of poison in his liver and stomach. Unbeknownst to the PCs his tears were of intense and burning pain, no doubt realizing his last dinner with the council was his undoing.
Should the PCs perform a divination or sciomantic ceremony before the altar (not a chance they will get permission for this), the restless spirit of the Patriarch will appear before them, relating the story of their betrayal and directing them to the only one who have the authority to help: His Holiness, the Hermit of the Vault of the Divine.
Whooops. I got all verbose again.
A fantasy version of Jerusalem. But one where there only seems to be one major religon instead of three.
Really it was inspired by Sentinel*'s Haven Fortress post in the bad example category.
I noticed. The numbers gave you away. ;)
There were some elements of the absurd that I felt I could integrate into a quality post, and some, like the moat full of man-eating eels I couldn't quite swing.
Fantastic. This is just awesome.
A good city post that is not in the City Image thread! I jump for you and give you High Paw!
Call me crazy, but a moat full of man-eating eels sounds pretty nifty to me!
Great submission Scras. Not long, and/but full of quasi-historical juicy details.
Updated: Added Reaping the Harvest section to reflect information from Dreifach and Darak subs.
Very nice indeed.
This is really solid and smoothly written with an excellent conservation of language and focus. Makes it easy to 'get'.