Sunday, July 21, 2019

Valastainen, the City of Shipwrights

INTRODUCTION
Valastainen (val-ah-STY-nen) is an ancient elvish city situated upon the Lake of Lamps in Tailimisia. It serves as the central hub of the administration of the Murhestinal family and, as of the death of Tywyn Leofrosin in the matter known as the Expulsion of the Night Prince (X.512) of Aita Valmindene, the house has been ruled by the Tywynne Myrialandina, daughter of Leofrosin and strong supporter of the new elvish Queen, the Gwyderia Ilisia the Historian. The city controls all tolls on the southerly branch of the rivers Lyrissen and Idabrell. Though its name translates as "Place of Lamps," in Varan the city is often called Watchway, for its massive lighted tower that guards the mouth of the River Idabrell.

The city is famed for its canals and the closeness of its manors, for the elves of Valastainen built along the canalways to permit ships to reach the very doors of their houses. The city is lit at all hours of the day or night by many thousands of silver lamps, and a longstanding custom has it that every house must take responsibility to light the canals, or pay toward a general fund to lighting the woods about the city. Long ago, enchantments were laid on the forests all about to give light through will-o'-the-wisps that can prove both helpful and jocular.

The entire region surrounding the Lake of Lamps feeds Valastainen, the free elves of the farms bringing their goods by raft to the Mede of the Springmaiden for distribution. The entire region pays homage to Senia, Meri, and Tulia above the worship of Anunia, thanking Senia and Tulia for the fruits of the earth, and Meri for the bounty of the rivers and the lake.

HISTORY
One of the oldest elvish settlements in Tailimisia, it was built around the same time as the first towers were lain in Aita Valmindene. The oldest towers are situated on the small archipelago of islands that dot the Lake of Lamps, which are known as the Seven Sorrows. These seven ruins belonged to powerful elvish families now long extinct, and for centuries have served as magnets for adventurers.

During the War of High Sorcery Valastainen was often used as a staging ground for Harnholme dwarves moving further west. In that age, a compact was made between the then-ruling house of Deepriver and four clans of Blue Dwarves to construct a series of locks and canals to help control the flow of the lake and the river. These same dwarves assisted the elvish high sorcerer Tulimestya in the construction of the fabulous lock-and-canal works at Mount Aurisia, and they still dwell in Valastainen to this day.

Because of its situation on a large, deep, calm lake, Valastainen is the premier location of shipwrights in Tailimisia, and one of the only places within the Greatwood were deep-draft ships can be prepared and launched to the sea. For that purposes, Valastainen magicians, aided by Tulimestya the Waterwright, long ago deepened the Idabrell to permit the transit of ocean-going ships southward from Lake Valoina. This has earned Valastainen the nickname "City of the Shipwrights."

House Murhestinal and the Weeping Palace
House Murhestinal takes its arms (a weeping elf's head with long flowing hair) from the grant of the Weeping Palace to the original Murhestinai in the last age. This ancient stone structure sits at the heart of the city, and is fed and shot through with many private canals. Most of the wings of the Weeping Palace have been abandoned, as the house is not as large as the old Princes of the Lake, but they can be put to good use housing adventurers, levies, and free elf companies arriving from other regions.

The Weeping Palace boasts a large temple to Talifer, the Wounded God, and the elves who patrol the Daleadau under the Gwyderia's orders often set out from the Square of the Wounded Warrior at its gates. Murhestinal can marshal some of the largest and most powerful levies in the central forest.

The Grand Temple of Talifer is the largest of its kind in Tailimisia and one of the largest in the entire elvish culture-zone. It is tended by Curhemelian the Blade, the High Priestess of Talifer, and by a platoon of twenty Stormsword bachelors.

The Central Canals
The most densely populated region of the city is the central section, surrounding the Weeping Palace. Here, there are narrow lanes for foot traffic, but many networks of canals for ships. All mounted and wheeled traffic is forbidden from entering this region of the city, as it would clog the streets. Instead, goods are brought in through ships and barges to each of the grand homes. As a result, only the wealthiest merchants, mages, and elvish nobility in service to the Murhestinal Princess can afford homes here. The Illuminated Ones (the Valoi) also maintain their scriptorium, laboratory, and clave manor in this part of the city.

The Mede of the Springmaiden. This mere or mede is an island all its own, reached by high, slender bridges. It is here that the farmers of the Lake of Lamps come to sell their wares to the city each morning. The outlying towns each have their own days to come and bring their rafts, ensuring that the city receives a continuous supply of goods.

House of Illumination. This manorhouse, located on a side canal, behind hall walls with many tall garrets and glazed windows, is home to the Order of the Valoi, the Illuminated Ones, a powerful clave of central-Tailimisia wizards.

The House of the Silver Tree Guildhall. The House of the Silver Tree maintains its largest, most central, and most opulent guildhall in the central part of the city, opposite the mede of the Springmaiden.

Tuliameren's Arms. This inn is the largest in the city and used by elvish nobility from all over Tailimisia. When elves from the south must journey to Aita Valmindene, many make Tuliameren's Arms one of their stops on the route, for it is famed throughout the Greatwood. The inn is four stories tall, with wide-flung wings, and both owned and operated by Tuliameren Highwater, the elvish adventurer who ran the coffers for three successive adventuring parties, the last and largest being the Company of the Burning Horn, known for its jaunts into Elnuril.

The Great Light
The Tower of the Lamp, which stands at the mouth of the R. Idabrell, dominates this part of the city.

The Glazing Pits. This section of the city is constantly smoking and blazing with heat; here the great elvish furnaces produce glass from the lakesand of the Lake of Lamps. This is the largest single glassworks in Arunia, and Valastainen glass (also called lakeglass) can be found throughout Atva-Arunia.

The Hall of Ashes. Rumor insists that the Ashblade Assassins maintain a large enclave in the city. This semi-mythical foundation is known as the "Hall of Ashes," where death may be had for high prices in gold.

The Shipwright's Canals
This district is the poorest and most ramshackle section of Valastainen. Here are the many ships of elvish beechwood, highwood, and others, imported from across the elvish world, wrought, designed, and made. Sailmakers, rope-makers, weavers, and others live in close confines here to support the work of the shipwrights. Drydocks are all owned by companies of free elves, who whip together and work them; arrangements for construction of a ship must be made with these companies, which are often busy many years in advance.

The Dwarftown
Although the dwarves live all throughout the city, Dwarftown is where the four great clan-halls are located. These are the Irnval, Himril, Thangrin, and Istov clans of blue dwarves. Many dwarf sea-halls, with canals that pass beneath them and through them, entering the very walls of the home to provide hydraulic cooling or access directly to gathering rooms, stand amongst the elvish manors here.

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