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El-Andrel

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Country:El-Andrel
Settled:1200 B.S.R.
Government:Syndicalist Semi-Anarchy - Council of Ushers
Population:97,590 (80% Men - Solani)
Demonym:Andrelese
Economy
Major industries:alchemical products, furniture, illuminated manuscripts, jewelry, scholarly work, sculpture
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El-Andrel is called the City of Lanterns. It is so named both for the exquisite lanterns of bronze that occupy every window and street corner, and for the parables of the city's legendary founder:

Mighty is the man who sets the blaze, and wise is the man who cages it in the lantern.

The Torchbearer


The city was initially built in the dark days when the Great Kingdom's successor states had all failed, with aid from both Hakeshar and Maram. The Torchbearer convinced the rivals that such a city would be a sound investment against encroachment by the other. He named his city El-Andrel which means "Country of Men", for he built no shrines to the gods. The Torchbearer once ruled the city, as a wise Scholar-King whose every law and decision was intended to teach a lesson, but one day he took up his cloak and torch and left, leaving no heir and no plan to return.

Today the city is nominally governed by the Council of Ushers, comprised of representatives of different city offices established by the Torchbearer, though the common folk have no idea how these representatives are chosen, or how they effectively execute their decisions. It might be more accurate to say that El-Andrel runs on inertia, and it's closer to semi-peaceful anarchy.

The city's buildings are made from quarried stone and clay brick. The older portions of the city have wide streets paved in brick, tall bronze lamp posts placed on many intersections, fountains, gardens, and statuary celebrating the great wise men of old. The buildings are handsome, airy, three-story affairs featuring numerous architectural flourishes. The newer areas, by contrast are narrow, low to the ground and strictly functional.

The city has no impressive temples or funerary complexes, but it is not devoid of mystery. The Torchbearer's Palace sits in the midst of a confounding maze of his own design, and the palace is said to be filled with traps and puzzles intended to challenge the mind and body. Legend has it that the Torchbearer an incredible wealth of gold, gems, and mystic lore in a hidden chamber in the center of the palace, and perhaps even a spell or potion that confers immortality.

The city is bisected by two massive roads. The Upright Way runs north-south through the center of the city, a massive expanse of brick that, when taken north, will terminate at Roshan on the shores of the Red Lake, and when followed south will branch off to Maram and the Mountain of Song. It is a popular destination for traders to set up their stalls for trade, as it sees a large number of travelers marching along its length.

Bejeweled torchbearer

The Torchbearer, founder of El-Andrel.

The Neverending Way is the east-west road that divides the city again into four quadrants. It was originally planned to stretch all the way to the Gloomlands, via Abydos and Baishi, and to Cathargalis in the east. However, it gradually turns into a disused dirt road halfway to Dor Oozfor to the west, and terminates deep in the Aushjar forest after crossing the Madaharine to the east. Nevertheless, it is used frequently inside the city for local traffic. The bridge crossing the Madaharine is the only one on the entire length of the river. It is a tall span comprised of meticulously fitted masonry, held together with an especially water resistant concrete of The Torchbearer's devising. The arches between its supporting columns are sufficiently high and wide that several of the largest river boats could pass side-by-side simultaneously.

The two roads meet and run together in a large circle at the center of the city, inside which sits the First Light. This large domed building was once the first house of the Torchbearer, but he later gave it to the city in favor of his labyrinthine palace on the east bank of the river. Now, it serves as the meeting house for the Council of Ushers, who "govern" the city in the Torchbearer's stead. Many of the most powerful figures in El-Andrel can be found here, colluding or collaborating over the city's future. It is also a popular location for pilgrims, who come to view the art on the inside walls devoted to the Torchbearer as they practice their devotional worship towards the philosopher-king.

The Grand Forum of El-Andrel is the premier meeting place for intellectuals in The Shining South. Located in the southwestern quadrant of the city, it is one of the largest and most open areas for discourse in the whole world. Every day, scholars set up podiums and engage in verbal combat with each other, waving about scrolls and flipping through books as they try to prove their theories to each other through argumentation. It is also where religious scholars engage in interfaith combat, attempting to prove the power of their gods or their beliefs. There is no barrier to entry and (practically) no rules of conduct.

The forum is a large tiled courtyard, flanked on all sides by colonnades. In its center, a large fountain sits, providing cool clean water to the debating scholars. Debate is always occurring here, underneath the arches of the galleries to the sides, in the center of the square, and even in the upper balconies. Spectators mill between debates as they occur, stopping to watch those that grab their attention and leaving those that bore them. Often, the debaters don't notice, as they are too wrapped up in their "discussions". To outsiders, the entire place looks similar to a market with no goods being sold. However, those who are accustomed to the forum vehemently believe that it is the best way to have a discussion.

Sometimes, in the evenings, the forum is lit up by hundreds of lanterns and is furnished for more formal debates. Seats and tables are brought in and a stage is constructed, and a properly-moderated debate is conducted. These exercises are typically sponsored by wealthy patrons in the city, and are conducted on a wide variety of topics, such as history, art, literature, the sciences, or philosophy.

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