Nurn - City of a Thousand Colours Settlement in A Shattered Empire - Vardania | World Anvil
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Nurn - City of a Thousand Colours

The Tainted Maiden tried. Tarquinnias greatest Emperor tried. Auror's Golden Army tried. Where are they now? Ashes, dispersed and forgotten. But we stand. So yes Knight of Feranar, I invite you to try. Bring your allies, all lords of the Summer Coast if you dare. Let their blood add another colour to our walls.
— Queen Shitar II. of Nurn
  Between the lush green of southern woods and the stormy blue of ocean waves, one may witness a striking sight, similar only to the shining sun among clear blue skies. From the hills of the surrounding area, the city of Nurn is a single mass of shimmering colour. The haze obscuring the city may at first be attributed to the distance. Only shortly before entering the gates will one realize it to be the result of thousands upon thousands of tints, from ordinary red, blue and yellow to regal purple and amerian green.   To any foreigners eyes, they form a strange shade, impossible to define. Every building, from the greatest palaces to the most weather stricken shack, shines brightly and together they form a maelstrom, drawing any visitor into a river of bliss and dreamlike euphoria.   This is Nurn, City of a Thousand Colours, the largest settlement on the Summer Coast. A major hub for trade, especially dyes and other chemical components, it is among the richest cities in Vardania. Home to magnificent temple complexes, expansive markets and unconquerable walls. A mace of endless streets and vibrating, pulsating light. Many will agree that Nurn is a work of art greater than any masterpiece.   The home of the Mykarans, or Bleachskins as some call them, is testament to the people's long history and monument to their perseverance. But even among the shimmering palaces and glowing temples, shadows linger. Where there is light, there will be darkness and Nurns harrowing past may one day rear its ugly head again...


The Tetrarchy of Nurn is one of the few fully matriarchal societies in the world. And while many government positions are open to both genders, the nation has, throughout its existence, been ruled by the female descendants of its First Queen Ameris the Pure and her companions.

Third Queen (Uchirin)

From infrastructure and inland trade to maintenance of the city's defences the realm of the Third Queen is far-ranging and varied. The descendants of Ifri the Good sit in the Iron Bastion, largest of the forts that surround the city.
Second Queen (Ikkirin)

Maritime trade, sanitation and health are the areas which the Second Queen has control over. Due to her command over most of the naval facilities, she is also second-in-command of all naval forces. Ruling from their harbour palace are the descendants of Nikira the Bloody, most trusted companion of the ancient warrior queen.
First Queen (Birin)

The First Queen is the de facto ruler of the city. While the office shares its power with the other regents, it keeps supreme control over all military affairs, as well as internal security and veto power on decisions made by the other two. These vetoes can be overruled should the First Queen be unable to give a justifiable reason for said action. First held by Shitar I. before being usurped by Ameris in 1520 DA, the office is now for the first time in nearly 2000 years in the hands of a man. Grishar I. the Unlikely, last of his line, now rules the city, a shaky position, under harsh judgement from all sides.
The Goddess (Thetirin) (Defunct)

The seat reserved for the goddess Cybelle and in old times filled by a Matriarch of the cult, this position served as the sole religious authority within Nurn, subservient only to the High Matriarch in Scetia. Dismantled during Ameris's purges, the seat of Nurns fourth ruler now lies buried together with the ruins of her temple, deep beyond the catacombs, in ashes and darkness. Modern Mykarans worship a variety of gods and their representatives form a smaller council, assisting the Tetrarchs in keeping the peace between the various religious groups.


Although nearly two millennia have passed since it's founding, the city has stayed true to its origins as a temple-fortress. From the palaces, temples and markets to the cheap blocks of the slums, nearly every building is constructed with the city's defence in mind. Nowhere is this clearer than in the old city, where every single house is built like a mini fortress. This harkens back to the days of the cult when every member was expected to fight to the death rather than surrender. Every quarter can be become a citadel on its own, every street and intersection a deadly trap.  
An extensive set of underground passages and catacombs, undermines the entire city and connects the inner defences to Nurn's main shield. The great walls, that surround the city, 50 feet high and 10 feet wide. Even taller towers and forts, armed with trebuchet lead every attempted assault to a bloody end. The walls and towers are painted in as many colours as the city and make a direct look at the defences nearly impossible, the undefinable coloured haze distracting to anyone, not of Mykaran descent.   Among those colours is the blood of nearly two dozen armies, the remains of would-be conquerors, forgotten to time but now forever part of the shimmering painting that is Nurn.

Industry & Trade

Like many of the large cities of the Summer Coast, Nurn too is a trading hub. The city's main stake lies in the trade of dyes and chemical materials. Sulfur mines in Campestria, slug farms along Tyanis Wound, every place which in one way or another produces chemical materials has a Mykaran presence. Large trade fleets bring wares from all over the world into the great warehouses that line the harbour. Either raw or processed in one of the city's myriad workshops, the products are sold on the great market of Nurn, a mosaic of colour, light and smell.   An industry that has developed as a side effect, is the production of fireworks. The receipt for the special Mykaran Fire is kept secret and the various forms of rockets, crackers and flashers are sold throughout Vardania.   More sinister however is another, rather unknown branch of industry. The production of alchemic weapons. Capable of creating all manner of poison and weaponry, the Kinogare (Alchemists) of Nurn can unleash some of the most devastating mixtures known to man.  
From poison that merely causes slight nausea to a shroud that chokes the life out of an entire region. Truly, my lord, there is nothing we cannot create.
— Ellias Cadmus, the Bloody Claw, Chief Kinogar of Nurn


Twisted Origins  
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The founding, in many cities a revered date, looked on with pride and nostalgia. Not so in Nurn. A shadow looms over the cities origins which are found on the eastern continent of Scetia. As refugees, exiled from Mykonia, the Mykarans fell prey to the insidious Daughters of Cybelle, a cult whose rampages caused massive suffering in both east and west. In 1450 DA, under command of the sisters, in the future known as the Triplet Queens of Nurn, they landed on the Summer Coast as part of the cults eastward expansion. Nurn was founded as the staging ground for this invasion and much of Vardania suffered under their reign of terror.   Until 1530 DA, when Ameris the Pure rose against and slew them after a long, bloody struggle. Massive purges followed as the now crowned "First Queen" wanted to burn any trace of cybellian influence from the city and its people. While parts like the governmental structure remained, it worked to well to be discarded in anti-religious fervour, Ameris did her utmost to ensure the cults destruction. At least in Vardania.
  Unsteady Fortunes  
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Refocusing on trade, primarily dyes and other chemical components, Nurn experienced many highs and lows across it's near 2000 year history. Brought down by the Gods Eye in 1800. Defiant in the face of Idrins Legions in 1912. Fighting with Rhomeia for dominion of the sea. Weathering the storm Kenran Red-Eye unleashed upon the south in 2750 DA. From hegemon to minor city-state, this proud city has seen every stage of power known to man. But despite all the hardships, all the wars and all the suffering, the Mykarans have remained steadfast, proud and fiercely independent.

Legacy of the Cult

Although Ameris and her companions did their best to eradicate the Daughters of Cybelle, the cult has left its mark. From the old city, the various palaces, the ruins of temples buried deep within the catacombs to Nurns government and societal structure, much has stayed the same as 2000 years ago. Merely the stain of the cults monstrous actions has been removed and even that seems to have not been entirely successful. Rumours, whispers in dark alleys and shady taverns. Long hidden the ascension of the first King was something, they could not ignore. They have returned. Ready to unleash their monstrous ideology once more.   Danger looms outside the city as well. Ainach and Methlan, ancient and powerful, remember the terror of days past as clear as ever. Eternal enemies of Nurn, they will use every chance they get to demolish the city's power. That is nothing to say of the Feran lords of the Summer Coast. For them the city and its people represent an affront to their way of life, another holy war is only a matter of time...
Despite the city's motley appearance, artistic depictions show it looking like any ordinary settlement. Behind this oddity lies the fact, that the city's myriad of colours seem to "melt" together when viewed, forming an undefinable haze, impossible to replicate. Streets and buildings seem to "move" and change constantly. A normal persons eyes are simply overwhelmed by the sheer weight of colour. As such artists simply imagine Nurn without its mantle or refrain from painting it in the first place.   Master Cirtkin on Nurn, "Cities of the Summer Coast"


  • The City of Nurn
Alternative Name(s)
Maidens Fist
Large city
estm. 560,000+
Inhabitant Demonym
Mykarans, Bleachskins
Location under
Owning Organization
Related Tradition (Primary)

  Why the colour?   The Mykarans apparent obsession has two reasons. They are of a very pale, almost corpse-like complexion with hair that ranges from ash grey to pure white. In ancient time they wandered the far northern reaches of Scetia, a land of grey and white, as devoid of colour as were its people.   Centuries of such life have had strange effects on them. They perceive colour different from most other humans, valuing it higher than even diamonds. In their city, they surround themselves with it, the maelstrom having a slight drug-like effect, causing them to be euphoric and motivated.  
by Anna Danilova

  Daughters of Cybelle   Originating in the chaotic landscape of Scetia in the early 2nd Millennium DA, they are comparable in their infamy only to the Order of the Red Rose or Odium Cult. Matriarchal in the most radical sense they saw women as the goddess created givers of life, whereas men were mere animals, slaves for labour and war.   Using advanced shock and guerilla tactics, psychological warfare and propaganda as ingenious as it was insidious, they ruled large parts of Scetia and Vardania throughout the 16th century. Enslaving millions, their destructive ideology would eventually become their undoing and by 1700 DA, their enemies had annihilated nearly all traces of it.  
Cybelle's Sign

Green? Oh no no, my good sir. For a moment I forgot you are a foreigner. No this isn't just green. Amelian and Oak and Sulphuric...on this wall alone there are over two dozen different shades. They dance and mingle, mix and contrast. It's...a thing of incredible beauty.
— conversation between a foreign merchant and a Mykaran native

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The DarkTiger
Éric Almeida Taborda
24 Apr, 2019 02:44

In the third paragraph, after the quote "great" is missing an "r", but overall AMAZING work, definitely going to follow you! : )

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
24 Apr, 2019 19:24

Ok first off man, I love how the text itself references color. You mention a color 8 times by my count in the first section alone. It's a beautiful way to set up Nurn. I absolutely love it, BUT it does create a sense of slightly clunky repitition. Using the word color and blue and green that many times can really hurt the effect I assume your going for. I'd suggest using the names of different shades. Color of ocean? Lapis or Sapphire or turquoise for more tropical climates. Trees? Emerald, jade, maybe described as verdant? Using this could reallllly drive the theme without having to repeat it over and over. I'd love to see that cause the themes presented here are amazing! So far yours is my favorite just for that alone. Another trick is using metaphor and other figurative language. The color of wine for example. I love the tetrarchy as well. unique for me and it makes it even cooler. Great work man! Like well earned.

25 Apr, 2019 00:36

I think you need an apostrophe after "Tarquinnias" in Queen Shitar's quote. Love this though.

25 Apr, 2019 11:31

Okay, here we go! :D   "The haze obscuring the city may at first be attributed to the distance, only shortly before entering the gates will one realize it to be the result of thousands upon thousands of tints, from ordinary red, blue and yellow to regal purple and amerian green, some of which have only been observed in the most distant of lands."  

  • This sentence is a bit on the long side. Might be worth breaking it up into two and cut down some of the fat (like the last bit about "some of which have only been observed in the most distant of lands")
  • "To any foreigners eyes, they form a strange shade, utterly incomprehensible to the human mind."   How is colorful buildings incomprehensible?   "it is among the richest cities in Vardania, second only to Ainach in the north."   There's a lot of commas in this sentence, so I'd consider nuking one and using an "and" here instead. "and second only to..."   "From its magnificent temple complexes and expansive markets, the great palace of the Tetrarchy and the unconquerable walls, to the mace of endless streets and vibrating, pulsating light, visitors may agree with the many artists that have described Nurn as a work of art greater than any masterpiece."   There are a few things going on here. 1. You use "From X to Y," in just two sentences prior. 2. It's a bit clunky and very long - it has 4 commas and nearly 50 words long. 3. "visitors may" is an odd phrase to use - 'may' seem like it adds nothing to the sentence. 4. Also, mace = maze   I would consider rewriting it and splitting it up. Make it shorter and punchier. :)   "The home of the Mykarans, or Bleachskins as they are called by the Ferans,"  
  • If this is the first article we read, we don't know who the Ferans are yet, or why what they call the Mykarans is of importance. I'd consider moving that bit into a quote box, maybe on the side panel. I'd also include something about how the Mykarans react to that name, since it seems pretty derogatory.
  • I'd also consider splitting the first side panel text into two and consider using a container or quote box for it.   "The Tetrarchy of Nurn is a matriarchal society, more so than most others and while many government positions are open to both genders, the Tetrarchy has, throughout its existence, been ruled by the female descendants of Ameris the Pure and her companions."   Another long sentence with its share of commas - it also confuses me a bit. 1. "is a matriarchal society, more so than most others" - more than most other.. What? Nations in the world? Are you implying that matriarchial structures are more common, even the norm, in your world? That'd be great, but it's unclear from how the sentence is constructed. 2. You are referencing a character (Ameris) but there's not really much about her in the article itself. She's references 3 other times, in relation to a cult and purges. 3. It's a bit ironic that for a matriarchy, the current ruler is a king.   Some mixed notes since I'm running out of time:   1. Would they call it chemical weapons? or alchemy? 2. I'd split some more big chunks of text (like the side panel ones) into two paragraphs for readability. 3. It's really neat! :D   Great job, Dark! :D

    Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
    Tobias Linder
    27 Apr, 2019 20:07

    Is there a particular reason "The Tainted Maiden" is bold in the first quote? It looks oddly out of place.   I like what you've done with the city. Particularly that you've tied it's obnoxious colourific appearance to the species' biology. It makes for a far more alive and believable place.   The article is overall well written and I didn't feel like I needed to force myself to read through it. It didn't exactly grip me in any way but it was in no way bad.   I only really have one quip with the article and it this sentence:   "But even among the shimmering palaces and glowing temples, shadows linger. Where there is light, there will be darkness and Nurns harrowing past may one day rear its ugly head again..."   Something about it just reads like bad fanfiction. Maybe I'm just allergic to the "shadowy past" phrasing but something about that sentence really irks me and made me roll my eyes. (That may just be me though:) )

    27 Apr, 2019 20:38

    First thank you for the feedback. Tbh I kinda forgot the bolding in the quote... Thanks for pointing it out.   Hm I never really saw it that way. Just thought it makes for a nice contrast. I defenitely will think about the line a bit more, look how I could rephrase it.

    8 May, 2019 00:32

    Wow, what a start to the reading. This is a high bar set. You used every aspect of your article meaningfully. The sidebar, the spoilers, the map, the history, the mmm everything.   I love the dark history of this colony and how it no longer belongs to the 'colonists' but rather to the native people they subjugated.   I also love but have a hard time imagining the hypnotic properties of the towns colors, my mind keeps imagining heat mirages where it appears water is on a road when it really isn't.   Seriously Darkseid, great article. You're writing is getting leaps and bounds more entrancing with each competition.

    Psstt... Hey you... Wanna read some of that Ethnisy Summer Camp goodness? Hit up my worldbuilding in the Ethnis Universe!
    The Starred articles are my favorites!