Located in the centre of the Relialo Plains, Pent Roads is a large town that initially started life as a rest stop where trading caravans traversing the heartland of the Empire of Turelion could stop to resupply. However, over the centuries, its location, at the convergence point of the five major roads that bisect the provinces of Turelion and Ultaru have meant that it has become a trading hub, where goods are bought and sold by merchants amongst one another and are then shipped on to be sold to consumers many hundreds, if not thousands of miles away. Over the years of its existence, Pentroads has also acquired a number of industries, not linked purely to commerce, which stem from the fact that flax/linseed plants naturally thrive in the soils surrounding the town. As well as a thriving linen production industry, the town produces large amounts of linseed oil, the majority of which is used in the manufacturing of some of, if not the highest quality oil paint to be found in the Empire of Turelion, and well beyond its borders. This in turn has attracted a great many artists to settle in the town, which is now host to the Imperial College of Art.
Whilst most places in the Empire of Turelionare Human majority settlements, the location of the Imperial College of Art within it means that Pentroads has attracted a more diverse population and representatives of every species can be found there, with no one having a real majority.
Like most towns and cities under the rule of the Empire of Turelion, Pentroads is governed by an Alderman, appointed by the province under whose jurisdiction the town falls, in this case Ultaru Province. The Alderman of Pentroads and their moderately sized body of staff are headquartered out of the castle which lies at the centre of the town.
Originally, Pentroads did have a curtain wall surrounding the entire settlement, but as the trading potential of its location and its flax and artistic industries took off, the town quickly outgrew its original confines and it now spreads out across the entirety of the hill it is located on. The curtain wall in the original area of Pentroads, now referred to simply as the Old Town still exists and is well maintained, though no further defences have been built beyond it. At the heart of the Old Town is a castle, complete with its own curtain wall and keep. Pentroads Castle is where the town’s garrison of provincial troops is billeted and the keep also contains the offices and apartments of the town’s Alderman.
Industry & Trade
Pentroads position, at the convergence points of the five roads which give the town its name (Lesser Imperial Road – East, Lesser Imperial Road – West, The Trade Trail, The Pilgrim’s Way and the Old Oaxis Road) means that it has long been a hub for trade. This trade is principally orientated around merchant to merchant trade, where traders will buy bulk loads of produce from one another and then ship them out of the town, onwards to more distant destinations. As the soil around Pentroads is ideally suited for the growing of flax, the town has a large and thriving industry surrounding the growing of flax and the manufacture of linen and linseed oil. The proximity of so many trade goods in the town means that Pentroads is ideally situated to produce oil paint, using the locally produced linseed oil and all manner of materials brought in by trade to create a near innumerable variety of colours and shades. Pentroads oil paints are famed throughout the Empire of Turelion and beyond and are instantly recognisable by the symbol of the five pointed star all Pentroads paint-makers have collectively agreed to use to make their produce recognisable in the global market.
As a trading hub, Pentroads has well-maintained roads, with several large arteries running through the newer part of the town, to accommodate the large volumes of trade traffic. The town has no underground sewer network, but instead has a network of above ground, covered sewers which channel effluence and rubbish to the outskirts, where it runs off into the nearby flax fields. Like many settlements on the Relialo Plains, Pentroads has no open bodies of water, but large numbers of wells and fountains throughout the town provide for the needs of its inhabitants. All of these fountains have been elaborately embellished by students from the Imperial College of Art, eager to try out their stone carving and sculpting skills.
Guilds and Factions
Naturally, as a town that has so much fine art within it and being produced within it, the Scarlets are believed to have a relatively large presence within Pentroads, and it is said that they are always on the lookout for unscrupulous artists or easily mislead students with the talents and resources to produce high quality forgeries for them. However, by far the largest organisation in operation with the town is the Imperial College of Art (see below).
The Imperial College of ArtDominating the eastern part of the old town is an enormous and elaborate structure, more cathedral like in its appearance than college like, which is the Imperial College of Art, the predominant training institution for artists of all disciplines within the Empire of Turelion. Budding artists from across the Empire or abroad can either pay to secure a place, or apply for a large number of scholarships to be trained in almost every single artistic discipline that can be imagined. Almost all of the Empire’s and a good many of the Material Plane’s preeminent painters, sculptors, mosaicist and artists of all kith and kin trained within its hallowed walls. As well as housing studios for students to learn from the College’s resident masters, along with accommodation for some of its students to reside in, the College building also contains the Great Gallery, which is part museum and part salesroom. Any wealthy individual who passes through Pentroads, and who values their social standing, will visit the Great Gallery to purchase work by old masters or new aspirant artists and a great many of the Empire’s social elite make specific trips to Pentroads to visit the Great Gallery. So esteemed is the Imperial College of Art that as well as being allowed to carry the moniker ‘Imperial’, its head, known as the Rector, is personally appointed by the Emperor of Turelion themselves. Rectors of the Imperial College of Art, as well as running the institution are also expected to act as the personal portrait artist of the Imperial Family, rendering their likeness in a multitude of formats throughout their tenure.
Pentroads naturally receives a lot of visitors given its status as a trading and transport hub, but it also receives a lot of visitors due to the fact that the Imperial College of Art is located within it. Not only do people come to view the many artworks on display and for sale in the College’s Great Gallery, but they also come to view the many murals which have been painted on all manner of buildings throughout the town (see side panel).
The town is set upon a large, but gently sloping hill, the largest high point for many miles, which gives it a good view over the surrounding countryside. The hinterland of the town is given over to miles and miles of flax fields. In late spring and early summer, the whole landscape turns light blue when the flax flowers, creating an illusion of the town being an island surrounded by water, an image that is rendered often by the students of the Imperial College of Art.