Jolethai Settlement in Lost Waves | World Anvil


What strikes first as you enter Jolethai is likely the variation in architecture and the many paintings and etchings that decorate many buildings. A lot of this art is worn, sometimes to the point of nearly having been wiped away by time, but it's still prevalent enough to be noticeable.   Secondly, you'll notice how the air is filled with a multitude of scents; pleasant ones from spices and oils, less so humanoids and animals in close proximity. The Oasis Stone here is strong, and the smell of plants and wet dirt is often striking to those who haven't just spend days or even weeks in the desert.   Jolethai is not a large city, but it remembers that it once was and holds on to that sense of honour. Take in all the impressions here and admire them. The locals will not take kindly to outsides looking down on their city.
— Nadri-al-Aran - A Guide to the Desert
  This ancient city is built on many layers of its former buildings. The surroundings of the metropolis had the ruins of bygone eras when it was much more extensive. Looking at the city and the surrounding area once can see up to three distinct city walls. But only the inner-most walls are currently entirely intact and defended as they enclose almost all of what is now Jolethai. Outside these walls are many more buildings, occupied by those who can't afford, or doesn't want to, live within the walls. Even further out are sprawls of tents belonging to travellers not wanting to pay the fees for staying within the city, to the poorest citizens, or to those who don't spend much time in one place anyway.   The eastern part of the city is a lake that is the result of the Oasis Stone that lies beneath the Jewel Palace. The large late extends past the eastern wall, where several farms drain it to water their crops. These farms, in turn, feed not just the city but much of the surrounding area. The lake also extends as one river running south, known as Jolenri River, which eventually reaches the south coast. There is also a smaller river headed north-west, but it barely gets outside the outermost wall ruins before it descends through rock formations. from there, it becomes an underground river, heading to somewhere in the Underdark.   The intact city walls have three gates: one to the south-east where the Ivory Road heads south towards the coast, to the north where the Ivory Road continues towards Solaris,and to the west along the Scorpion Trail. There are technically gates along with parts of the eastern wall, but those are always closed bars that allow for water to get through but narrow enough to prevent people. They have been known sometimes to dispel magic that would make someone small enough to pass.


A majority of the population (ca 65%) is human and clearly part of Sh'reen culture. But there are plenty of halflings (ca10%), elves (ca 10%, mostly sand elves), dwarves (ca 5%), and gnomes ( < 5%). There are others aw well, filling up the remainder of the population.   With House Seelon consisting of high nobles and nobles, along with the Chorlonni family , there is a significant presence of the upper casts. Many of those in important positions are considered Excels. But the presence of wealth also means that there is a need for slaves to support them, which means that as many as 15% of the population belong to that cast.   The busy city life also means there are plenty of those who are cast out of society. Roughly 5% of the population consists of Undesired, but that number is only for those obviously so. There is a significant underworld of disreputable people that far outnumber the rest of the undesirables.


Most of the actual defence of the city is guaranteed by the garrison of Protectors of the Sun stationed here. There is enough of a presence to aid in any minor problems throughout the region.   There is also the House Seelon Guard who are technically only in charge of protecting the noble house and its members. But by extention, they also claim jurisdiction in the entirety of Seelon Principality and are a common sight in Jolethai. There's a delicate balance with the Protectors as to who is in charge of what.   Carrying weapons in the city isn't common but not illegal, and more discreet weapons are favoured over something made to look scary. Actually using a weapon or potentially harmful spell is something both the Protectors and the Guard will take very seriously.


The exact founding date of Jolethai is challenging to ascertain, but the first foundations to it were likely laid soon after the First Breaking. After that, elves dug into the ground here for unknown reasons and created one of the first known Oasis Stones to bring life to their city. Some claim that in its early days the stone was powerful enough to create a lake large enough to sail. Jolethai would have been raised as an island above where it lies today and has only slowly sunk into the desert.   Whatever the goals of the elves who first built the settlement were, they likely never got to complete them. Instead they were wiped out by Ilithid and creatures manipulated by them. Old stories from this time strengthen the idea that Jolethai was in the middle of a sailable lake, as they talk about the abominations 'emerging from the depths below the waves.' However, the mind-flayers' grip on the city was short as they were set upon by various other races, such as lizardfolk. For more than a thousand years, the city never saw more than a century of being held by one power before another ousted them. Each ruler left their hidden treasures and traps that surprised newcomers many centuries later. There are still many such hidden areas underneath the city that have yet to be explored.   If Jolethai indeed had a great lake around it, that body of water evaporated during this time, leaving a lake only slightly larger than the one sustaining the city today. Anything that used to be in that water is now hidden under the rocks and sands of the desert.   When humans eventually took control of the battered city, and once they had fought amongst themselves as to who was the actual ruler, peace became more long-term. The humans of the clan that would eventually become House Seelon managed to convince other contestants for the city to trade there instead of fighting over it. Jolethai became a market hub known for its liberal views on who was allowed to trade with whom. When the Caliph of Solaris started the First Burning War by annexing their neighbours, Jolethai was none too pleased. They gathered an army of mostly mercenaries who attacked under no flag. When it was obvious that Solaris would win, Jolethai could negotiate good terms for itself since the mercenaries couldn't be traced back to the city. Thus they became one of the founding regions of the Sh'areen Caliphate and its rulers instituted as House Seelon.


Material and shade of material can tell you a lot about how wealthy someone who owns a building is. The poorest homes are built on a wood frame with layers upon layers of hardened brown clay, creating a blocky building with a flat roof that can be used as an extra floor. Those who are better off build using stone mined from the surrounding area. The general shape is the same, though the material makes it easier to add more floors. If the builder was able to use logs to strengthen floors and roof, they are usually allowed to stick out from the wall a bit. In either case, the roofs are often used for things like growing some extra food, especially on top of homes.   As one gets into even richer areas, buildings become more advanced in shape. Domes are built to radiate the heat away. In an attempt to show craftsmanship, some of these are built in an onion-like shape where they first get wider near the base before coming to a narrow tip. The very rich will cover these domes in metals to make them shine.   Doors and portals in the richer areas go from simple squares to tall arches. Frames, walls, and floors become increasingly decorated with wealth and are often covered in intricate geometric patterns of strong colours. In the richest parts of the city, walls are made from white marble, expensively moved here from far away, decorated with stone tiles, gold, and gems. Windows are painted in abstract patterns the use light itself to paint inside.


Seelon Principality

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