Somae Settlement in Wyrion | World Anvil

Somae (So-May)

Historical Overview




Legendary Roots

  Somae is one of the most ancient cities in Anhara, tracing its roots to the legendary founder of House Thewisy. Galindaan The Wise, one of the Nine Founders, was the last to receive his land in the Founders' Eyration. All that remained was a "trifling field" squeezed between the swampy Nyara River, the untamed Murkmantle, and the wealthier Blossom Fields. omae is one of the most ancient cities in Anhara, tracing its roots to the legendary founder of House Thewisy. Galindaan The Wise, one of the Nine Founders, was the last to receive his land in the Founders' Eyration. All that remained was a "trifling field" squeezed between the swampy Nyara River, the untamed Murkmantle, and the wealthier Blossom Fields.   Establishing his reputation amongst the Founders as a force for calm and politeness, Galindaan took his lot with dignity. The early Somaens set to work constructing a fortification atop one of the few hills in the area. Eventually growing into Azuretop, the Thewisy Palace is one of the oldest continuously inhabited seats in Anhara.   Seeing Galindaan the Wise labor slowly in his confined lands, Meda smiled upon him. She who sees all bestowed gifted to him a quill. This divine artifact allowed him to see, and record the goings-on of distant lands. Slicing his palm with it, Galindaan dyed the quill crimson with his blood and made an oath to Meda. Swearing to only use this gift as an impartial recorder of history, House Thewisy became ever associated with Meda's favor.  

The Quills

  In the mists of the Age of Legends, Galindaan I's legendary son, Galasthion Far-Seer established the Library of Somae. With his father dead, the smallest of the major houses was at risk of being swallowed by its neighbors. Relations with their cousins House Caersea remained strong, but House Oeis was growing rapidly. To cement their position, and double down on their Founder's reputation, the Thewisys reached for soft power.  
The Library
  First came the Library, the oldest repository of knowledge in Anhara. While their divine artifact provided a boon, Galasthion trusted it only to himself. Much of his seventeen-year reign was spent in its far-sighted visions. From these initial recordings come the most ancient collections in the Library, buried within the deepest vaults. Records of the origins of magic, the final steps of the Great Task, the initial landings of the Obscure Ones, and all mysteries large and small are conjectured to be within this legendary collection.  
The Academy
  Galasthion I was aged tremendously by his time spent with the Quill, and died just at the end of the Age of Legends. His son, Galasthion II, was the last Thewisy lord to reign within this era. To him is accredited the founding of the Academy Somae. Here, the librarians promulgated the knowledge gained from the Quill in accord with Galasthion II's interpretation of their oath.  
The Quills
  The Academy Somae initially afforded education only to noble heirs far down the chain of succession, the spares and beyond. While this strategy worked to guarantee House Thewisy's survival by conveniently locating many noble scions in their growing city, it overtaxed the librarians who educated them. A second issue had arisen in Merrel I's refusal to indulge in his grandfather's far-sight. To both teach and collect information for their histories, Merrel created the Order of the Crimson Quill.   Merrel's descendant, Eleric I Thewisy, would reform them in 439 AR, creating a bureaucracy independent of noble houses, and crushing the corruption that had crept into the organization.  



Light of the East

  As the Quills expanded, popping up in more noble courts, the flow of information increased and the reputation of the Thewisys grew. Their court became looked to for wisdom, advice, and knowledge. This was bellied by their geography. The tight quarters of the Trifling Fields meant House Thewisy could exert a more centralized control than any other house, save perhaps those of the Coquet Heights. This control came not only from geography but from the active court life maintained at Somae - and from there grew the Familial Movement.  
"The Patriarch sits not just at the head of the noble family, but as a father to all his people. In return for his protection and guiding hand, his children owe him assistance until his dying day, and their utmost love and loyalty." - Tenets of Familial Ways
  While the Familial Movement's philosophies of rule would grow unwieldy as they spread around Anhara, for the time after their publishing in 317 AR, the Thewisys took their obligations seriously. The publishing of their tenets by an anonymous courtesan did not begin but rather captured the essence of, the trend of good government sweeping the Eastmarches at the time.   The Thewisys embarked upon, between the 200s and 400s, numerous reforms. Pelain I Thewisy established the first minor houses in villages, and had their land surveyed for tax rolls. The Thewisy lords personally led traveling courts across their territories to hear grievances having to do with vassal houses, while requiring juries for capital offenses traditionally dealt with by local lords. Around the start of the 400s, minor houses were grouped into local counties, known as caelista, with their own councils for more effective governance. This culminated in 453 AR, when Eleric I, the great reformer, created the first formal Lord's Court.  
Cultural Growth
  The growth of the Familial Movement, and the creation of distinctive units of government such as caelista and the Lord's Council, gave the Trifling Fields - and thus Somae - a much more defined ethos. Stemming from, and contributing to, this was the boom in arts in the 200s to 400s.   Somae's first recorded theater was established, showing sometimes satirical performances of early gallant legends. The increasingly frequent court records show the first historical, rather than legendary, Troubadours were beginning to establish their profession. This type of bard would become famous in the Eastmarches and Vinelands for following knights into combat as well as their thorough descriptions of heraldry, battles, and the lives of great men.  

The Threshing

  Throughout the mid-400s, Tahatis from the Julfar Savanna began coordinated raids up and down the Narrow Sea's coast. Up until then, the horsemen of the Savanna fought any Anharans that landed on their shores and contested Caersea control of the innumerable small islands between their territories. Some sort of internal unification in that previously fractured region of al-Tahat led to probing attacks, before an eventual landing on the southern bank of the Nyara River.   The Threshing was a complex and swift war, but its effects on the Thewisy fiefs was devastating. The horse lords of the Savanna had come under the control of charioteers from further east, and with this new advancement, they were able to sweep across the fertile plains of the central Eastmarches. Slipping past Caersea defenses in the Stonewebs, they torched villages across the undefended lands on the southern bank of the river. This territory would become known as the Ashfields and never truly develop large population centers like the northern bank.
"Those southerners, who were so constrained by famine, came and yielded themselves to be slaves for ever to their foes, running the risk of being instantly slain, which truly was the greatest favor that could be offered them." - Chronicle of the War of the Chariot-Men
On the northern bank, the Thewisys put up a better defense but were forced back to Somae when a large vassal force surrendered near what is now Kneltkeep, just north of Neia. The Thewisy forces were then besieged in Somae's walls, with its surrounding villages torched and looted. In that attack, Evelyn Thewisy, daughter of the lord, was carried off to al-Tahat. Lord Pelain III Thewisy was slain, succeeded by his son, Gaerith II Thewisy. Somae's citizens quickly constructed temporarily enhanced walls, built from rubble and parts of other structures, to fend off the chariots. The cobbled nature of these walls can still be seen today in parts of the Sash.
"The whistling of the blades attached like spokes to the wheels of the enemy, did inhabit the mind of those who sought refuge for years beyond the act." - Chronicle of the War of the Chariot-Men
Eventually, the charioteers' southern army was smashed at the Wooden Defile by mages from Deiaden. In the north, Thewisy forces were reinforced by House Caersea, as the latter's armies had sealed the coastline and slowly marched across the interior. The Thewisys found this to be painfully slow, the Caerseas framed it as systematic and strategic, but regardless the siege of Somae was eventually broken in 477 and the Tahatis repulsed.  
Rebuilding Somae
  Lord Gaerith II had a three-fold task in the years after the Threshing War. He needed to deal with the refugee crisis, the physical destruction of much of the city outside of the Azuretop, and the destruction of much of his vassals' lands. The first two went hand-in-hand, and Gaerith embarked on a great reconstruction and expansion of Somae. The former villages that existed without the walls of the Azuretop were folded into the city, their rubble used in the construction of new walls.
"Visible within the rough-hewn walls were pillars from those long-standing temples of our ancestors, fragments of statuary, variously shaped stones placed not to fit, but rather as they arrived at the site." - Chronicle of the War of the Chariot-Men
Somae expanded to the Red Walls, a double set of walls running roughly north-south, with High Street in between the two. Outside of this wall, what has become the neighborhoods of the Tyro Markets, Beau Run, Ashgrounds, and Paix became the newest villages outside the city. Many of the names of these modern neighborhoods harken to their origins. The Tyro Markets replaced the grand street markets formerly on the modern High Street. The Ashgrounds replaced one of the most ravaged villages of merchants and fishermen. The Beau Run gained its first reputation for harlotry, as it was where many of the camp followers resided after the siege was lifted. Paix itself was a centrally-planned resettlement for many of the refugees crowding the city.
"For a distance of the sight of the most far-seeing keeper of the watch, trees must be hauled down - leaving the stump - and great heaps of stone, dirt, and debris scattered about the ashen fields." - Order in Council in the name of Gaerith II
Outside these newly organized districts, the city put the masses to work clearing trees and piling debris. The fields treated in such a manner would remain, by law and by custom, cleared of all construction or tillage to the modern day. What was once a flat, fertile plain was turned into cleared, desolate hills to prevent the easy travel of chariots within the proximity of the city walls. All trees were cleared back as far as a watchman could reliably observe.  
Tahati Resettlement
  Somae was not only packed with Anharan refugees but leftover Tahati camp followers and surviving charioteers. The Council had neither the appetite nor capacity to slaughter such a vast number, more than two thousand, surviving Tahati. Through the translations of the Crimson Quill, Gaerith himself parlayed directly with a group of Tahatis, self-selected from amongst the survivors to represent their interests.   Through the persuasion of several Quills and professors, the Tahatis were allowed to remain outside of the city in their own encampment, provided they submitted to oversight by an officer of the Lord's choosing and practiced their crafts to the benefit of the city. From here grew Latterbottom - or al-Hisar - a colony of Tahatis to this day. This neighborhood existed not without discrimination or suffering, but nevertheless survived and flourished, becoming the largest market for Tahati crafts and imports, contributing to the multicultural fabric of Somae.  
The Vassals
  The Threshing left a dearth of minor nobility in the outer Trifling Fields. Some were killed in combat, some died painfully in sieges, and some were outcasts for surrendering in the initial battles. Soldiers, of some noble birth and bearing to be sure, but nonetheless of very minor gentry, were elevated following dedicated, always bloody, service in the war. These became the new lords of the Trifling Fields. They entered into their rules having no claim to the rights and privileges of their predecessors, which yielded control back to a more centralized House Thewisy.   In exchange, the lords received the right of being called to, and the privilege of speaking in, what would become known as a Rostrele. The Rostrele, a diminutive word for the Rostrum, is a sort of localized council - generally found as a merchant and minor gentry-led city government. In the Trifling Fields, however, it became a larger, summonable, version of the Lord's Council.   In a less profound, but still important decision, Gaerith II sought to bring justice to the many victims of looting and other crimes, performed by their fellow Anharans, in the vacuum of authority during the war. With a thinner body of rural nobility surviving, he ordered payment be provided to jurors, and that the jury pool be opened further to minor gentry and knights. Further, the Lord's Council began appointing more representatives of the Lord's Justice to the traveling courts.  

Caersea Calamity

The Crossing Over
  After the Threshing, House Thewisy increasingly flexed their muscle on their national stage. Gaerith II disagreed strongly with his father's foreign policy, taking issue with his lack of decisive intervention in the Braelean Hedge Wars. He, and several generations of successors, took a much more active role in affairs outside their Trifling Fields.   The greatest test of House Thewisy's newfound expansionist appetite came after the Crossing Over. The withdrawal of the Ruling Gods, here Vestria, caused chaos and upheaval in much of the world. In Anhara, the divine favoritism and protection granted to the Founding Houses fell away. Those major houses that were already dying had their remains divvied up, and those still strong had to reckon with emboldened vassals. Due to the reshuffling of their houses after the Threshing, few issues existed in the Trifling Fields.  
House Caersea
  Where there were issues was the neighboring Stonewebs. House Caersea began their rule with a similar system to what the Thewisys eventually implemented - a sort of council of vassals. The minor houses of the Stonewebs are isolated and autonomous, ruling over mountainous keeps and surrounding small settlements. Because of the threat from al-Tahat, the Stoneweb houses maintain both their own standing men and can quickly raise a militia of drilled civilians. These houses were put in a prime position to disregard their liege.   Because of their isolation, the lords of these minor houses had a high level of autonomy. To deal with this, they would be summoned annually to the Caerseat to consult with the Keeper of the Eastmarches, and receive a sort of agenda from which they would be expected to base their autonomous decisions on. Over time, the Caerseas gave less regard to consulting with their vassals and tried to centralize like House Thewisy. However, rather than doing so by tying their vassals' loyalties closely to themselves as the Thewisys did, they drifted from their honorable roots.  
Sack of the Caerseat
  Relations between the Caersea and their vassals were at their lowest in 10 AM, just in time for one of the biggest naval attacks on the Caerseat. Pirates from Nemura's Cay had long fought House Caersea on the water and raided their coasts. Fresh off victories against the Litoric Islands, they organized an evening raid of the Caerseat. Slinking into the city at night, fires were started across the city in a coordinated attack, and most of the Caerseas were killed in the subsequent storming of their castle.   Surviving this clandestine raid was Olivi Caersea, the youngest son and last remaining heir, who was headed south to Somae at the time. Instead of joining the Crimson Quill as planned, Olivi bent the knee to Lord Thewisy, and yielded the title of Keeper of the Eastmarches to that house. What Thewisy historiographers have painted as a generous act, done knowing the Caerseas were no longer able to uphold their oaths to defend the region, has a more complex history. In reality, Olivi struck a deal, giving House Caersea generous rights for a vassal, and control over many of their former minor houses.  

Lords of the Eastmarches

  To facilitate a smooth transition to Thewisy rule throughout the Eastmarches, House Thewisy extended the rights granted to their Trifling Field vassals to those in the Stonewebs as well. The Council remained the day-to-day advisers to Lord Thewisy, and consisted of courtiers local to Somae, but a wider, less frequently called Rostrele afforded representation and rights to the castle lords of the Stonewebs.   Some of those least loyal to the Caerseas were punished, and House Thewisy appointed those who kept their oaths most loyally as Justices - first tasked with bringing Caersea vassals to heel, and then with extending Thewisy law to their new territories. The elevated Caersea vassals were often already married into the wider network of Thewisy cousins, and their relationship was brought still closer.  

Lord of All Anhara

  Following the consolidation of the Eastmarches, House Thewisy seemed to be at the peak of their power and influence, despite the potential of overstretching their delicate, centralized method of rule. It seemed almost natural that Galindaan IV Thewisy would be elected Rhetorlord in 31 AM.
" By Pronouncement and Proclamation of Galindaan IV, Keeper of the Eastmarches, Lord of Somae, and Rhetorlord of All-Anhara, He Does Declare that His Council, Most Just and Wise, Does Reign in His Name Until His Return From Meridia!" - Collegian Crier
The Shattering of House Mira and the explosion of revolts in the Coquet Heights, the reignition of the centuries-long Fall of House Oeis, and their takeover of the entire Eastmarches seemed a vindication of the Familial Movement and the Thewisy method of soft power.   Galindaan IV would become the first rural Rhetorlord in centuries, attempting to implement reforms favoring the minor houses outside the Coquet Heights. His absence from Somae provided the environment for the Book of the Courtesan to be published. This anonymous text was one part guide, one part history. It chronicled the court of Galindaan IV before his ill-fated election, and how the courtiers from that period were well posed to govern in his absence. In doing so it became an aspirational guide to the well-rounded noble or servant of the state.  
First Climbing War
  The First Climbing War began in 36 AM, shortly after Galindaan IV's assassination the year before. It was a bloody, wide-ranging, four-year conflict between the Climbers and Conservatives - the former led by House Thewisy. Their goal was to remove the dying major houses from the Founding from the Rostrum and allow their vassals to succeed them. While its history was long, what it did to Somae was simple.   With victory in the Climbing War came unquestioned dominance for Somae. The Thewisy court was established as a sort of rural capital, an alternative to Meridia and the place to be for sycophants, servants of the state, and courtiers outside of the Cinquial Season. Refugees buoyed the population once again, fleshing out the final neighborhoods of the modern Somae, and allowing the regrowth of the suburban villages. Despite this, the Thewisys turned inward, ending their era of intervention.  

Golden Age of Somae

  The Thewisy Golden Age - or Golden Age of Somae - began in 154 AM with the opening of trade relations with Far-Serenbar and other Tahati cities. It took off dramatically under the reign of the three builder-lords: Edmyr III, who expanded the Academy Somae and Azuretop, leading to a boom in the oft-maligned field of philosophy; Galaad II declares Somae to be a "City of Crimson" and rebuilds what is now Rudroof in brick and red Salis Sandstone; Tristan I brings growth to even the villages outside the walls; Tristan II saves the troubadours and creates a boom in theatres; and Virion I stands up for the Student Unions, raising the student body to equal negotiators at the Academy.   It would come to an end with the succession crisis, resulting in Helene I Thewisy taking the throne and rolling back some reforms at the behest of wealthy townie factions.  
New Energy
  Somae went through a period of relative stagnation after the Era of Upheaval ended in 100 AM. The next major change in the city came not through construction, politics, or the law - but trade. First brought to the city by a delegation from Serenbar - the easternmost city in the world - coffee soon took Somae by storm. The first coffeehouse was called Altairai, just above the docks.   Maintaining the flow of coffee into the city was difficult, the bean grew in one of the furthest reaches of the world after all. It was both expensive for its rarity and for the distance required to trade it. The neighborhood the first coffee houses popped up in became known as Haricourt, the southernmost street of which is known as the Winches. This area has coffeehouses along the cliffs overlooking the docks, from which coffee is winched up into the cafes as soon as it arrives to satisfy the crowds.  
New City
  Some suppose that the effect of coffee on Somae was what gave rise to the feverish rebuilding the city underwent from 154-267 AM. While the unnatural haste resulting from the beverage is hard to find in a project that took over a century, this great progress was undoubtedly attributable to three men in particular: Lords Edmyr III, Galaad II, and Tristan I.   Edmyr III (155-200 AM)   Edmyr III was the great visionary of the line, laying the cornerstone of a plan zealously kept to by his son and grandson. He believed House Thewisy's measured dormancy after the loss of so many lives in the First Climbing War could not turn into an eternal rest - rather that the city needed to start moving again. With the influx in funds from opening trade with Far-Serenbar, the time was ripe to build.
"What were once narrow passages of leathers and vellum, granting the student a respite in darkness, has been cast open. The sweeping windows of the new Academy are a crown of light atop the city - a cathedral of learning." - History and Descriptions of the Improvement of Somae, By Order of the Lord
The Academy Somae moved out of its original home, an ever-more-sprawling annex of the Thewisy Palace. In its place, construction began on the new building of the Library Somae. Shaped like the letter M and joined at the bottom, the Library is constructed for optimal light. Its shape and east-west orientation captures light throughout the day, and its massive windows not only keep the structure well-lit but allow visitors to see clear through into other wings - separated by two great yards.   The Academy was broken up into separate facilities to comply with Edmyr's reforms of its internal structure. The university was broken up into faculties, each with its own colleges. They replaced what was previously muster grounds, barracks, and fortifications on the southern two-thirds of Azuretop. This came with a reform of the faculty themselves.   Previously, teaching had been dogmatic and authoritative. Professors would recite a text repeatedly, adding layers of comment and criticism each time, with no student input. Now, lectures had a more communicative nature, opening them to more student involvement - and opening the door to demands like those Virion I would face.   Galaad II (200-247 AM)   Galaad II would continue his father's plans, expanding the reconstruction to the Sash and Rudroof. The Sash's reconstruction was self-explanatory - the scraggly alleyways filled with centuries-old shops in the lower third of Azuretop needed to relocate. They were divided up by the faculties which used them and zoned into corresponding districts. This was simple enough, as the area that became the Sash was already filled with shops. However, to deal with issues such as student employment, safety, and housing, the city government would strictly regulate them from now on.
"We shall have a city to match our banner, a city of crimson." - Galaad II
The vast majority of Somae's most iconic architecture was laid down under the reign of Galaad II. He began the quarrying of vast quantities of Salis Sandstone from places like the Feldhollow Hills. He fancied himself an architect, and with a team of talents, created what would become known as Galaan Architecture. Variable sandstone and brick facades, ornate rustication, cylindrical towers, asymmetry, arches, and grand windows epitomize this style.   Tristan I (247-267 AM)   The last of the builder-lords, Tristan I followed his ancestors' plans and expanded them still further, beyond even the city walls. He segregated Beau Run from the city proper and established protected streets for students in Paix. While maintaining the defense-cum-tradition of debris-scattered hills outside the walls, Tristan I nevertheless expanded the city's benefits to the outer villages. Five great gates were accounted for in the expanded walls, and roads cut towards the villages, at the city's expense. Surrounding farms and artisans were granted the right to the new Tyro Markets in the city.  

The Center of the World

  The Golden Age of Somae wound down in 304 AM, following not only the building programs of the first three Lords Thewisy, but the pro-student reforms of Virion I and the theatrical and artistic investments of Tristan II. The period ended with the rule of Helene I, put on the throne after a succession crisis fueled by wealthy landholders, finally fed up with the pace of change in the city.
"Those that resist the ripples of change lifting up the student body of this city do so from their sandstone homes, built atop the wave of progress that came a century ago. What helped them then is too much to bear now - and the city is to pay for their unease." - Collegian Crier
Despite some clawbacks, Somae was on track to success. The expansion of the city is the most physical indication, and its prominence sometimes detracts from other widespread changes at that time. The boom in trade that spurred construction coincided with the end of the Bank of Anhara's monopoly, allowing for the creation of the Eastmarch Bank & Trust. This was not only a bank, but the foremost currency converter on the east coast. Guilds boomed with the increase in the size of the Academy and Library, expanding to take up most of Inkpot. Most importantly perhaps, the Thewisys reclaimed their place as the moral and cultural leader of the rural houses.  


Somae 3.0
Somae is the capital of the Eastmarches and seat of House Somae. It has grown over time from one of the original cities on the continent to a sprawling intellectual and cultural capital. The city can largely be split up between Azuretop, the hill on which the Palace, Library, and Academy are sat; Rudroof, the old town outside the walls that was incorporated into the city around halfway through its history; and those areas further west and south which were walled in during the Golden Age of Somae.
  The city is divided into six districts, each containing more neighborhoods. Azuretop encompasses the heights of the city's main hill, which hosts the palace, library, and academy halls. The Sash contains the shops along the lower reaches of the city's main hill, and its surrounding streets, as well as the grottos, inns near the eastern gate, and professorial housing. Tahawayt is the foreign quarter, dominated by the Tahati. Rudroof is the central bulk of the city, full of embassies, shops, coffee, mansions, and guild halls. The waterfront contains the city's three dock districts and a few islands. Lastly is Whistlewind, the low-to-middle-income residential area.  



Library of Somae

  The jewel atop the Azuretop, the Library of Somae is a cathedral of knowledge. Originally within a stone castle, the Golden Age of Somae saw that torn down and in its place was constructed a marvel of the world. Shaped like an M, conjoined at the base, the Library is laid out so that the sun comes through the entire building at all hours of the day.   The ceilings are vaulted, and many stories off the ground, with shelves of books filling the height. Spiral staircases are at the edges of the shelves, leading to walkways allowing perusers to pass three abreast. Desks for Crimson Quill archivists are found at every few shelves, allowing requests to be relayed along, as a lone reference librarian walking the entire library would take hours.
"The glare from the reinforced windows makes it difficult to read at some hours, but channels such light upon the inner courtyard so as to grow lemon trees in the garth of this cathedral of knowledge. Their lemonade is said to be quite energizing." - Narratives of Somae
The architecture of the library is a testament to the city, especially the soaring windows, created of reinforced glass by the glassmakers of the Andiron. The entirety of the library owes much to the collective organism that is Somae, most notably the experts of the Sash.   The library also hosts the Crimson Quill, and all the facilities that entails. The center of the library belongs to them, the stem of the M, which has a circular scriptorium, the oldest structure, where the library's vaults are. Around that are auditoriums for Quills to copy manuscripts in bulk as they are read aloud to them.
"A vessel from the Twin Isles in the Litorics lodges protests today as their captain's small collection of books was seized. The Searcher will of course provide him with copies, keeping the originals, but the honor of an inclusion amongst the Archives seems lost on him. Or perhaps it's the delay." - Collegian Crier
The Office of the Searcher is here as well, who manages the hunt for new manuscripts, and seizes and searches ships coming to the city or other Thewisy ports for unknown texts. There are also offices for linguistic analysis, to identify the oldest copies or fakes, as well as critical editions and commentaries, or comparative literature, for Quills who search out errors by ancient scribes - all under the Office of the Searcher.   The Office of the Bibliographer is the administrator of the Library, in charge of the list of books, topics, summaries, and research. This is generally overseen by House Lemon, named for the lemon trees growing in the courtyard.   The library, however, is one of the marvels of the world, and best read about in-depth elsewhere.  

Thewisy Palace

  The Thewisy Palace Complex evolved from the original ancient hillfort of Azuretop. Built atop a natural aquafer and cave system, it is highly defensible and perfect for a siege, as the city learned during the Threshing War. The castle, then palaces, have moved many times before settling in their current location. The original castle was given over to the Academy - one of three similar castles, the others becoming the Firmament and Empyrean Halls.   The successor, more a true palace than a castle, became the Library. The current palace was constructed at the end of the Golden Age. Much accommodation was made for the growing collection of vassals, often called to or calling upon Lord Thewisy, each of which required their own ring of suites, customized to their heraldry and regional architecture.
"The throne sits atop a few steps at the end of the room, before a grand triple window. The crimson carpet which leads to it is filled with groups of three or four arguing retainers, vassals, and courtesans, spilling out from under the leafy covered walkways alongside." - Narratives of Somae
The Thewisys themselves are of course accommodated as well, with a brightly lit throne room, flanked by colonnaded walkways allowing private conversations among courtiers. The spirit of the Book of the Courtesan, an inspiration for lesser nobility and bureaucrats everywhere, is upheld in the modern palace, and balconies, arbors, and walkways abound to facilitate deep conversations, social events, and the occasional shadowy scheme.  

Empyrean Halls

  Where the Empyrean Halls now stand was once a hillfort, one of two outside the Thewisy castle itself. Of unknown occupancy, some legends persist saying it belonged to a Thewisy relative who traveled south to the Great Trammel Islands, one of many ancient stories related to exploring the Southern Sea. The castle returned to nature after the Era of Legend, until the Induin Uprising.
"The Hisari, also known as the al-Tahats of Ladderbottom, shall have Our Grant and Perpetual Permission to - in peace - progress to the Eternal Fires now burning in the temples of their gods, which We, in our Grace, permit upon the Azuretop." - Order in Council
Following the Induin Uprising - a fanatical religious order that came east from Nyara's Peaks - House Thewisy doubled down on supporting the Old Ways. To reach an understanding with the College of Vestrial Priestesses, they allowed the Priestesses' territory within what would become the Empyrean Halls. However, motivated by the international nature of their city as well as their image as the cultural counterbalance to the capital region, they allowed priests from all religions there as well.
"Hail, A Fantastical Invention! A Great Lens was revealed today in the Grand Orrery, capable of enhancing the Mortal eye to peer into the Realms of the Gods!" - Collegian Crier
Now the Empyrean Halls are dedicated to the Divine and the Cosmos. They host the Star Chamber, which contains temples to Meda and Maru as well as the Grand Orrery and Observatory, a mechanical device depicting the planes. They also contain the Hall of the Primordials, temples to the Natural Gods, also known as the Old Ways; the Halls of the Monarchs, temples to the Ruling Gods; and the Hall of the Civilizers, the temples to the Societal Gods.  

Firmament Halls

  Where the Firmament Halls now stand was once a hillfort, property of House Caersea. Some Old Anharan texts found in House Thewisy territory spell their name as Caerisy, and while the two houses have intermarried sufficiently to always be able to refer to themselves as "cousin," some Founding legends refer to them as brothers. Regardless, the site has been in continual use by the Caerseas until the present day.   The grounds used by the Caerseas have retreated until their present position - a palatial apartment complex for their exclusive use. These are conveniently situated near the city's Bellows so they can quickly communicate with Imgreshold.
"Reports from Quills stationed along the cities of the Sodden Coast align with those received in the first and third decades of this century. It is thus likely a monsoon shall soon strike. The Chamber may be adjusted to indicate this." - Order by Chief Cartographer of the Firmament Halls
During the city's expansion during the Thewisy Golden Age, much of the Caersea territory was turned into the Firmament Halls. These are themed around the Mortal World, most famously the Great Map Chamber. This room contains a massive carved map of the world, which can be gazed upon from balconies of various heights. Over it can be placed its, almost more impressive, filters - colored glass panels pulled into place to display territorial lines, mineral deposits, roadways, scientific devices and experts who estimate the weather, and so on.
"The Lord Thewisy did anoint his banner-carrier, Eleric of the Ashgrounds, a knight in the field the evening before last. The Heralds of the Firmament Halls have today unveiled his arms, installing them within their collection." - Collegian Crier
The Firmament Halls are also public access, though more exclusive than the Hall of Service in Ridgegate. Business figures, politicians, bureaucrats, nobles, and others of status come here to consult with Quills and request specialized research. The Halls also host a somewhat public museum of artifacts, bones, and archaeological finds, as well as the Quills' Heraldic College and a collection of banners.  

Academy Somae

  The Academy Somae as an institution and landmark in the city is best read about elsewhere. As to their facilities, however, they began within the Library, which in turn was a branch of the Thewisy Palaces - then a mere castle. After the Golden Age of Somae, they had expanded to the lower third of the Azuretop, from which had been pushed the shops now in the Sash.   The Academy received purpose-built halls, though crucially geared towards their curriculum during that time, which are no longer perfectly mapped to their present buildings. Regardless from northwest to southeast, they are: the College of Oratory and College of Theology, built in an oval around a central courtyard ringed by colonnades, to facilitate the perambulation associated with more philosophical or rhetorical fields of study.
"A mass of indigent individuals from the Ashfields, frightened in the face of progress, surged into the halls of the College of Medicine. They levied calumnies and slanders at the surely shocked professors therein, destroying many pieces of equipment as they accused them of snatching the bodies of the poor from the streets for dissection." - Collegian Crier
Next is the College of the Arts, made up of a wide range of buildings befitting its vague name, which comes to include poetic music, troubadourship, poetry, drawing, sculpture, and pottery, and all the specialized facilities required. The College of Archaeology, a newer field of study, has been buried somewhere in the College of Arts' halls.   The Colleges of History and Law, which also feature that of Geography, have a wide swath of facilities, largely consisting of lecture halls. Lastly, the Colleges of Medicine and Technology have rather specialized facilities, the final on Azuretop. Amphitheaters for dissections are required, as are greenhouses for herbs, observatories, and reinforced structures for experimentation.  

The Sash

  The Sash wraps around the base of the Azuretop, and was once the main village outside the walls of Old Somae. The lower third of Azuretop was filled with shops, serving the Academy and Library, a general warren of alleyways, merchants, and seedy taverns. During the Golden Age, these were pushed out and formed the much more organized and regulated neighborhoods of the Sash.  

Tinkerers' Row

  What is now Tinkerers' Row used to include Ridgegate, and was once the edge of Old Somae, near its northern gate. It had, at that time, the same purpose, so located as to keep the experimental, and somewhat explosive, nature of their work well away from people or flammable structures. After the Threshing, they persisted there for some time, as few cared if a stray explosion struck al-Hisar.
"Columns forming a once-welcoming vestibule lean dangerously to the side, a balcony perched precariously atop them as if a lintel stone in the Dolmen Downs. The foyer of an ancient manor house now splits off into different tumbledown shops, the echoes of a long-ended ghostly banquet superseded by the hammering of a metallurgist." - Narratives of Somae
Eventually, disputes between town and gown forced the government to break up Tinkerers' Row. Much of the more dangerous experimentation that took place here migrated to Misfire Isle, the blacksmiths and metalworkers to the Andiron, and chemists to Artificer Alley. Now Tinkerers' Row is regarded as the place to go for odds and ends, experimental constructs, and less-than-legitimate items.
"While anatomy is an important study within the Academy, it is often difficult for students to find the means to practice on their own. Professors are not allowed to direct students to Tinkerers' Row, but there one will, if they look closely, be able to find a procurer for the anatomic study." - Advice for Prospective Students: A Handy Pamphlet
The neighborhood itself has been cannibalized. Once, there were grand manors here, as it was just the edge of town along the main road. The shops have been carved out of these once-great houses. The section of wall in the north of the neighborhood is also a relic, built haphazardly during the Threshing. In its stones can still be found broken pottery, statues, a sealed gatehouse, mismatched bricks, and other debris from the siege that was quickly thrown into place.  


  In eastern Ridgegate was, and still is, the main entrance to Azuretop. Once a gatehouse, it is now one of the three decorative arches leading up to the Library - the Students' Arch. This neighborhood was, similar to Tinkerers' Row, full of manors formerly located just outside the city, along the old north-south road. Unlike Tinkerers' Row, these manors have survived in good form.   Now, old estates have been converted into admissions offices, offices for inquiries, and low-cost or free scrivener services. Foremost among these is the Hall of Service, created as a town and gown compromise to handle simple questions from the general populace, direct more complex issues to the proper experts, or provide scrivener services to the illiterate free of charge or for low cost. Some of the manors are the headquarters and more well-to-do clubhouses for the various geographic or ethnic-based Student Unions.  

The Emporeum

  The most general shopping area in the Sash, the Emporeum is where most matriculated students go to purchase their books, clothing, equipment, and even furniture - newer students remain confined to the Tyro Markets. Many of the shops here have housing above them, for the owners, renters, or students who work in the shops. Only upper-level students are allowed jobs, and those without more specialized skills - such as law students who would be working as apprentices - work in the Emporeum's shops.   In most of the Sash's neighborhoods, students and professors need to know what expert or merchant they are searching for and often commission them themselves. The Emporeum is much more welcoming and student-friendly - less bespoke. Shops are often kept on similarly themed streets for easy wayfinding, such as Apothecary Lane, where non-alchemical herbalists can be found.  

Artificer Alley

  Artificer Alley was once located on the southern third of Azuretop, where a warren of alleys hid shops for alchemists, metallurgists, and various arcane experimenters, something frowned upon in the academic city of Somae. When the lower third of the hill was cleared to expand the Academy, these groups moved mostly to the current Artificer Alley. Much more open, without the winding, hillside alleys of before the Threshing, it nevertheless kept its name.
"Dislodged cobblestones pose an ever-present danger in the sloping alleyways. The shops press in on either side, and when walking downhill it's as if the city is ready to spit you out and off the Azuretop." - Narratives of Somae, Old Artificer Alley
The part of this neighborhood under the cliffside comes the closest to the original Artificer Alley, made up of some winding, narrow streets. Here, different and often uncooperative schools of alchemical thought have been set up. Some alchemists here believe in the unity of metals and transmutability; some espouse a divine color theory, arguing colors evoke different gods or their avatar and draconic forms; others are simple chemists, dye-makers, and trades without a stake in the highbrow alchemical game of theories; or those who believe metals come from and are tied to the divine planes.   The parts of Artificer Alley away from the cliffs have more conventional shops, as well as some associated trades. Mathematicians and astronomers here contemplate the planes, constellations, and other divine effects. To get by, they are often reduced to selling star charts, astrological predictions, pseudo-magical rocks, and other less-than-academic knickknacks.  

The Andiron

  Once residing in the larger, original Tinkerers' Row, blacksmiths, metallurgists, and metalworkers moved to the Andiron. They are centered around Sunken Street, a curved road, hosting most of the Andiron's major shops. Constructed of many grates, directly under it runs a long-buried stream flowing from an aquafer under the Azuretop. This provides waterpower to the Andiron's machines and fires.
"Perhaps it is poor planning to have a street of metal grates, under which flows a river, located next to some of the world's most renowned jewelers and glassmakers. One wonders how many chests of gold could be found wherever the outflow of Sunken Street's stream is." - Merchants' Roadmap to the Eastmarches
Fine and intricate works are produced here, from clocks to minutely detailed jewelry. Glassmakers work here as well, producing everything from beads to stained glass windows. The Andiron has a long history of invention, both in its past and present location. Some are niche and aesthetic developments, like new techniques for filigree, all the way to mechanical designs now taken for granted, such as the crank.  


  The eastern gate to the city, the Fellows Gate, opens into the Lamplight neighborhood. Formerly a village clustered against a highly defensible side of the Azuretop, it was one of the main sites of Thewisy victory over besieging Tahati forces. Being a natural entrance to the city for those with business in Azuretop, Lamplight came to host the majority of moderately priced inns and taverns. The taverns in this neighborhood are tightly regulated and do not allow students.   Southern Lamplight is a different matter. This part of the neighborhood is structured around the Tristarie, a grand theatre built by Tristan II. While this theatre and those immediately around it are respectable institutions, frequented by those across Somae, and used by the College of Troubadours, not all of the Souther Lamplight has such a reputation.
"The Lord's eldest son was mocked for his lecherous habits by the mask-wearers of the Ashgrounds, and by decree, they have been forced to halt their satirical farce in that portion of the city." - Collegian Crier
Northeast of the Tristarie is the Court of Masks. These winding streets provide refuge to those who wish not to be found. The name comes from masked, improvisational plays, often based around puns and vulgar in nature. These have been adopted by the gay men who call the Court home. While gender in Anhara is a more loose concept, a live-and-let-live attitude allows the Court to thrive.   Here too exist some of the best silkmakers in the city, originally popping up to serve the reborn Vestrial Brothers. A long-dead priesthood from Wildheath, those pious men sought to emulate their goddess by dressing in veils and female ceremonial silks. It has been repurposed as more of a social group, and straight, wealthy nobles of style have no qualms about purchasing unique designs from their silkmakers.  


  The Fellowood was originally the outer suburbs of the city, where fashionable manors were built for various vassal houses and knights, bordering to their south the Lord's Hunting Grounds, now the Grottos. The most famous among these was the Braelea Palace, used as their primary residence during the Hedge Wars. During the Golden Age of Somae, this area was brought within the city walls, and the forests were torn down.   Now, the Fellowood houses the professors of the Academy, free of charge. Sworn Crimson Quills live here as well, but not acolytes or other auxiliary members and associates. The neighborhood also hosts foreign experts induced to join the Academy or Library, where they live in government-provided housing, free of charge, tax, and with complimentary servants, who often have particularly keen ears.  

Heroum Grottos

  The cliffs south of Azuretop-proper have a sweeping view across the Nyara River. Before the Threshing, this was a largely undeveloped area, used generally as hunting grounds reserved for the noble families nearby. However, during and immediately after the siege of Somae, the bodies were too many to give respectful burials.   Anharan Funerary Rites call for a cremation at the highest point available nearby, and a scattering of some ashes into the winds, with the rest reserved for storage in a family imagary - a room in a home hosting busts of family members. To not burn the bodies is not only disrespectful but dangerous, cursing their spirits to remain on the Mortal Plane - hence the reputation for ghosts in the Ashgrounds and rural areas around Somae.
"At the start, the bright day was blotted out with a dark rain. At first, we were excited - more water could only help put out the fires in the city and quench our thirst - but we were soon corrected. The rain was falling slowly, drifting like snow. This dark rain only meant ash - the bodies of our companions." Chronicle of the War of the Chariot-Men
Initially, the bodies within the defended walls of Somae were burned in the castle and their ashes were scattered. However, burning usually takes place on high points outside of the city, preferably mountain or hill shrines designated for the purpose. Ashes raining down over a populated besieged city was deemed too dispiriting and ceased. Instead, ashes were saved.   After the war, those collected from outside the walls were burnt as well. However, the sheer mass of ashes was too much, and many had been mixed up throughout the conflict. While the bulk of the ashes were scattered eventually, none were properly saved for imagaries. Instead, families adopted crypts in the Heroum Grottos. Etched with as many names of the dead as could be recalled, noble houses adopted those bearing their ancestors' names, and maintain them even if every other ash inside it is low-born.
"The name of Lord Rys II Castenne was carved upon his house's monument in the Grotto of Heroes, in honor of his death defending the Narrow Sea from barbarous attackers." - Collegian Crier
It has become a tradition peculiar to the Eastmarches for those who die in battle to choose for some of their ashes to be interred here as well as scattered.  


  Much of Rudroof was located outside of the original walls of Somae, destroyed during the siege in the Age of Rule. During the Golden Age of Somae, it grew into the most iconic district of the city, both architecturally and culturally.  

Robed Quarter

  The Robed Quarter is a densely packed residential neighborhood and one that most readily comes to mind when imagining Rudroof. Here, the oldest of the iconic red sandstone rowhouses of the Galaan style are found, pressed tightly together. Every parcel of land has been filled to house representatives from various international and regional groups, guildmembers, clerical workers, military officers, bankers, insurance agents, and the middle class that exploded during Somae's Golden Age.   The diverse groups and occupations that live here, coupled with the density, have created a unique mix of characters, house to house, block to block.  


  The Inkpot employs most of the bureaucrats, clerical workers, and guildmembers in Somae's Rudroof. The center of it is Stationers' Hall, from which all other guilds related to books, parchment, or writing are managed. In the Hall operate the Publicist and Editors Guilds, the main leadership of the grander Stationers. A few guilds are based here that are not under their control, such as the Criers in Little Bellows Hall.   In the Grand Tannery Hall is the Leatherworkers Guild; Binder Hall, the Bookbinders Guild; the Auditorium, the Copyist Guild; the Parchmine, the Parchminers Guild; the Mawan Hall, the Papyrographers Guild; the Scriptorium, the Scriveners Guild; and the Hall of Colors, of the Illuminators Guild, all fall under the control of Stationers' Hall. Here the books and papers that run the Academy, and Somae's wider bookselling industry, are created by a powerful consortium of guilds.  


  The beating - rapidly beating - heart of Somae is Haricourt, the coffeehouse district. Here the first cafe, Altairai, opened in 155 AM, marking the start of the Golden Age of Somae. The Altairai is on the western side of the neighborhood, near the Lion's Den, unlike many of the next most popular coffeehouses there. Instead, those are along a street called the Winches, which abuts the cliff overlooking Evelyn's Landing. While the Altairai has a comfortable, slow pace, favored by philosophers and scholars, the cafes along the Winches serve the bureaucratic class and need their coffee so rapidly that they winch it up the cliffs from the docks as soon as it arrives.
"The owner of the tavernhouse known as the Tahati was summoned for making a sort of liquor called coffee, a malodorous substance, to the great nuisance and prejudice of the neighborhood." - Order in Council
The southern entrance to Haricourt comes through the Zealot's Gate, decorated in honor of House Leone and their crusade. Splitting to the right, into Haricourt, instead of left, towards the Lion's Den, brings one up Zo'abi Way. Named for Zo'ab, the Jewel of Tahat's Eye, this street houses merchants from that far-flung city, largely in the ivory trade. It leads, as it does in al-Tahat, to Near-Serenbar, the more populous equivalent for those from Serenbar. In the north is Mawan Point, hosting wealthy merchants and kings from the Mawan, al-Tahat's most populated, riverine region.  

Lion's Den

  One of the smallest neighborhoods in the city, Lion's Den has always been an exclusive residential strip but has grown even more so since the Golden Age. After the Threshing, what was formerly farmland was purchased by a family of Thewisy cousins that would become known as House Leone. Now one of the major noble houses, at the time they were land speculators getting in on the boom of reconstruction. When a daughter of the family - Ava of the Lion - led a crusade against House Oeis' remnants, they became House Leone.
"Gargoyles stare down at the lonely passerby, drawbridges are pulled up with no moat in sight, and the copses of trees which abound this neighborhood seem to cast brooding shadows onto the wide streets. It would seem like no one lives here, or at least none are welcome, if not for the frequent balls and fĂȘtes advertised in the social gazettes." - Narratives of Somae
The architecture here is somewhat different from the Galaan Rowhouses or manors in other parts of the city. The Lion's Den itself, the Leone home, is a fortified castle, owing to its age. The other homes in the neighborhood emulate this but in the Galaan style. Turrets abound, red sandstone towers topped with shingles, carved and highly detailed crenelations - more for decoration than practicality. This neighborhood blends opulence with an aura of defensiveness.
"While fences may make good neighbors, noble houses do not, and their rivalries often promulgate to even the farm level." - Excerpt from Anhara, Territories, The Vestral Downs
The defensiveness is not only evident in the architecture, but in the character of the neighborhood and its occupants. The Lion's Den is the preferred place of residence for houses from the Vestral Downs. Those from the southern downs, like House Moray, live on New Oeis Court, those from the north more toward the Lion's Den. Downs houses are notoriously territorial, with many entrenched rivalries, leaving no wonder why their homes reflect that.  


  Highgrove, before the Threshing, was largely made up of fields and farmhouses outside of the village which became the Ashgrounds. In particular, it was known for its apple tree groves. Now, it is the premier residential and shopping neighborhood for Somae's upper classes. The north of Highgrove is bounded by the Learned Path, Somae's main east-west road, and still has older, smaller homes, belonging to more moneyed bureaucrats than in the Robed Quarter.
"A tree-lined boulevard, paths between the shops and street are at a height and distance from the thoroughfare of High Street. Well-to-do ladies and gentlemen are protected from a busy road as they easily meander from a tailor here to a florist there." - Merchants' Roadmap to the Eastmarches
Running along the eastern border of Highgrove is High Street, Somae's premier shopping destination for the upper classes. It runs north-south from the gates of the Marching Grounds to Squires Street at the waterfront. High Street hosts parades of well-dressed nobles, milling from shop to shop, as well as actual parades of knights heading to the Marching Grounds for occasional tournaments.
"In Ladderbottom, the Julfari live separately and look down on the Mawani; in Haricourt, the Mawani look down on them but are not welcomed to Highgrove; in Brusle the Litorics look up at all and yet enter into the Eastmarch Exchange, and all and sundry are there, looking together at their coins." - A Polemic Scrawled on the Qadakore Gate
The northern intersection of High Street and the Learned Path is just preceded by Tatirlae, or Exchange Street. This intersection forms a triangular plot, on which is the Eastmarch Bank & Trust building. Originally a currency exchange, it is owned by House Melac, one of Somae's richest families and the Thewisy treasurers. The road itself plowed through a formerly affordable residential area, the last remnants of which are the small homes fronting the Learned Path. This part of Highgrove is now largely financial buildings.
"Some have complained of the emptying of florists, bakeries, and butchers on High Street, as it seems almost all have been purchased for this evening's fĂȘte. Final invitations have been sent out by courier, in tailored garb of course, and we regret any embarrassment those uninvited have felt by this news." - Highgrove Social Gazette
The north-south road through Highgrove in the west is Aymlae, or Festival Route. Once marking where harvest festivals were held in the Age of Rule, it now is the main street through the residential heart of the city. Off of the Aymlae branches looping courts - circular or square streets around which are manors or rowhouses. These are the homes of the wealthy. First amongst them is Nyara's Court - where the city's oldest manors sit. In the center of the Aymlae's route is Melac Manor, the seat of House Melac, in an older, less court-focused portion of the neighborhood. Oddly out of place near Melac Manor, at the junction with Tatirlae, is Roulru Mill, the city's oldest tavern. Lastly, in the south, at the junction of the Aymlae and High Street is an Altrarie, a temple of healing, largely for knights.  

The Redmonte

  The Redmonte is a large dirt hill anchoring the southeastern corner of the Rudroof district. It is buttressed on the east by the wall dividing the Rudroofs from the Belly, and in the west, a flight of stone stairs ascends the hill. Unknown to the average passer-by, this hill is one of the most ancient settlements in Somae. Here, the Thewisys ordered the founder of House Redmonte to construct a wooded hillfort. That structure has grown into the Redmonte Keep.   The Redmonte Keep dominates the northwestern third of the hill. It has survived the great siege of the Threshing War, riots and uprisings, and every conflict in between. The Redmontes remain the most ancient and loyal Thewisy vassal.
"It is said, this site was a fortified hill in the manner most ancient. A maze of trenches dug into the land reduced the hilltop more towards its current size, and confused and puzzled the invader. They protected a wooden fortification built by Gyngalaan the Red-Painted, giant-slayer." - History and Descriptions of the Improvement of Somae, By Order of the Lord
In the northeastern third of the hill is the Rostrele Hall. A rostrele is a plutocratic elected council often used to govern cities or large towns. While the word is foreign to Somae, originating in more western cities and postdating Somae's use of councils by centuries, it nonetheless captures the essence of their system of government. The Rostrele of Somae has two functions. A smaller council governs the city itself, a use of the body common across Anhara, and a larger, less commonly called council, represents vassal houses from across the Eastmarches.
"Throngs of those seeking refuge in the city had never dissipated. To house the nobles, merchants, and gentry who had their hitherto peaceful existence in our Grand City interrupted, the Lord in his wisdom did design a new sort of structure. These would share walls with their neighbor, front the street, but be high as a tower to maintain the required space." - History and Descriptions of the Improvement of Somae, By Order of the Lord
In the southwestern third of the hill is Rostrele Row. Here, those attending the rare regional council stay with their families in Somae's iconic rowhouses. Arranged on courts, these homes front the street, with a few short steps leading down, and share a common wall. Part of the Galaan Architecture of the Somae Golden Age, they were constructed to bring nobles from far-flung locales in the Eastmarches together, and houses were assigned homes apart from their geographical neighbors.  

Philosophers' Grounds

  The eastern half of the parkway and plaza running along the south of the Redmonte, the Philosophers' Ground is the place of work for Somae's greatest thinkers. Its eastern entrance is through a great arch, carved with depictions of the Academy's most famed students, as this is directly adjacent to the Last Landing.   Within the grounds are many full trees, and winding paths amongst them. In the center, a great monument, with the key portions of the Tenets of the Familial Movement carved onto it. This monument serves as a challenge to the Collegians of the adjacent Copse, who decry the Philosophers as useless conversers, marking one of House Thewisy's earliest claims to power as a work of philosophy.
"Gather round you thinking men, and listen to my news. Idle minds need not attend, for what I say is meant for learned friends, not those whom collegians have disabused!" - Sophist of Somae
On the western edge are the Discordant Steps, where the Collegian Crier attempts to shout over the Sophist of Somae. These dueling criers have drawn such a crowd, that they have moved to news-writers, putting up papers throughout the city.  

Collegians' Copse

  The western half of the parkway and plaza running along the south of the Redmonte, the Collegians' Copse is the preferred place to perambulate for academics. Its western entrance is at a fountain, flanked by grand statues, full trees, and nestled benches and crooks for thinkers to discuss amongst. Anharan culture values wandering while conversing.
"Apocryphal sources say the Grounds and Copse were first delineated when a rambunctious argumentative, surely with too much coffee in them, was thrown headfirst down the steps of discord. We welcome our philosophizing neighbors to try again and allow us to repeat the act." - Collegian Crier
However, the eastern boundary is marked by the Discordant Stair. These few steps lead down to the Philosophers' Ground. Philosophy was frowned upon as a study at the Academy - a waste of time better spent on practical matters - until the Golden Age of Somae. Now, philosophers and collegians, as well as their dueling news-writers and criers, argue back and forth on the stairs.  

The Rookery

  The Rookery existed before the Marching Grounds, as a minor fortified tower from which messenger birds were flown. As the city was reconstructed under the builder-lords, it grew into the southern complement to the Marching Grounds. The latter guarded the northern landward entrance to the city, the former the southern coastal one.   As the city grew still further, around the mid-300s, the Rookery began to host the offices of the dockmasters. Eventually, customs officials crept in, and by the 400s the soldiery within the Rookery had been almost entirely replaced by administrative officials for the docks.   The central portion of the Rookery contains the Halls of Enech. Temples to the Anharan god of honor and chivalry, these structures train minor nobility and the children of knights in the art of Anharan Knighthood.  


"The whistle of death sounded at the back of all who tried to flee their hunters." - Chronicle of the War of the Chariot-Men


  The Whistlewind as a district gets its name from the noise the villagers outside the city walls heard as Tahati chariots approached in the Threshing. The Ashgrounds were one of a few small settlements outside Somae, at the time largely centered around Azuretop, which felt the brunt of the attack. Not only that, but it suffered the indignity of being the site of the massacre of many who survived the initial killings.
"The bodies of our neighbors, companions, and kin were heaped there, their earthly vessels devoid of the divine breath." - Chronicle of the War of the Chariot-Men
Much debate was held as to this area's fate during the city's reconstruction under the builder-lords. What was even then known as the Ashgrounds hosted a large collection of pyroie - Anharan monuments to the fallen. In the 260s AM, during the reign of Tristan I, the Ashgrounds were finally incorporated into an organized neighborhood of the city. Those who would come to reside here, especially around Pyroie Court, swore an oath to maintain the monuments.  


  Beaurun's origins lie in the theme of the Whistlewind, destroyed outer villages incorporated into the rebuilding city. Once a refugee camp, it eventually housed the camp followers, or women of ill-repute, who were refused resettlement within the larger city. Thus, it has a sizeable Hisari population as well.   As the Academy grew, the residents of this neighborhood grew into an industry. Entry to this neighborhood is tightly controlled, following problems related to rowdy and drunken students, by walls and a northern gate. Guards check the papers of students, and residents, seeking entry to verify age. Many attempt entry regardless.  

Tyro Markets

  The Tyro Markets are the most low-income markets in the city. Chaos reigns here, and goods are strewn out in piles on the street. The haphazard layout deceives its intended target - new students. Longtime residents know exactly where to find their favored shops. However, new students or those seeking only low-level degrees are confined to residency in Paix, employment in the Whistlewind, and shopping in the Tyro Markets.   The town takes some pleasure in pulling the gown over the heads of these new residents, and counterfeit or fraudulent wares abound here.  


  Paix was the last village destroyed by the Threshing to be reclaimed within the walls of the city. By then, much of the energy of reconstruction had petered out, and Paix's final reclamation coincided with a period of student riots over increased housing prices. To appease the students, their various unions - broken up by region or nation of origin - were given property rights in Paix. While some normal townies reside here, different streets are broken up into "courts."   In the south are the Dolmen and Iron Courts, controlled by the Downs and Verdante Unions respectively. Also in the south is a small altrarie, an altrele, a temple of the goddess of healing. There, just outside the well-manned gates to Beaurun, it serves the women of that district most in need, but least likely to receive medical care.  

Marching Grounds

  Prior to the Threshing, this neighborhood was a village along the northern route into the city. Formerly known as Coutmyl, or "Cow's Path," this village hosted slaughters and cattle auctions in antiquity. After the Threshing, its former residents - those who survived - were resettled in the city and the remnants laid dormant.   While much of the debris from Coutmyl was used to construct the artificial hills outside the city, its ruined footprint remained upon the land. Eventually, it was incorporated into the builder-lords' masterplan and turned into the Marching Grounds. This fortification serves as the main northern defense of the city outside of Azuretop, complimenting the Rookery.
"Charioteers raced about the walls in mock of the ancient enemies long ago, vanquished by Thewisy forces in a reenactment of our great victory in the Tahati incursion." - Collegian Crier
The Marching Grounds itself is a square fortification, its outer walls surrounded by interior structures. Within that is a central walled castle. The "Marching Grounds" themselves are a wide, beaten path of open land between those two groups of buildings. More than just where the Thewisys gather their winds, it also hosts tournaments. Unlike in the Coquet Heights or other ancient cities, the Eastmarches have tournaments in open fields outside the city proper, not rounded arenas.  


  'Little al-Tahat' is the home of the displaced Julfari who stayed in Somae after the Threshing War. Over the centuries they have formed a separate, but a hybrid, Tahawayt Culture.  


  This is the smallest neighborhood in the city, jammed within walls on the way out of the northern gate. For those passing along this route, it serves as a fascinating and stimulating environment - a gauntlet to run. A cacophony of merchants shout in accented Anharan or various Tahati languages, ready to pretend to negotiate prices. A tumult of colors hit the eye, from banners, streamers, and the awnings forming a virtual ceiling over this road.
"If traveling through the city via its northern gate - for whatever reason one may go through its foreign quarter - keep your head down in Qadakore. Bring trusted company, and keep your eyes on the road, while another watches the wagon. Bend your ear not towards the rabid words of streetside swindlers. Apply ahead if possible to secure a waiver, allowing merchants or men of good repute to bring horses through." - Merchants' Roadmap to the Eastmarches
Qadakore is a treasure trove of rare imports, artisan goods, and nearly fraudulent deals. For those practiced in the neighborhood, it is a popular shopping location. For those Tahatis with stores there, it is a mark of pride to have their own street. However, Tahawayt is centuries removed from its founding, and many resent the lack of acceptance into Somae's more traditional markets.  


  Also known as Ladderbottom, al-Hisar is Somae's Tahati neighborhood, sprung from the site of the siege of Somae. It has been centuries since then, and any animosity towards al-Tahat has cooled considerably. Most importantly, Somae has become a truly international city, and even average residents are aware of the many different ethnic groups and polities of al-Tahat. Much of this springs from al-Hisar's most prominent families, originating from the oases east of the Julfar Savanna.
"Traveling down the main road of al-Hisar is like walking through a tunnel. Buildings ranging from pink to muddy red-brown rise up on either side, and dark-skinned men leaning their chairs against walls side-eye the traveler from their alley entrances. The real roads are the shaded alleyways, but none besides a local would dare walk down them. Instead, the throng of Anharans entering the city guides you, under the gaze of the men, south and into Somae." Narratives of Somae
The various tribes of Julfari that stayed in Somae live off the main road through al-Hisar, down winding alleyways that lead to muddy red-colored brick and clay walls, with staggered towers climbing up them. The rounded walls always host a pair of large, wooden, unlocked doors that enter into a communal courtyard. Against the walls, around the yard, are stacked homes, all with their own style: some have wooden arbors forming roofs on upper-floor balconies and terraces, others decorative carvings along the cornices. These cul-de-sacs are often populated by Julfari that once came from the same tribes, or have now intermarried into extended families, who take care of themselves communally.
"Houses - what are presumably houses at least - are strange, even down to their shapes. Pink to bright red, of mud and brick, they seem to grow out from themselves in stacked rectangular units. Wooden beams stick out from the walls in equally spaced groups of threes. Doorways, all within sheltered entrance halls without their own door, seem to welcome guests to wait in the shade. Every window has intricately carved wooden shutters." - Narratives of Somae
While the charioteers of the oases have long since fallen to time, their surviving nobility in al-Hisar being one of the last vestiges of their culture, they nevertheless hold themselves and the Savannah-descended Tahati of the neighborhood separate. The merchants of the Mawan and Far-Sarenbar look down on them, and vice versa. These ruling families have thoroughly adopted the trapping and culture of Anhara, creating a hybrid in al-Hisar. For many Anharans, the visual differences of race and architectural style in this still clearly Tahati district remain too much.  




  The eastern portion of the waterfront, Shipwrought is the landing point for those heading to Azuretop. Its most prominent feature are wide, granite steps known as Last Step Landing, or more simply Students' Landing. Here, students take their last step before embarking on the journey to the Academy Somae. These steps lead to the stem of Fellows' Road, also known as the Belly, a Y-shaped roadway stretching from the eastern city gate, around the bottom of the Sash, and up north to Tinkerers' Row.   Shipbuilding dominates the remainder of this area, but not just merchant vessels or warships. Rather, Somae specializes in low draft pleasure barges for cruising the Nyara River and keel-boats for navigating the narrows up-river from the city.  

Evelyn's Landing

  This neighborhood is the main entrance to the city by water and is named for its most famous passenger. Evelyn Thewisy was kidnapped by Tahati raiders during the Siege of Somae in the Threshing War. After escaping her captors, raising havoc across al-Tahat, and learning the secrets of the desert nation's fire magic, she returned to the city years later.
"For those who lack experience, moving through Evelyn's Landing will find you jostled back-and-forth between carts, porters, merchants, sailors, pickpockets, and fishwives. Heed our advice, and you shall be able to pass safely through this hellfire of riverine commerce." - Merchants' Roadmap to the Eastmarches
Now, this area hosts the dock administrators' offices, where cargo, passengers, and ships check-in. At its north end, under the cliffs, is a market for eagerly awaited commodities, in too high a demand to even bother taking to a shop. The most famous of these is coffee, which is winched right up the cliffside via cranes, directly into coffee houses.   The steps to the east of the Landing lead to the Halls of Enech and more customs offices, inside a former coastal castle known as the Rookery. The steps to the west lead up to a brief street of perpetually full inns, before terminating at the southern end of High Street.  

Brusle Quay

  Once a separate fishing village, well outside the city of Somae, it is now the official docks for fishermen. The families here have resided in this area for centuries, making a point of reconstructing their homes after the Threshing, in what is now the Ashgrounds. Few live in the Quay itself, except the courtyard streets in Farbay. This western corner of the neighborhood is home to the Student Union of Litoric Islanders, where they have organized self-governing housing according to their student rights.   Despite being governed by student organizations, it is nevertheless a welcoming location for traveling Islanders, who stay there while on business. Some even stay perpetually, with student permission, generally granted in exchange for establishing a business in some way reminiscent of their homeland - often food, clothing, or craft-related.   Technically part of the Quay is an odd street, in between the docks and the city proper, on a slight rise leading up the hill. Squire Street stretches from the southern terminus of High Street to the western steps up from Evelyn's Landing. Named for the squires rushing back and forth in search of lodging for their masters, it is lined with perpetually full inns.  

Crimson Grove

  The island of Crimson Grove means nothing to most residents of Somae. Some believe it is a sacred site for the Crimson Quill, where the Thewisy founders had some sort of divine pact made with a goddess. Others think its obelisk is a marker for ancient giants, where the Thewisys negotiated their migration to the Churus Range. Still fewer conjecture this is the site where the Thewisy and Caersea founders banished the mages of Deiaden to the south.  

Misfire Isle

  Misfire Isle hosts many of the more dangerous experiments done by the Academy. Artificers from Tinkerer's Row - which was once the edge of the city - moved to Artificer Alley after the city's expansion so as to be close to Misfire Isle. They receive permission from the city to carry out any dangerous potion brewing or mechanical construction on the island.
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Era of Legend
Alternative Name(s)
The Robed City; Eye of the World; Mother of Anhara
Large city
Inhabitant Demonym
Location under
Ruling/Owning Rank
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Related Tradition (Primary)

Articles under Somae


Author's Notes

The header image is public use - for the sake of the WA tournament, it is Scene in Ancient Rome by Joseph Michael Gandy.

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