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The City-State of Aelios:by Alex Benson
Location: Continent of Davania, Adakkian Sound.
Area: Approx. 400 sq. mi.
Population: 9,000 (6,700 in , 2,300 living in scattered villages and towns).
Languages: Milenian (Aelios dialect).
Taxation: All citizens are taxed at 10% of their assessed worth once per year; plus an additional 10% tithe for the clergy, collected weekly.
Government Type: Non-hereditary monarchy; appointed by clergy.
Industries: Agriculture (grains, fruits, grapes), sheep, fishing, pottery, wines, beer.
Important Figures: King Hasphetus (F10) and High Priestess Porophylle (C22 of Talitha).
Flora and Fauna: Aelios is a surprisingly secure domain. Aside from the occasional wandering creature from the surrounding wildlands outside of the palisade, the settled areas are devoid of hostile creatures. The areas outside of palisade do have numerous belligerent creatures. Inside the palisade one will find domesticated livestock such as sheep, goats, and some cattle. Inside the city animal life is seen mainly in the form of pets: songbirds, dogs, and cats. More exotic pets are often seen as well.
Plant life is of a domesticated variety. If it is not ornamental or agricultural it is culled and destroyed. Domesticated plant life includes wheat, rice, and various fruit bearing trees.
Further reading: None.
Aelios lays on the eastern bank of the Adakkian Sound. Nestled between jungles to the north and swamps to the east and south. Aelios' agricultural farmlands are cramped together around the city. The settled areas are encompassed within a five foot high palisade. Scattered throughout these settled lands are small villages. Most are agriculturally based. Others along the coast focus on harvesting the fish that swim the waters.
The centre of the city-state is the city of Aelios. An impressive city, it stands in stark contrast with the much impoverished outlying settlements. Behind daunting battlements, one will find a city of definite Milenian influence. Majestic columns of carved stone support solidly built buildings. Stone is the prevailing construction material.
The people of Aelios are of Milenian heritage. Their appearance is a clear indicator of that. Their language is definitely that of the Milenians, though a separate dialect has been developed. There appears to be a distinct class system. It is not based upon wealth or family lineage but is based upon age. People of Aelios are born within the city. They live within its walls until reaching maturity. Reaching the age of ten, Aelios' youth begin splitting their time between scholastics and servitude. The education is presented by and overseen by the Aelios clergy. As servants, the children cater to the needs and wants of the middle-aged adults.
On reaching the age of sixteen, the adolescents forego their servant duties and are brought into Aelios society. Until they reach the age of thirty-five years, the citizens live a carefree hedonistic life within the city.
Upon reaching the age of thirty-five, citizens are cast out of the city to live in the outlying settlements. There they are assigned to work the fields and act as craftsmen. The bulk of the products of their labour are shipped to the city for the consumption of the hedonistic population or sent out as exports. Those with the aptitude are often allowed to enter the city during the day to perform construction or heavy labour maintenance. Though scorned by those inside, this duty is relished by the older citizens, who have few qualms about the costs to their pride.
Upon the signs of greying hair, citizens are expelled from the palisades to fend for themselves in the neighbouring swamps and jungles. The majority of these senior citizens perish shortly thereafter. Though hostile creatures are not readily found within Aelios, they can be found beyond the palisades. Certain creatures have learned that the Aeliosians expel the aged and the creatures prey upon them. It is known that several hermits have survived expulsion and live in secluded spots outside of the palisade.
The exceptions to this class of age are the military and the clergy. Military troops can move in and out of the city at will. Since the need for good soldiers outweighs the drain their numbers have on city resources, military personnel are not subject to being removed from the city at reaching age thirty-five. It is also reasoned that in performing their duties the military cannot commit totally to the hedonism and their duties often have them patrolling the outside palisades. However, once they begin showing grey hair they are expelled into the wilds. Being soldiers, weapons and armour is given to them so they can die like soldiers.
The clergy falls along the same lines as the military. Given the high prestige and the attentions they are forced to exhort to the following, they may stay within the city until their hair greys. Like the military, clerics are armed before being expelled. Unlike the military, the clerics are given the option of suicide in the hope of good grace from their Immortal. Aeliosian history tells of many clergy living for close to a century without their hair greying. Many attribute this to Talitha's good grace to those loyal to her.
Ruling Aelios is King Hasphetus (F10). Twenty-seven years old and of the military, he is a striking figure. Though King, his duties are light as the clergy really administers the city-state. The King is well aware that his rule depends upon the blessing of the clergy. They appointed him King for his good looks, social grace, and overall popularity with the citizens and troops. His history and persona fit the mould of Aelios' past kings. The King does very little. In times of war, his duties arise as the military commander of Aelios. Hasphetus enjoys his life in the city and dreads the day he is expelled to the wilds as a grey-haired soldier.
There is but one Immortal honoured in Aelios. That Immortal is Talitha. The Clergy actually makes the city-state run by placing their own members in administrative positions. The Following promotes the decadent behaviour that is so prevalent within the city. To support this lifestyle, the young and elderly serve. The time spent in the city is seen as the rewarding time of life.
High Priestess Porophylle (C22 of Talitha) runs the clergy and therefore the city-state. Under her guidance, her lesser clerics make the city-state run. Porophylle is 60 years old, though she has yet to display the telltale signs of greying hair. Some attribute this to Talitha's interference and therefore Her blessing. Others subtly comment upon reports of cosmetics and hair dying solutions. In truth Porophylle is a nosferatu, explaining her longevity, though she is not the only vampire in Aelios; several other clergy are nosferatu as well. Talitha bestows her more capable servants with the undead nature to keep Aelios functioning. The undead clerics feed on those expelled from the city and sent out into the wilds.
The people of Aelios are wary of strangers. However, it is not uncommon for their wariness to be overcome by infatuation or desire for a pretty faced damsel or handsome male. The Aeliosians are almost obsessive regarding elves, going out of their way to make them their slaves. This obsession is probably due to their long lives and physical attractiveness. Other demihumans are seen as stunted freaks. Only halflings are kept, usually for roles such as jesters or pets. Dwarves and gnomes are considered as being ugly and are often kept only to enact in gladiatorial games, usually against wild dogs, wolves, or boars. The survivors of these fights usually are rewarded by being used in impromptu archery practice.
The military has standing orders to gather intruders and bring them to the city for questioning. Inside the city, they will be received in varying degrees based upon appearance, age, and their business. The Aeliosians are fascinated with the goings on of the outside world. Visitors will be invited to parties and meals to tell their tales. The Aeliosians have slaves but not many. Slaves are used and abused and live for only as long as their masters find them appealing. Therefore, there is a constant demand for worthy slaves. Most slaves are gained through trade or from visitors deciding to stay. Many visitors have found themselves becoming slaves as their friends leave them behind.
Despite their peculiar society, Aelios does have its share of trade. Neighbouring city-states are known to send their traders to Aelios. Also, individual Vilaverdan and Texeiran traders can sometimes be seen in the city. Aelios has no coinage; bartering is the norm for dealing with traders. Most traders are well aware of the dangers within Aelios and do not dally about too long. This is especially so for the Vilaverdan and Texeiran merchants. Being private ventures, they cannot expect a great deal of help from their respective homelands if they are detained. Still, rarely does a ship depart Aelios with its full crew.
Refugees from the city-state of Cyclonia founded Aelios in AC 307. After the collapse of the Milenian Empire, the residents of Cyclonia blamed their troubles on a sect, the Baccalites. Their creed lay with self-indulgence and outright debauchery. The Cyclonian people had long tolerated the sect and its vices, but the reverses of the Empire had turned the populace against them. The people of Cyclonia arrested the sect's leaders and promptly executed them. Other sect members were exiled.
The exiles made their way south and settled along the banks of the Adakkian Sound. There they established the community of Aelios in which they could live and act as their sect dictated. The first few years were difficult for the settlers. Unaccustomed to having to provide for themselves, they soon found themselves starving and suffering from disease.
Salvation came in the form of a dream. A young woman named Cassandra reported being visited by a beautiful woman, calling herself Talitha. The vision laid out the foundation of the clergy and age based class system. Awakening, Cassandra spread the news of her dream. There was great opposition from the older Aeliosians. This opposition was partially silenced as Cassandra began healing the sick.
Health improved but still hungry, the populace demanded food. Cassandra and several new devotees spent the night meditating to Talitha for food. The following morning showed that their prayers had been heard. Foodstuffs lay in piles near the settlement. This sign was enough to convince the people of Aelios. To symbolise their devotion to their new Immortal, they rationed the best foods to the younger citizens. Older citizens with grey hair were given the scraps. Thus Aelios was committed to the age based class system.
Over the following years, the Aeliosians established themselves. They built a comfortable city for the youths and middle-aged citizens to live in. At first, little protection was given to the older citizens except for armed patrols. With dangerous creatures and raiding humanoids randomly attacking, a shoulder high palisade was constructed to offer an added sense of protection.
The city itself is a wondrous site to behold. With its superb architecture, manicured gardens, and lethargic atmosphere it is difficult not to get caught up in it all. However, visitors should be reminded that this paradise was created and is maintained by a bizarre society that is very different from any others. In particular, this focus on age and appearance can prove quite financially sound. Fine materials, jewellery, perfumes, and cosmetics fetch a hefty price in Aelios.
Perhaps the greatest site a visitor could see is the Temple of Talitha. A magnificent edifice, it is dramatically complimented by a breath taking garden. A small army of children, who can be seen toiling throughout the halls, meticulously maintains the temple. The temple is a focal point in the city, with daily parties being held. Some might say that these displays of decadence never really end, they just pause briefly to allow the participants to sleep and the servants to clean up.
Despite its beauty Aelios does hold many dangers. Though visitors are allotted a degree of protection from the local social laws, they may find the Aeliosians a bit oppressive against those of an advanced age. More vigorous youths may find themselves enslaved or even caught up in the vices of the city. There have been numerous visitors that chose to stay behind, only to find themselves enslaved by their hosts. Foremost, those of elven heritage should stay away. The infatuation that the locals have for the fey race has been the cause for many a kidnapping and even the murder of a companion.
More apparent dangers lay just outside of the outer palisade. Hostile humanoids and other more powerful creatures call the area home. There are several packs of wolves, not to mention predatory felines. At least one hydra is known to have a lair in the area and can be seen or heard whenever there is an expulsion. There is even a tale told by locals that a former cleric resides in the area in the form of a hag. And finally there is some local lore which tells of the discovered corpses of several exiles. The corpses lacked blood, offering clues that a vampire or nosferatu may be at work. Uniformly, these creatures seem quite content to remain outside of the palisade and feed upon those expelled, thus justifying the demands of the Order for Talitha's protection.