The Scholar-City of Harenis Edit
The spires and domes and columns of the scholar-city of Harenis hold the promise of knowledge to those willing. The rays of the sun that light the days are more scorching than kind and the heat wears on the scholars that call it their home. The sea around them is tranquil, allowing barges with wares and workers to drift serenely through the mismatched buildings. In the centre of Harenis is the Resonance - a large circular arena crafted from marble brought from the coast. The arena is in a constant state of motion, debate and discussion as scholars from different schools converse unceasingly through the days and nights. Wooden walkways lead from the central plaza of the Resonance to the structures around it. Each school holds its own wisdom in highest regard, and teaches its tenets to the able. Harenis’ most prominent schools are the Alchemical, Natural and Arcane and it is upon their principles that many of the other schools are built. But the Schools are not the true source of Harenis’ knowledge.
City Layout Edit
Harenis is organised into ten concentric rings or circles around the Resonance. Since the intentions of the original Vannic architects remain obscure the arena's precise relation to the circles is a matter of scholarly contention. Although there is little agreement as to its place in the symbolic schema of the city there has been an almost universal fascination with the relation of Harenian architecture to the organisation and transmission of the Library's knowledge. Each school sets its own limits on the nature and extent of enquiry, and each of these limits differs in character and relation to the often radically divergent limits with which they must coexist. Thus the clearly demarked limits that divide and structure the city, in many ways revealing the particular set of relations which has formed the material base for scholarship, enabling the mitigation, or rather displacement, of the limits scarcity places on academic study, belie a highly complex system of epistemological limits, whose interactions form an economy of knowledge. The geographically centred position of the Resonance, in relation to both the city's social organisation and its mechanisms of displacement has enshrined its importance in comprehending Harenis' economy of knowledge, establishing epistemological centres and peripheries. The architecture of Harenis, the city's physicality, is seen as less of a place-in-itself but rather a point of departure for the continual project of constructing, and reconstructing, the architectures of its economy of knowledge at different points, a process which in turn supplants one image of the city with another. In the wake of this movement, this fluidity, architectural delineations or limits are less boundaries between one consistent strata and another, but mechanisms, manifestations of systemic principles which govern the flows of knowledge that condition its current set of divisions beneath the misleading simplicity of the literal flows of water the city rests on. The Van's decline was set in motion when they came down to establish Arc, whose unavoidable physicality eclipsed the more abstract, ethereal power of the Van. Harenis in many ways can be seen as a repentance for Arc, or rather a perfection of the ideal which lured them down from the heavens. Its discrete divisions hint at invisible orders, cities in the clouds of every human mind that apprehends them. The collapse of the Van Empire was not its refutation, but the demonstration of its ascendency over the physical. It withdrew from the world, persisting as a the lost object of an obscure need, that drives men towards it. Harenis is the greatest of lingering mirages of the Van, a city not of the clouds but of the depths. Each scholar seeks it in the images of his own delirium, like the dying man of the desert who can only recognise water as a figment of his thirst, conjured up to propel the sails of desire onward, at greater and greater speed towards its unknown destination, which exists only beyond every reachable limit. The economy of knowledges itself belies these cities of mirages, an Empire expanding out into every thinkable space, every lack, every intensity, beyond the reach of cartographers but reflected in every map its fascination induces.
Places of Interest Edit
The shrine to The Keeper's Hair.
A fascinating and complex 14-foot shard of volcanic glass brought to Harenis from Sindhi is kept in a mausoleum just off Poru Square. Surrounded by a small domed amphitheatre is a site of prayer and contemplation that can get very busy throughout the day. The milieu of travellers and pilgrims who come to see the relic make it ideal for the passing of information amongst spies. it is regarded unlucky not to visit the shrine at least once in your travels to Harenis.
A bustling bazaar famous for its liquorice and hot chicory stalls and a good place to pick up a bootlegged version of an expensive book. Though most of the work is done by slaves and children some students at the library make money on the side transcribing sections of books considered overly complex, specific or rare. Magic books bought at Makara’s are considered very dangerous.
Home of the Thinker of Harenis, a 20-foot bronze statue believed to represent the philosopher Edru (Though some claim Okorad of Van), it is often a focal point of violence in the city among acolytes and pilgrims but also a centre for most of the feast times and city wide celebrations.
The Ink Maker’s Quarter/Inktown
Ink makers are considered to be undesirable types in Harenis. The smelly work of extracting inks from shellfish and dye and paint making mean the area is walled off and monks patrol the perimeters with censers selling nosegays. The chemicals used in the ink and paint making processes tend to leave their makers mad and often tortured by irritating skin conditions making Inktown a violent and dangerous place. The city watch sometimes considers it easier to burn the district to the ground than police it when the ink supplies in the city are suitably high. The madness that sometimes follow such a burning has been linked to dark magic but is more likely related to chemicals contained in the fumes. Out of work Ink Makers are usually addicted to imbibing solvents and can usually be employed to carry out nefarious tasks by their lofty masters the Inklords who live far away from Inktown. Inktown is also considered a very good way of sneaking into the city unobserved as the Inkmen have access to the ports to collect cuttlefish shipments and the wall near Inktown is seldom properly patrolled.
The Library of Harenis Edit
Key texts from the great library Edit
Del’maru Shu Del’Marah
Every court in the land contains the abridged version of the Cheru family of Cheris’Mar’s history of the Del’Marahan Royal family. Very few require the complete version chronicling the 75 Del’Marahi (Emperors) and their families in an excruciating detail. There are at present fourteen Volumes subdivided into the main successive royal dynasties- Chalse, Shalish and Oren.
Derk Pith of Shay’s book of insults is famed across Aestis and contains centuries of the best recorded barbs of the continent. From the various damning insights into the Van Empire in Borloth’s ‘Cloud Shitters’ to Premma of Dran, best known for her refusal of Godron of Taeor “I’d rather seek my pleasure from lapping of the sea than have your weak Taeorian body near me.”
A mathematical and philosophical tome by the famed Arc Aruhvian theologian Brondo. Brondo is best known for his razor- Never attribute spite where stupidity is an adequate justifier. Brondo’s book is currently among most burned non magical tomes in the Mill Lands.
The Tragedy of Emperor Goss
Brinn The Bard of Pelonastra is one of the most celebrated living playwrights in the library of Harenis. His historical tragedy of Emperor Goss of Del’Marah is one of his best known works. The tale of the banishment of a loyal wife Marlu and their young son Calis from the royal court and his eventual fall into madness.
The Gloved Hand
The infamous Drannic work on torture and interrogation. Harenis contains the most up to date version that the rulers of Dran will allow to be released. Sarpo Couhl of Ghothar named it the fifth defender of Dran after mountain, sea, gold and sword.
The Collected Fragments of Serpidine of Oloris
Serpidine’s surviving volumes of poetry are amongst the most widely read in Harenis, from the illiterate washerwomen who recite them from memory to the novice students who voraciously copy the erotic verses to read at home later. The Women of the Reed Isle, Serpidine’s 10th Dream and The Fey Reflected in the Water being her most celebrated works.
The Chains Trilogy
A history of the Vertical Republic by Szil Brenka. Brenka’s Book of Chains and Book of of Cups chronicle the history of the nation from the Del’Marahan occupation to the rule of Neyan Terrak, the first free Viceroy. The not quite needed third volume, the Book of Hats, is a dull thousand-page travelogue of the Karezi hinterland with long tracts on hook climbing and hunting with eagles.
Stone Rubbings of Veska
The transcribed stone rubbings of Veskan runes by Canrahat Bo Canrahah of Milj is widely considered one of the most boring books in the library considering that most of the rubbings, though fascinating in their own right, are so tediously presented by Bo Canrahah. The reliability of the one copy kept there not being in use at any time have led to it being more popular as a dead letterbox for spies and scholars engaged in illicit relations than as an actual book.