The cities of Raiaera were once fair and beautiful places, marvels of architecture and economic might, and home to thousands of the fair race and those who chose to call them friends. With the advent of Xem’Zund’s armies (and the dark elf armies thereafter), city life in Raiaera has ground to a halt. The few cities that remain are either besieged or have been abandoned, while their people live in the northern forests under the protection of their boughs and hidden places. At the hands of the Corpse Horde and their mighty archlich, some of these cities have suffered fates much worse than destruction.
Raiaeran buildings vary from region to region, depending upon the availability of construction materials, the expense spared in the design, and the purpose of the town. Fortresses and villas will make use of stone, most dwellings and buildings are constructed of wood, and usage of mud and canvas is not completely unheard of, either.
No matter what the material, however, elven buildings are possessed of an elegance and beauty unmatched by other races, and even the simplest and most utilitarian of domiciles is a palace in the realms of men. They involve pendulous creations of wondrous curves and columns, designs natural, floral, flowing, and animal. Their fountains seem to defy physical boundaries, creating or warping water in impossible ways, and their gardens are botanical marvels filled with exotic colour and beauty in the most perfect of arrangements.
Elven architecture tends towards open, high buildings with many windows and high ceilings. Elves love the sky and as such build as high as possible, often erecting towers and terraces in an effort to gain as unrestricted a view of the sky as possible. Their streets are either neatly paved with cut stone, or simply carefully swept and cleansed sand. The interior of an elven building is open and filled with light due to the proliferation of large windows, which are kept open as much as possible. All buildings are generously decorated with objects d’art and other decorations, sometimes giving the impression of a lavish museum or studio to what may in reality be a home.
Wars throughout the ages have claimed victims from even the mighty high elves, and there are more than a few settlements within the borders of Raiaera that were overrun by their foes, abandoned by their denizens and lost to the annals of time. Such ruins may perhaps be found by the adventurous traveller, and retain not only a semblance of their dignity and elegance of old, but also perhaps of the magical artefacts and enchantments they once housed. Only one thing is certain: it is up to the traveller to be bold enough to find such places, and to have the strength of sword-arm and mind to claim their prizes for his own.
Once the capital of Tel’Eldalie, a large city as Elvish cities go, and designed from the outset to be a magnificent beacon of Raiaeran ingenuity and prosperity. Frescoes of trees and flowers adorned each wall, like a peaceful forest of stone; both a defensive stronghold and an artistic masterpiece, the city was designed to withstand all the tests that time could throw at it. Impeccably designed and arranged in a regular pentagon, the crowning jewel of the city was the grand palace of Velice Arta, the Glass Palace, seat of the High Bard Council. At each corner of the inner wall was one of the four schools of Istien University, while the remaining corner was devoted to the administrative offices of Tel Aglarim, the Elven army. During the Corpse War, however, the capital of Raiaera was overrun by the forces of the necromancer Xem’Zund. What remained was a blasted urban wasteland, ransacked and littered with the corpses of those not yet raised in the Necromancer’s service. The only holdout was old Istien University, preserved against months of grinding, starving siege by ancient enchantments of incredible power. Battered by Xem’zund’s armies, these enchantments slowly faded… and with them, the last hope for the chief city of the High Elves. An expedition by General Nalith Celiniel into the ruins of Eluriand found the city abandoned and largely destroyed. The structures of the university remained, though severely damaged, and in place of the Glass Palace was a shattered ruin of death and darkness. With the outer city long since devastated by the undead, nothing now remains of the jewel of the Raiaeran people.
Once known as Tirinost, was once a simple fortified villa, surrounded by a relaxed village out in the wilderness. Neither a fortress town like Valinatal nor a bustling centre like Eluriand, it took the destruction of both to turn Tirinost into something more. It flourished under the leadership of the Lady General Nalith Celiniel herself, reshaped into a great citadel of the High Elves and protected by the massed boughs of the Great Forest itself. Unlike the former capitals it was not beautiful, but distinctly utilitarian. Its sole purpose was to protect what remained of Raiaeran life within its great walls. The outer walls of Eluceliniel were composed of the trees themselves, only a few scattered entrances allowing entry into the fortress. The outer city was designed for defence, a maze of greenery and stonework funneling attackers into dead ends where they could be ambushed by waiting defenders. The inner walls had been rebuilt from ages long past, when Tirinost was a cold-blooded fortress standing against the fury of gods and men alike, huge and archaic and almost impregnable to both siege craft and magic. Eluceliniel stood strong against the ravages of the undead and the Dark Elves for many long years, but it ultimately became untenable and was abandoned by its guardians and later destroyed by Xem'Zund's hordes.
Formerly headquarters of the Bladesingers Guild and renowned as a city of art, history, and learning. The oldest library in Raiaera, rivaled only by the Library of Ankhas in Alerar, was also located here, containing the majority of the cumulative knowledge of the High Elves not housed in the smaller libraries at Istien. Situated on a high hill, commanding a wide view of the countryside and yet close to the sea, Raiaera’s oldest city and primary port was protected from Xem’zund’s initial onslaught by the mountains of the Emyn Noeg directly to the west. As such, it quickly became the centre of the refugee exodus, the Harbour Walls that ran six miles from city to port clogged with those desperate to escape the Necromancer’s wrath. Almost constantly under some form of siege, whether by Xem’zund’s forces on land or pirates at sea, the city slowly but surely descended into anarchy despite the best efforts of those who sought to prevent it. When no hope remained for the elven jewel of the east, Caden Law, also known as the Wizard Blueraven, had the Old City of Anebrilith torn down to the last brick by an act of alchemy and necromancy the likes of which has not been seen in living memory and will likely not ever be seen again. What replaced Anebrilith was the city of Beinost, a literal ghost-town formed from the ashes, ruins, corpses, and even the willing souls of the city that came before it.
A crescent-shaped wonder, its ends stretching out into the sea as part of an enormous harbor complex capable of docking up to fifty large ships with room to spare. It boasts a great wall nearly eighty feet high and thick enough to sport hallways, living quarters, and even supply stores at certain parts. Architecture closely resembles that of pre-War Eluriand with touches of Alerian and Salvic influences, assuming someone knows what they're looking for. Most of the city sports a dazzling color scheme of reds, purples, blues, and gold trim. The streets are cobblestone and brick, lined with sidewalks and enchanted lamps, and the entire city stands atop one of the most advanced sewer systems in the world -- all byproducts of how Beinost came into being. There is a certain eerie uniformity to the construction of houses and other small buildings in Beinost, but this can also be attributed to how the city was born. For such a large city, Beinost is extremely underpopulated: most of its citizens were dead by the time it came into being, which fueled the necromancy that gave the city birth, and many others fled north after it came into being. After so many long, suffering years under Xem'Zund's heel, there are few living elves who will trust anything that comes out of an act of necromancy, and the name Beinost is whispered in all corners of Raiaera with equal parts awe, fear, and disgust.
Originally established as a High Elf colony not long after the new capital of Eluriand was completed, and located within hailing distance of the Raiaeran mainland (perhaps five day’s march north of Anebrilith) the city encompasses the entirety of the small rocky island upon which it was built and is linked to the mainland by a fortified causeway over five miles long. The city itself was designed to be a self-sufficient fortress and is comprised of three parts – the star-shaped outer city, including the docks and farmlands, the pentagonal inner city containing the palaces, the barracks, and the administrative buildings, and the outer city on the mainland guarding the opposite end of the causeway. Long known for its isolationist stance, of recent times the city has been taking a more active role in Elven politics, sending a relief force to Anebrilith in the wake of Xem’zund’s assault. Tor Elythis is renowned for its unique military structure, including the deadly elnaith horsemen, the mercenary Skyknights, and the swift and skilled Spire Guard. It is also well known as a place of learning second only to Istien, and the magi of the White Spire are both talented and wise.
Once a fortress located at the entrance to the path to the Obsidian Spire, Carnelost stood guard over the way towards glory or death. With no way to avoid the first assaults from the undead, it was quickly reduced to ashes in the early stages of the Corpse War, and is now for the elven people a site of great mourning. Only a handful survive of the brave warriors who stood there, and the cries and chants in their memory are amongst the most moving known in the tongues of elves and men.
Once a city that fused human and elven culture, it was renowned and reviled for the introduction of such vices as gambling and prostitution to a population that had formerly had nothing to do with them - but these brought with them great wealth for those who played their cards right. Located in the deep northeast of the country, this seat of elven art and splendor fused with human greed is now filled with plague brought by the undead, bringing swift deaths to the men who lived here, serving only to swell the ranks of Xem’zund’s horde. The city is now thick with zombies and other forms of corrupted organism. However, since Trenycë was indeed a town of immense – and often illicitly obtained – wealth, there is no doubt that it contains untold vaults of wealth. Reports name Trenycë as the current stronghold of Maeril Thyrrian, the last of the fearsome Dread Lords that made up Xem'Zund's inner circle. Here he maintains what little hold he can over the remains of the Corpse Horde, though beyond the city walls his would-be soldiers rampage uncontrolled, killing each other as often as anything else. He represents the last vestiges of the very real threat necromancy poses to Raiaera.
A town just northwest of the Dead Lands that used to be Timbrethinil. Formerly a simple trade centre and port, it became a hotbed for the Wanderers in Starlight resistance movement during the Corpse War. It is from here that they gathered to mount counterattacks and raids on Xem’zund’s forces, and to prepare Sanctifiers for the holy work of cleansing the land of his plagues and corruption. Tired of the town being used as a base for the Raiaeran counteroffensive, Xem’Zund sent an army to raze the town and annihilate everyone in it, and although brave hearts held the line still, no city had yet been able to withstand siege by the infinite undead. Xem’Zund was defeated before his siege could succeed, however, and his armies were shattered upon his demise. Golonan stands as one of the only Raiaeran cities to survive the Corpse War, and it is currently safely out of the reach of the Dark Elven invasion.
[hide][top]Winyaurient (New Aurient)
The largest surviving city in Raiaera and one of the last remaining fortresses of the Elves. As much fortress as city, New Aurient is protected by the natural boundaries of the forest and Tennaiglini as well as its walls, and most of its citizens live and work within that forest. The walls still stand and its port on the river is still defended by brave song-mages under the command of Nalith Celiniel. She has made this the primary fortress and capital of the elven people, fortifying its walls with powerful enchantments and swelling the ranks of its meagre army. Fighting off random undead incursions by the day, they prepare without rest for the day when the United Army of Alerar will bear down on them, seeking to crush what remains of their proud brethren beneath their heels.
Once a small town on the southern banks of the Lake of Gold and the first way station for trading vessels traveling up-river towards the port of New Aurient. Neither as well defended as Eluriand nor as sheltered as New Aurient, Tilgonar was one of the first towns sacked by Xem’Zund’s armies as they poured forth from the shattered ruins of Carnelost. Now barely a single cinder remains of what was once a proud and bustling city.
Situated in the open plains to the northeast of Raiaera, beyond the reaches of what was once Timbrethinil Forest, it has long been renowned as a breeding ground for fine horses, Mirdan Timbreth also was a minor trading port and agricultural centre. Its isolated location afforded it some protection from the undead hordes, but the razing of Timbrethinil cleared the path for Xem’Zund’s armies to begin their assault upon the lucrative prize. With Anebrilith all but fallen, Mirdan Timbreth was swollen with refugees, and if the Corpse Horde bore down on it there would be nowhere left for the elves--most of the population could have been felled with a single stroke. It was then that the Forgotten One perished and the Corpse Horde broke, relieving the stress on Mirdan Timbreth. Veterans of the Corpse War and trainers from Tor Elythis saw great potential in the city’s resources and newly swelled population, and descended upon the town to begin training. A new cavalry is being developed here.
A lumber and woodworking centre situated on the southern fringes of Timbrethinil, astride the main trading road between Eluriand and Anebrilith, Nenaebreth grew fat off the riches of its trade. Such prosperity, however, bred complacence, and the unwalled town was easy prey for the vanguard of Xem’Zund’s armies. In one night of frenzied violence and butchery, the Dread Lords turned the town into a staging post for their armies, depositing supplies and weapons for further strikes to the north and east. It was from Nenaebreth that the razing of Timbrethinil was conducted and the sieges of Anebrilith were planned. Realising this, a brave force of irregulars struck back from across the Emyn Noeg, and in one fell swoop defeated the undead garrison and liberated the town. It remains largely damaged but more intact than many Raiaeran cities, but resettlement has been impossible in the wake of the Dark Elven invasion so close by.
Once guarded the southernmost tip of the Emyn Noeg, preventing advances upon the southern outskirts of Anebrilith and safeguarding the fertile fields of grain there. Its prime location, however, placed it directly in the path of Xem’zund’s hordes as they advanced upon the ancient port city, and Amon Lungan was sacked after a bloody siege lasting three days. Terrified refugees from the town were amongst the first to bring tidings of war to Anebrilith, but they were only an insignificant herald of what was yet to come.
Home to a clan of dwarves that are the most powerful of the exceptions to the convention of dwarves, being part of the dominion of the Aleran dark elves. They are fiercely proud of their independence and their heritage as one of the first dwarven clans to start trading with the elves, long before there was a differentiation between fair and dark. Their hold is located in the far north of the Mountains of Dusk, at the base of the Dagger Peaks, and their underground network ranges far and wide across northern Raiaera, Salvar, and Alerar. Gunnbad itself is a magnificent example of dwarven construction and ingenuity; an underground fortress encased in impenetrable granite. There are only two entrances to the hold; the first is the main entrance, a heavily guarded labyrinth of narrow tunnels designed to disorientate and destroy unwanted intruders via ambush and trap, while the second is the mines, even more heavily guarded due to their economic viability. The hold proper lacks the elegance and style associated with high elven architecture, but retains a majesty and grandeur that only a massive underground city can muster. The Gathering Halls function as the marketplace, barracks, administrative centre, and cultural heart of nearly ten thousand dwarves, while the remainder of the hold is composed of dwellings ranging in size from small cramped caves to multi-roomed underground palaces with no visible roof. Though the dwarves of Gunnbad strongly maintain their independence from all other nations, they do have a long and deeply respected history with Raiaera, and proclaimed their support for their elven allies as the undead hordes and Dark Elven armies began pressing north through the country.
Also known as Karazûnd in the dwarven tongue, it is inhabited by those who largely shun contact with the outside world, seeing the high elves as oppressive and manipulative overlords. From the fastness of their mountain fortress the inhabitants of the dwarven/human conclave quietly observe the happenings of the world below, preferring to stay remote and untouched. When angered or provoked, however, they are implacable and relentless foes. Keldagrim itself is built upon ancient dwarven ruins, with the dwarven population inhabiting a small proportion of the underground caverns whilst their human allies live and farm the barely-habitable surface. Only staunch cooperation between the two races has kept them alive, and it is this same cooperation that is the hallmark of this town.
Once known as Valinatal, it was once the westernmost defense against any attack from Alerar. Nestled on the plain just beyond the opening of the Niadath Pass through Ered Lomei, no army could invade Raiaera from the west without taking Valinatal first, and it was the site of countless victories against those who sought to despoil the realm. Holding firm against great odds upon Xem’Zund’s invasion, it took a strangely cosmic event to destroy the great fortress. Nobody truly knows what happened to Valinatal, but the place is now unrecognizable: the entire place has been reduced to a smoking ruin now known as Narenhad, the Place of Burning.
Commonly known as the Obsidian Spire, it would be an exact replica of the great palace at Velicë Arta if not for the fact that every surface was crafted of unbreakable obsidian. Located deep within the blood-red boughs of Lindequalmë, it was from this darkest of towers that the great necromancer Xem’Zund extended his corruption across Raiaera. A daring attack managed to bring this evil place crashing to the ground, and Xem’Zund’s plans were thwarted once and for all with his death. It is certain, however, that the evil taint surrounding the Obsidian Spire has not completely dissipated, and the broken remnants of the Corpse Horde still wander the Red Forest in immense numbers.