- 1 Overview
- 2 Recent History
- 3 Major Features
- 4 Regions
- 5 OOC Notes
Sarvos refers both to a territory, and the city that sits at the heart of that territory. Founded long ago by Highborn colonists, it seceded from that nation during the civil war and has remained independent ever since.
The city itself is constructed on an island just off the coast, like a beacon of light in the water. It sees itself as the cultural centre of the League, and arguably the whole Empire. It takes its common epithet from the many mirrors found upon the roofs of the city, said to "sparkle like gems" during the day. Folk legend suggests that if the mirrors are shattered the city will surely fall, and for this reason some citizens carry a mirror about their person, an affectation that encourages unfair accusations of vanity.
Sarvos is as driven as any city in the League, but art is its true passion. They claim to have invented theatre, a ludicrous claim but believable in a city graced with so many theatre-houses. They are certainly the originators of the magician troupes that are now commonplace throughout the League and they are usually the centre of League performance magic. Not just theatre is popular however; there are rival opera houses whose bitter divisions are every bit as keen as those of the leading theatre troupes. Several wealthy merchant princes have endowed their collections of art on the city and there are public galleries where the most beautiful pictures and sculptures can be viewed in exchange for a ring or two.
The land around the Bay of Catazar is lush and fertile, with low flood-plains; olive farms and prime grazing lands fed by the waters of four rivers: the lazy Couros that flows along the border of Highguard and Urizen; the flighty Scorrero, whose capricious nature has drowned many an unwary river captain on its course through the Brass Coast; the broad-banked Gancio, solid and well-defended; and the furious Vassa that flows down through Tassato. The four rivers are central characters in the art and folklore of the city. All the classic literature and theatre includes them in one form or another, whether as central characters or “clowns” during the interludes. A popular game between playwrights and critics is to conceal the characters in some way and challenge the critic to locate them.
Sarvos was the birth-place of the Empress Giselle, who held the Throne between 331YE and 346YE. Sometimes called the Unwise, she was a shameless League patriot who put the needs of her nation above those of the Empire. Unlike the vast majority of Emperors and Empresses, after her death she was interred in a marble tomb in the Alvetti guild estates in Caricomare, where she remained until the sack of Sarvos in 380YE. After the Grendel attempted to steal her body, and destroyed her tomb, there was discussion about where best to reinter her. In the end, the Senate decided to inter her in a new tomb in Temeschwar.
In 348YE, the city was struck by a terrible tempest that did significant damage to many coastal parts of the city and lead to the flooding and eventual sinking of the southern district of Caricomare. Reclaiming the ruined quarter of the city was deemed "too expensive" by the Senate - a move that some bitter Sarvosans believed to have been intended as a punishment for the League and the city of Sarvos in particular, in the wake of the unpopular Empress's death. In 378YE, on the thirtieth anniversary of the destruction, work finally began to regenerate the ruined district thanks to generous donations and hard work by the citizens of Sarvos.
Also of note is the establishment of the Asavean Embassy in Sarvos. Senator Mirislav (who was also responsible for the restoration of Caricomare) arranged the establishment of a formal embassy with the Asavean Archipelago in 378YE.
The city of Sarvos covers the island of Cigno and in some places extends into the Bay on sturdy pontoons. It is widely said to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world - when the sun strikes the mirrored roofs at sunrise and sunset, the whole island glows like a star. Space is at a premium in Sarvos - cramped streets flow between soaring towers, choked with merchants, tradesmen and students. There are no "green spaces" in Sarvos - the island is simply to crowded and any parks that might once have existed have been built over in recent centuries. To combat this, the citizens often cultivate roof gardens and window-boxes, bringing beautiful and practical plants into their homes. The richest Sarvosan guilds maintain estates on the mainland, allowing the to "get away from it all" when the press of humanity becomes too much. The city is divided into several distinct districts, of which the more famous is probably the dockside ward of Caricomare.
Fire is a constant worry. While there has never been a significant blaze in Sarvos but many residents have regular nightmares that a major fire could destroy the entire city before it could be dealt with (although as one Tassatan wit said, "The whole place is so damp it would take a great deal of effort to set fire to even a small tower.")
It is the site of Diora University, a prominent seat of learning that specialises in researching obscure topics for money. Here can also be found Capodomus Cathedral, one of the largest religious structures in the Empire, a towering monument encrusted with precious materials and objets d’art. It is most famous for its theatres, opera houses, galleries and conservatories - it is truly a city where art is held up as the highest aspiration of humanity.
Sarvos is also a byword for excellent food, and every bar, street vendor and hostelry prides itself on providing its own speciality snack: perhaps a particular way of spicing ham, or salting and smoking beef, or an excellent dipping sauce for vegetables. It is said that an epicure can dine out every night of their life in Sarvos and never eat the same meal twice - it is also home to a great many establishments that serve dishes native to distant nations, often in settings designed to cleverly evoke the sensation of actually being in one of those nations.
Sarvos is also a highly cosmopolitan city - it is common to hear a half-dozen tongues being spoken in the markets and bazaars. Captains from across the known world come to trade with the Empire here - there are docks and quays all around the circumference of the island. It is also a popular stopping-off point for ships that have travelled from the central Empire before they embark on journeys to more distant lands.
A prominent seat of learning, Diora University has long supplemented the fees paid by students by researching obscure topics for money. Following the Grendel invasion, and subsequent liberation, the University apparently encountered financial difficulties. These monetary concerns are now resolved thanks to generous donations from citizens of the League and Highguard during the Autumn Equinox 382YE, which has seen a degree of renovation and expansion of the university.
The old buildings have now been joined by the Lorenzo "La Volpe" School of Architecture, opened by the master architect himself in a grand ceremony during which he received an honorary degree. He is expected to give regular lectures and his support has already brought a great deal of attention to the new school. Significant donations also came from Highguard - Dagon of the Shattered Tower, Asael of Cantiarch's Hold, the Virtues of Autumn Coven, and Hepzibah of Reumah's Redoubt all made considerable contributions. As a consequence, the main historical library has been renamed the Shattered Tower Reliquary, while major renovations to the faculty for theology and metaphysics have seen the wing that houses the main lecture halls for religious studies renamed Permion's Thoughts.
The Colossus of Sarvos
A wonder of the modern world the Colossus of Sarvos is the first sight of the Jewelled City seen by ships approaching from the Bay of Catazar. The statue itself is some seventy-five feet of stone on a granite plinth twenty-five feet high. It is placed on a small island at the mouth of the main harbour, and maintained by a small group of dedicated stonemasons. For a brief while the the statue bore the distinctive countenance of Empress Giselle, but that enchantment faded after a year.
After the Spring Equinox 383YE, with the support of the League national assembly, Astrid Fjellrevening Rezia di Tassato consecrated the Colossus with a dose of true liao with the Partner of Greatness. This act greatly increased the influence of the Colossus. and secured its status as a wonder of the known world.
The plinth that supports the immense statue bears inscriptions commemorating the liberation of Sarvos from the Grendel in Summer 380YE. Significant space has been dedicated to honouring those who fell during the fighting to defend, and later recapture, the city.
Following the Spring Equinox 378YE, construction began on an official embassy to the Asavean Archipelago under the watchful eye of Miroslav, Senator for Sarvos. Shortly after the Embassy was complete, accusations of excessive piracy from Nemoria lead to a minor international incident, but a sizeable gift organised by the Senator for Temeschwar helped smooth over the growing conflict between Asavea and the Empire. There is now an ambassador in residence, and an influx of Asavean traders has lead to several luxurious goods from the far west becoming more freely available on the streets of Sarvos; in turn, the Empire has appointed an Ambassador to Asavea of their own.
During the Spring Equinox 379YE, the Senate commissioned the construction of an official embassy to the Iron Confederacy; work was completed shortly before the Summer Solstice. The building is particularly severe by Sarvosan standards; a circular granite and marble keep surrounded by six stubby towers.
On the south side of Cigno, Caricomare was for thirty years a ruined and abandoned suburb of Sarvos, destroyed by an Autumn storm during the equinox of 348 YE. Today, however, the once devastated district has been restored and is once again a shining jewel in a city of jewels.
The Blood Red Quays Art Gallery
This extravagant structure was commissioned by Magdelena Alanga di Sarvos, in the wake of the opportunity offered by the potent Night magic enchantment that blanketed the Empire toward the end of 380YE. Paid for by The Bloody Butchers Guild of Temeschwar, it stands on the harbour front of Caricomare. The Blood Red Quays Art Gallery is one of the most prominent structures in Sarvos, providing inspiration and encouraging Pride in citizens across the territory.
Our Lady of Pride
The Spider's Dream
An elegant bridge spans the river Vassa here, connecting Trivento to the Brass Coast. It is a marvellous piece of engineering that resembles a spider's web. There is a toll to pay, or you can take the long way around. Unfortunately, time has not been kind to the Spider's Dream. Resources initially used to maintain it were siphoned off in the time of Emperor Walter, and the bridge became increasingly dangerous to cross. In Spring 377YE, however, the Imperial Senate took steps to ensure its restoration to full functionality - reinstating the Imperial Title of Spider's Tollkeep in the process and heading off potentially unpleasant implications for the people of both Sarvos and Madruga.
Later, in Spring 380YE, Grendel orcs attached to the forces involved in the sack of Sarvos made an attempt to take advantage of unusually high flooding in the river as part of an attempt to destroy the bridge entirely, cutting the Freeborn territories off from the rest of the Empire. They were stopped by the brave action of Imperial heroes, and the bridge preserved - and along with it the ability for armies to pass into the south-western Empire from Sarvos and Tassato, and vice versa.
Lorenzo's Legacy of Pride
Spread across the entire territory of Sarvos are red stone stelae adorned with images of suns and flags, surmounted by a pair of crossed butcher's cleavers forged of pure mithril. Inscriptions around the base emphasise the virtues of Ambition, Prosperity, and Pride. A central, large stone stands in the jeweled city itself, in the middle of Bertram's Square - an open air market not far from the cleaver gate that marks the terminus of the Blood Red Roads. Commissioned in Autumn 381YE by Silas di Sarvos, an Imperial Wayleave bearer, and paid for by Lorenzo “La Volpe” Macelliao von Temeschwar, these crimson monoliths help to harness the flows of mana through Sarvos.
This western region shows some influences of the Brass Coast. A major highway passes through Bocche to Madruga, passing over the marvellous suspension bridge, the Spider's Dream. On the eastern side of the bridge is the town of Trivento. Once Trivento had ambitions to become a city to rival Sarvos, but this was before the bridge effectively removed their control of the Vassa crossing. Centuries later there is still some bitterness; Sarvosan sophisticates love to characterise inhabitants of Trivento as "country cousins", while the broadsheets of Trivento regularly depict Sarvos proper as a hive of vice and corruption that needs to be washed away. The people of Tassato are known to gleefully poke both sides of this ancient enmity - and to be quietly pleased that there is not a second city on the Vassa. The establishment of College of the Liberated here in early 380YE went some way towards revitalising the economy of Trivento - as did the sack of Sarvos.
Qualities: City, Coastal
This is where the jewelled city of Sarvos proper is found. It spreads across the entire island, and in some places extends a short distance into the bay on sturdy quays and pontoons. On the southern side of the island is the bustling mercantile district of Caricomare - newly restored by the Imperial Senate.
The wide plains and scattered woodlands of Foracci are the site of many "country estates" owned by guilds and wealthy individuals from Sarvos. Some bring additional profit to their owners, maintaining farms or woodland preserves. Examples include the hamlet of Aversa, known for strong red wines and cheeses and home to the well-to-do Corvinoscuri family (and also the location of the Wellspring of Jade), or the Signori d'Argento Vineyards planted at the outskirts of Aversa Estate. While the region appears on the outside to be reasonably idyllic, there are enough nooks and crannies that travellers here are occasionally confronted with unscrupulous bandits, and most of the estates maintain a small cadre of guards in case these bandits become too ambitious. The wealth of Foracci is protected by Our Lady of Pride, a fortification built in Winter 381YE.
Upriver along the Gancio is Rodez, more of an extended suburb of Sarvos than a settlement in its own right. Its harbour is alive with many-oared craft of all sizes; river-boats stopping off from the north, freighters from foreign lands and pleasure-cruisers carrying the wealthy from Sarvos to their inland estates. Many overland visitors to Sarvos stop here to take a ferry to the island. On the outskirts of Rodez stands the famous Aldo di Saverio private hospital and the beautiful Emilio’s Herbarium for Anvil Hospital.
The banks of the Gancio in Foracci once served as the nesting grounds for the colonies of huge, white cranes that picked their way through the reed-beds of the river. Sometimes seen by the people of Sarvos as beautiful symbols of the city's Pride, other times as bloody nuisances, the population of Gancio cranes was nearly obliterated during the sack of Sarvos in 380YE. Grendel raiders and looters, pushing further upriver from the occupied city, ruthlessly hunted and butchered the cranes for their meat, feathers and eggs; in the aftermath, so few adult birds were left that their future was in grave doubt. However, following the use of dramaturgy and hearth magic by League performers of the Four Rivers Theatre and Single Ring Strolling Players, the colonies have survived the worst of the disaster and begun the long, slow path to recovery. It will be years, even decades, before the 'white ships of the Gancio' are restored to their former numbers, but for many inhabitants of the city these proud cranes have come to represent the resilience and determination of Sarvos in the aftermath of the sack.
Riposi is a flat, open land with poor, chalky soil. The few farms here tend to own large herds of sheep and goats, and little else. Riposi was at one time known for the cleverness of its wolves and foxes, but in recent decades both species have been hunted to the point where they are rarely seen. The plains are always described as "mournful" or "gloomy" - cold winds regularly roar in off the Bay, and the influence of nearby Necropolis helps contribute to the general atmosphere of sadness and desperation. A phrase that sees vogue in Sarvos from time to time refers to someone as being "'as poor as a Riposi dirt farmer" - which explains why few guilds admit to having holdings here. In the days before the orc rebellion, large numbers of slaves worked here and it was the site of a bloody confrontation between the revolting orcs and Imperial forces. The battlefield here has become a minor site of pilgrimage for some Imperial Orcs.
In the far east of Riposi, where it touches the coast, is the large cave system known as Orphan’s Haven. It takes its name from a tale that two shipwrecked children found a fortune in ancient pearls here, stashed by someone long-forgotten. Upon being rescued by local fisherfolk, they used the greater part of their wealth to finance a home for orphans in Sarvos in the name of the Little Mother. The cave itself contains carvings from lost Terunael, and some people believe it was used in pre-Imperial times as a covered port.
Uccelini extends along the southern coast, and includes a number of small and medium-sized islands that cluster along the northern shores of the Bay of Catazar. Many of these islands are uninhabited, or the site of estates or business concerns that have long-since fallen into ruin. The remaining estates here tend to be quite well fortified - they need to be able to endure occasional raids by Grendel pirates that slip past the Freeborn corsairs.
The highest point along the coastline from Calvos to Sanctuary, Glass Point has a look-out point and a beacon set on a high tower above the cliff. A small town has grown up around it that shares its name. Some sailors who spent a great deal of time away from shore have adopted the beacon of Glass Point as a tattoo. The rich mana sinecure known as Glass Point Cove is assumed to be somewhere in the vicinity of Glass Point - although its precise location is not public knowledge.
Some ship captains prefer to trade out of Glass Point rather than Sarvos proper, and those that do have a reputation for smuggling and dealing with barbarians and miscreants in search of a profit - they have taken recent decisions in the Senate very poorly.
- All the regions of Sarvos are under the control of the League (and by extension, the Empire) making Sarvos a staunchly Imperial territory.
- Our Lady of Pride is a rank one fortification.
- Between them the College of the Liberated and the Colossus of Sarvos great works provide a total of 1750 rings shared between all League owners of a business in Sarvos.
- The Blood Red Quays Art Gallery is a great work that provides 15 liao and 30 votes in the Imperial Synod each season, spread amongst those citizens of Sarvos dedicated to Pride who own congregations.
- Lorenzo's Legacy of Pride is a great work that provides 37 crystal mana each season, spread amongst those citizens of Sarvos who own mana sites.