The Ruins of Amidia
Ceylan is the second-largest city-state in the former area of Loran. A human city, it is the oldest, most breathtaking, least cosmopolitan of the remaining human settlements, and is the headquarters of most of the cults of human deities. A conservative city in relation to its closest neighbors Neruvah and Kirnsburg, Ceylan is only nominally ruled by its Council of Chairs – instead, most of the power (and resources) of the city are in the hands of religious authorities.
Ceylan sits perched on the northern edge of the long Spinewater Canyon in the center of the Loranian Plateau. The city rises up in graceful towers behind its limestone walls, but it also extends deep into the cliffside, with whole complexes carved straight out of the stone, their balconies looking out over the Spinewater. While it once vied with Lisentia in size, the Fenlander Wars hit Ceylan particularly hard, reducing the beautiful city to only a fraction of its original inhabitable size. The city is now divided into a few unique regions:
Upper Ceylan: The oldest portion of the city, it remains mostly intact due to the valiant defense put up by the Ceylan Guard during the Fenlander War. This district includes most of the southern and western quadrants of the city, as well as the underground areas below the saved areas. This is also often referred to at the Temple Quarter because it is the location of most of the well-revered temples in the city. The largest temple in this district is the Seat of Anduah of Light, the official center of the cult of Anduah in Loranian territory.
Lower Ceylan: The newest portion of the city proper, the Lower district surrounds the wall of Upper Ceylan and is mostly settled by the descendants of refugees from other human nations, and the poor of Ceylan who cannot afford the prices (and taxes) of owning a home or land within the older parts of the city. Away from the edge of the canyon, underground dwellings in this area are much fewer in number, and much less luxurious.
The Vinlands: The name given to the farmlands skirting the city. While grapes now make up only a very small portion of the total annual crop in Ceylan, the name still sticks. Most people do not live in the Vinlands, instead choosing to reside in the relative safety of the city walls and traveling out to their fields to work. A few small settlements have sprung up on the farthest outskirts of the Vinlands, but these are still the exception to the rule.
Old City: A somewhat euphimistic name for the ruined portion of Ceylan. Destroyed during the war, small pockets of this area have had attempts at reclamation, but magical contamination has produced dangerously unstable pockets of energy in the ruins, discouraging most efforts to rebuild the southern and eastern areas of the original city. Old Ceylan blends into the Wildlands at its edges.
Ceylan, more than any other human settlement, has the most legendary roots. According to popular history, the city began as a lone outpost of the Oracle of Anduah Ceylan, supported by an isolated order of female priests. Leaders from the farthest of human kingdoms sought the insight of the Oracle, and her predictions and advice were never mistaken. Ceremata, jealous of the worship and glory being given to Anduah through his Oracle, when it was she who claimed control over the areas of knowledge and foresight, decided to visit the Oracle, disguised as a human. Anduah, informed of Ceremata’s trickery by his brother Lavin, but not wanting his Oracle to be harmed or humiliated, disguised himself as the Oracle, borrowed her voice, and hid behind a screen in the temple. When Ceremata arrived to see the Oracle, she was brought in to the room with the screen, she began asking many questions, all of which the disguised Anduah was able to answer correctly. Frustrated with this, Ceremata tore the screen aside, and immediately saw that the oracle was actually Anduah in disguise. Angry at Anduah’s actions, but also impressed by his protection of the otherwise innocent mortal Oracle, Ceremata agreed to a compromise: Anduah could keep his temple and his Oracle, but Ceremata would keep the Oracles voice. Once a year, Ceremata would come back to Ceylan to give the Oracle her voice, which would now be even more powerful after having been in the care of the goddess of prophecy. The Oracle’s pronouncements would be complete truth, but the decision to let that truth be told would be made by Anduah, and the effects of that truth would be Anduah’s responsibility to take care of. Under the careful guidance of Anduah, the temple grew into a town, and eventually into the city of Ceylan. This is why the city of the Ceylan takes Anduah as its patron deity, and is often pointed to as the reason for the rivalry between Ceylan and Lisentia.
The recorded history of Ceylan is somewhat less exciting. While the origins of the city can be traced to the original location of the Oracle, the growth of the city seems to have been due more to the city’s location near fertile farmlands and the only major east-west overland trade route on the Loranian Plateau. Its stable and central location made it an ideal candidate for the home of most of the major religious groups on the plateau, and the temple complexes that sprang up throughout the city only encouraged more visitors and more growth.
When the first wave of the Fenlander Invasions hit Ceylan and its surrounding state of Meela in the early spring, it hit hard. Nearly half of the city was destroyed or polluted past the point of being livable, and the massive casualties among the undefended outlying farming communities led to massive crop failure and fallow farmland. Crops could not be planted or harvested without the labor, and catastrophic famines claimed nearly as many lives as the initial battles had. Ceylan kept its temples and its fertile soils, but it would take many generations to bring the city back to a bustling reflection of its former self.
Another consequence of the large numbers of casualties from the invasion was ownership rights. In the state of Meela, ownership of family lands passed to the closest relation, often a child or a sibling. Male members of the family were the assumed heirs unless specifically stated on an unchallenged will, or if the closest relation belonged to the priesthood of an established cult. Before the war, when priests inherited land holdings it was the general social practice to then gift the next relation in line for the inheritance with the land. This ensured both the protection of the cults – no one could accuse them of taking good land for themselves – and ensured the continued goodwill and support of the people through the social connections created by this network of gifts. After the invasions, it was not uncommon for only one legal heir to remain alive to look after several family’s holdings, and more often than not these survivors were of the priesthood. Untrained in the ways of combat, priests were protected by the citizenry during the sacking of Ceylan, resulting in a disproportionate number of priests remaining alive to claim the lands of their fallen families. Without other family members to pass the holdings on to in the traditional manner, priests often gave over their lands to their religious orders, beginning the process of consolidation of resources under religious leadership. The legacy of this is still seen today – the citizen governors of Ceylan, the Council of Chairs, have little true authority in the city. Instead, it is the religious orders who control most of the city-state’s resources, some hiding this power better than others.
The largest problem currently facing Ceylan is the matter of human religious purity. The established human cults of the nine main deities enjoy their positions of power in the city, and incursions by new mystery cults of these deities, or even entirely new cults to outside gods, especially the popular halfling hero Rijar. While this conflict exists in all three human-controlled city-states in Loran right now, nowhere is it more heated than in Ceylan. While it has not yet broken into violence, rumors abound of different factions arming themselves, and political posturing has reached an almost fever pitch. Travelers to Ceylan would be well advised to tread religious lines carefully.