Wednesday, September 17, 2003

The City of Zethul

Your home is a borderline small city. At the Magistrate Majorus' last census - two years ago - the scrolls of citizen's names numbered just over five thousand. The city's history is not particularly old, as cities go, but it is ancient enough to predate the great Itakrian Occupation a thousand years ago. Once that war was over and peace returned to Zethul and the surrounding lands, the need became apparent of course for large scale city defenses. Because of it's downriver proximity to several different quarries, Zethul's primary defense plan relied on huge rock walls.

At its shortest point, these pyramid like structures tower five times the height of a man and form an almost perfect circle around the city. Zethul itself sits on a plateau in a large flat grassy river valley. It can be seen for miles as a beacon of hope and peace to many a traveler.

As the city grew to fill every empty space inside the circular walls, an interesting power struggle of the day forced the royal family to make a decree that would forever change the geography of Zethul.

At the time, there was a great religious revolution happening. A resurgence of interest in the Heavenly Tree, the pantheon of Gods that protect all the good peoples (or the Great Circle, as it is now known), combined with fervent devotion of the church to the betterment of society meant that more people were placing their trust, loyalty and especially their money into the hands of the Great Churches. This meant that these religious organizations were becoming more and more powerful by the day. This greatly worried the royal family, as they wished to maintain control for themselves and not let Zethul degenerate into a democratic, bureaucratic theocracy.

But what could they do? The outcry from the populace if they outlawed religion altogether would cause a revolt. But to allow the churches to continue to gain more power and land inside the Circle, only to have the royal family's real power eventually usurped by the richer churches would be akin to a slow suicide. So, before the churches could become too united, the King of the day made a new law. The same day it was decreed, it was carved in stone on the Palace gates.

All Churches, Sanctuaries, Monasteries, religious schools, priest dormitories, convents and other offices of sacred institutions must be moved outside the city walls. None shall reside or be built with the Great Circle of Zethul from now until forever. Anyone wishing to make use of a house of worship on their respective holy days must do so on the plateau surrounding the city.

Though a generation passed until this was completely made truth... And many, many formal complaints and harsh words were directed at the royal crest by the Churches... Law eventually became fact. An easy truce eventually came to pass and Zethul has been that way ever since. Those born and raised here cannot picture their life any other way. Now all churches for the free people of Zethul are built and maintained outside the walls. Each and every day groups of citizens, some large and some small, leave the city gates and make their way along a stone road -- now called church road -- that winds its' way around the perfect ring of Zethul like a snake rolling down a hill. The royal family kept their power peacefully and their descendants still rule today. The church kept it's influence in the peoples' lives but from the outside looking in.

One added side effect is that now, whenever the city comes under attack, the first to volunteer to protect the city are the Church's Champions...

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