Vel Anir has often been hailed as the greatest Human city in Arethil. The entire fortress is constructed of thick quarried stone. Its massive towers, huge walls, and every stone building are a matching design of the same rock. Everything was carefully structured and built, perfect parallel roads, houses built on exacting grids, and manors completed within only certain sections and zones of the city. At a glance it becomes obvious that Vel Anir was designed from scratch to maintain and survive a siege. The entire fortress is structured in a way to aid in defense during war. There are dozens of lookouts, vantage points, and circling alleys that are perfect for defenders.
This careful planning is key to the appearance of Vel Anir. Its imposing stone walls and its impressive facades are what set it apart from other Human cities. It was designed with a singular purpose, and that purpose has been kept over the centuries of its survival.
Of course, Vel Anir is not just a city of pure stone. Decorating the bastion are hundreds upon hundreds of flags and banners. This livery denotes the Seven Major Houses of Vel Anir, each featuring a symbol and motto. These banners fly over nearly everything in the city, decorating inns, homes, and of course the individual manors of the Seven Houses. These banners are a way of declaring one's allegiance to a specific house, and they add quite a bit of color to an otherwise gray city. One can almost always tell the demeanor, politics, and ideals of a place simply by the banner they choose to fly.
This is an incredibly important part of just how Vel Anir functions and appears. Of course the greatest and largest of these banners decorate the walls of the city itself, representing the King and his royal line.
Vel Anir is indisputably an achievement of engineering and construction. The fortress itself stands even with the great Citadels of old, and even the Dwarves have admitted that they would be hard pressed to match the fortitude of its walls. To many Humans, even those who do not dwell in Vel Anir, the fortress is a mark of just what humanity is capable of. It is often spoken of with great pride, and the pure majesty of its appearance cannot be understated.
Points of Interest
The Walls – The walls of Vel Anir are famous around the world. Crafted and hewn from the finest quarried stone, the walls are truly massive in their size. Decorated at all times with the banners of the king, they are a symbol of human triumph and prosperity.
Designed and constructed to withstand all but the most powerful magics, the walls are twice as thick as a man is tall. They tower over the buildings around them, standing tall enough to obscure all but the Keep of Anir. The very sight of them has been enough to turn away several armies, and raiders rather attack the surrounding settlements risk an assault on the city itself.
Over the years the walls have borne the brunt of many sieges. Catapults, trebuchets, and even the powerful magics of the Elves have all failed to breach the thick stone.
Anir Square – Anir Square is the part of the city that could be considered the very lifeblood of Vel Anir itself. This are is dedicated to a dozen different purposes, though it mainly serves as the primary market for vendors, smiths, and the assorted craftsmen that attempt to ply their ware within the city itself.
Most often the square is filled with the hustle of daily life. Smiths attempt to sell their armors or swords to passing nobleman and even commoners. Men and women scramble to make what they can, often selling fruits and vegetables as well as whatever they have managed to craft.
The square is also the site of any and all public executions that take place in Vel Anir. These are arranged on a monthly basis by both the king and the High Councilors and usually consist of the hanging of thieves. Every now and again someone of higher status is executed and for them beheading is more common. Either way the executions are always a spectacle and draw great cheering crowds.
The Keep of Anir – The central set piece if Vel Anir is the singular massive keep. This citadel of the great fortress is the ancestral home of the king and his family. The Keep has housed the line of Anireth for as long as anyone can remember, its great stone halls standing guard against all those who would seek to harm the royal family.
Architecturally the Keep of Anir is of course incredibly similar to the rest of the city. It is made of the same hewn stone, built with the same rounded corners, and adorned with the same banners of the king as the wall of Vel Anir. Everything about the Keep is a reflection of the city itself, down to its highly defensive structure. It is clear from one glance that it was originally built to withstand a siege. Not just a pretty little manor house, the Keep serves as the last line of defense should an enemy army ever make their way into the city itself.
The Keep also stands as the home of the royal family. Despite its role as a defensive citadel it is still lavishly decorated, every room adorned with the finest tapestries, Elven wood, and golden luxuries. The king, the queen, all of their children and cousins live within the keep itself. This ostensibly is a measure of security to keep them safe, though some suspect there are other motives behind this.
The Keep is well guarded by the soldiers of Vel Anir, with dozens of men constantly patrolling and scouring the halls. Each one wears a band around their arm, noting their allegiance to one of the Seven Houses. At all times there's an equal number of loyal guardsmen around the Keep, ensuring the king is kept safe by all the Houses. Interestingly enough, none of the guards wear the royal red.
Vel Aerelos - Standing directly opposite the Keep of Anir and serving as a reminder of the absolute excess and splendor humanity is capable of is Vel Aerelos. This huge ten story building serves as the main point of government for all of Vel Anir. Unlike the rest of the city, Vel Aerelos is not made of plain stone. Instead it seems to be constructed of a multitude of carved and inlaid rock. Every corner, every edge, every surface of the building is decorated in some way. There is not a single piece of this building that does not catch the eye, and in a city of great architecture it is this that truly draws one's attention.
Whereas most of Vel Anir was built to allow for a better defense, Vel Aerelos completely and entirely ignores those principles. Instead the design of this building simply displays the absolute splendor that Vel Anir is capable of producing.
The inside of the building is no different than the outside. Offices, Council chambers, libraries, and meeting halls are all decorated with only the finest luxuries Arethil has to offer. Plundered Elven wood, stolen Dwarven artifacts, and confiscated goods from ancient ruins line the hallways of this ostentatious house of governance. Everything inside was made to impress, and over the centuries it has only been added to as each of the Seven Houses compete for supremacy in their displays of wealth. Frequently the nobles will make gifts of rare items to the city, setting up one display or another within Vel Aerelos in order to impress and slight their political enemies.
Vel Aerelos is a show of just how fabulously wealthy the Seven Houses are. It serves as a place of governance, yes, but it is also a place of competition on an extremely petty level. Beyond their arguments in the Council Chambers the Houses use the building itself as a means of one-upping one another, a practice that has been in place for millennia.
Vel Tenebria – Though Vel Anir stands as a gleaming example of Human architecture, beneath the city itself lays a remnant of something that most have long forgotten. Not a city itself, but a ruin that had been dug into the earth long before humanity ever even dreamed of constructing the great walls that now stand.
Vel Tenebria cannot be described as a city, nor truly a town. More accurately it is a collection of carved caves and caverns, each connected through a complex series of maze like tunnels. The walls within Vel Tenebria sing of a magic long ago lost, and the rooms found within are often decorated with intricate mosaics depicting battles and death on a scale unknown even to the most veteran of soldiers. There is something hauntingly beautiful about this place, though most do not even know of its existence.
Those that do tell nothing but stories. Tales of shadows and death, of stalkers within the night, of safety from the Nobles and a path that most peasants can only dream of. Some fools not smart enough to hold their tongues also is also say that the halls of Vel Tenebria are home to the Asure Anir, a guild of assassins that lurk in the forgotten realm until they are called upon.
Whether or not these stories are true is difficult to say, but few who venture to confirm them return.