Banner of Maram
|Historical states:||Great Kingdom (12,900 - 1797 B.S.R.)|
House of Bleeding Sands (1770 - 1749 B.S.R.)
|Government:||- Padishah-e-Ghazi Iksander Voskopoulos|
|Population:||450,000 (75% Men)|
|Major industries:||coal, granite, iron, marble, weapons|
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Maram is called the City of Iron and the City of Toil. Though it is an apt description of its most renown product and industry, the title also refers to its people; dour and unyielding in the face of the aggression of the tribes of mountain bandits and giants. The city is ruled by the Padishah-e-Ghazi, the so called Warrior King in Iron; a grim tyrant who leads the famed Maramian Legions, with an iron sword in hand.
Other than a few main thoroughfare, the city is a claustrophobic, narrow mess. Flat-topped, two story blockhouses of stone blocks are the norm throughout most of the city, leading up to the foreboding Stonekeep; the palace and barracks complex carved directly into the mountain. Other than Stonekeep, the tallest structure in the city is The Eyrie of The Eagle, a circular tower of stone and obsidian shod in iron plates bristling with spikes and sharpened buttresses built into the mountainside in the south of Maram; where the Priesthood of the Eagle keep their ferocious hunting birds. The air is thick with the smoke of the forges and smelting mills; with only the Eyrie and Stonekeep breaking through the haze.
Nowhere else in the high plains is so keenly attuned to industry as Maram; closest to the headwaters of the River, it harnesses its power with numerous tremendous water wheels. The city is honeycombed with tunnels: as the mines tap out veins, they're converted to serve other ends. The devastation of the land is a source of constant outrage among the Eagle's priesthood, but the King and the city fathers have found that generous sacrifices tend to silence them. The cities sole holiday is the start of the rain season, dubbed the Forgequench Fair.
The city of Maram sits in the valley created by the coursing of the Madaharine as it flows down from the Arpaks. This divides the city into the Aetos district district to the east and the Thepas district to the west, both of which are centered around two Great Hills that guard the Madaharine's passage. The western hill, Thepe, is the taller of the two by a slight margin and is crowned by the Stonekeep, a massive citadel from which the Padishah-e-Gazi rules. This colossal edifice of stone and mortar bristles with towers, turrets, murder holes, and siege engines and is held to be one of the most impenetrable fortresses in the Known Lands. The Padishah rules the city from here, where he directs the city and juggles the intrigues of its noblemen. Below its summit, Thepe is a massive complex of garrisons, storerooms, offices, and houses that provides the infrastructure to support the Stonekeep, the city guard, and the famed Maramian Legions. Many a thief would like to know just how much gold and treasure lies locked in the Stonekeep's vaults, but most fear the spears of the Legion too much to find out.
A majority of the city's industry is conducted in the Thepas district, which also contains the main thoroughfare through the city that connects it to El-Andrel to the north. The estates of the Maramian nobility sit around Thepe's base, a series of walled estates from which Maram's noble houses manage the massive industrial-bureaucratic machine that brings wealth and prestige to the city. Name a profitable good or activity and you'll find a Maramian house that specializes in it. The wealth from their industry, after taxes and tithes, is used to fund their extravagant lifestyle and political squabbles. Blockhouses lie around the perimeter of the noble homes, crude chunks of stone that house the slaves and smallfolk who work for the Marami lords. Seen from above, the Thepas district comprises a series of three concentric circles, with the Stonekeep in the center, the noble estates in the middle, and the workers' quarter at the periphery.
The southern half of the Thepas district butts up against a massive rock face, honeycombed with a network of mines, quarries, forges, and foundries that supplies the Shining South with famous Maramian metalwork. This complex, called Anvil Town, is constantly emitting clouds of smoke, which the winds from the top of the cliff then blow over the entire city, filling it with the acrid stench of fire and metal. When this cliff face ends onto foothills and plains, the industry changes to herding, ranching, and agriculture. Slaves mind flocks of sheep, goats, and bwea in the surrounding hills and grow barley and cereals in fields near the main body of the river.
The Aetos District on the east bank of the Madaharine River is dominated by the Eyrie of the Eagle, where Maram's disdainful god is said to roost. This massive tower sits atop the eastern Great Hill, Aeto and provides housing and storage for the priests of the Eagle's temple. The air in this area stays almost preternaturally clean, perhaps through the Eagle's intervention. The Eagle's priesthood raises birds, primarily raptors and other birds of prey, which fill the air with a cacophony of calls and can often be seen leaving and entering the tower to go out on the hunt. It is said that The Eagle herself can occasionally be seen on clear days brooding over the city or winging her way into the Arpaks to hunt, and that her piercing screams emanate from her roost at the top of the Eyrie to remind the people of the terrible power of nature and the wrath of its protector.
The slopes of Aeto below the Eyrie are a verdant paradise called the Hunter's Glade that is seen as something of an anomaly in the city of industry. The priesthood maintains this area as a garden and hunting ground. It is covered in large trees whose heavy boughs shelter rare plants and wild game. The Eagle's priests can often be seen here as they tend to the gardens and hunt to keep the region's delicate ecosystem in check. The Glade is not separated from the rest of the city in any physical way, and theoretically someone could just walk in and take what they want from the gardens. However, those who do often learn the hard truth of one of the Eagle's teachings: Transgressors will be swiftly punished.
Other than the verdant spot at its center, the Aetos district is not very different from its sister district to the west. The area is littered with blockhouses and huts stacked atop each other, only separated by narrow roads and the system of channels that direct the flow of the river. The city's logging industry is primarily based in this district in order to take advantage of its closer proximity to the rich woods of the Aushjar forest. The workers in this area are less likely to be friends of the Mumuye as a result, as they see the elephant men as psychopathic killers who ruin their livelihoods and kill their fellow loggers.
Maram maintains that it has known a single line of unconquered, absolute monarchs, unbroken since the founding of the city in antiquity. They say that Maram only agreed to unite with the rest of the south during the formation of the Great Kingdom of the South was because the original Alabastrine Kings were of this royal Marami line. When those kings vanished and the Pharaohs came to power, Maram's ruler was forced to acquiesce to "Northern" tyranny and accept the lesser title of Satrap in place of their own. It speaks to the lasting influence of the "North," that the modern-day rulers of Maram style themselves Padishah-e-Gazi, a grandiose title even by Hakeshar's standards. The Padishah effectively rules by decree, the only real check on their power being The Eagle, who is typically disinterested. Unlike the the rulers of the other great cities of the south however, the Padishah is explicitly a military leader as well, one expected to lead from the front.
Beneath the Padishah are the nobles, styled Beys as they are downriver since the days of the Great Kingdom. They Beys control the mineral rights in Maram's territories, and enjoy many monopolies. They are responsible for the equipment and training of Maram's Pezhetairos, the formations of iron-garbed professional infantry that are the backbone of Maram's military might.