Oliver D. Bernuetz's Stories
A Visit to Jillaro
I hope your piles have cleared up. Well do I recall how you suffer from them! We have just finished another visit on the Emperor's progression having just left Jillaro. No greater contrast between two cities can I imagine as that between Alkoth and Jillaro. Alkoth, as you will recall from my previous letter is a nightmarish place. Jillaro on the other hand is a beautiful city full of refined, dignified people. The city dwellers reveled in the opportunity to host the father of their favorite local goddess. Moonson was greeted by choruses of singers with beautiful voices and wonderful artistic performances. What a joy!
The city dominates trade, especially river trade in the region and is quite wealthy as a result of this. It is also the capital of the Sultanate of Sylila. The city had been destroyed back in the Second Wane by barbarian invaders (we saw their leaders' preserved hides at the military headquarters in the city) but had been rebuilt by Hwarin Dalthippan and her husband Ingkot Axe-and-a-Half. Even while a mortal Hwarin was possessed of an exceptionally refined artistic nature and the city is magnificent, especially the Acropolis! All is of white marble which is beautifully set off by the lush green of the immense fields of clover that surround the city and nourish the horses Jillaro is justly famous for.
One of the greatest sights in Jillaro is the chryselephantine statue of the goddess placed before the palace on the Acropolis that the god Iphigos crafted just before she died. The goddess' body was cast into a crevice near the edge of the rock outcropping upon which the Acropolis is built. This crevice, named Hwarin's well can be approached by people seeking oracles. However the crevice itself, which you must descend into in order to consult the oracle is protected by unspecified terrors which the suppliant must brave. I am assured that few successfully consult the oracle, most being scared off. The goddess also functions as the city's war goddess and did great deeds on the region's behalf during the invasion of Sheng Seleris (long may his name be cursed and reviled).
Every Sacred Time as part of the regular ceremonies the inhabitants of Jillaro sponsor theatrical performances on some predetermined religious theme in order to honour the goddess (Hwarin that is, not the Goddess). The plays are judged as to merit and the best plays are given the great honour of being inscribed on thin goldsheets and housed in Hwarin's own temple. The best playwrights are especially honoured and feted year round. There was a terrible scandal last year when it was discovered that one of the playwrights had actually stolen another's work and attempted to pass it off as his own. He had paid bravos to attack and kill the true playwright. He was condemned to descend into Hwarin's Well and was never seen again. These plays are never performed outside of Sacred Time as that would be sacrilege. Besides drama the Jillarans seem to excel in all the fine arts, especially those practiced by women.
Beautiful pottery and fabrics grace the Agora (the Jillaran market which is right on the riverside and most beautifully located). Enclosed walkways known as stoas surround the Agora and magnificent paintings honouring all the deities of the Empire (especially Hwarin) can be seen. Moonson was gifted with the most beautiful paintings that had been painted in the previous twenty-five years. These made up fifteen wagon loads drawn by oxen! Moonson also received jewelry, sculptures, books and scrolls, pottery (another twenty wagon loads in all) and of course horses. An entire herd of horses! Beautiful animals worth a fortune but no more than is His due of course.
Another contrast between Alkoth and Jillaro is the predominance of women in the latter. Because of the influence of Hwarin women are accorded great status in the city and it is full of women warriors and artisans. Every occupation normally fulfilled by a man in another city can and will be fulfilled by a woman here. This is in very strong contrast to the Dara Happan cities further up the Oslir. All in all a wonderful place. We passed south to Mirin's Cross along the Daughter's Road, a magnificent highway and used her bridge across the Black Eel River. It was quite disconcerting to see the river below your feet on the crystal bridge and no less disconcerting to pass beneath the blind eyes of Gwythar Grimwise of the Two-handed Axe the bridge's guardian.
Yours always in most ways,
December 21, 2000
Last updated October 07, 2016
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