The art of song is prevalent in Southold, and there are many wandering bards who tell tales of the days of yore. The greatest of these is the epic poem the Tale of Athelstan which recounts the victory of the first Southolder King and his men over the Videssians. Other favorite topics include the adventures of Alwaine the Blacksword and his kinsman explorer Elwaine, as well as tales of the various adventuring companies. Most songs have the accompaniment of a lute, lyre, or flute.
Architecture in Southold is composed of three main schools. First is the Taric Style (developed in northern Tara three centuries ago) that nearly all churches and cathedrals and built in. In it, large areas are covered by stone vaults supported on slender stone piers. By reducing the structure to piers the area between them (relieved of the burden of supporting the ceiling) is often filled with glass. The weight and pressure of the pointed vault is concentrated at the points where it touches the piers. This load is then split up. Some is carried down the pier to its foundation; the rest is carried across the flying buttresses to the buttress and then carried down to the foundation. The common features of Taric architecture are the pointed arches and vaults, the large amount of glass in the walls, and an overall feeling of great height.
Another architectural style common in Southold is that of Sloan & Rockerman, a pair of builders dwelling in Alcester. They design sturdy granite houses and manors for the richest of the freemen class, and well as for many nobles. Their style is simple, but effective. All stones are carefully measured and fit together with such precision that Sloan & Rockerman buildings often appear carved from a single block of stone. Their influence is greatest in Alcester, and radiates outward from there, nearly disappearing on the frontiers.
The third style prominent in Southold is the Neo-Videssian. While nearly all of the buildings dating from the Videssian Occupation are gone, generations of Southolder builders were instructed in the Videssian School of building. These traditions have carried down to today, parallelling the architecture popular in the Videssian Empire today. Neo-Videssian architecture emphasizes round stone vaults for ceilings (relying on the structure of the round vault to absorb the pressure rather than constructing the flying buttresses of the Taric style). Thus the walls are invariably much heavier and thicker, and windows in the vaulted ceilings are absent, save for an occasional aperture at the top. The Videssian exile Caligistro in Bywater is the prime proponent of this style, which can be quite beautiful even though most consider the Taric more awe-inspiring. The round arch and the vault are the most common features of the Neo-Videssian style.
As for castles, design has changed little since the coming of Athelstan and the founding of Southold. Before this time, the Videssians (who were masters of siegecraft and thought all castles expensive and vulnerable) constructed only motte and baily castles or simple towers as guard posts. After Athelstan's victory, however, his occasional advisor, Torm (thought to be an incarnation of Nuada) brought knowledge of castles to the land. With this introduction came the idea of two walls, moats, and drawbridges. These innovations made castles nearly impregnable.
Commoners generally build their houses of half-timber construction. The main structure consists of wooden beams, usually oak, and the spaces between the timbers were filled with wattle and daub. Wattle is a mat of woven sticks and reeds and daub is the mud or clay smeared on to strengthen and seal it. Roofs are covered with either slate tiles or wooden shingles. The ground floor is usually beaten or packed earth, and all floors are packed with a layer of reeds. Heat is provided by a single fireplace, which also has to light the room since the window openings are generally very small and usually covered with oiled sheep or goat skin, with glass common only among the freemen and nobles. Naturally fire is a great hazard, and several such incidents destroy entire blocks rather frequently in large cities.
The Southron peasant wears whatever is available and functional, remaining constant over the centuries. The typical peasant garment is the linen undertunic chemise, which is a loose shirt that covers the body from the neck to the thigh or mid-calf. A chemise may have long or short sleeves or may be sleeveless.
The next two layers of clothing add two garments to the basic costume, a cote and surcote; all freemen usually wear at least these. These two articles of clothing are worn over the chemise, with the surcote over the cote. These items may vary in the extreme from a style resembling a knee-length tunic to variations on a simple or hooded cloak.
Academic and Religious Clothing:
Priestly and academical dress is practically identical. The clothing is very similar to that worn by the average person. It consists of many loose, long tunics (down to the ankles), a hood with shoulder cape, hose, and shoes. A round hat with a tab or nub is also worn by students.
Nobles wear fine leather boots, puffed breeches or hose cover the legs. Either a doublet or simple tunic is usually worn, often with a tabard bearing the noble's coat-of-arms.
Colleges are rare in Arik, but several of the larger cities do boast them. Indeed, rather than the time-honed method of apprenticing wizards to learn their trades, some colleges dedicated exclusively to the study of magic have sprung up. A select few colleges are even left over from before the Cataclysm, and these are the most exclusive. Advanced education such as this is limited to the sons of nobles in most cases, though lesser colleges may admit women and rich freemen's children. The following is a list of the major colleges in Southold, along with a brief commentary on each.
Royal Academy of Dunthrane - The most prestigious educational institution in Southold. Countless nobles' sons have been educated at this exclusive center of learning, where only the most intelligent of noble birth are admitted. The Royal Academy has stood since before the Cataclysm and now occupies a large compound not far from the Citadel.
Dunthrane Arcane Academy - This institution, officially part of the Royal Academy, is in fact, a separate entity. The Chancellor is the noted archmage Mekkarri, an affable wizard of great power, wisdom, and patience. Assisting him in the Academy's highly touted Alchemy Department is master alchemist Questor Thews. Unlike the Royal Academy proper, any mage of experience can do research and use the facilities here, providing they pay the hefty entrance fee.
Gondal's School of War Wizardry - This modest center for wizardly learning is in the provincial capital of Bywater. Its Chancellor is none other than archmage Gondal the Great. In deference to the fact that Bywater is Nuada's sacred city, it teaches war wizardry--primarily invocation magic. Among his pupils are always several Nuadan sponsored peasants trained to serve in Southold's armies. However, as an ex-adventurer, most of Gondal's expertise has been in the area of small unit combat and the spells useful in such situations. It is only with difficulty that he has learned of battlefield applications, having stolen several tomes from the College of the Fire Wizards in the Cortalish capital of Gos. In short, Gondal's School is not very large or well-stocked, but it is suited to most adventuring wizard's needs, and has grown given the lengthy war.
University of Montinelle - A respectable university some 400 years old. There is a small wizardry department, but the primary function of the institution is to provide Andeaver's young nobles with a liberal education.
Bristol Academy of Illusion - This Academy is one of the finest of its type in Arik. Due largely to the mercantile atmosphere of its host city, most students here are freemen that show talent in the Art of Illusion.
Academy of Abjuration Magicks - This school lies off the Greyflood Pike in Anorien and has been abandoned since the Videssian Occupation five centuries ago. Even at its height, the Academy was known as an inferior, provincial school.
Urml College of Arms - This small, but growing college is dedicated to teaching the art of warfare. It is the first such school in Southold to do so, and in its few years of operation has turned out many a mercenary captain and trained officer. Due to an recent increase in religious fervor in that town, Nuadan influence is spreading within its walls. Many of the officers in Southold's standing army spent the winter of 1508-9 studying and drilling there in preparation for the Third Cortalish War.
Bywater College – A small university compared with the Royal Academy in Dunthrane (which most Southron nobility attend), Bywater College is mainly attended by the sons of rich merchants.
Bywater Theological School - This is the premier institution for the study of Nuada's teachings. The priesthood is trained here, though not in the arts of combat; this is left to the Order of the Silver Hand. Grand Marshal Anaximenes heads this institution.
College of Justice - The primary center for the study of Tyr's teachings, especially the Code of Athelstan and issues of jurisprudence. This sprawling College adjoins the House of the Just One, and all clerics of Tyr must study here if they hope to move up in the Church's hierarchy.
The general trend in Arik has been a move away from the old galleys and oared ships to sailed ones. Indeed, the cog, which has been in use since the 13th century and is a sailed vessel, is now the most common merchant ship in use. Southold has also used this cheap, reliable ship as the backbone of its naval forces. The older galleys are being phased out, though such nations as the Videssians, Minoans, and Hulers persist in their use. The caravel has become the warship of quality in the Southolder navy, and the huge War Carrack, possessing a large square rigged mast along with a forecastle that juts over the bow, often acts as a flagship.
Military tactics have changed little over the centuries; the favored method of attack is still Phormios' Anastrophe, where the ships form a battle line, sail through the enemy battle line, and then turn 180 degrees to hit the enemy from the vulnerable stern. Aristo's Frontal Assault is also popular, which entails a head on ramming attempt. After these maneuvers, and some trading of catapult, ballista, and crossbow fire, the ships usually grapple and fight hand-to-hand. Yet the newer crescent formation has recently gained popularity, and is the favored tactic of Lord High Sea Marshal, Aldren III. In this formation, the flanks or wings try to encircle the enemy and ram them amidships, hoping for a successful sinking attack rather than resorting to boarding.
The pre-battle rituals are much the same as well. The only major difference is that the sailed ships of the Southolder navy don't disembark their impedimenta (baggage, provisions, etc) before battle, as was common with the oared galleys. Prayers or animal sacrifices are made to placate Baldur before the battle, and prayers are made to Nuada. The commander then rides from ship to ship in a small boat delivering plans and giving a pep talk. Battle commences with the blaring of trumpets and the raising of a golden shield on the flagship.
Tactics have evolved to deal with the pirate threat, and in the Pirate Campaigns of 1471-3, they proved effective. During those conflicts, the pirates of the Umbars were nearly exterminated and their bases razed. The Cortals have a small navy of cogs, which they have husbanded, and there have been few naval engagments in the current war.
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