From The Heretic Knowledge Vault
|Type:||Underground Elf City|
|Location:||Somewhere in the Elven Territories, Southern Veracia|
Current hangout (and, as far as we can tell, sole surviving city) of the elves. Most of what we know about it comes from Sarine (reasonably enough, being that she's an elf and all), who teleported off to it when she got back from her unsettling encounter with Kawaii and Nookie. The image of it that she sees on arrival suggests a combination of Manhattan, second-rate but gaudy hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, and underground missile complex in North Korea. No wonder she doesn't like the place.
Apparently its exact location is a carefully guarded secret, unknown to the general population of non-elves. However, one of the little tidbits revealed by Sarine (nominally to Jon and Sara, but we know it was really for the benefit of us readers) is that it's in "southern Veracia," geographically speaking. The city itself is underground, beneath a broad mountain. We don't know how far beyond this mountain the Elven Territories extend, but it may be quite a distance; Sarine indicates that few humans get close to it (and live?).
The road to Praenubilus Astu
The only approaches to Praenubilus Astu that we've seen so far are by Sarine, either solo or with Jon and Sara. Both times, she arrives via travel platform, "miles away from the city." This is apparently a security feature, and she says there's only the one terminal that connects Praenubilus Astu with the bulk of the outside world. (Note that she inexplicably calls the receiving end a "warp gate" the first time she goes there in the story, even though she later says that travel platforms and warp gates are separate networks.) She rather sourly maintains that the real purpose of having the thing so far out in the boonies is to deter the rangers (who are considered weird and possibly dangerous by some of the other elves) from coming home too often.
Once visitors (elves, that is) arrive at the mountain above Praenubilus Astu, they still have to get into the underground city. According to Sarine, there is an elaborate security system involving a big gate with detection glyphs that can tell the difference between elf and non-elf, as well as a number of other security features that may not be staffed in this decadent age. Beyond the gate are "lifts" leading down to the city.
- Farrel - Buildings built into the sides of trees. They were indefensible and destroyed early on.
- unknown (maybe Malacia) - "Something like Tsuirakushiti, only even more pretentious" (in Jon's words): the first to go. It isn't clear in her description whether the "even more pretentious" cities that were "first to go" were the actual floating cities of Malacia and whatever the elves called proto-Tsuirakushiti, but the idea is clear.
- Emerylon, Veracia - Medieval style city with a big castle made of gold. It was destroyed and then looted. A thousand years later, it became the site of present-day Emerylon.
In this same conversation, it was confirmed that Praenubilus Astu is indeed the last of the elven cities, the former capital of the Cimmerii, and that most of the remaining Elves live there. Further, it only survived because it is buried deeply underground, inside the mountain.
Layout and architecture
Praenubilus Astu is apparently divided into neighborhoods like any other large city. Sarine's house, she says, is in one of the "original foreign quarters" of the city -- we are not told what "foreigners" once lived there. Swordsmith Ciaran lives in the "northern section" of the city, which is apparently some distance from where Sarine lives when she's in town, and also distant from the chambers of the Elven Council.
Every view we've ever had of Praenubilus Astu makes it look like the architecture is based on the elves' love of the ornate. There are domes and vaults, fancy doors, and lighting that looks like it comes from a Victorian mansion (but is based on Light Globes, many of which Sarine thinks will have to be replaced following the little dust-up between Ian and Luminosita). There are lots of statues, including one in the entrance to the council chambers that might -- or might not -- represent Anilis and Senilis, and one very large nude one which definitely does represent the former. All of this is just the kind of thing that annoys someone as ascetic as Sarine, which is one reason (of several) why she doesn't spend much time there.
Society and politics
Elven society in Praenubilus Astu is dominated by the Great Houses, of which we don't know much yet. Misa, who's lived there more of the recent years/decades/centuries than Sarine, notes that time acquires a different meaning underground, and that, for example, the elves living there sleep at "what ever hours is (sic) most convenient, instead of trying to keep to a normal day night cycle." This, of course, is one of the things that Sarine (who'd rather see the sun rise and set and feels no pride in the Magic Windows in her house) doesn't like about the place. This is the Cimmerii way of doing things, which makes sense since Praenubilus Astu used to be the Cimmerii capital.
The Great Houses govern by way of a council that meets in a chamber building somewhere in the city. Sarine barges in on a private session there to give the few councilors in attendance (Famair, Ameurin and Skena) an earful about the Giant Magic Potato, including her own carefully abridged story of events. The dimensions of the council chamber are such that there's probably room for about half a dozen elves on the main floor, and a peanut gallery of 35 or more, although we don't know whether the occupants of the cheap seats are less influential councilors or just spectators.
Elven society features equality of roles and responsibilities for males and females. Since the women spend only a tiny fraction of their lives in pregnancy and child rearing (if they have a child at all), there's no need or pressure for them to get on the mommy track. Male and female elves are also about equally robust physically, magically capable, and so on, so there's no reason for a gender preference in jobs requiring physical strength, spellpower, etc. For more on this, see Gender roles in Errant Story, which features some bodacious author notes.
- "Seth": Just because they're in an underground magical city doesn't mean that they don't Eat, Drink, Crap, & Breathe. There almost has to be a service entrance, sewer line, underground-river, or air shaft that they can exploit.
- "Poe": Those and all emergency escape routes are made in such a way that trying to enter the city through them would be extremly difficult too suicidal to do.