Founded in the First Age, Maharesh was the pride and joy of the Twilight Caste Mahare. Located in a lush valley in the otherwise fairly dry hilly lands of the Riverlands, Maharesh was called the City of Sorcery during its height.
Because Maharesh firmly believed that all mortals should have a solid understanding in the world they couldn't see as well as the one they could, the occult arts were taught as part of the mandatory schooling all citizenry received.
After a few generations of this, mortal thaumaturgy became quite commonplace in the daily workings of Maharesh – fields were warded rather than fenced to keep herds in and predators out, all houses included mandatory talismans against disease and many citizens underwent the process for awakening their Essence, so that the arts of thaumaturgy blossomed and reached an impressive maturity here.
This extended even to the monks in the temples to the Unconquered Sun who practiced the Five Solar Scions martial art, a Terrestrial style based on the emulation of the animals iconic to the Unconquered Sun and his Chosen.
But this was the City of Sorcery in more than one way, for much of it was constructed by sorcerous means. The very land around it was altered, creating powerful convergences of dragon-lines upon which she raised Manses that served the public interest.
The Districts of Maharesh
Maharesh was divided into five different districts, geomantically based around each of the Manses constructed to serve as the heart and spirit of the city.
- The Tower District: The central district arrayed around the Tower of Mahare, the Tower District was the bureaucratic and mercantile heart of Maharesh. Mostly intended for the vast numbers of visitors who constantly streamed in and out of Maharesh's gates, the Tower District was made up of inns and pleasure palaces, plus the massive Plaza of Gold and Jade, the market square. It also possessed many buildings meant to facilitate the bureaucracies of the city, as well as a variety of academies of renown.
- The Falls District: Abutting the cliff that overlooks the city, the Falls District is dominated by the Great Palace of the Eternal Cistern, which straddles the river just before it flows over the cliff. The Falls District was the home of many of the technomagical foundries and other apparati necessary to allow Maharesh to function as it did, and the din of these places combined with the great noise of the water falls led to it developing into something of a poorer district, where those who couldn't afford homes elsewhere lived. Of course, the poverty of Maharesh was still quite opulent by today's standards.
- The Orchard District: Organized around the Verdant Orchard Estate, a Wood-aspected Manse, the Orchard District saw many farmer's markets and the myriad small cart paths that led out of the city towards the farms, orchards and vineyards further into the valley that provided much of the city's prosperity. The Orchard District was marked by vast parks and fine inns and estates.
- The Crafts District: Though not as known for its crafts as some other places, the craftsmen of Maharesh were prosperous and skilled, and produced elegant pottery, glassware and wicker material. These craftsmen were known to work their arts not in their own shops, but beside one another in the outer areas of the Vault of Skilled Hands, the Earth-aspected Manse around which this district was built.
- The Arts District: Where the wonders of the hands were made in the Crafts District, it was in the Arts District that the glories of music, the spoken word and the intricacies of interpersonal relations were upheld. The entertainment district of Maharesh, this district boasted everything from public forums to elegant theaters, from musical conservatories to elegant pleasure-houses. All of these things were arrayed around the Temple of Bright Flame, the public temple of Maharesh, which included a massive open-air temple to the Incarna and other temple space that saw a variety of uses and function. On any given day, a gala opening, temple festival and glorious street party was practically guaranteed to be happening.
The Manses of Maharesh
- The Tower of Mahare: In the center of Maharesh, the Tower of Mahare overlooks the city, and was the home and offices of the sorceress-queen of Maharesh. The Tower stands in the Tower District. The Tower of Mahare provides the city with climate control in its structures.
- The Temple of Bright Flame: A temple to the Incarna, the Temple of Bright Flame stands in the Arts District. The Temple of Bright Flame provides the city with heat and light.
- The Vault of Skilled Hands: The central gathering place of the city's craftsmen, the Vault of Skills Hands is the heart of the Crafts District. The Vault of Skilled Hands provides the structures of the city with strength and resilience.
- The Great Palace of the Eternal Cistern: The source of the Essence-engines for the city's Platonic Force system, the Great Palace of the Eternal Cistern stands astride the river that runs through the Falls District. The Palace provides water to the structures of Maharesh.
- The Verdant Orchard Estate: The Verdant Orchard Estate served as both headquarters and central granary for the city's crop-growers and orchards, standing in the midst of the Orchard District. The Verdant Orchard Estate also provides the natural vitality to the city, allowing plants to grow swiftly and healthily, as well as ensuring that structures rebuilt themselves.
The Obelisks of Maharesh
Every neighborhood in the city of Maharesh was built around one of these obelisks, ten foot tall pillars of crystal, inset with orichalcum and jade. These were the destinations of the raw power channeled by each of the Manses, so that the power might be rendered into a useful form and function for the good of the city.
The obelisks took the five elemental Essences and transformed them into what was called the Patronic Force, an energy that supported life and prosperity in Maharesh. The Patronic Force provides running water, lights, coolness or heat as necessary, strong construction and healthy plants.
However, this force could not simply be released freely and without pattern – it was too dangerous to do that. As such, each obelisk had to have a plate of orichalcum with a specific pattern that corresponded to the precise flows of Patronic Force necessary. Changes in the area's physical features that didn't take the Patronic Force into account could destroy the area.
Thus, every time any building, street, hill or orchard had some kind of major alteration done to it, the Patronic Template of the obelisk that powered that area had to be updated by the city's Patrons, an elite order of occult-engineers who specialized in calculating these precise geomantic creations.
The Patronic Template of an obelisk could help steady and even rebuild a structure. Indeed, many buildings that were damaged by day-to-day events such as weather and the like eventually naturally regenerated themselves as the Patronic Force reinforced the pattern of construction in the place, and rebuilt it.
However, should large areas of a section of city suddenly cease to match the Patronic Template's pattern for it, the resultant energy releases could be devastating. The obelisks were created to burn themselves out in the event of such a thing, but not before they had managed to obliterate everything within the Patronic Template of that area.
This is why Maharesh today is filled with buildings that are either gutted ruins or in pristine conditions, for some of the obelisks still work, and those that don't managed to obliterate the city around them before they shut down and fused their Patronic Templates into useless, charred orichalcum slag.
The Western Riverlands Guardians
The Western Riverland Guardians were a circle tasked with the defense of the Riverlands west of what is now the Grey River. Their duties were light, as there was little threat from the Wyld, so they were often called upon by other Circles who needed aid, as well as acting as diplomats and intermediaries for the Solar Deliberative to the nations in this area. The Guardians were based out of Mahare's city, Maharesh.
- Kahana: The Zenith leader of the Western Riverlands Guardians, Kahana was a renowned wandering holy woman, whose ecstatic, holy dancing was said to call forth the gods themselves to see and bask in the faith that radiated from her. She stayed at the Temple of Bright Flame when she was in Maharesh, and she always carried the Gem of White Heat.
- Stone: The Dawn caste of the Guardians, Stone was a martial artist of incredible skill. Unlike many Dawns, he didn't consider himself a general, believing it immoral to lead mortal troops into battle when their survival was so questionable. To that end, the Guardians often took care of things themselves where other Circles might dispatch troops. Stone was also an incredible porcelain-maker, and carried with him the Precision of Form Gemstone.
- Mahare: Twilight queen of Maharesh. Though she was the queen of her city, she was not the leader of her Circle, being far more dedicated to the prosperity of her people and her own occult studies. Mahare dwelt in her Tower, and always carried the Savant's Icy Eye.
- Shin: The Night caste Shin was an excellent scout and investigator, and often spent his time away from the rest of the Guardians. Before trouble got underway, Shin usually knew about it, through a combination of his extensive spy network and personal skills. Shin trained at the Black Pavilion, and always carried the Survival Stone in his orichalcum knife-sheathe.
- Jeld: The diplomat Eclipse Jeld was probably the busiest of the Guardians, for he was often called to account for his Circle's endeavors before the Deliberative in the seasonal reports expected of all Circles in the Threshold. Additionally, Jeld maintained good relations with those in the Guardians' territory, from the horse-traders to the spirit courts. Jeld always carried the Fountain-Summoning Stone.