Today, I’ll be going over the settlements of the Amethyst Hills, and what makes them different from the nameless settlements of a couple dozen people scattered across the region. There are eight major settlements, although only Argent and Skyward might be large enough to be considered cities.
Argent is the home of the Argent Palace and the Spiregod’s complex; built around the remains of a silvery structure that rises above the northern hills, it remains the center of rule even after Emilio’s coup. The city itself is dug into the hillsides for the most part, with walls of reinforced wood and synth holding the earth back. In addition to being the home of the royal family, it has the boast of being the seat of two religions and a thriving trade in numenera. In addition, the fields to the south produce enough staple crops to keep the city fed, if on a bland diet, should anything happen at Root or one of the smaller farming communities.
Azure is the home of the Wardens of the Cleft, and the last town to the west before the Ashen Pass that leads to the Deserts of Ruin and the Searing Sea. As such, the town does a fair trade both in relics to protect those heading west from the Searing One and in numenera recovered from the deserts. A hospice for those afflicted by Roth sits in the foothills above the settlement, tended by a few of the more lucid of Roth’s warped “children” as they look after their fellow afflicted. Additionally, the town has a small dye-making facility, using some poorly understood numenera device to transform light into spectacularly vibrant hues.
Holis is the site of milky waters that bubble up from a spire of translucent stone, spilling into tiers of sculpted basins before they eventually pour out to turn the Blackwater into the Verdant Flow. Ettria’s priesthood has a temple here, with the explanation that the waters must be the gift of their god to the world, as they can heal lasting illnesses and even regenerate some lucky individuals who have lost limbs and organs. One in five hundred of the children born here have some form of healing power, although most are merely able to chase off colds and heal scratches.
Skyward is the only settlement other than Argent to be considered a city, not the least because the city is arranged in layers of floating islands that rise thousands of feet above the ground. While the city’s islands are off-limits, the locals have a strong economy driven by mining the liftstone from beneath the surface for sale throughout the kingdom. Skyward is also home to the most secure prison in the kingdom, situated on an isolated island reachable only by a teleport device held by the royal guard. Since Emilio’s reign began, the island has become somewhat crowded, and the guards worry that the heavy usage needed to keep the prisoners supplies will cause the teleport device to break down.
Amethyst is the oldest town in the region, and the one the area was named for, settled in a fertile niche amid ancient and weathered outcrops of amethyst stone. The town is only of modest size, as local tradition keeps the hills from being heavily mined and the soil has a limit on how much it can safely support, but the villagers are fairly wealthy due to the exotic crystalline numenera that they extract from the two mines. Many of the homes and other building in town are made from the leavings of the mines, carefully mortared together to create breathtaking (but functional) works of art.
Lumendell sits in the far south, where the Verdant Flow empties into the ocean. The chief thing that differentiates them from neighboring fishing villages is the device at the heart of the town that can manufacture constructs of hard light, almost weightless and of exceptional durability. Most of the town is built from the constructs, including a wall that can be extended across the water to seal the entire settlement off from land-based forces. The durability of the constructs, along with the way they attract fish with their rippling glow, has allowed the town to resist assault by military forces that could crush them otherwise.
Root, midway between Holis and Lumendell, is a spread-out village that covers an expanse of incredibly fertile fields; even plants that shouldn’t be able to grow in the climate do well. As such, Root provides most of the food for the region, and historically few have been willing to fight in the area for fear of disrupting whatever produces such rich soil. The natives of the area know the secret perfectly well, having an intricate series of canals and windmills that spread the waters of the Verdant Flow across the fields, allowing the milky liquid to saturate fallow fields and dampen active ones. They don’t admit to this, however, instead spinning intricate stories to befuddle outsiders as to the origin of their prosperity.
Sunsong is an isolated town to the northeast, with a single bridge of spun synth spanning the Smoke Chasm that splits the land. Several ancient machines drink in the light of the sun during the day before dispatching devices at night to tend to ancient fields and tend to maintenance work. The people live in treetop houses, the roots of their homes tended to by the old machines, and live on the packaged food the large structures produce. Mutation is fairly common in the town, and the beginnings of a new religion are springing up around the idea that the mutations are the gift of the sun, imparted by the machines to the faithful who sing to the sun.
There are other settlements – and quite a few ruins, derelict devices, and failed towns – across the region as well; next time, we’ll look in on a few of those.