|Map of Velika|
The human city of Velika dominates the southern half of Arun, serving as the political, economic, and cultural center for the Valkyon Federation. Though it's far from the battles of the Argon front, the war against the Argons is always on the minds of Velikan citizens. Velika's architecture may be as stunning as ever, but rationing, shortages, and crime provide a dark side to life in the City of Wheels.
Though tempered by wartime concerns, the boundless vitality of the city is infectious. Many who visit Velika find it hard to return to the logging towns and farming villages of southern Arun.
The Wheel of Velik, a 500-foot gear in the center of the city, marks the passage of time just as it did when the goddess Velik set it into motion 500 years ago. The central wheel provides magical power throughout the city, fueling much of Velika's industry. The city is also famous for its statuary, especially the many falcons considered sacred to Velik's followers and the 100-foot-tall statue of the goddess herself in full huntress regalia.
Among the mortal races, the humans were the only one that never built cities or great empires; a curse laid upon them by their creator, Gidd, forced them to wander as nomads for twenty centuries. When the age of human wanderings came to an end, they sought a place not already claimed by another nation or race.
Meanwhile, the hunter goddess Velik, weary after the Divine War among the gods, built a palace on the plains of southern Arun. She then proclaimed “an end to games of war and plunder” within sight of the falcons that roosted outside her windows, entered her palace, and closed the gates behind her.
Attracted by the notion of a peace enforced by a goddess, human clans began to congregate around Velik's palace. Within a century, a rudimentary city grew to surround it. First in disguise, and later in her true form, Velik began to walk the streets of the city, aiding in its construction and eventually creating the Wheel of Velik that still turns today.
Velika's reputation as a place of peace spread throughout Arun and Shara, and refugees from wars elsewhere traveled there to start their lives anew in the City of Wheels. The new residents strained Velika's ability to feed and house them, and tensions rose between longtime residents and newcomers. Racial differences exacerbated the division; many of the newcomers weren't human, but almost all the "native" Velikans were.
The crisis reached a flashpoint when Velika's aristocracy, the patriarchs of the first human clans to settle there, tried to forcibly deport all nonhumans from the city. Protest marches in the new neighborhoods led to mob violence on both sides. In some places, house guards from the human aristocracy marched through the streets, arresting or killing any nonhumans they could find. Elsewhere, ragtag bands of nonhumans gained the upper hand, sacking and looting several human villas.
The violence outside her palace infuriated Velik. As the sun set over the burning city, Velik stalked the streets, ending anyone with the temerity to break her proclamation. Hundreds died on that "Night of Black Arrows"—human and nonhuman alike.
The next morning, the city braced for another day of mob violence, followed by another night of Velik's arrows slaying both sides. A hastily gathered conclave of merchants, previously neutral on racial issues, threw their support behind the nonhuman contingent—a decision motivated equally by prior rivalries with the noble human families and a hard-nosed assessment of who was likely to win. Bolstered by hundreds of caravan guards, the nonhumans expelled the human aristocrats, doused the fires, and set about remaking the city. Everyone held their breath as night fell, praying that Velik would realize that the battle for the city was over, and thus abandon her campaign of death.
Velik remained in her palace that night, which the merchants and nonhumans regarded as tacit approval of their actions. Months of tense, fractious meetings followed while Velika evolved from oligarchy to democracy. Gallian, a philosopher who called an elf "mother" and a human "father," emerged as the city's first leader.
As a child of two cultures, Gallian was well-suited to lead the world's first truly integrated society. From the elves, Gallian adopted the rule of law—laws created through the democratic process, not by a tyrant's decree. From the humans, Gallian took an egalitarian approach: in Velika, anyone was eligible to contribute and govern, regardless of race or creed. Under Gallian's guidance, Velika rose from the ashes of civil unrest to rule almost all of southern Arun.
Five centuries after the first humans settled near Velik's palace, Velika stands as the capital of the Valkyon Federation, the largest city on the continent of Arun, and the world's most important hub for travel and trade. Thousands gather in the agoras in the southeast, where Gallian delivered his legendary "I am a child of Arun" speech.
Most visitors arrive in Velika from the trade gates to the north and west, although the wealthy and the well-connected use the Pegasus platform instead. Many stop to get their bearings under the copper "Welcome Dome" before exploring Velika's canyon-like streets.
Although it's far from the front, Velika is on a wartime footing. New recruits for the Valkyon Federation army often drill in the courtyard south of the Legion of Arms, and officers scheme over their maps at the Garrison Headquarters. The great craft bazaar, the Creator's Workshop, now makes far more swords than it does plowshares. The citizens have grown accustomed to rationing, but that doesn't mean they don't grumble about it.
Finally, the Argon War affects Velika by depriving it of the famous Falconcrest Guards that once patrolled its streets keeping the citizens safe. The Valkyon Federation sent those elite protectors of the city to the front in northern Shara. Now certain dark alleys harbor a criminal element—and perhaps more sinister dangers as well.