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Volantis is one of the principal cities of western Essos, and considered by many to be the greatest of the nine Free Cities.

It is ruled by a Triarchy of elected officials which make decisions on behalf the city in its best interests, as well as those of the settlements within Volantene territory, namely Sar Mell, Volon Therys, Valysar and Selhorys.

Layout[]

The city of Volantis is a city of two parts, and thus not dissimilar from the Free City of Norvos in this sense. The eastern part of the city is home those of the Blood of Old Valyria, and its palaces, courtyards, towers, temples, cloisters, bridges, and cellars are surrounded by the Black Walls, formed of fused dragonstone. The western districts are newer, and provides life to all other residents and visitors to the city. The two parts are joined by the Long Bridge.

The Eastern City - Old Volantis[]

  • The Black Walls - Built by the Valyrians to protect their new western outpost, the Black Walls are an oval of fused dragonstone, so wide that during the annual celebrations of the creation of the city, six chariots, each pulled by four horses, can ride abreast. They are nearly two hundred feet high, and only those of the Old Blood, or invited directly by them, may enter. Within is the part of the city called Old Volantis by its residents.
  • The Palace of the Triarchs - A colossal monolith of marble and fused dragonstone, the Palace of the Triarchs is amongst the most impressive construction in a city of marvels. Guarded by the fearsome Tiger Cloaks, a slave army marked with green stripes across their cheeks, and helms shaped to bare the visage of their namesake, the Palace opens its doors to only a select few, for matters to be brought up to the Triarchs are often done at the palaces of the separate parties, depending on the nature of the request. Carved into both the exterior and interior of the tower are deeds of the past elected of the city, the tales of war and conquest, peace and trade shaped into the marble and streaks of gold that have been worked into the stone.
  • The Tiger Den - Within the Black Walls, not far from the Palace of the Triarchs, the Tiger Den is the headquarters of the Tiger party of Volantis, and has been since the city first began elections. Whilst the construction of the Den has changed many times over the years, with many Triarchs seeking to improve upon the works of their predecessors, one thing has persisted throughout, the statues. Each Tiger is immortalised in stone upon election, and an additional stripe added to their neck with each subsequent re-election. Some, like Horonno and Belar have many marks on their neck, whereas many remain smooth, untouched by the chisel.
  • The Elephant Hall - Carved from pale-grey stone, the building of the Elephant Party is marked and shaped in such a way that the bricks themselves are not dissimilar from the skin of the beast from which they take their name. At the entrance is a colossal statue of one such creatures, hewn from a single block near the height of ten men. The building and its contents displays brazen eccentricity, with wealth brought with decades and centuries of trade creating rooms of lavish decoration, from exotic animal furs and woods, statues shaped from precious metals depicting the history of those elected and feasting rooms capable of containing many of the great Halls of Westerosi castles with room to spare. Although few are permitted entry, those that have glimpsed all that the Elephant Hall contains report that even the bolts and nails of the doors and walls are shaped from gold, rather than iron or steel.
  • The Temples of Old Valyria - While the Freehold of Old Valyria was long ago claimed by the Doom, the gods of the Valyrian pantheon remain, in some part. Construction of black stone carved into fanciful shapes depicting men, beasts and other beings alike, the Temples of Old Valyria remain popular amongst some of the Old Blood, who place coins and other offerings at the shrines to Syrax and Vhagar, Balerion and Arrax, as well as innumerable more.
  • The Temple of the Lord of Light - Located on the eastern side of the city, but outside the Black Walls, the Temple of the Lord of Light is dedicated to the god R'hllor, the Lord of Light. The temple is protected by a private army of slave soldiers known as the Fiery Hand, and led by a High Priest. The temple is an enormity of pillars, steps, buttresses, bridges, domes, and towers flowing into one another as if they had all been chiselled from one colossal rock. A hundred hues of red, yellow, gold, and orange meet and meld in the temple walls, dissolving one into the other like clouds at sunset.

The Long Bridge[]

Supported by a series of massive piers, the construction started by the Triarch Vhalaso, called the Munificent, spans the Rhoyne, connecting Old Volantis to New. Named one of the Wonders Made by Man by Lomas Longstrider, the Long Bridge is a creation of fused stone, like that of the Black Walls.

The Long Bridge's gateway at its eastern end is an arch of black stone carved with sphinxes, manticores, dragons and other strange beasts. The road is barely wide enough for two carts to pass side by side. Buildings rise on either side of the roadway. In the centre of the bridge the hands of thieves and the heads of executed criminals are displayed by Volantene spearmen decorated with green tiger stripes.

Buildings rise on both sides of the bridge, including: shops, temples, taverns, inns, cyvasse parlours, and brothels. Most are three to four stories tall and each floor extending farther than the one beneath it. The topmost floors almost reach each other. Customers can buy almost anything in the shops on the Long Bridge. Merchants include weavers, lacemakers, glassblowers, candlemakers, and fishwives. Goldsmiths and spicers keep guards at their doors.

The Western City - New Volantis[]

  • Fishermonger's Square - Found near the western end of the Long Bridge and near the Harbour of Volantis, the Fishermonger's Square is a large plaza where fishmongers come to sell their wares. As busy in the night as the day, there is cod, sailfish, sardines, barrels of mussels and clams for sale in the square, as well as eels, turtles and casks filled with crabs, lobsters and shellfish. Vendors sell stews and pies flavoured with spices and vegetables, and mummers perform for the attention and coin of passers-by.
  • Armourer's Street - Considered by many to be the Volantene equivalent of the Street of Steel, the Armourer's Street pre-dates its supposed Westerosi counterpart by nearly a millennia and a half. Located at the waterside so that both the waters of the Rhoyne and Summer Sea can be used to cool their forges as necessary, it is home to some of the finest blacksmiths in Essos not associated with the Mott Family or Qohor generally.
  • The Merchant's House - The Merchant's House is the finest and largest inn in Volantis. It is located on Fishmonger’s Square. It is a four story monstrosity that squats amongst the warehouses, brothels, and taverns of the waterside. The Merchant's House is the first choice for shippers, captains, and merchantmen. Traders from Oldtown and King's Landing mingle with their counterparts from Braavos and Pentos and Myr, with hairy Ibbenese, pale skinned voyagers from Qarth, coal-black Summer Islanders in feathered cloaks, even masked shadowbinders from Asshai by the Shadow. There are cheap rooms on the fourth floor, iron rings are set in the walls for chaining up one’s slaves. The tavern is famous for its locks, which are as secure as a gaol.
  • The Crimson Silks - Found on the opposite side of the river from the Temple of the Lord of Light, almost a mirror as a construction covered it fabrics of carmine, scarlet and ruby, the Crimson Silks is the most popular brothel in Volantis, and is frequented by residents of the city, both freeholders and the Old Blood, although the latter often transport their intended pillowslaves to their manses inside the Black Walls than make the journey themselves, as well as the visitors of the city. Behind the main building, nearly two dozen small pillowhouses exist, each dedicated to the training and teaching of those that will one day be amongst the finest in the Free Cities, although not as famed of those from Yunkai, to the east. Each floor of the Crimson Silks serves a different nature of customer, and as one ascends the building's eight floors, the price increases significantly.
  • Mahouts' Courtyard - The actual elephants of Volantis serve two distinct purposes, and must be trained accordingly. Most will serve only as a means of transportation for those that see walking as a means of travelling for those beneath their standing, and will have their grey hides covered in vibrant paints of green, blue and yellow. At times of election, it is not uncommon for the elephants to be decorated with the colours of the Families of the Old Blood seeking election. Those beasts that show particular aptitude and intelligence are selected for service in the forces of the Free City, and have proved to be a formidable foe to any army relying upon horses and other cavalry. Atop each elephant a trio of archers can loose over three dozen arrows between them every minute, making the Volantene Elephant cavalry a challenging military unit to any enemy.
  • The Wyvern's Tower - One of the few constructions of dragonstone on the western side of the city, the Wyvern's Tower first served as a primary look-out post for attackers sailing or marching from the Disputed Lands to the west, or the Summer Sea to the south. As new Volantis has proliferated across the western bank of the Rhoyne however, it now serves a new purpose. The Wyvern's Tower is now the home and headquarters of the Tiger Cloaks, the elite city guard of Volantis. In the courtyards at its base, men are trained in the use of short spear, sword, shield, bow and axe, and within the tower itself are the quarters dedicated to eating, cleaning and sleeping. From the top of the tower, guardsmen watch over the city, ready to respond to any disturbance to the peace.

The Harbour[]

The harbour of Volantis is one of the greatest boasts of the Volantene people, who claim that is it deep enough for all the hundred isles of Braavos to be placed within it, and none would peek from the surface. As well as being very deep, the harbour is very wide, spanning both sides of the estuary of the Rhoyne, a river so wide that ships sailing down the centre may struggle to see the shores to either side.

Although exceptions do exist, generally the wharves and ports on the eastern bank are of a finer quality to their western counterparts, and maintained more thoroughly by the slaves assigned to such a task. The quays closest to the Black Walls themselves are of particularly fine craftsmanship, with roads of marble and sandstone leading visitors and those returning home to entrances in the Black Walls directly from the waterfront.

Ships from across the Known World call port at Volantis, the city serving as a stopping point between the Free Cities and Westeros to the west, and the nations of the Far East such as Qarth, Yi-Ti and Asshai-by-the-Shadow.

Timeline of Events[]

  • 308AC - Preachers of both R'hllor and the Gods of Old Valyria start to proclaim of the wonders of Daenerys Targaryen, the saviour to come. It was with fire that she brought life to stone, the Red Priests would proclaim, although the Valyrian worshippers would attribute this instead to the purity of her blood. Either way, the city's attention turns to the actions of the Targaryen to the east once more, and by two years later when her invasion of Westeros finally came, she would do so with the support of the Tiger Triarch Malyrio Maegyr. 
  • 310AC - Marshalling her full strength, Daenerys Targaryen invades Westeros, bringing with her an army of Unsullied Warriors, slave soldiers from across the Bay of Dragons, dozens of sellsword companies and fleets from Qarth, Pentos and Volantis. 
  • 314AC - Spread from sailors bound out of Lys, small outbreaks of Crimson Fever affect the Free Cities. Beyond Lys itself the year before, Volantis is worst hit, where one in fifty of the slave population, forced into conditions of squalor die. The disease does not seem to breach the Black Walls.
  • 328AC - Great commotion is stirred within Volantis when an individual arrives at the port, claiming to have captured a dragon upon his travels. While reptilian and possessing wings, it is later revealed the beast is naught but a wyvern, fearsome nonetheless but a lesser beast compared to its fire-breathing relative. The lack of flames proves to be a boon when the beast breaks free, and is eventually slain by a contigency of Tiger Cloaks (but not before causing havoc in Fishermonger's Square within the city). The traveller is promptly arrested and executed for the trouble he wrought. 
  • 359AC - The Mahout Riots of 359AC are considered by many to be a slave uprising, for many of the elephant tenders of the city were exactly that. Stoked into revolt by a man remembered as Cahlos, nine in ten of the elephants within the city were butchered, their ivory tusks torn from their skulls and bartered for freedom, gold and maidens alike. When the Tiger Cloaks rushed Mahouts' Courtyard to put an end to the rebellion, they found themselves set upon by the slaves, who had let loose those few great grey beasts that remained, causing chaos throughout the city until the more docile individuals were eventually corralled back in place and those more spirited put down by spear, sword and arrow. For nearly a decade the Old Blood, who shunned walking within the city, were forced to pay vast sums of gold, silver and gemstones to the Shan of Zabhad to source their elephants. The majority of the stolen ivory found its way to Barter Beach upon Talon, where it was purchased by the Corsair-Queen Kalia. The events would start the chain of occurrences that would be remembered as the Ivory War.
  • 361AC - Corlys Velaryon is forced to call port in Volantis for nearly three moons whilst he recovers from a sickness caught during his time in the Basilisk Isles. Meanwhile, the Ivory King Cregas visits the Isle of Elephants, seeking a trade deal with the Shan. He offers her protection from the Qartheen and people of Great Moraq in exchange for three dozen tusks every moon. This serves to anger the Old Blood of Volantis, who believe they are being cheated in the cost for the elephants purchased from the isle.
  • 364AC - The Triarch Laerys Vaelaros, one of the most popular men to hold the office in recent memory dies in mysterious circumstances.
    • The surviving Triarchs - the Elephant Taeros Qoheros and the Tiger Vaelar Aerteris - found themselves in agreement on something. It had been the Lyseni that were responsible, for the city was after all famous for the Spire of the Alchemists, the acolytes and masters within creators of such poisonous substances. It was the Lyseni that had offered him food and wine and it was in this opportunity that they had enacted their ploy to weaken the city of Volantis, knowing it to be greater than their own city.
    • The Lyseni instead accused the Myrish of the treachery, naming Magister Jaerano Naerin himself as being guilty of poisoning the Triarch, claiming he was fearful that the city of Lys would be granted the same boons afforded to him by the trade deal between Myr and Volantis agreed upon a year prior. Not wishing to see the Perfumed Sister prosper, and knowing his own deal to be secure, he had sought to end the negotiations before a final agreement could be reached.
    • Further to the east, accusations carried across the Bay of Dragons, raising tensions between the cities of Tolos and Elyria and those of Astapor, Yunkai and Meereen. Tolos, and by indirect measure Elyria, had sought to gain much for the deals proposed by Triarch Laerys, which may have resulted in reduced trade into the Bay of Dragons as a result. The timing of Vaelaros’ death mere moons before he was due to sail for the Gulf of Grief proved too suspicious for the rulers of the City of Slingers, and thus they petitioned the Queen of Elyria, the intrepid Aerea Calgaris to ready a fleet and an army as they send messages forth to captains of a great manner of sellsword and sellsail companies.
    • Others too whispered along the Rhoyne that surely the Braavosi had been involved in the Triarch’s death. They opposed slavery after all, but the Bay of Dragons was too far away for even the fleets and lackeys of the Sealord to reach and thus the gaze of Bessaro Nestoris had turned to Volantis - or so the Governor of Valysar Rhaemar Agnalor claimed. Rallying an army of nearly fifteen thousand to his command, the Governor of Valysar, had sailed up the Rhoyne and the Noyne, marching for the Braavosi foothills and the City of a Hundred Isles itself. The Triarchs of Volantis readied an army of their own, but instead found themselves engaged in battles to claw back control of their vassal states of Valysar, Selhorys and Volon Therys, for they did not share the sentiment that the Sealord and the Faceless Men were behind Vaelaros’ death. In an effort to stay the growing risk of conflict with Braavos as they continued preparation for war with Lys, the Triarchs of Volantis sent a message to the Sealord of Braavos Bessaro Nestoris to denounce the actions of Rhaemar Agnalor of Valysar and declare him a rogue and vagabond. Heeding the Triarchs’ words, Nestoris dispatched an army to meet with Agnalor in the Braavosi foothills.
    • At the Battle of Sweetwater Source, Valysarian infantry met with the forces led by Marro Antaryon, wielder of the Valyrian steel longsword Titan’s Roar. As his men were butchered by the larger host, Rhaemar turned once again to flee, seizing a passing trade cog and butchering the passengers with his own Valyrian steel blade when they refused to assist him in his flight.
    • Following on from their message to the Sealord, the Volantenes had sent a force north to assist in the subjugation of the Governor of Valysar, by found themselves set upon by the khalasar of Khal Mosko as they cross the river Selhoru. Those not slain were marched east, where a number would die in the fighting pits of Astapor, Tolos and New Ghis over the coming years.
  • 366AC - The long-anticipated battle between Lys and Volantis was not to be. A vicious storm thundering west from the Smoking Sea forced the Volantene navy to turn back before they had even passed the Orange Shore, and the Magisters of Lys found themselves dealing with an open revolt of their armies, led by the Captain of the City Watch, Revas the Brazen. There are still those within the Perfumed Sister that agree to the concerns of Revas, despite his execution by dismemberment in the harbour during the sixth moon of 366AC.
  • 371AC - Vaegon Qhaedar is elected as Tiger Triarch, mainly upon his claims of possession of a large black dragon egg. He calls Qartheen warlocks, wordweavers from Leng and even Asshai'i shadowbinders to Volantis to assist him in the hatching of the item. After eight moons, Vaegon nearly bankrupted his House in his desperation to grant life to the stone, ignoring the considerable cost of acquiring such an item in the first place - although from where Vaegon did not disclose. The attempts ended in a great fire that ravaged the manses within the Black Walls - many of which still bear the scars. Of Vaegon Qhaedar and his dragon egg however, none have since heard. 
  • 374AC - Volantis is a city divided by the presence of the Targaryens to the east. Many of the Old Blood see a Dragon King as a stride towards the return of Valyria, and the Empire that it commanded at its height, whereas the city proper cautions against the disruption they have caused in recent decades. Merchants lament chaos caused by their wars, slave masters curse them for causing such instability in the stock available in flesh markets across the Known World. The Tiger Triarch has called for Volantis to rally in favour of the Dragons in their Bay, but the two Elephant Triarchs lie on the side of the masses, and point to disarray in trade as cautions against such thinking. As the next election approaches, the matter of the Bay of Dragons is likely to play a key part in the final result. Likewise, there are many within the city that continue to believe that the death of Laerys Vaelaros went unavenged - blame that they place at the feet of the Lyseni. 
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