El Dorado Edit
El Dorodo (the golden one) was a now extinct city founded approximately 1,500 years ago in the desert of Solhara by an ancestor of King Midas. The first inhabitants came down from the Hyadies and sought to found a safe haven that would protect them from the other tribes in the mountains.
Presided over by a monarch known as El Rey Dorado (the Golden King), El Dorado came to be known as a center monetary wealth and great cultural prosperity. The House of Midas employed an enormous court of artists, musicians, writers, philosophers, and scientists and the city was viewed by many as the center of commerce and education of the ancient world.
Founded in approximately 500 AH, the House of Midas employed the most progressive mathematicians and architects available at the time to construct the great steeped pyramids and the white sandstone palace with marble columns that characterized the city. Laborers were paid well with the gold extracted from the Hyadies and became some of the wealthiest citizens in the city.
In addition to the numerous public gardens, terraces, and shrines, El Dorado boasted an enormous artificial reservoir and aqueduct system that carried fresh water from the Hyadies and created an unrivaled state of hygiene and disease prevention. Beside supplying bathhouses, the fresh water provided the necessary conditions for the transplanted flora to flourish in the desert without access to an oasis and allowed the citizens the ability to cultivate crops.
Political Atmosphere Edit
The city of El Dorado was characterized by a constitutional monarchy-meritocracy hybrid. Though overseen by a hereditary ruler, most of the political decisions were left up to a cabinet of officials appointed by their individual skill sets and deemed the most suitable for the positions they occupied, the Chief of Commerce being the most profitable merchant, the Chief of War the most decorated soldier, and so on.
All decisions affecting the city had to be agreed upon by a majority vote and if one could not be reached, the backup Council of Elders was consulted. If a decision still could not be reached after consulting the Elders, the monarch would then be involved in the process. The Council of Elders could also overturn an unpopular decision made by the Council.
Duties allotted to the ruling Monarch included control over the Knights of the Caliphate (but not the city's army, which reported to the Chief of War) and the oversight of public health and welfare and city planning. The ruling monarch, despite possessing no voting power, was usually present during cabinet debates to offer insight and consult.
Even the monarch was subject to a similar process testing his merit and though the first born son was usually appointed leader after the death of his father, if he did not make it through the complex initiation process, he could be usurped in death by a younger sibling or other relative.
This system was enacted in order to prevent corruption, but some ancient scholars argued that all the checks made the system tedious and ineffective. In addition to the emphasis over philosophical and educational pursuit over militaristic aptitude, it is cited for the fall of the city.
Gold was not only highly desirable in the foreign kingdoms of Ga'Leah for its brilliant appearance and malleability in jewelry-making, it was the most plentiful resource in the kingdom. Coins minted by the palace treasury displayed a likeness of the current king and were circulated among the masses. Though gold or silver were popular items in foreign trades, the people of El Dorado did not value gold as much since it was so readily available and thus a system of barter was common within the city.
Merchants, craftsman, and artisans all found innumerable incentives to settle in El Dorado and the economy flourished, allowing for the creation of great wonders and architectural marvels. In addition to the gold and silver extracted from the Hyadies, the kingdom was rich in salt, incense, marble, and iron which could be traded by caravan for silk, dyes, wine, sugar, and other desirable luxuries. The completion of aqueducts allowed for the transportation of fresh water and the growth of bananas and citrus fruits.
Firm in the belief that a city was only as strong as its most destitute members, El Dorado was famous for its extensive welfare system and public houses overseen by appointed landlords. It was common practice for craftsman and artisans to select apprentices among the number populating these establishments as they were given tithe reductions for doing so, a system that enabled the unskilled to learn valuable crafts that would better serve the future generations.
The inhabitants of El Dorado were a strictly religious people, though which Gods they worshiped are not entirely understood. They participated in numerous rituals to pay tribute to these Gods and ensure their continued prosperity.
- Tithing - In addition to the gold sacrificed at the initiation of a new monarch, the people of El Dorado were expected to contribute 10% of any earnings or goods produced to a public collection. These tithes would then be buried in the desert during an elaborate ritual honoring the Gods to ensure another peaceful year.
- Human Sacrifice - Human sacrifice was a common practice accompanying the appointment of a new monarch and it was understood that the Gods that watched over El Dorado required blood to fuel their empathy. Sacrifices included skilled warriors and sometimes even newly born children depending on the circumstances.
- Initiation - It was believed that a monarch could not be crowned until he had gone through the proper initiation. All abled bodies were expected to travel to the western Hyadies in order to escort the prospective monarch and honor their nomadic traditions while the Knights of the Caliphate stayed behind to guard the city. The future monarch spent over a month fasting in a cave in meditative prayer. If the monarch emerged with all his faculties, he was covered in mud and gold dust and sent out to sea on a raft. After the proper blood sacrifices were made to Lyrielle the Coming Tide, the newly appointed monarch was expected to swim back to shore in his weakened state. If he could not, his death was viewed as commanded by the Gods and the process began again.
The tribe that formed El Dorado was in territorial conflict with other tribes of the mountains for as long as accounts occur, most notably the tribe of the Gem King whose people settled around great reserves of rubies, emeralds, and diamonds. While the tribe of the Gold King busied themselves in educational pursuits, the tribe of the Gem King developed great technological advances in metalworking and created the first steel weapons in Solhara. In addition to metallurgy, the tribe was populated by highly skilled warriors and war-training and the pursuit of expansion dominated their culture.
The Gem King set his sights on Midas' kingdom and the conflict between the two nations lasted for years. Near the conclusion and faced with defeat, Midas sent his son, Zoreen, and the Knights of the Caliphate sworn to protect the heir of the crown south into the desert. His daughter, Esmeralda, was sent underneath the city into the catacombs where she was to escort the kingdom's court of El Dorado's most learned men and women to safety.
Accounts citing the destruction of El Dorado are rare and vary immensely due to the fact that such accounts were propagated by the city's enemies. Some say all the inhabitants were slaughtered and the city was burned to the ground by the armies of the Gem King. Others insist that the city was conquered and occupied, the pyramids torn down, and was developed into Zabier. One account insists that the entire city was hidden by the Gods and still exists cut off from the rest of the world, waiting for someone to rediscover its lost wealth The only commonality these tales share is one thing: the original city is gone.
Though the city was lost about a millennium ago, two groups claim to have descended from the original people of El Dorado.
Though most have since been replaced by outside lines, the leader of the Forty Thieves, Cassim, insists he is descended through the male line of Zoreen Midas and that the Thieves originate from the original Knights of the Caliphate. The Forty Thieves still practice tithing as a means of honoring their ancestral roots, an increasingly controversial practice among the current members.
The Court of Miracles believe they descended from Midas' original court and the gypsies still whisper the tale of the first Esmeralda who led them underneath the catacombs of he city and safely into the Hyadies. The Court adapted the original initiation rite of passage when crowning their leader, the Esmeralda, however, they eliminated the need for a complete human sacrifice in order to preserve their numbers after the destruction of El Dorado.
After the fall of the city, neither group possesses an ancestral place of origin and have resorted to nomadic lifestyles in order to prevent quarrel with the people of Zabier and the ruling house of Solhara, Nejem.