The Royal Court
Land of Winters, City of Magick, Beacon of Knowledge, Eternal Altamira.
Altamira is the most ancient city of elves an its origins date back to the Elder World, and the times of glory of the Holy Empire of Epentar. Its architecture of course has changed throguhout the ages, but its essence and strong magick culture remains the same.
Altamira is a moon elven city-state located in the northern parts of Nifel Loren, the expansive mountain range in Kyrheim. Around two-thirds of the city are situated inside of the mountains, effectively "underground", while still being several thoudsand meters above sea level.
Altamira has two distinct styles of buildings. Homes, shops and government offices are usually blocky and plain, while facilities related to magical study and research are detailed and elegant, signifying the importance of magic in Altamira. Despite the contrasts, the entire city equally breathes magic, and can feel almost surreal for an outsider who set foot there for the first time.
Seeing as it is so high up in the mountains, the above-surface part of Altamira is freezing cold year around, and is regularly whipped by gales and blizzards. The elves who live there have long since learned to tolerate the forces of nature are not hindered by these seemingly harsh conditions in any way. The below-surface part of the city is housed in large caverns, and is notably warmer and calmer.
Moon Elves - 94%
Wood Elves - 5%
Other - 1%
Altamira is populated predominantly by moon elves, who by law and custom receive many privileges over other races. So, despite being both materially and magically prosperous, kingdom is generally not an attractive place to move to for most creatures. Immigration has therefore been limited throughout history. Wood elven druids are the second largest population group, and are well integrated, so they are largely not subject of discrimination. While wood elves in general are allowed to freely move into the city, they need to have "at least average magical capability" in order to find work, which by non-moon elven measures is a quite prohibitive standard. Since contact with Malekith has been established, star elves (half moon elves, half dark elves) have begun to emerge. Other races are represented very sparingly, and that mostly by prominent wizards who have been granted permission to stay. Humans and undead are forbidden to stay in the city.
Moon elves hold up magical knowledge, mutual material support, and balance with nature as primary societal virtues. The average magical capability of Altamiran citisens is very high, to the point that everyone can do at least some kind of magic. Most kinds of work that is done manually by other races is done with the help of magic in Altamira, including everything from baking bread to building houses. Proffessional education focuses on teaching magic, and the few tools used in work are of the most primitive kind. For example, when baking a loaf, a moon elf baker will heat the dough using fire magic rather than an oven. Similarly, a builder will levitate stones rather than lifting them with a crane. This magical approach to all things has made technological development unnecessary, and Altamira has remained unchanged in this regard for longer than any other civilisation. Magic, on the other hand, has developed vastly. Despite technologically still being in bronze age, Altamira has an arguably equal, if not higher, production efficiency than an industrialised human city of the same size would have.
Money is used in limited amounts, and generally only when dealing with foreigners. Magical services continue to be the primary currency in Altamira, following a "favor-for-favor" model. Different people are experts in different fields of magic, and request eachother for help when something that they're bad at needs done. When someone has done you a service, it is customary to write them a "letter of debt", where you obligate yourself to perform a service of similar magnitude for them in the future. Goods are traded either for services or for other goods. Many things that other races consider to be luxury items can be produced easily with the help of magic, and basic wares such as food and clothes are available in large quantities. There is also a strong social welfare system, where a citisen in a difficult situation can apply for support in the form of food, shelter and other measures to help them get back on their feet. Thanks to this kind of developed socialism, Altamira has a high average living standard compared to the rest of the world.
Racism is a very strong trait in Altamira. If you're not a moon elf, or at least a wood or star elf, expect to be obstructed by the authorities, denied basic services, and systematically discriminated against on every possible occasion. Altamirans have always been protective of their society and remain xenophobic in fear that dastardly foreigners will disrupt their way of life. The only thing that can earn an outsider respect is an extraordinary magical ability combined with a deep respect for nature. Despite not living in a forest, like other elves do, Altamirans have strong traditions related to the protection of nature, and the maintenance of balance within it. These traditions consist mainly of different magical riuals, both small and large in scale. They can involve communication with Muses, mending the surrounding nature after a disaster, the exorcism of wandering spirits, and other such measures. Since their industrialisation, the humans have attracted the ire of the moon elves because of their systematic pollution and consumption of the nature around them. Being geographically distant, Altamira is not directly threatened yet, but the complaints of the Muses have given the moon elves reason to join the other elven nations in their struggle against humans.
Altamira is an absolute monarchy. The monarchs act as the righteous upholders of their elvish ideals and the driving force of the kingdoms; decisions regarding war, trade, acceptance of other races as well as management of manpower and resources lay upon their shoulders. If a monarch is unable, they are stripped of power and this power is given to someone who is able to honour the crown though this has never happened in their history and shall never take place. It is a monarch's duty to elect an heir who will honour the throne and live up to the expectations of his/her people. Often the monarch also wields great magickal power since the royal lines stem from great wizards and witches; this power is also a source for the people's respect.
The government is divided thematically into multiple departments that work independently of eachother. A "department" entails both the political leadership, and the actual worksmen that do the work which the department is responsible for. So for example, the department of Creation consists of the politicians that lead it, the administration that organises the work, as well as the craftsmen, masons and architects themselves.
The departments are headed by stewards of the five major houses. These stewards are known as the council and always have an equal number of seats for each major house, regardless of who is king. The council plans the activities of, and passes down instructions to their department. The council later gathers and reviews the reports from the department administration. In order for a political decision to pass, consensus in the council is required. If consesus cannot be reached, the monarch is called to say the final word. The monarch also has the power to veto any decision by own initiative.
The currently active departments are:
Subsistence: responsible for the kingdom's food supply.
Creation: responsible for the kingdom's construction and craftsmanship.
Magic: responsible for overseering the kingdom's magical research and education.
Ritual: responsible for maintaining the kingdom's nature, as well as contacts with divine beings and outsider races.
Vigilance: responsible for the kingdom's law enforcement and military.
Finance: responsible for the distribution of funds/material to the other departments.
Labor: responsible for the distribution of people to the other departments and social welfare.
House of Earendril I (Royal family)Edit
House of Anandil (from Talath Dirnen)Edit
House of Aegnor (survivors of Novgorod)Edit
House of Turin (from Narthgorond)Edit
House of Tulan Edit
Law & Crime Edit
Compared to other elven cities, Altamira has a very detailed and diligently enforced law codex. Pertaining crimes such as murder and theft, it is largely similar to its human counterparts. but with notably longer prison sentences. There are also close regulations pertaining the abuse of magic, called the Magic Law. Death penalty has been abolished for many centuries, but lifetime prison can be given for particularly brutal murders or gross violations of the Magic Law. Crimes committed against non-elves generally give milder punishments, and crimes commited by non-elves can lead to permanent eviction from the city. Mechanical devices have always been banned, but recently, the ban has extended to anything that even remotely seems human-invented. Recently, exceptions have been made for certain pieces of dark elven technology, but Soul Essence is banned, so these devices must be fueled using other means, such as raw magical energy.
Altamira has military alliances and trade relations with other elven cities, including Riv Amar and Asrai. There are also close historical, political and ideological ties and sympathy between the three cities.
Altamira has friendly relations with Neferdrim and Salem.
Altamira has a trade relation with Malekith, mainly for military import.
Altamira has strained relations with Pent-Vael and Grimrah.
Altamira is at war with Howldon.
Altamira has no diplomatic relations or declared wars with any state outside of Kyrheim.
Free immigration of moon elves, wood elves and star elves is permitted. They may work and buy property in the city without hindrance. They may apply for citisenship when they own a property within the city walls, or have worked in a department for at least two years.
Dark elves, efferii and fae may work and buy property if they receive permission from the Ritual department. Permission is granted if the creature in question cannot be suspected of serious crime or allegiance to a hostile cause. They may apply for citisenship when they have owned a property within the city walls for at least two years, or have worked in a department for at least five years.
Other races, including angels, demons, gorgons, clockwork, and others, may work or buy property in the city if they receive permission from the Ritual department. Permission is granted if the creature in question can be expected to contritube to the city in a meaningful way. They may not apply for citisenship.
Humans and undead are banned from the city and may not enter unless they have received special permission. They may under no circumstances buy property or work in the city.
During its long history, the Altamiran army has not changed much, until recently. Battlemages comprised the proffessional core of the army, and fought both on foot and mounted. They were supported by mercenary or conscripted wood elven archers, also on foot or mounted as needed. In Arcadia, moon elven battlemages were widely acknowledged to be the finest in the world, and the modestly sized Altamiran army could fend off the advances of large empires. But in Nyxheim, that has changed. Following the human industrialisation and their invention of firearms and armored vehicles, the elven way of war was beginning to show its age. After the enmity between humans and elves erupted into war, the combined elven forces have suffered grieving casualties in the ensuing battles. The formations of archers and battlemages, while still as powerful as ever, showed to be not at all surviveable against riflemen. Despite the strong conservative voices that were raised throughout the kingdom, it was decided in the Vigilance department that a serious military reform was in order.
The irregular wood elven corps and the regular cavalry and archer corps were disbanded. The generals have decided to adopt the dark elven military developments, which have proved effective against the human armies. Altamira then bought an import licence from Malekith for certain kinds of military equipment, and comissioned dark elven tacticians and instructors. The dark elven "rapid deployment" tactic was adopted. Corps of swordsmen would be formed, whose primary task would be to give cover to the battlemages. The swordsmen would carry a large but lightweigh plywood shield, enchanted to stop bullets, shrapnel and explosion shockwaves. The battlemages and swordsmen would then be organised into small squads, and rapidly airlifted to certain locations on the battlefield using the licenced dark elven hovercruisers. When the situation changed, the cruiser would pick them up and displace in a swift manner. This mobile style of warfare has greatly increased the survivability of the battlemages, and showed humans that they no longer had an absolute advantage in this war. The other elven cities did not adopt this reform, however.-- Royal Seal 12:06, August 3, 2013 (UTC)