The city of Omen has a long and confusing history. Many believe that the city’s genesis lay in the magicks of the five Patriarchs, who willed the Mist City into existence through the uncanny Shade magic of which their strain is particularly unique. There is also evidence that the Doll (who holds considerable power in the city, but less so in comparison to the other regal Dolls of Ravenheim in their respective homes) may have assisted in the creation of the city through its reality-warping powers. Regardless of its political founding, Omen began as a simple gallery building, cloaked in enchanted fog. Many Sombras used it to hoard their findings until eventually they became so enamoured to the hub of objects and findings that they granted it mobility. A sub-cultured formed around collecting and storing great knowledge and treasures, and so the city of Omen formed.
The buildings of Omen haphazardly hover in a grey cloud, and are subject to moving around. There is some solidity to the streets and bridges however, in addition to a pattern that remains somewhat constant – groups of buildings and districts that tend to huddle together or remain adjacent. This is generally due to a tenuous link in their basic nature. For example, the Spire of Sculptures rarely drifts too far from the Isle of Illustration. These two locations however, are always on the opposite side of the city to the Numerical District.
This stone hovers constantly at the centre of the city. It is spherical in nature, but with a gap in the centre where the ceremony of new-birth commences. This ceremony is performed twice a day and is the closest thing there is to Ombra reproduction, as well as being vitally important to all of Ravenheim.
The Hollows are perhaps the eeriest addition to the city. A Sombra has no need for a home beyond the city of Omen, but the Hollows are treated similarly to how homes are treated by other races. These are floating structures that are most often hollow, stone heads – Animal heads, humans, deities, or perhaps another shape entirely. They are used for personal hoards – The items that a Sombra keeps for itself. As is customary, these items cannot be one of a kind and are generally common, but beloved by the Sombra. It is from these hoards that the soul-items needed to create new Sombras are taken. The Sombras have no shortage of items to choose from due to their natural love for collecting.
The Academy is the home of the Patriarchs, and is a bleached white colour in contrast to the other buildings in Omen. It holds the greatest treasures, texts, works of art and most importantly, the vastest collection of information in all of Omen and thus all of Ravenheim. The treasures are held, regardless of category, in the Academy because they are effectively the tutors. Young or inexperienced Sombras learn by studying them and appreciating them, thus being taught the values of Ombra culture. Though Sombras do not age, they do eventually deem it unnecessary to continue returning to the Academy and allow others to replace them. The Academy’s Campus Grounds however are often used by civilians to relax and ponder and are open to the public without any concern.
This is the only wooden structure in the city, and is located on the outskirts. It is a large docking area where visitors are received. Small residential areas are also available. Here outsiders visiting the city stay, whether they are refugees, desperate passengers or visiting scholars. They are always treated with suspicion and denied roaming the city without a Sombra guide, but are generally well received.
Library of LazuliEdit
A city district rather than a building itself, this is a heavily walled off section of Omen that is covered in an ethereal sapphire glow. It is partially filled with the Scroll forest – Huge pillars scattered throughout the streets containing shelves of scrolls that can move up out of the ground or slide back into it, hidden perfectly. It also holds many buttressed buildings filled with books and inscriptions carved into stone tablets. Located below the city through a marvellous marble gateway is the fabled Labyrinth of Language. In this maze one can find many treasures. If your goal is simple you may find the route on which a new language is located, your desired tongue, and you will be able to speak it perfectly. You may also lose a language you know, or the ability to communicate entirely. Many who are not Sombra can lose their mind here. The Sombra traverse it carefully, not treading through the walls, studying its secrets carefully. It is said that you can gain the gift of Omnitongue here – The ability to perfectly understand and be able to communicate in any tongue instinctively.
This is one of many winding cobblestone roads in Omen, lit by warm street lamps in the grey fog. Though Sombra rarely trade and have no economy, here they show off discoveries and collected treasures and pool knowledge on objects of myth and where to find them.
Dozens of buildings and districts, many smaller than the ones mentioned exist in Omen, established to study or preserve Arithmetic, the Sciences, Artistic endeavours and History.
The City of Omen is typically Gothic, as one can see by its flying buttresses, vaulted ceilings and cathedral like structures. However, it seems to have adopted a less severe, and more rounded approach to it. There are not so many dark, pointed arches as Romanesque ones. The Cathedral buildings are simple in design and often have many large openings if they have roofs at all. The Sombra have no windows as they lack daylight, and instead of closing themselves off completely they enjoy more open places. There are many cobblestone paths and bridged streets cutting through the air. Buildings frequently have elegantly designed alcoves in them at various places to hold candles whose wax spills out over the ledges atmospherically. Candles are also present in street lamps and often placed on the low stone walls at either side of the streets. The buildings of Omen are quaint and scholarly, pious in design. In some cases they do appear grandiose due to the sheer size of the structures.
Omen is a mobile city that always changes location and its enchantments insulate the city from outside climate changes. The air in Omen is still and dry. It can occasionally become quite cold in the city but the Sombra would not notice. It is also very cold on the outskirts of the city, far from the buildings and near the end of the cloud enchantment.
Sombras mature instantly upon birth and from then on change only according to what knowledge they take in (and any large, life-altering events, as with any race). Because of this, education is highly important to the Sombras. They focus on more on teaching what to value in life rather than how to actually succeed in life, as it were. This occurs during three phases.
1 – The Sombra is appointed a “graduate” from the Academy called a Chamberlain – This applies to basically any mature Ombra citizen. The uneducated may roam the city and do as they please to explore, with the Chamberlain as their guide, ready to answer any questions and reveal the secrets of the city.
2 – The Sombra is brought to the Academy and does not leave those grounds for several years.
3 – The Sombra leaves the Academy and Omen in order to search Ravenheim for something worth bringing back.
Sombras may return whenever they like but do not receive their own Hollow until they make their contribution. A Sombra that has spent a significant amount of time outside of the city and returned with at least some decent discoveries or theories are considered to be “educated” and mature, even if they did nothing spectacular.
Sombras have virtually no health problems as they can only be completely killed by starless night or radiant sunlight.
Essentially 100% of permanent residents are Sombra, barring perhaps a few others who have chosen to stay, but their numbers likely are not even in double digits.
Tourists to the city and those who stay for an impermanent amount of time while Omen moves around are a more varied group.
60% Miscellaneous creatures of Ravenheim
Visitors tend to find the Sombras to be strange, unnerving and very difficult to deal with. There is no animosity between the two groups because the Sombra are simply too strange and far removed from other beings for that. The Sombra treat them all with suspicion, but kindness.
The Sombra have a delicate “leadership” comprised of the five Patriarchs and the Doll. It is a tenuous leadership that does not govern life in Omen on a day-to-day basis, but is responsible for decisions regarding general necessities such as the path of the city and how the most precious of treasures are preserved. Any decisions made by the Patriarchs are immediately respected by the Sombras as the Patriarchs have access to all information in the city and are thus the wisest. For this reason, the Sombras could potentially be exploited by a tyrannical state seeing as they rarely, if ever, question orders. Fortunately this is not in the nature or interest of the Patriarchs.
The Doll holds an important position but is simply not revered as highly as the Patriarchs. It is looked to for problems with the city, as it can reshape or repair it if needed. The doll is perfectly content to wander the streets of Omen and indulge in its curiosity by exploring all of the wonderful nooks and crannies made by the Sombras. It is treated kindly and has access to anywhere in the city. Any Sombra would respect the wishes of the Doll but there is no obligation toward it.
Law & CrimeEdit
It is difficult to kill a Sombra, but not impossible. Murder, however, is not regarded with nearly as much abhorrence as the crime of theft, and is considered to be about on par with deceit. Stealing only applies to items left in a Sombras hollow or to items on display at the Academy, seeing as Sombras have no real understanding of possession when it comes to tools, functional items, clothing, or unimportant objects. Lying and stealing are among the most despised crimes in the city and a Sombra stealing anything can be sentenced to exile. Outsiders caught stealing Sombra goods are usually imprisoned in Omen, in the Well of Rotting Souls. This is a huge, obsidian device that holds people in stasis for all eternity. Thieves are often kept here unless someone comes to negotiate with the Patriarchs to free them. Alternatively, outsiders are locked in the Labyrinth of Language and magically prevented from leaving, thus doomed to wander forever and lose their minds.
Sombras regard all outsiders with suspicion, but not malice. There is healthy trade between Sombras and outsider species, particularly the Clockwork whom the Shades are on good terms with. The Sombras often do not see the value in their vast quantities of accumulated gold and jewellery and are more than happy to trade it for the scientific journals, tapestries and holy texts of other species.
Sombras retain what is generally a simplistic barter system, as well as a currency based economy. Because the Shades can go anywhere relatively easy and have little no concept of possession in non-Sombra terms, they have been fining curious items for years. Due to this, it began easy to trade for even more valuable things. Soon, of course, they deferred to traditional currency-based transactions to avoid losing their findings in exchange for gaining new ones. As such, the city’s main source of revenue aside from its trade section in Oakharbour is its Information Industry. Dozens of Information Brokers make their home in Omen, as the Shades are highly adept as spies. Blueprints, plans, and secrets – Nothing is out of reach from a Sombra. Thus they trade in this information and are among the most reliable sources for such business.
The gold that Sombras earn through trading what they don’t want and acting as information brokers is generally put towards acquiring more rarities. The main imports are;
- Aesthetic ornaments, such as picture frames, candlesticks, carpets etc.,
- Historical Records
The city has no need, of course, for food or construction supplies or anything so trivial.
Art & MusicEdit
The Sombras adore music. Gramophones are among the most popularly collected items. It is not unusual for Omen to arrange festivals around music-playing in which every Gramophone in the city is played simultaneously, including huge, municipal ones in the main city centre. On these occasions the Sombras will all soar through the air with palpable glee. Preferred musical genres include Orchestral music and a uniquely Ombra music form which has an eerie, tranquil tone to it – Not dissimilar to whale song.
Though visual forms of art are greatly appreciated by the Ombra people, they rarely partake in them. Instead it is performance art that grabs them, and the Sombras are known for their intricate airborne ballet which incorporates shape-shifting, elegant movements and often intricate light work.
Sombras form attachments and make friends as other species do but in a much less intimate way. They flock together in groups, with whom they often go off on expeditions with, searching for a supposedly rare or mythical object.
Within the confines of the city, Sombra often enjoy attending dance recitals or musical events. One of the most popular pass-times in the city can be described basically as a form of Hide-and-Seek. The Sombras delight in these games which can be organized in large groups or pairs. Often the games will have breaks and last for days, with one item hidden in the huge city. Playing in the fountains is a recreation that more whimsical, immature Sombras tend to indulge in. Floating through the base of the fountain leaves a Shade flowing out the top in a gaseous form that is highly amusing to them.
In general the Sombras just enjoy studying, reading, admiring and absorbing the various works they keep in their city.
Omen is generally viewed as a “boring” city by outsiders, though it is beautiful watching the enchanted, animate candles illuminate the sky like stars. It is a typically romantic place to and can be popular with honeymooners. Oakharbour has regular taverns and one small casino, but nothing else that would entertain your typical outsider exists. There are of course, constant tours through the culturally rich streets of Omen. These tours are occasionally given by Sombra, but seeing as they are mute, trusted outsiders with extensive knowledge are often asked to do it instead.-- Royal Seal 18:22, October 15, 2013 (UTC)