In Kaiator, the war is ever-present. On the sunlit streets and green, rolling plains of Velika, the war can be forgotten; never in Kaiator. There are different kinds of beauty: the classical romantic beauty of Velika, the towering courtly architecture of Allemantheia. The Amani call Velika a stew pot and Allemantheia a wine glass, but, to them, Kaiator is a crucible.

Much like the Amani themselves, Kaiator draws its beauty from its indomitable strength; muscular steel frames, illuminated towers, and magmatic flows (tapped to power gargantuan forges) fill a dome that extends to the heavens. High above, immense statues of the city’s goddess and protector, Kaia, glow in the darkness. After millennia of magical enslavement by the Giants, the Amani value nothing greater than freedom – a virtue to fight and die for, as many Amani have.

History

When the Humans were cursed by their patron god, the Amani and Deva empires scrabbled over Human lands in a war that weakened both sides. Unfortunately for the Amani, the powerful Giants decided that Amani soldiers would be useful. They enslaved the entire race, binding them with an unbreakable Seal of Obedience to ensure their loyalty.

For a thousand years, the Amani fought the Giants’ battles for them and did their dirty, dangerous work. The Giants bred the Amani for strength. Why not, with their loyalty guaranteed by a power nothing could overcome?

The appalling arrogance of the Giants offended the gods, who then destroyed their Holy Empire in a single day. But even the gods’ wrath did not free the Amani. Uncounted thousands burned to ash defending their hated masters. The survivors were forced into exile in the glacial wasteland of Northern Shara.

As the Giants plotted to rebuild their empire, the Amani prayed for deliverance. Their own god had long since abandoned them, but Kaia took pity on them and asked Lok to intervene. Lok and his Deva artisans could not resist the puzzle of an unbreakable seal. After three years of work, Lok gave the Amani the key to freedom. The Giants quickly discovered what able warriors they had made—swift, strong, intelligent, and practiced. The Amani drove out the Giants, tore down all they had built, and raised a new city, calling it Kaiator in honor of their savior.

The Siege

Kaiator, the rock against which all waves break, embodies the Amani oath never to be chained again. The Argon invasion caught the small, fragmented kingdoms of Northern Shara off guard. Terrible war machines exceeding any power yet known in the north poured out of the ground. The first waves of fighting often outpaced the news that they were coming, but soon refugees driven south began to clog the woods and fields. A mighty fortress hardened over centuries, Kaiator could have closed its massive iron gates and let the refugees sweep past. Instead, they gave a bunk to anyone who could fight or earn their keep, and to others they offered clean hydrothermal water, rations, and a clear road south as long as Kaiator could hold it. This generous, fair, and practical approach garnered even more dedicated, tenacious citizens to defend the walls against the Argon siege.

Only once did the Argons penetrate the city. The goddess Kaia had long held warfare classes for young Amani in the open plaza of the city center. Students could exercise there without disturbing the busy soldiers far away at the outer walls. When the Argon drill head pierced the flagstones, the students reacted with precision. Runners sprinted to the barracks, shouting the news the whole way. As their teacher leapt upon the Argon soldiers emerging from the drill, students smoothly flanked them.

As workers from nearby foundries arrived, the drill belched a greasy cloud of blue-black gas that gushed along the ground like water, rapidly filling the courtyard. This concentrated form of the Argons’ native atmosphere blistered skin and burned lungs. Workers charged in to defend Kaia until they either fell back with bleeding eyes or simply fell.

But the students stayed. In the heart of the cloud, they blocked the drill’s gas vents with their bodies or hammered, bent, or jammed rags into the ducts to choke them, saving their city and safeguarding their freedom. Several hundred workers and students died in the plaza. A hundred soldiers died in tunnels under the city, driving the Argons away before more drills could surface. Only five students survived.

The Present

The story of the Breach was surely a factor in Gallian of Velika’s call for a united defensive strategy against the Argons. Today, the head of the Valkyon spear is Kaiator, the biggest city in Northern Shara and the source of the finest armor and weapons mortals can make. The massive iron gates and the well-guarded Pegasus flight path shield the region’s streaming supply of caravans and columns of troops. Soldiers swarm the streets, but there are also artisans and merchants about. You may still see young Amani sprinting up flights of steps, carrying water for the forges, or simply standing in meditation, all to earn the right to learn from Kaia, who still instructs students today.

Kaiator is the last stop for soldiers, both before and particularly after combat. Heroes killed in battle are cremated in its largest foundry, the Crucible. This tradition began with those who died in the Breach. The names of those cremated there are inscribed on a bolt or rivet to be incorporated into the city’s colossal walls and buttresses. Since the Breach, many Castanic, Popori, Human, and even Elven names have been listed, but only two Baraka have received this honor: Kulmar and Bororu, a married couple working the foundry on the day of the Breach. It is remarkable that two of Giant-kin would be so remembered.

Living well in Kaiator is to live as an Aman, to fight for your freedom and defend your neighbor as you would defend yourself. Amani don’t tolerate bullying. You earn power through loyalty and skill or not at all. It’s an unforgiving place, but one of camaraderie and opportunity if you prove trustworthy. It’s very dangerous to be a thief in Kaiator, though not unheard of. It’s not shameful to profit from cunning, but theft is a breach of trust and deeply dishonorable. Any race is welcome, though Baraka still draw sidelong looks. People go to Kaiator to perfect their fighting skills. They go to defend their people. They go to arm themselves. Those who stay do so for the cause of freedom and because they find that dignity, honor, and wealth mean more when you strive for them together.