Niole Dra

Royal District and City of Niole Dra

The sleepy capital of the Kingdom of Keoland has constituted an independent territory since the formal founding of the nation.Niole Dra (pop. 25,000) was established soon after the migrations by the nobles of House Neheli as a governing demesne for the Duchy of Dorlin. However, its active control eventually passed to a bureaucracy appointed by the Council of Niole Dra when it became the capital of the united kingdom some decades later. It is one of the oldest and most impressive standing cities in the Flanaess.

According to legend, the placement of Niole Dra was determined by the seers of House Neheli, and its present location supposedly holds some mystical purpose. In any case, the majestic and sprawling city is located along the western bank of the Sheldomar River, at the northernmost point where it is still navigable to smaller seagoing vessels. In nine centuries it has never been besieged or touched by warfare. The city sports only token walls and fortifications, and most of these are adornments that only add to its acclaimed beauty. Niole Dra’s quarters, of which there are more than a dozen, are separated by hanging gardens instead of walls, one more splendid than the next. The architectural style brings together the best of Suel and Oeridian influences, with soaring towers and open squares commonplace.
All of these refinements contribute to the attitude of its residents, which is often described by outsiders as serene, slumberous, and even decadent.

Niole Dra is an active port, though it only sports a fraction of the traffic of Gradsul at the mouth of the Sheldomar. Barges travel southward to the capital from as far north as the headwaters of the Lort River, carrying trade from the Gran March and Waybury in the Duchy of Ulek, benefiting the city greatly. Niole Dra is administered by a lord mayor who reports regularly to the reigning king and his court at Santhmor, the royal palace, which dominates the western skyline. Currently, His Honor Pugnace Dillip (LN male human Ari6) holds the office of mayor. His appointment, as that of all mayors, was secured by the Court of the Land, which also affords him the budget needed to sustain a large bureaucracy. This bureaucracy is necessary to support the complex ritual and formality which dominates the culture of the city, a role that the corpulent, fatuous mayor takes on with ill-concealed glee.

While the official precincts of Niole Dra extend to little more than a day’s march in all directions, the population of the district falls off rapidly outside the city’s immediate limits. Other than a handful of fortresses that house some of the kingdom’s standing forces, most of this open land is featureless and not under cultivation. Well worn roads lined with trees emerge from the city in all directions, leading to the various provinces of Keoland. Only one fortress of note lies within the region, and that is located in the flat plains some 25 miles directly south of the capital, near the border with the Earldom of Linth. It is a lonely spire, known as the Silent Tower, home of an ancient order of ascetic sorcerers descended from the early seers of the Neheli. It is avoided by most southerly traffic, which instead favors the river road to Segor.

Though the public markets of Niole Dra are busy, the politics of court are the real traffic and trade of the city. Over a hundred nobles or their representatives maintain offices in the capital, most of them near the halls of the Court of the Land. Seats in these council chambers are emblazoned with the family crests of all the nobles, including those of provinces long since lost, with the whole affair being highly ritualistic. The figure of Archmage Lashton, chief advisor to the court and head of the academy of wizardry located in the Blind Quarter, cuts a large swath in the city. It is well known that King Kimbertos Skotti, who was an avid ranger in his youth, dislikes the city and can often be found instead at his retreat near Linnoden, where he is good friends with the Baron of Axewood. Skotti has already gained the nickname “The Commoner” from clucking critics. Without the king’s moderating influence, various factions make bold efforts to promote their agendas before the Council, turning the city into a hotbed of intrigue.

Source: Gary Holian, ‘The Kingdom of Keoland’, Living Greyhawk Journal, Spring, 591 CY September, 2000