Theleronde is really two cities (or six cities, or twenty – depending on how you delineate the districts – with each island cliff being a village unto itself).
Theleronde – as it is named by the Elven Wizards of the Highgarden – is the lavishly extravagant homes of the wealthy elite – the uppermost reaches of the cliffside city (with the exception of Godswalk, which is still stubbornly under the control of Basilica, and its allied temples).
Saintspyre – the name of the city on the lips of everyone who isn’t an Elf of the High Towns, or beholden to them – is the sordid underbelly of the city – the cavern dwellers with their roguish charm and dangerous residences who come to the city along trade routes and pilgrim’s paths in search of the Holy Temples and end up working in the lower reaches.
If you would prefer not to rely on a skill check to determine what a character can learn about Saintspyre, share the following bits of knowledge with the player’s as you see fit. If characters have training in the associated skill, be more generous and truthful with the information. If characters want to find out more, or to separate fact from fiction, they’ll need to explore the city.
Rumors abound that elven masters of Theleronde give homage and worship to ancient and terrible entities – outer terrors that predate the gods themselves; that they seclude themselves in their ivory towers to hide their half-monstrous transformations. What gods they worship, if any, is known only to them. The city is said to still manifest remnants of the Great Beast’s ancient power, and that there are creatures who dwell in lairs deep in the bowels of the city, who draw power from those terrible magics.
Two-hundred years ago, Saintspyre wasn’t much more than a village of faithful worshippers who dwelt in the Godswalk and supported built the Temple Halls. Thieves and bandits clung to the edges of ancient catacombs beneath the High Temples deep beneath the cliff’s natural stone towers. These timeworn caves and caverns were once filled with the plunder of various monstrosities that used to dwell within. No small number of adventurers – some petty, some heroic – made their fortune at the Four River Delta and the Iron Cliffs. A particularly lucky adventurer known as Wise Aelborne used the riches he discovered in the catacombs to found a black market trading center and a hub for illicit trade beneath the city.
The Arcane Council has ruled the city since its inception in 1073, two-hundred and sixteen years ago. Prior to that, the Basilica led a Temple Senate that governed the city. The law of Saintspyre under the leadership of the Senate was strict, but fair. Since the inception of Theleronde and the Magocracy the laws have become nearly draconian, and the advent of the Highgarden Hanging Cages means a large part of the lower reach population has been imprisoned or killed in the Highgard’s pursuit of Order.
The History of Saintspyre, stretches back, even beyond the destruction of the Great Beast. Centuries before Cuthbert’s victory at the battle of Broken Iron Cliffs, creatures such as naga and yuan-ti dwelt in the city’s carved caves and arched tunnels.
The history of the city, however follows three general tracks – the history of the Highgarden, the History of the Godswalk, and the History of the Lower Reaches.
Saintspyre sits atop a dramatic river delta. As the centuries pass, flowing water cut into the (relatively) newly formed limestone cliffs, and the towers of sheer rock towers. These towers are riddled with caves and tunnels, some formed by the water’s relentless flow, some cut by ancient cultures or current residents. Rumor has it that nature spirits still dwell in the river and its underwater caves. Despite centuries of use by creatures of every ilk, Four River Delta has never really been tamed.
During the reign of the Basilica and the Knight’s Shield, the worship of any good or neutral deity was welcome within the city, so long as those who invoke the gods behave themselves and obey the laws. The Elves of Highgarden and the Arcane Council admit no public allegiance to a patron god, and a number of previously illegal cults of evil deities have wormed their way into the lower reach with no reprisal from the Highgard.
Wise Aelborne is the Guildmaster of the Thieves’ Guild, and is known for his skill at games of chance and his intolerance for spies and muckrackers. Wise’s past is a well-kept secret. It’s widely rumored that certain of the nobility in the Upper City have offered rewards for the assassination of Wise, but those rumors have proven difficult to confirm. Anyone suspected of coming into Saintspyre with the intent of collecting such a bounty gets thrown from the highest level of the city to land among razor-sharp stones and chill waves below.