Alcmena is the capital city of Southarchland, located in the province of the same name. The province of Alcmena borders the River Boreas in the east, the province of Evadne in the north, the province of Amletus in the northwest, the province of Hadria in the west, and the province of Carpus in the southwest and south. Alcmena is one of the oldest cities in Archland, but it has adapted easily with changing times. It is sufficiently modern, blending ancient constructs with with architectural methods, forming a city unlike any other in Southarchland.
Founding and The Golden AgeEdit
Alcmena was named for the wife of the wealthy merchant who originally settled his family there in the beginning years of the Golden Age; his name and the family's name are long forgotten, but the name Alcmena has remained. Some suspect it was in fact the family name, but others prefer the more romantic story of a man creating a legacy in memory of his true love. Regardless, the family of the merchant steadily grew, as did his business, and a thriving metropolis was in place by the year 300 d.A.A. In addition to the original ceramics industry, other artisan trades soon arrived to make Alcmena versatile as well as advantageously placed.
Due to its economic power, Alcmena had a great deal of influence in Archland's capital. Transportation between Alcmena and Arcopolis was easy because of the river, and the two cities had a powerful relationship. This lasted until officials in Alcmena overstepped their bounds and began to petition for Alcmena to become the capital of Archland. This made little sense because of its southern location, but it considered its economic prosperity reason enough. When the royal family turned down this proposition, unease and rebellion began to seep out of the city. This eventually led to the Amletus Rebellion, which eventually escalated into the Amletus War in 1069 d.A.A. The royal army was sent to quell the fighting, and soon King Loren himself went to command the forces. In 1071 d.A.A., the king lost his life to the conflict. Soon after, the rebellion was quelled; the province of Alcmena was divided, separating the northern territory into a separate province called Ameltus. The end of the war was soon followed by the end of the Golden Age and the coming of the Torrent. Due to its distance from the capital, Alcmena was not drastically affected by the Torrent itself. However, the combined magic of Nerena-Nelia Aedon Carataca and Queen Dema-Tenebraria Cinera Polaris wiped the memory of the former kingdom from the memories of all residents of Alcmena and Archland.
While the economy and trade of Alcmena was not greatly affected by the Torrent, the loss of leadership sent the city on a downhill run for a long time. More than a century after the Torrent, a man named Demas Anicetus Capaneus took over leadership of the city and introduced a massive reorganization effort that set Alcmena on a path to rise again. Anicetus was a powerful landowner, and his estate schemes led him to acquire power over province after province until eventually he had united all of Southarchland and was named its first king in over two centuries. Alcmena was declared the capital city, and his descendants continue to rule Southarchland there to this day.
The city of Alcmena sits along the shore of the River Boreas, giving the city a very flat terrain. The oldest parts of the city are closest to the riverbank, while the newer parts tend to be on the western side of the city as it continues to expand further west. The city is arranged in a semi-circle arrangment, with the broadest edge along the river. The newly-built royal palace is positioned in the central west of the city. A main road runs north to south as well as west, but the eastern road is the most distinguishable because of the radiant Queen Evadne Bridge, which leads into the province also named for King Anicetus's wife.
Alcmena has a humid subtropical climate, featuring hot, wet summers and warm, dry winters. Tropical storms occur in Alcmena, but its higher, more inland position prevents it from suffering a great deal of damage. It does not snow in Alcmena, but thuderstorms are common. There are also long periods of summer days. Rapid changes in weather occur frequently and are a phenomenon of which the locals are quite fond.
Families and EducationEdit
The average number of children in Southarchland is three to four. It is more common in wealthier families for both parents to work away from the home, so there is a large guild of nursemaids and governesses. The infant/child mortality rate is much lower in Southarchland than in Norarchland. Filial piety is not as important in Southarchland as in Vallonia, but there is still respect required from children to their parents and elders. One thing that makes Southarchland unique is the respect it demands for teachers, governesses, and other educators. Often these people are held with as much esteem as the parents in a household, something unheard of in other countries. Alcmena has many day schools, even in less prosperous parts of the city. It also has a large library and detailed city records.
Some of Alcmena's culture is retained from the Golden Age. One habit in particular for which Alcmenians and other Southarchlanders are particularly famous for is their preoccupation with hands. Most assume it came from the city's trading history--open hands signaled hospitality and good business, while closed hands indicated an untrustworthy partner. As such, it is unheard of for an Alcmenian to wear gloves, and it is rare to see a clenched fist in Alcmena except for in the most dire circumstances. The cosmotological culture supports this custom, and many beauty products are sold expressly for the purpose of making one's hands more attractive. The admiration of hands also has an influence on the class system in Alcmena. Naturally, an artisan who prepares his own stock is less likely to have flawless hands. An upper class merchant who does not have to provide his own material for trading, however, has more of an ability to maintain attractive hands. Thus, it is easy to tell a person's socioeconomic status by the state of their hands. Those who have been raised in Alcmena or other parts of Southarchland know this custom well, but foreigner must make a conscious efforts not to tuck his hands away or else risk offending an Alcmenian.
Curly hair is a common feature in Southarchland. However, the style is to wear hair pinned up or braided regardless of hair texture. Tan skin and dark hair are also common features, but they are still valued. Usually the most attractive hair colors are auburn and other light brown shades. Blonde people stick out in Alcmena and aren't considered especially attractive.
Most of Alcmena's fashion is a result of the climate. A man's attire is typically composed of a lightweight, loose robe fastened with a belt and typically decorated with some form of his home color or insignia. Women wear light gowns with twisted shoulder straps or off-the-shoulder fasteners. Corsets are not in style. To citizens of Norarchland or Vallonia, such scanty clothing is considered scandalous, but in Alcmena it is strictly for practicality. Men and women alike usually have at least their provincial insignia somewhere on their garb; when visiting a province away from home, people take more care to wear the colors and insignia of their home province so that locals will easily recognize them. Sandals are the preferred footwear when walking outdoors, but inside it is customary for no shoes to be worn. Men's hair is worn around the ears. Women's hair, while kept long, is usually braided or twisted into high piles upon the head. Jewelry is very popular in Alcmena, and both men and women wear it.
Alcmena's economy is exclusively in artisan craft and trade. The latter outweighs the former, but Alcmena is still well-known for the lovely ceramic and jewel work that comes from local artisans. Hospitality is the third largest industry, as there are many thriving inns that support traveling merchants from across Archland and elsewhere.
In the Books (spoilers)Edit
Alcmena appears near the end of Shadowskin, when Prince Demas Hadrian Sophus brings the body of his betrothed, Princess Jovana Nevea Alba of Norarchland to the city for safekeeping. He also arrests Leviana-Silvana Pomona Decus on accusations of murder and has her thrown in the royal dungeons in Alcmena. Pomona is eventually released by Lady Nelia Tacita Parmena, and Tacita is able to revive Princess Nevea. Ties are mended, but just before the wedding of Prince Hadrian and Princess Nevea, Pomona is arrested again. In the dungeons she meets Capia Carina Sui and a strange Filiabyssa who gives her the Speculum Memorias and tells her how to escape. When she makes it out of the dungeon, she encounters Tal and Rena, who tell her that Queen Demetra is being executed. Pomona cannot save her mother, but she confronts Lord Appius and attempts to expose his plot. This does not work and she escapes the city with Tal and Arion.