A bustling metropolis, the spires of Azelm stand proudly over the harbor city, skiffs, biremes and triremes flit about the harbor while larger ships, laden with goods, dock slowly like ponderous giants, guided in and assisted by the smaller craft. Azelm is a jumble of a city. Having grown organically and sometimes on top of or perpendicular to itself, it is a nightmare to navigate by any means other than flight. The locals, however, take it in stride, learning quickly all the short cuts and dead ends in their part of town.
everything is styalized in Azelm. Swords are elaborate and feature extensive aesthetic touches, sails are made of fine silk instead of rough sailcloth (and often artfully cut or inlaid with intricate patterns and designs), and tattoos have been raised to an art form. The simple tattoos of most of the world’s sailors, usually consisting of simple images, short scripts, or, at the high end, small scenes of sailing or conquest, pale in comparison to the Azelman art of tattooing.
A tattoo in Azelm will have intricately inked patterns, complex scenes where every subject is made of interwoven multi-colored lines of beautifully flowing script, and pieces that would put the finest Dahlish painters to shame. Extensive experimentation and iteration has even led to the discovery of certain patterns that condense and channel elemental spirits through pathways of ink. The intricate swirls and curves of these tattoos provide an additional source of power to wizards, or allow laymen, usually sailors looking for protection on the high seas, to unleash extraordinary effects when tracing the lines of the tattoo in certain sections or patterns with their fingers.
Symbols of the god Namilir are worked into many of the buildings that make up the thriving city, and their devotion to this god of the sea and commerce is plain for all the world to see.
Music thrives in this city as well, flowing through its streets as a nearly tangible force, skittering off snares and winding its way through windreeds, and the fact that so many musicians in so close proximity does not sound discordant is a testament to their immeasurable skill. It is said the power of music is in how it causes us to emote, and it is through this intermixing of emotion, controlled and directed by the city’s musicians, that the pulse and lifeblood of the city is harnessed. All the vibrancy and vitality of Azelm’s visitors and its inhabitants is perfectly orchestrated as by a grand conductor, lending enormous power to the bard’s college which acts as the fulcrum of this energy. The world’s most eminent performers gather here, and although they do provide training to the young, their first and most venerable task is the channeling of this vast orchestra towards the college’s many and disparate goals.
Art infuses all aspects of life in Azelm, and is summed up well in a famous adage: “To do a good thing is fine. To make a good thing is also fine. But to do a beautiful thing , to make a beautiful thing, that is transcendence.”