Age of Aventus
Meletis is the polis of learning, magic, and progress. It is a city-state of progressive thinkers, pious thaumaturges, and wise oracles. Meletis was born from the defeat of tyranny, and to this day it retains a spirit of the triumph of free thought over brutish force. Meletians pride themselves on their great temples to the gods, their thaumaturgical academy, their great works of architecture, and for their Reverent Army.
Meletis sits on the coast, surrounded by rivers and vast, stepped grasslands. Fields of a cultivated type of barley called sitra provide sustenance to Meletians and their animals. Branches of the River Kheir splay out across the landscape, bringing fresh water and trade from distant villages.
The great temples of Meletis are testaments to the achievements of civilized humanity. Signs of architectural and academic achievement are everywhere. Even the streets of Meletis are formed of bricks of interlocking geometric shapes, demonstrating mathematical and mystical principles. The wildlands of Theros feel distant, almost mythical, from inside the city’s bounds. Meletis does suffer attacks from sirens, tritons, and larger monsters, but many citizens of Meletis have never seen in person any monster bigger or more exotic than a centaur.
Meletians are very concerned with the actions of the gods. Gods are regularly part of their language. Here are some phrases common in Meletis that incorporate the gods:
“By Helios’s bright spear.” Expresses surprise or wonder.
“From the gods’ voice to my ears” (or simply “gods’ voice”). Used to emphasize that what the speaker says is true—i.e., that the speaker has been told this by the gods themselves.
“By the red eye of Deneith.” A mild profanity, often used in reaction to tragedy or violent death.
“With Avernus” or “At Avernus’ side.” Another way of saying “deceased” or " in the Underworld."
Almost every street of Meletis bears a temple, from simple, one-room neighborhood shrines to six-story temples held up by phalanxes of marble columns. Every god has a temple in Meletis, and many temples are devoted to multiple gods. Artisans continually improve the temples in Meletis, swapping out broken marble or crumbling sculptures with fresh materials, and painting over grand friezes with even grander ones.
Meletis sits on the Siren Sea, surrounded by a host of small islands called the Dakra. The Dakra are said to have been created when Thassa, god of the sea, felt sorrow that Korinna, ancient queen of the tritons, had been killed by a human’s harpoon. Thassa’s tears fell onto the sea in the form of an archipelago of misty isles. The Dakra have rarely been settled by humans, as they harbor strange nymphs and fierce monsters, and are enchanted with the magic of the gods.
Weaving magic is a time-honored tradition in Meletis; magic is seen as one of the greatest arts an artisan can master. The most accomplished mages are known as thaumaturges (“wonder workers”). Many Meletian mages received training at the Dekatia, including many thaumaturges, but one is not truly considered a thaumaturge until one has received a reward or other positive omen from the gods. For example, a mage might be considered a thaumaturge when Helios, god of the sun, grants her a spear of sunlight, or when she is granted a wild creative vision by Cannith, god of the forge.
Meletis is world renowned as the center of philosophical thought. Philosophers have special status here; they are often attended by servants so that they might spend more of their time debating, thinking, and teaching. The Twelve, a council of philosophers, serves as the ruling body of Meletis. The Twelve are currently headed by Perisophia.
Meletis is defended by the Reverent Army, religiously trained soldiers who fight monsters and exalt the gods. The Meletian Reverents are not as fierce as Akroans nor as sturdy as Setessans, but they are clever and resourceful, and they believe their superior piety for Theros’s pantheon leads them to more success in battle.
Meletian soldiers are trained to manipulate the battlefield primarily through tactics rather than through physical strength. Their hoplites use clever ruses, unusual or rapidly changing troop formations, and even outright deception to score victories.
It’s said that every Meletian soldier knows at least one spell. That may be an exaggeration that Meletians allow to circulate, but it is true that many Meletian hoplites could be considered low-level taskmages. Spells of healing, endurance, and battlefield trickery are often taught during soldier training.
Tritons can survive for only a short while on land, yet a few tritons make their home in the coastal city of Meletis. Some serve as lookouts and tower-keepers who watch the shores, warning Meletians of attacks by krakens, furies, or other monsters. Others attend the baths or even instruct students as adjunct philosophers at the Dekatia.
Many Pheres Band centaurs are hostile to Meletians, but Meletis officially maintains a fragile peace with the Laggona Band. Some smaller centaur tribes have established a profitable trade with the polis. Meletian officials even designate two holidays during the year, making allowances for the overlap with certain centaur celebrations. In accordance with the peace, Meletian outposts generally allow smaller centaur bands to move across their surveyed lands, but some Meletian soldiers aren’t happy about it.
Meletians know that the area that is now their city-state was once ruled by a titan—a hooded warlord who rode a great flying beast—called Agnomakhos. Agnomakhos ruled with an iron fist for centuries, apparently immortal, outliving the generations of leonid that he used as his soldiers and personal guard. Agnomakhos aggressively expanded his empire during his reign, spreading it as far as the forests to the north and the mountains to the east, imposing merciless order over the wilds wherever he went.
The legend goes that the god Ioun granted magic to the humans to help them overthrow Agnomakhos, cast out the leonid, and free Meletis from tyranny. The humans who were victorious over Agnomakhos founded the enlightened polis of Meletis from the wreckage of Agnomakhos’s empire. To this day, the leonid remain detached from Meletis and uninterested in trade or dialogue.