Otherplaces – Otallu, Necropolis-State of (A to Z Challenge, O)

15 April, 2012

Alternating with orchards and rows of grain are rows of grave stones and tombs, some plain, more ornate.  As you get closer to the city, the fields of graves begin to outnumber those of grain and orchards.  The city is somber, all the building decorated for mourning and bright colors are not seen on the streets.  Symbols of death and mortality are omnipresent and all of the public art is turned to such themes.

Necropolis-State of Otallu

Bring out your dead

Grave business

Otallu was one a perfectly ordinary city-state, a small one but not poor.  It managed to keep neutral in the struggles between great powers,providing supplies and feigning allegiance to whoever was the major army nearby.  Their fate changed after a major battle was fought on the edge of their territory, the Duke of Otallu offered to see that the dead were properly cared for and set about building an appropriate memorial ground.  The duke hired the best of the city’s artists, and a variety of ones displaced by the wars, to make it truly memorable.

It was well received and the victor of the battle, a king, paid well for the kindness shown to his soldiers (and, incidentally, glorifying him).  The Duke took a risk and offered to expand the memorial grounds for all of the king’s soldiers killed on the campaign.  The king accepted.  From there, the Duchess appealed to relatives of the nobles killed on the campaign, offering them tombs to be with their loved ones.

Slowly, the cemeteries multiplied and spread, as Otallu attracted the best embalmers, funerary sculptors and organizers of funerals.  Being buried in Otallu acquired a mystique, funeral planning was glamorous and combined with pious trips to visit dead relatives.  The economy of Otallu has come to revolved around the funerary trade and supporting it, though they do a lovely apple brandy as well that is widely exported, especially to those who have visited Otallu.

The city-state has treaties of eternal peace and friendship with its neighbors and other states far and wide, so it has little to worry about from war or invasion but bandits and grave-robbers are a serious threat and they maintain a force of specialists to suppress both.  A group of magi are employed by the state to ward the graves against thieves and dangerous magic.  Occasionally outsiders with specialist skills and talent are hired to assist in the protection of the graves or help with other problems.

But not all is mourning, the Ducal Palace is renown for the balls and masques it put on for these visiting nobles and luminaries.  Behind closed doors, music, dance and color is welcomed and no place more than in the Ducal Palace and its high walled gardens.

Notes: Photo by Cindy Funk and used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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