Volantis, sometimes called Old Volantis, is a city in southwestern Essos, located at the mouth of the Rhoyne on the Summer Sea. It is the oldest and the proudest of the Nine Free Cities.
Volantis is the southeastern-most of the Free Cities, located east of the Disputed Lands at the Rhoyne delta. It is said that Volantis sprawls along a bay so vast that it could contain the entirety of Braavos. To the north is the river Volaena. The city is hot and humid.
Volantis is the closest Free City to Slaver's Bay, lying approximately five hundred and fifty leagues from Meereen as the crow flies.
The City Edit
- The Harbor: The city sits on a very deep harbor. Volantenes claim that the hundred isles of Braavos could be dropped into the harbor and disappear. Volantis spreads across the mouth of the Rhoyne and across the hills and marshes on both sides of the river.
- The Black Wall: A great oval of fused black stone built two hundred feet high by the Valyrians when Volantis was no more than an outpost of their empire. It protects the oldest part of the city on the eastern shore, often called Old Volantis. It is wide enough for six four-horse chariots to race around its top abreast, as is done each year to celebrate the founding of the city. No outlander, freeman, or foreigner is allowed inside the Black Wall save at the invitation of those who dwell within. Only scions of the Old Blood who can trace their ancestry back to Valyria itself may live within the Black Wall.
- The Temple of the Lord of Light: An enormity of pillars, steps, buttresses, bridges, domes, and towers flowing into one another as if they had all been chiseled from one colossal rock. A hundred hues of red, yellow, gold, and orange meet and meld in the temple walls, dissolving one into the other like clouds at sunset. Its slender towers twist ever upward, frozen flames dancing as they reach for the sky. It is about three times the size of the Great Sept of Baelor in King's Landing. Before the construction of the temple, the site was a Great Plaza. The Temple is protected by a private army known as the Fiery Hand. It is located in the eastern half of Volantis.
- The Merchant's House: The finest inn in Volantis. It is a five story monstrosity that dominates the docks, wharves, and storehouses surrounding it. It is located on Fishmonger's Square in western Volantis. Its common room, larger than the great halls of half the castles in Westeros, is a dim labyrinth of alcoves and grottoes built around a central courtyard with a trellia of flowering vines and a flagstone floor. Its rooms have very strong locks.
- Long Bridge: This bridge joins the two halves of Volantis across the mouth of the Rhoyne. It is a great span with a road supported by massive piers that the Valyrians built at the height of their glory. Its gateway is an arch of black stone carved with sphinxes, manticores, dragons and other strange beasts. The road is just wide enough for two carts to pass abreast. Buildings rise on either side of the roadway. One can buy almost anything in the shops on the Long Bridge. In the center of the bridge the hands of thieves and the heads of executed criminals are displayed.
- Fishermonger's Square: A bustling square congested with traffic where fishmongers sell their catches.
Volantis is ruled over by three triarchs, each of whom rules for a year. Each year the freeborn landholders of Volantis can elect a new triarch or reelect a current one. In the past there were precious few voters west of the river Rhoyne due to it's reputation for being poor and downtrodden, but in recent years the economic development of the Western end of the city has led to a bustling economy, leading many of the Old Blood who once set their homes behind the Black Walls to take advantage of the prime offers for real estate and the lucrative business opportunities it provided. The elections themselves are ten days of madness, with much campaigning, bribery, and corruption.
Only those of Old Blood who can trace their ancestry back to Valyria can be a triarch. The triarchs belong to either the elephant or tiger political parties. The elephants are the party of the merchants and moneylenders, while the tigers are old aristocracy and warriors. The elephants advocate trade and the tigers advocate conquest.
Current Triarchs Edit
- Vilyx Valaar of the Elephants
- Viseron Naegaris of the Tigers
- Vegel Malaryon of the Elephants
Past Triarchs Edit
- Horonno of the tigers
- Vogarro of the elephants
- Trianna of the elephants
- Belicho of the tigers
- Vhalaso the Munificent
Slaves are treated much differently in Volantis than in other areas of the world. Volantene slaves are generally treated with a level of respect by the Volantene, and some slaves given considerably higher places in society than most other cultures would honor: Such to the extent where poorer freeborn Volantene attempting to sell themselves in to slavery in order to raise their status in Volantene society is a practice which is rare, but not unheard of.
Over the recent decades, the role of slaves in Volantene society has evolved in to a caste-like system for all duties. Even the lowest castes of slaves in Volantene society have a level of pride in the roles they perform, to even the lowliest dung shoveller, and all know that life as a slave in Volantis is far superior to life as a slave in almost any other nation. As a result, slave revolts rarely if ever occur, even among those slaves who are considered "merchandise" to be bought and sold in the slave markets along the Volantene docks and elsewhere where Volantis has trade opportunities and slavery is legal.
There are three major castes of slaves in Volantene society:
Dohaeriros Rullor: These are servant slaves of R'hllor, who is believed to be the One True God according to Volantene society. They serve numerous roles within the temple itself and from within their ranks are drawn the recruits of the Fiery Hand.
Dohaeriros Ryptegon: These are the scribes and learned men and women of Volantene society, similar to maesters in function, and are composed of the exceedingly intelligent or educated.
Dohaeriros Ossēnagon: These are the warriors of Volantene society, from who's ranks are recruited the Green Stripes and other members of the military, although officer positions are reserved for freeborn citizens and are given commissions to their posts.
It is very common for the freeborn land owning populace of Volantis to consider their personal slaves as members of the family. In fact, it is quite common for the ties between a slave and his or her master's families to be closer than even those born of blood in Westeros, as can be shown by the stigma of bastardy in Westeros which more or less does not exist in Volantis: Bastard children or other unwanted young are frequently sold to the city, the Temple of R'hllor, or to a private party, as the mothers of those children overall know that their unwanted offspring will have a chance at a decent and fruitful life as a slave.
Volantis is also one of the few places in the world where it is possible for a slave to become a free citizen, with all the rights and responsibilities thereof. Such arrangements can be made between individual slaves, their masters, and the Volantene government: However, many slaves tend to prefer the life they live to freedom, especially those of the "big three" castes - The slaves of R'hllor, Scribes, and Warriors - as their roles in society are highly respected and praised. The status of such slaves in society is so highly looked upon that very infrequently, freeborn men and women attempt to sell themselves in to slavery to increase their position and status in society: Such attempts are often futile and met with an unfortunate fate, as they frequently end up being sold to other areas of the world, who's people place a much lower status on the place of slaves in their society.
Volantis is key to the slave market, trading heavily with the cities of Slaver's Bay to the east. It is said there are five slaves to every free man in the city.
Volantis use coins, called "honors", with a crown on one face and death's head on the other as part of their currency. The honors are no bigger than a penny.
Volantenes are known for the red wine they make. Few ships from Westeros come as far as Volantis, and those who do fill their holds with silk and spice from the Jade Sea, then bend their oars for home.
The Volantene people are known for their Valyrian features of purple or blue colored eyes and blonde or platinum hair. For many centuries, the Volantene people believed themselves as the true heirs to the Valyrian Freehold: This belief has created a form of belief on it's own, known as the "Dārilaros Elie Tala", or loosely translated, meaning "Inheritance of the First Daughter". This general attitude amongst the Volantene populace has softened over the years, particularly in the last two decades with the "Great Reforms" of Vilyx Valaar and Viseron Naegaris, as well as the influence of the worship of R'hllor among the city.
High Valyrian is the official spoken language among Volantene free citizens and voting land owners as well as the city itself, although the common tongue of Westeros is the most common language spoken in the city by far. The Volantene regard the High Valyrian language as a part of their history and people. Freeborn Volantene children are taught at birth to learn both the common tongue of the West as well as High Valyrian, as to keep a sense of pride about their people as the First Daughter of Valyria, yet not distance their people from the rest of the world. Frequently, the ballots for each election of the Triarchs are written in High Valyrian, as to dissuade outsiders and freed slaves whom might come to be landowners from voting.
Tattooing is very common among the populace. Slave owners tattoo their slaves to prevent theft and to show the slave's purpose and role. Tears are tattooed on the cheeks of pleasure slaves; flames on the cheeks of slaves of R'hllor; a parchment and quill on the cheeks of the scribes; tiger stripes on the cheeks of the city guard; flies on the slaves who clean up dung; wheels on the drivers of hathays.
Tattooing is not just limited to slaves: The freeborn citizens also tattoo themselves to show prowess in battle and as a record of their exploits. The city is defended by slave guards known as the tiger cloaks.
Volantenes are fond of sweet beets, which they grow in profusion and serve in most major culinary dishes in the city. They make a cold soup of the beets which is as thick and rich as purple honey. In addition, the board game cyvasse originated in Volantis and its pieces are sold from the city.
Worship of R'hllor
Volantis is home to the Temple of the Lord of Light, by far the largest temple to R'hllor in the known world. Over time, the worship of R'hllor has taken place over the old Valyrian gods of their day and age, and the worship of the Red God remains a constant factor in the city within all areas of society, from the wealthiest freeborn to the lowest criminals to some degree or another.
It is not uncommon for the Volantene to send missionary expeditions to foreign lands such as Westeros and other areas to spread the faith of their god: However, in the past many such attempts have led to ruin or misunderstandings due to cultural differences. Nevertheless, many among the Volantene people believe it a duty to spread the word of their god to those of other cultures.
Volantis is the oldest of the Free Cities. It was the first colony of the Valyrian Freehold - her “First Daughter” - and still maintains many of its traditions. After the Bleeding Years following the Doom, they considered themselves the heirs to the Freehold and rightful rulers of the world. They were divided on how to do this; the tiger party favored the sword and the elephant party favored trade. For a century the tigers held sway and their fleet took Lys while their army captured Myr.
The tigers tried to convince Aegon the Conqueror to aid them in reconquering the Freehold lands. Failing to do that, they tried to capture Tyrosh themselves. However, Pentos and the Storm King came into the war on the side of Tyrosh. Braavos lent a hundred warships to a Lyseni exile, Lys and Myr rose in rebellion, and Aegon came upon his dragon, Balerion the Black Dread, against them.
The war left the Disputed Lands a waste and freed Lys and Myr. At the same time, a Volantene fleet sent to recapture Valyria was lost in the Smoking Sea. Qohor and Norvos broke their power on the Rhoyne. The Dothraki came out of the east spreading destruction. At this time, the elephant party rose up and took control of the government and have been in control ever since. For the last three centuries, at least two of the three triarchs in power have been elephants.