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Alfred Dunholm

An introduction to Castrum Nazarene

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As Castrum Nazarene is the spiritual home of the Church i will post this in each of the churches; it seems that every post i make these days is a "sorry i've been gone for 'X' weeks" post, but there we are!

 

I set out about six hours ago to write a description of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Fifth Isle, the Mother cathedral of the whole church, but then moved onto creating a tourists guide to the country which in turn has ended up explaining more about the governmental system and lifestyle of the nation more than anything else before it. So read on and give me your thoughts!

 

A tourist’s guide to Castrum Nazarene.

 

The climate

 

Being relatively northern geographically the climate of Castrum Nazarene is governed primarily by the relatively nearby icecap. The small region is split into two identifiable climatic areas; the North West is largely dominated by hills and mountains covered in spruce forests, these conditions don’t lend themselves to much human habitation and as such the region is largely wild. By contrast the south of the country is, while still largely hilly, more mild and temperate and as such is far more effected by human habitation. Large swathes of territory have been converted into either arable or grazing land which is defined by a patchwork of hedges that denote the boundaries of different farmsteads. The average temperature in the northern higher ground areas, which are often affected by snow between October and April, is between 10 and 15 degrees Celsius while the south enjoys warmer temperatures of 13-18 degrees Celsius.

 

The People and Settlements

 

As previously noted the majority of the settlements within the enclave are located in the southern regions, this is notably true in the case of the capital city, also named Castrum Nazarene. With a national population of just over three thousand this small country is one of the least populated on Micras. The largest settlement, the capital, boasts a total population of eight hundred while the second largest town, St Mary’s, is home to three hundred residents. Only two other settlements have populations exceeding one hundred and these are St Michael & All Angels and Becket.

 

As might be expected the national religion of Castrum Nazarene is the Holy Anglican Church of St George and a hugely devout population means church attendance is almost universal. Apart from those employed by the Church, which also constitutes the government and accounts for most of the population of the capital, and a small timber industry the people of Castrum Nazarene are mostly subsistence farmers living on small-holdings or as tenants.

 

Government, Health, Infrastructure and Armed Forces

 

The government of Castrum Nazarene is centred on the Primate of the Holy Anglican Church of St George; they are both the head of state and also head of the government and also the Archbishop of the Church. The Archbishop is advised by a Council of Bishops who are in turn informed of the opinion of the people by the Parish Priests of the nation who are sworn to accurately report public opinion, the role of government in the everyday life of the average resident is very minimal. Taxation is non-existent and the use of currency is discouraged; the national currency, the Shekel, is generally only used in the purchase of large items or by the government and as such bartering is common amongst the people of Castrum Nazarene. The largest land owner is the Church which claim rents from their tenant farmers which in turn funds the services the church provides back to the people.

Health is provided free of charge by the Hospitallers of St Lazarus; an order of Nuns and Monks trained in medicine and operating out of a chain of Church-hospitals which are equipped with the latest equipment and are one of few places in the country to have electricity (this is provided by wind turbines and solar panels located either on or near the building itself). The Hospitallers also provide communal residents for the infirm or poverty stricken residents of the country.

The infrastructure of Castrum Nazarene, or more specifically the lack thereof, makes it a very notable in terms of modern nations. The complete absence of taxation means that responsibility for maintaining the dirt or stone roads falls to local communities and no rail or air infrastructure exists other than several small ‘Ambicopters’. Meanwhile the armed forces of Castrum Nazarene consist entirely of the Paramilitary police force known as the Wardens of St Michael the Archangel; these two hundred men and woman conduct day to day law-keeping activities without any arms but are trained to Marine-level should a need for them erupt in the future.

 

The Capital City

 

This city, which shares its name with the nation, lies in a deep valley in the southern region of Castrum Nazarene. The city lies along the course of the River Magdalene; a watercourse notable as a geographical anomaly the likes of which is found nowhere else on Micras. The river is born thirty miles north of the capital city in the foothills of a small mountain range known as the Sinai Heights and is around 12ft wide and 6ft deep by the time it reaches the city, but unlike the majority of rivers the Magdalene doesn’t flow to the sea and simply expands into a wide pool known as Lake Epiphany at which point the water goes no further. For many years this was a mystery until research indicated that the bottom of the lake was intersected by a large crack in the bed through which the water tumbled into a subterranean river and was thus carried away.

The city itself is surrounded by a large stone curtain wall which stands at around 35ft high and features rounded stone barbican towers which just outwards at intervals of three hundred metres, these ancient defences also include a wide ditch which runs alongside the wall but for at the northern and south tips of the settlement whereupon two stone gatehouses break it to provide access. The architecture of the city is split between medieval and Georgian styles with many of the ancient buildings on the outskirts of the city having been demolished to clear space for canons during previous defences of the city and then rebuilt in the later red-brick style. However the centre of the city, including the area adjacent to the river, maintains its original style and character and features buildings universally constructed of yellow-tinted Caen stone.

 

Landmarks

 

Cathedral of our Lady of the Fifth Isle; the most well-known place of worship in the Holy Anglican Church of St George if not on the whole of Micras is found in the heart of the city of Castrum Nazarene. The layout of the building follows the traditional Christian style of a cross shape with a wide central structure running north to south and two narrower transepts branching off from the centre, two towers adorn the south side of the central structure while a central tower is capped with a tall stone spire. The outside of the building features many small enclaves featuring carvings of saints, former Archbishops and also, notably, the King of Craitland. Stained glass windows showing various Biblical scenes and the ancestors of Christ make the inside of the cathedral extremely light during the day and provide interesting tricks of light on moonlit nights. Inside, the Cathedral can seat three thousand five hundred people the houses the tombs of many of the nation’s most famous residents. The ceiling of the central nave tours high above those who enter and is supported by wide stone pillars carved to resemble trees or flowering vines. A Crypt runs the length of the building and contains many small chapels dedicated to various Saints and all three towers contain a peel of bells including the great Sanctus bell named “Christ the Redeemer” which hangs in the spire of the central tower.

 

St Augustine’s Palace; seat of the Archbishop of Castrum Nazarene and home to the government of the nation, the place is constructed of the same Caen stone as those surrounding it and is bordered on three sides by the narrow cobbled streets which are a common sight in the city. Meanwhile a large square forms the palace forecourt leading to a small flight of steps crowned with the great arch which constitutes the formal entrance to the palace, in the centre of the square is a large fountain in the shape of a Maltese cross and featuring a number of water jets issuing forth from various carvings. A number of stone pillars line the front of the palace, carved with the image of ivy and various flowers, and the frontage is crowned with a triangular slab of stone carved with the image of Christ seated on a throne attended by angels. The inside the palace consists of a ground floor of well appointed formal rooms for state occasions and catering while the upper three floors are used divided into office space and a small apartment where the Archbishop resides.

 

St Gregory’s Bridge; this ancient stone bridge remains the only permanent crossing of the River Magdalene. The bridge, with its span of 12ft, carries a roadway flanked by statues of angels and curves outwards towards the middle as the roadway separates to accommodate a central pedestal featuring a life-size bronze statue of St Gregory the Great.

 

Lake Epiphany; aside from being the mysterious vanishing point for the River Magdalene, as outlined above, Lake Epiphany also has an interesting history which makes it a location for pilgrims. It is said that St George, a travelling monk who wandered the area that became known as Castrum Nazarene in the 1st century looking for a purpose, peered down into the lake one evening and saw reflected from behind him a fiery pillar in the valley down which he’d followed the river. Turning George saw no sign of the mysterious reflection, but whenever he looked down into the lake it would appear there behind him. It was on this spot that he built a small church which, as it expanded over the decades, would eventually become the Cathedral of our Lady of the Fifth Isle. A lone stone pillar carved with the pattern of a flaming tower now stands on the shore of the lake where George originally peered in.

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