Hundreds of years ago, the Aruaki granted sanctuary to a wandering tribe known as the Narsh Untur. The Untur had been cursed with lycanthropy by the elven wizard Melean when they refused to help him in his attempted conquest of the elf-kingdoms across the western sea. Since that time, the tribe had been driven from country to country, either due to the fear of the local farmers or the tormenting of Melean's demonic servants. At the time that they entered Aruaki lands, the Narsh Untur were pursued by orcs. The Aruaki, shapeshifters themselves, welcomed the fugitives and aided them in destroying the orckish army. The Aruaki priesthood then granted the wanderers land, and so the city of Lyratilan was founded.
About one in twenty natives of Lyratilan is capable of changing shape into the form of a wolf. (A well-trained were can shift shape at will; clothes do NOT magically disappear, and werefolk CAN be harmed by normal weapons.) Lyratilan is a peaceful farming community for the most part. The people pay courtesy to Demnat, the god of the Aruaki, but also keep their own ancient rituals alive. The only thing which distinguishes Lyratilan from any other Aruaki farming town is the arena.
It is only recently that the huge structure has been converted to use as an arena. The edifice was originally built several generations ago at the order of Earl Norvan the Mad. Norvan planned the building personally, and oversaw every step of its construction. Several architects and dozens of workers "disappeared" in the course of that construction. The arena features eccentric (some say downright insane) architecture: curved doorways, ceilings too low to allow a man to stand upright, rooms with no entrance and stairs that go nowhere. To look too long at certain angles will make one queasy. Fortunately for the warriors who must fight there, there is enough of the building which is "normal" to hold both fighters and audience; most of the building has fallen into disuse.
Norvan's purpose in building this monstrosity has long been a matter of debate. All that is known for certain is that Norvan himself entered the building shortly after its completion and was never seen again, though one of his sandals was found in a hallway. Curiously, the sandal's sole was worn nearly through, though Norvan's body servants swore that it had been new the previous day. Odd noises and lights may be heard and seen in the deeper corners of the building for those who care to look...but very few care to look.
The common folk of Lyratilan attribute Norvan's madness to his unfortunate ancestry: the result of the priests of Demnat's attempt to breed the wolf-blood of Lyratilan with the cat-blood of Aruak. Norvan's mother was an Aruaki priestess of the wereblood. To all intents the two forms of wereblood seem to cancel each other out. Children of such a union are never shapeshifters, and though their grandchildren may have either form of Demnat's blessing, they will never have both. Many people of mixed wereblood display some form of mental or emotional oddity. Most of the earls after Norvan have been eccentric to one degree or another, though none of them so far have matched their ancestor's peculiarities.
Ruler: Earl Lokthar Torres of Clan Torres. Arrogant, aloof and somewhat reclusive. Not a bad ruler, but not a popular man. He has one son by his estranged wife, Filitha. A shapeshifter; can assume the form of a wolf. Likes gardening, and breeds dogs.
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