by Isaac Stewart
|Ruled by||Council of Five (formerly)|
|Occupied by||Listeners (formerly), Alethi|
|Featured In||The Stormlight Archive|
They blame our people
For the loss of that land.
The city that once covered it
Did range the eastern strand.
Stormseat was the capital city of the historic Silver Kingdom of Natanatan on Roshar. During the War of Reckoning, it's called Narak (Pronunciation: [naɹˈɑːk] nar-AHK), or Exile, and serves the home of the listeners.
Stormseat is located in the southeastern Roshar, in the lands that are mostly unclaimed by anyone in the Era of Solitude. Ancient maps placed it in the center of the Unclaimed Hills, and modern scholars tend to agree with them, citing the fact that the characteristic domes that can be found on the Shattered Plains are missing in illustrations of Stormseat.
In reality, the city sits in the very center of the Plains, surrounded by numerous plateaus and chasms that make reaching it extremely difficult. Its location makes it highly exposed to highstorms at their near-full power, which may be where the name Stormseat came from.
”Ruins of ruins, one might call them. The works of men and listeners alike did not last long before the might of the highstorms.
Little is known of the appearance of ancient Stormseat. Although the Song of Wars claims that the city "covered" the Shattered Plains, the surviving images of it paint it as rather small, though it likely had numerous outbuildings and satelite towns. Within the city itself, several landmarks could be distinguished, among them a tall tower in the very centre and the dais housing the city's Oathgate to the south-west of it. It's known that Stormseat had a temple dedicated to the Herald Chana, with a large mosaic on its leeward side. If Stormseat was similar to other major cities of its era, like Kholinar and Thaylen, it's possible every Herald had a temple of their own within its walls.
In the present day, the city is split between numerous plateaus, the largest of which is home to the listeners. It encompasses the plaza that houses the ancient tower, as well as the buildings surrounding it. Of its stuctures, the tower is by far the best-preserved, as centuries of highstorms have toppled most of the city and covered it in crem. While the original purpose of some buildings can still be guessed at, oftentimes the ancient houses and halls are utterly unrecognizable as works of people. Though numerous structures have been completely filled in with crem and rocks, just as many remain empty within, hiding what remains of Stormseat's once-great past — remnants of its inhabitants, rotten furniture and even rusted door hinges. The air within is humid, and musty with age.
Rather than excavating Stormseat, the listeners constructed their own settlement atop the city's bones. The rocky shelves have been transformed into barracks and homes, while carapaces of greatshells form ramshackle houses. Inside, crem is used to create divisions and make separate rooms, with additional layer on the outer walls to provide insulation and stability. Mounds of former buildings serve as rockbud farms, while many houses grow shalebark on the outside. Both the homes and the farms are built in the shadows of the older structures, to protect them from highstorms. This does not make them completely protected, however. As the highstorm arrives, the listeners stuff rags under the doors, set up support beams to prop up the walls, and close up the windows, hammering in large blocks of wood to secure them.
Following the Battle of Narak, the city has been taken over by humans, who turn it into a fortress to protect Oathgate to Urithiru and the route between it and the warcamps. The tower is repurposed into a lookout, and the buildings become barracks. The surrounding plateaus serve as training grounds for the Windrunner squires and assembly points.. They are connected to each other and Narak by old bridges from gemheart hunts, though plans are made to replace those with permanent structures.
The Natanatan Oathgate is located in Stormseat. The platform survived the shattering of the Plains intact and splintered off completely from the surrounding land in defiance of the pattern that governs the shape of the plateaus, suggesting that it's made of a sturdier material than the rest of the city. Though by now, the dais is buried in crem, it has retained its former shape near-perfectly. Inside, the control chamber has been preserved exceptionally well, with colorful mosaics on the walls and the floor retaining their hue and the lanterns around its circumference still whole. Despite the added mass on top, the Oathgate remains functional.
When listeners live in Narak, the plateau is used as practice ground by their soldiers. Afterwards, it's restored to its former function, and a ramp is constructed to allow wagons and chulls to climb onto it. One of the Knights Radiant is on standby either there or at the matching Oathgate in Urithiru most of the time to operate it.
The tower is one of the few structures that can be found both in ancient Stormseat and modern Narak, although its appearance has changed during that time. Over the centuries, it has turned into a spire akin to a stalagmite, with the space inside clogged up by dried-up crem. Nonetheless, it remains standing despite being exposed to the elements for centuries.
To return the tower to a semblance of its prior functionality, the listeners carved steps into its outer side and added a railing to prevent people from falling off. The very top of it has been flattened, and became the meeting spot for the Council of Five that rules the listeners. Despite this accomodation, the climb is noted as difficult for listeners with physically-weaker forms.
The Hall of Art
A long pavilion near the center of Narak serves as the Hall of Art. It has walls covered with crem and numerous alcoves one can hide in, as well as a small pedestal in the center for models and references. To let in as much sunlight as possible, there is no ceiling. It is there that the listeners of various forms attempt to create artwork in hopes of attracting creationspren and unlocking artform.
After humans begin to repurpose Narak into a fortress, they find the Hall of Art and the abandoned works it contains. While they note the paintings as interesting, it's uncertain whether they do anything about them or attempt to use the room for something else.
The watering square
Outside the Hall of Art sits a watering square. There, a pool has been sculpted out of clay by nimbleforms to collect highstorm water for drinking. Despite the fact that it's the main source of water for the whole city, the mateforms sometimes bathe there, although that is heavily discouraged. It's likely the square still serves its former purpose now that Stormseat is controlled by humans.
As with many of Roshar's oldest settlements, it's uncertain when Stormseat was built. During the Heraldic Epochs, it served as the capital of Natanatan, and one of the ten cities with an Oathgate that connected it to the Knights Radiant headquarters, Urithiru. The area around it was densely occupied, with numerous outbuildings and settlements surrounding the city.
At some point, Stormseat was destroyed by the same event that transformed the Natan interior into the Shattered Plains. There is some disagreement as to when this happened. Human sources place the destruction of Stormseat at Aharietiam, the last of the old Desolations. Listeners, however, put it significantly earlier, as according to their stories, by the time the Last Legion was sent into the area, the Shattered Plains already existed. Whichever is the case, humans blamed the destruction on the listener gods (either the Fused or the Unmade), though the Song of Wars is confident that this wasn't their doing.
Following the destruction, Stormseat wasn't rebuilt, but rather left to crumble. Over time, the nation of Natanatan fell apart, until only a single coastal city, New Natanan, claims descendancy from it. It is perhaps for this reason that when Urithiru was abandoned prior to the Recreance and all the other Oathgates were locked from both sides, the one in Stormseat remained accessible.
War of Reckoning
Though listeners have lived on the Shattered Plains since before the Aharietiam, they made their home at the collapsed domes near the Plains' outer edge. It was only following the assassination of the Alethi king, Gavilar Kholin, that they moved to Narak, as its remote location made it a better defensive position. Over the next five years, the listeners transformed Narak into a functioning city, building on top of the old structures. Though they might've been more spread out at the start, by the end of the War of Reckoning, their entire nation lived there.
It was during the war that Jasnah Kholin began her research into Urithiru. Eventually, she pinpointed Stormseat as a possible access point into the city, and though she seemingly perished in the attack on her ship, her ward Shallan Davar continued her work. Eventually, Shallan managed to find the rough location of Stormseat and convinced Dalinar Kholin to organize an expedition to find it, and the Oathgate it held.
As the Alethi pushed towards Narak, the listeners there were transforming into stormform, while the children, the elderly and those who refused to change abandoned the city for the dubious safety of the Plains further east. Eventually, the stormforms and the Alethi clashed over Narak and the surrounding plateaus. Though the listeners were defeated, it was not before they managed to summon the Everstorm, and Shallan had to rescue the Alethi armies by reactivating the Oathgate.
The surviving stormform listeners did not return to Narak after the arrival of the Everstorm. Rather, they searched the surrounding chasms for anything of note, and then left for more distant plateaus, where most of them gave up their bodies for the Fused. Likewise, those who hadn't taken the stormform didn't come back to the city, but instead made their way further east, into the floodplains at the very edge of the Shattered Plains.
In the listeners' absence, the Alethi claimed Narak for themselves. In the following days, eight of their ten armies travelled through there on their way to Urithiru. Later, they began to turn the city into a fortress, both to protect the Oathgate and to secure the route between it and the warcamps. Many of Narak's structures were repurposed — houses became barracks, and the tower of the Five was turned into a watchpost. Groups of Windrunner squires and squire hopefuls, as well as regular soldiers, would often practice on the surrounding plateaus. However, Dalinar worried whether the city afforded sufficient protection to the long road between the camps and the Oathgate.
The New Natanan ambassador to Alethkar, Au-nak, attempted to have control of Stormseat returned to his people, claiming that it was their birthright as the heirs to Natanatan. However, this hasn't been given much consideration thus far.
As one of the ten cities on Roshar to have an Oathgate, Stormseat held a great deal of power during the Heraldic Epochs. The city was well-known in its time even across the world, as images and mosaics of it can be found as far west as Azir. During the True Desolation, its importance is even greater, as rather than ten Oathgates, humans opposed to Odium hold only four. Narak grants immediate access to the Shattered Plains and the warcamps that are among the last of the free Alethi territories, as well as the various cities of eastern Frostlands, among them New Natanan.
During the War of Reckoning, the city is ruled by the Council of Five, a group of listeners each holding one of the five forms known to their kind. Though the Five did exist prior to the War of Reckoning, this particular set-up is new, as nimbleform has only been discovered two years after the assassination. After the Battle of Narak, the city comes under control of House Kholin, although eventually, Dalinar puts other armies on duty there as well to foster unity among the Alethi.
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