Belintar was a sacred figure, not a political or administrative figure. That’s really really hard for us moderns to wrap our head around, but Belintar’s main function was to be a conduit between the Mundane World and the Gods Realm. He’s a Living God, acknowledged by everyone in the Holy County. His palace was in the Hero Plane and to visit him was to enter it. At the City of Wonders, one might encounter gods and spirits, emissaries and ambassadors.
Of course mundane people also lived in the City of Wonders – at its height (around 1600) it had perhaps 50,000 people or more making it bigger than Raibanth. It was vacated in 1616 after the Tournament of the Masters of Luck and Death failed to produce a new incarnation of Belintar – without Belintar’s presence, the City did not function for mortals. Only a few people, such as the rulers of the Sixths, could even open the paths to the City.During its height (1320 to 1616), the City of Wonders deserved its name. The Library (also called the University) was the greatest in the world, with scholars from across the world. Humans, triolini, trolls, spirits, and gods mingled there. Amazing things like the Tricksters Theater and the Theater of Drama showed the possibilities of Illusion. The Sea Bazaar let merchants trade with far off triolini realms. I hear the best sea food in the world was there!The City of Wonders was familiar to the Sartar Dynasty. Sartar himself was known to have been there, and perhaps gained many of his insights from Belintar himself. Tarkalor lived there for a time, as did many of his descendants. Like Nochet, the City of Wonders greatly influenced the young kingdom at Boldhome, which in its own way is an echo of the City of Wonders.
But the City of Wonders is now gone. Plundered and destroyed by Harrek the Berserk and now lost to the world.
What a loss for the Holy Country and Glorantha in general that was. The Golden Age must be killed for the story to start.
Orlanth had to kill Yelm. Zorak Zoran had to kill Flamal. Eurmal had to kill Grandfather Mortal. Death was necessary for the cycle of life and death to begin.
Now that diaspora from the City of Wonders ends up spreading this magical knowledge throughout the area. Imagine that diaspora going to Nochet, Whitewall, New Pavis, Boldhome, Wolf Pirates, etc. Even a few go to the Lunar Empire. And many end up influencing Sartar like the Chans, Leika Black Spear, Tarkala the Lover, etc. I suspect this is the origin story for many who end up in the Sartar Magical Union.
Combine this with the knowledge gained from participation in the Tournament of the Masters of Luck and Death, Argrath’s combination of Praxian vision quest + circumnavigation of the Homeward Ocean, and the swirling maelstrom caused by the Lunar wars in the Holy Country, and we have a perfect storm for the Hero Wars.This is the environment we open with in 1625. And into that storm comes Argrath, Harrek, and Gunda.
That the City of Wonders was largely vacated since 1616 is in the Guide to Glorantha.
When I think of the City of Wonders, I think some sort of fabulous version of the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco:
But let’s imagine the City of Wonders circa 1614. Many influential exiles from Starbrow’s Rebellion have likely taken up residency here, or at least have come to have an audience with Belintar. The City of Wonders is tied to Nochet, no doubt there is much shipment of grain and other foodstuffs to the City of Wonders (it is far too small an island to be self-sufficient).