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Many will consider the catacombs merely drains, useful for channeling away overflowing rain or excrement. And yet, these areas represent some of our richest heritage, in terms of age and of architecture. For only those of high intelligence will understand the usefulness of draining a city the size of Qeynos.
As many of you know, while Qeynos appears to have existed from man's earliest Age, it is a relatively recent construction project. Its roots go much deeper, as the catacombs beneath Qeynos include ruined and rebuilt aqueduct systems. What comes in must go out, therefore while the aqueducts brought water into the city, the drains enable it to leave, without making the city's streets impossible to navigate safely -- or cleanly.
The Vermin's Snye drains are simple -- that is part of their charm. Roughly hewn blocks of granite and other hard stone are fitted and mortared into place with connecting corridors of iron gates separating various chambers. It is possible, as some of the illicit residents of Qeynos have found, to travel through the city via this underground method. Some of the gates are therefore locked. At various points, a reservoir forms where slower-moving materials will sometimes accumulate.
Many of Qeynos' residents avoid the catacombs beneath their feet, considering them an unsavory area. It is true that within the catacomb walls, one will find a variety of unwholesome creatures -- shrillers, rats of all sizes and the occasional undead creature. Do not let these little inconveniences discourage you. A well-prepared visitor can usually make the trek to visit the drain reservoirs without much effort. Vermin's Snye is well-lit, probably by the city workers who clear out the muck to enable the waste water to flow freely.
A word to the wise: keep your eyes open, for there are rumors that the Bloodsabers are congregating in the catacombs. This group of miscreants believe they worship the god of decay, Bertoxxulous the Plaguebringer. The intelligent reader knows that he and all other gods no longer exist. Still, watch out for these fanatics as you explore the architecture of Vermin's Snye.
Arches are a very strong structural technique. In this chapter, we explore the styles of arches found in the Vermin's Snye and attempt to date the structures based on known architects' styles. They are strong, bearing many times their own weight, making them ideal for underground areas.
Arches are my weakness. When I travel through Antonica, I will often stop to admire the remnants of the old aqueducts across the countryside. There is no other form in architecture that is so versatile and strong. There are some splendid examples of them in the Vermin's Snye.
Within the Vermin's Snye, travel beyond the room of the drains and you will enter some of the oldest parts of the Qeynos catacomb system. Look at the arches -- they are stockily formed and the ceilings not very high. In some places, the arches seem to have been added as an after thought! Indeed, sections of the catacombs previously used only for drainage were converted at various times to crypts. You will therefore sometimes encounter restless spirits in the dark.
Beyond the large drain room, pass through the low-ceilinged corridor into a room with a very low vaulted ceiling. This dates to the period of architect Randalph Magnamorse, a human of Qeynos and is known as the "Randalphesque period" of Qeynosian architecture. The style is plain, simple and yet balanced. One recognizes the broad arches that will span across a central perpendicular beam and the relatively plain columns supporting them.
One last arch style covered is the high elf style. One can easily distinguish it by the flowing, graceful lines. Recall that Qeynos was founded by Antonius Bayle the First and so the city has long been the stronghold of humans. Yet, the elves would in those days offer advice and counsel, and clearly, they also offered architectural assistance as well. While there are many graceful arch styles, they are all simply known as "elven" and they are all beautiful to behold.
If one carries a bright enough light source to the Vermin's Snye, the ceilings are visible through the darkness. These magnificent elements do not deserve to languish in the complete and utter dark! After reading this, you will consider ceilings more than just a roof over your head.
Too often as we go through our day, we spend our time looking at the ground -- will a root or loose stone trip me? Will I find a lucky copper? Is my bootlace really untied? The information in this guide will give you good reason to look up for a change, as you travel the Vermin's Snye in Qeynos.
I will admit, that there are few ceilings of note in Vermin's Snye. However, once one knows what to look for, architecturally speaking, one will be able to recognize and identify elements of style in other similar catacombs. Much of the Vermin's Snye area is in the Randalphesque style, with generally plain columns supporting plaster and lathe ceilings. This early architecture was a "back-to-our-roots" reaction to the cataclysms reshaping the world, when people wanted simple yet homey structures.
In time, the Randalphesque simplicity gave way to modest decorating with tiles or unusual keystones in the arches. Ceilings were still plain, although one could see an effort to add some decorative touches. A frieze of tiles brought one's eyes up from the pavers, or a column would be fluted or topped with a stylized capital. Pillared arcades in the catacombs were eventually walled up. Examples of this "Later Antonican" style abound in the Snye.The most beautiful ceilings in the Vermin's Snye are in the "Early Elven" style, where form took equal place with function. The ceilings are high and most often rib-vaulted. Each of the wedge-shaped areas between the ribs, known as a vault cell, were painted, usually with a scene of the night sky. In some areas, the ceilings are still brightly colored. Be sure to take advantage of available light to get a good look at these gems beneath our streets.