Westlake City is home to the nation’s Capital Building, the Grand Provincial Council, and the nation’s democratic leader, the Grand Councilor. The city itself is vast and covers more land than any other city in the nation. At the heart of the city is the capital building, Grand Council Assembly Hall, and the People’s Parliament, the location where public debates, hearings, and speeches are given on a regular basis. The western edge of the city rests on the short and wide peninsula jutting off of the continent’s southwest corner. Along the coast and deeper into the city you can find just about any type of entertainment you are looking for. Besides being known as the nation’s capital, Westlake is also known as the entertainment capital of the world. The greatest musicians, actors, poets, dancers, and other performers have all become legends by performing in the City of Fame. But the entertainment goes beyond performances and music; the Golden Carnival, the nation’s largest amusement park, attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year. Known for its roller-coasters and water rides, no childhood is complete without at least one trip to the magnificent park.
To the east and near lake Kethos is the largest military base in the nation. Though Fort Jerrel is technically outside of the city limits, the city itself is home to a number of smaller military offices, training centers, and infirmaries.
While the Golden Carnival is one of the most popular attractions in the world, and the importance of the nation’s capital can’t be understated, perhaps the most intriguing and interesting part of Westlake is the Library of the Ancients.
The Library of the Ancients is the single largest library in the world and home to more than 150 million volumes. It was constructed more than 1,000 years ago, though constant updates, renovations, and additions have changed its look over the years. Today, only a few pieces of stone are original, the rest having been replaced and repaired countless times over the centuries. The Library is funded by both the government and private donors. Designed as both an institution for the masses as well as a historic archive, the various levels of the building are home to everything from the latest children’s books to some of the most valuable original works in the world. Universities throughout the world have entire wings full of materials they use as research tools, some of which are only open to students or faculty. The building houses reading areas, a small cafeteria, a dozen or more conference rooms, and a small printing facility where library-specific documents or books are printed.
At the lowest level of the library, deep beneath the ground and behind a gauntlet of security is the Hall of Records.
The Hall of Records is considered the most secure location on Atla and is by far the most secretive and mysterious. Little is known about the Hall or what it contains exactly, though some rumors and pieces of information are credible enough to consider. The Hall is said to contain the most important documents, artifacts, and information relating to the Holy Five, Way of the Five, Half World Effect, and Disparia’s history. Some claim the original Writ of the Five is located in the Hall, while others claim the truth about the other side of the world is contained within its deepest vaults. Though rumors vary, many believe that the truth about the Half World Effect is written down, painted, or contained in some way within the Hall. Others feel that advanced weapons and technological tools are stored inside, kept hidden from the world that would abuse their power and bring about the end of the world.
Though much of the information regarding the Hall of Records sounds like it belongs in the realm of the pseudoscience or the supernatural rather than the concrete, enough is known about the secret Hall to justify at least some of the speculation. None of the Library staff are allowed into the Hall; instead, only those authorized by the government and military are allowed in. However, there is one non-military individual who works in the depths of the Hall. The information regarding the Hall comes from their personal testimonies.
The Hall is located at the bottom level of the Library. At the back end of the Library’s first floor is a rare book storage and processing room, a room that is only accessible to a portion of the staff who oversee the rare books. At the back of the room is a large double door that is guarded 24 hours a day by a pair of Atlan military officers. The doors remain locked until someone with proper authorization requires access. Beyond the doors is a steep ramp with three or four switchbacks. The accounts from the few individuals who claim to have had access to the hallway say they descended more than 100 feet beneath the surface level of the Library.
Once at the bottom of the ramps the path opens to a small mostly empty room. At the far end of the room is a solid desk where a single gatekeeper is tasked with authorizing anyone attempting to enter. On either side of the desk are two pairs of guards, none of which are allowed to enter, all of which are authorized to kill anyone attempting to force their way into the Hall.
Beyond the door behind the desk is said to be another long hallway with a final locked door at its end. However, none of the individuals who worked as authenticators were ever allowed into the rear hallway. As a result, the actual contents and layout of the Hall itself are unknown, as are the means of keeping the doorway locked.
The only people allowed into the Hall are those authorized by the government. Special phrases, authorization cards, and documents are required to pass through each checkpoint. Those requirements changes annually, which is the length of time the guards and authenticators are allowed to work in the Hall. Each new authenticator and group of guards is given details about the new requirements during their training. The penalty for revealing any of the information about the Hall is steep and is considered both treason and destruction of priceless artifacts, the combination of which justifies execution. What little information there is regarding the Hall comes from only a few sources who have managed to remain anonymous. All of this information was not revealed at once, either. Bits and pieces of information made their way into various publications over the course of 150 years. 25 years ago an anonymous group who went by the name The Truth published a book detailing all of the known information and speculation about the Hall. Ironically, it is one of the few books not found in the Library of Ancients, as it is banned throughout the nation and illegal to own or sell.
Westlake City and the surrounding suburbs regularly top lists of the best places to live in Atla. The city is large enough and diverse enough that it offers something for everyone no matter their interests. Most analysts predict that within 20 years it will become the most populous city in the nation.