|Free City of Chryse|
|[[|250px|Location of Chryse|frameless]]|
|Largest city||Oakburgh, Botha, Laegel|
|Official language(s)||Elw, Babkhi, Istvanistani, minority Praeta, Martino, Tarr|
|Official religion(s)||None official|
|Government||Autonomous Country under Elwynnese Sovereignty|
|- High Commissioner||Ayesha al-Osman|
|- Sardar||Ryabin Chryseoï|
|- Legislature||Council of Chryse|
|Establishment||512 AN City foundation|
1679 AN As free city
1687 AN As imperial city
1690 AN Restoration as free city
|Population||7,302,019 (1690 AN)|
|Currency||Credits (CYC) |
Elwynnese mark (EWM)
|Time zone(s)||CMT-7 (Chryse mainland)|
|National food||Desert Berries (unofficial)|
|National drink||Treesian red (unofficial)|
|National tree||Oak (unofficial)|
|Abbreviation||CRY (FMF abbreviation), |
CHR (traditional three-letter abbreviation)
Chryse, or Chryste, officially the Free City of Chryse (1687–1690, the Imperial City and Exarchate of Chryse ), is a city-state on the Benacia continent that is governed as an autonomous country under Elwynnese sovereignty. Save for its coastline, it borders Ransenar.
Chryse rose to prominence when the Iron Company established its headquarters in the early 17th century. As a free city in Shireroth, the city became one of the wealthiest urban areas of Benacia. Following the Kalirion Fracture, Chryse became the capital of the Verionist Republic. The city was transferred to Batavia in 1676 AN, and after two years was established as an autonomous city in the Frankish Empire. The transfer of sovereignty upset the Raspur-dominated order on the Benacian continent, and was one of the triggers of the Second Amokolian War. Following the war, the city gained its independence as the Free City of Chryste, renamed back to Chryse in 1685. Following the Union of 1682, it is a territory of the Confederated States of Gran Verionia. The border with Ransenar was opened in 1683, largely increasing tourism and cross-border trade. Since 1687, Chryse is a free-state port, putting no restrictions on international trade in the city state. Following the Battle of Chryse (1690) the long-term political fate of the city is uncertain.
Since 1687 AN, it hosts the headquarters of the Micras Treaty Organisation.
For the purposes of Elwynnese constitutional law, the entirety of the Free City constitutes a bailiwick.
The city-state of Chryse lies in the Bay of Chryse. The bay itself is largely under Ransenari control, but Chryse has sovereignty over its own city, the Lighthouse Peninsula, and the town of Oakburgh, as well as the the agricultural and forest land north of these places. Botha, an island immediately south of the city of Chryse, is also attached to the city-state.
The coastline of the city-state is lined with fine beaches from west to east, with the only exception being the dug-out harbour in Chryse city. Botha too is lined with beaches, meaning that large ships cannot dock there. Rather, shallow-hull ferries frequent the Strait of Gamboia, as the water separating the island from the city itself is called.
Botha itself is a quiet island with forests in the east and west. Sparsely populated, it is considered an idyll and a retreat. It became so famous for its spas and relaxing airs that ultimately the High Commissioner, Ayesha al-Osman, requisitioned the island in its entirety for her own use upon the occasion of attaining rulership over the city state in 1690 AN.
Chryse was founded in 512 AN, and remained a small fishing town until the early 16th century when it was chartered as a city within Goldshire as the City of Chryse. It received attention when one of the citizens of the town, the alchemist Nicolo Struph, allegedly discovered a method to transfer pure iron ore into gold.
The Royal Iron Company of Goldshire made Chryse their largest port and headquarters for the daily operations of the Company in Shireroth It has been one of the three cities governed by the Company under the previous charter, along with New Harbor and Erudition. This move also saw a major extension of the Chryse harbour and the industrial facilities to the North of the city. The city was returned to local rule after the Iron Company failed to maintain its royal contract and the warrant was officially withdrawn in 1662. In 1669, upon the signing of the Peace of Fieldburg, the Iron Company again was granted governance of the city.
The Iron Company also added a t in Chryse, making it Chryste, reflecting the local dialectal pronunciation of the city. This move, although now uncontroversial, caused an uproar among the traditionalist nobility in the city. In 1685, upon the independence of the United Benacian Republic, Isor Verion restored the original t-less name to the delight of the traditionalist nobility but to the chagrin of the working and middle classes of the city.
In Chryse, the Iron Company is, for traditional reasons, incorporated and traded as the Royal Iron Company of Goldshire.
Bombing and rebuilding
The metal-working districts of the city were struck by a heavy air-raid on the night of the 11th of Nomeziooqu in the year 1641 carried out by the Imperial Shirerithian Air Forces on the personal order of the Minister of Military Affairs, Thorgils Tarjeisson. His motivations for doing so remain obscure  but were believed to be related to the ongoing Civil War in Goldshire.
Rebuilding of the damaged city centre of Chryse started immediately after the airstrike. However, the rebuilding of the damaged industrial areas of the city went on more slowly because of the fact that the Institution for Alchemy, a crucial factory for the industry as a whole, was struck by a bomb and was almost entirely destroyed. About 60% of the Gold and Silver transport was relocated to the port of New Harbor.
By 1651, the population of the city had reached 1,483,037 inhabitants (source: Shirerithian Census, 1651)
After the death of Kaiser Ayreon IV, the Iron Company sided with the self-declared kaiser Verion (in opposition to the child Kaiseress Salome who succeeded in accordance with the law). Its territories, including Chryse, were run as during its time in the Imperial Republic with the only change of a Verionist kaiser. However, the isolation of the Verionists and the decreasing profits for the Iron Company made the Verionist kaisership untenable. So in 1673, the Iron Company territories in Goldshire, centred in Chryse, attempted to join Elwynn as an autonomous republic. Although the prince, Ander Avon-El, was initially positive to the prospects of adding more territory to Elwynn, the idea was quickly vetoed by the Nationalist Humanists.
The Verionist Republic in Benacia was established following the Kalirion Fracture in the year 1672 AN. After initially claiming to be the only lawful successor of the Imperial Republic of Shireroth, the Verionist Republic entered an agreement with the Imperial Regency following which the independence of the Republic was recognised internationally. The official ideology of the state is Verionism. The Government of the Republic was Plutocratic, handing power to a small group of people aligned with the House of Verion, the Iron Company and the Verionist political movement.
Following the downfall of the Shirithian nation, and the power vacuüm that was left after the death of Kaiser Ayreon IV, the city of Shirekeep remained under the tight control of its Prefect, Titus Morvayne, deeming the time ripe for increasing his power, Morvayne had himself elected Kaiser by the Landsraad. Although the City Guard, as well as the Apollonian Guard, supported his claim, he was unable to convince the leadership of the Palatini Corps. This saw Shirekeep being thrown into disarray, with the Imperial Forces located in the Keep containing the Verionists who controlled the largest part of the city. Within the year that followed, so-called Kaiser Verion II's supporters left the city. Verion himself moved to the Skyla Islands together with the largest group of his supporters, where he continued his claim on the Imperial Mango Throne.
The Verionist Republic claimed to be the official successor state of the Imperial Republic of Shireroth, but holding effective territorial control only over the Skyla Islands. The nation was established following the Kalirion Fracture which lead to the break up of the Shirithian state. In the chaotic period that followed, the former Prefect of Shirekeep, Titus Morvayne, ascended to the Imperial Throne as Kaiser Verion II, in a contested Landsraad election. Verion II left Shirekeep after a stand-off with Shirekeep Garrison loyal to the designated Kaiseress Salome. The Verionist supporters left for the Skyla Islands, former summer residence of the Kaisers, where they established the Imperial Verionist Republic. Although initially met with opposition from the Regency, the Verionists showed their pragmatic side and brokered a deal that saw their sovereignty over Greater Elsenar, Skyla and later Crisco recognised. Following the return of Titus Morvayne to Shirekeep, and his renunciation of the Mango throne, the Verionist Republic threw its support behind Kaiseress Salome. The Imperial Summer Residence hosted a duplicate of the Golden Mango Throne, which Verion II assumed. Today, the relic is converted to the Imperial Throne of the Kaiseress of the Republic, and as such remains empty. A smaller chair, placed in front of the Throne was used by the Viceroy in the stead of the Kaiser.
The major change that saw the establishment of Verionist Benacia is known as the Great Disaster. On the eve of 15.XII.1675, several incidents occured in the Verionist Republic that would become the prelude to the Great Disaster. At 10 PM, the Verionist authorities issued an immediate warning to all residents in the North and West of the Republic. People were told to stay indoors, and close all windows and doors. Approximately one hour later, two large explosions were heard in the city of Zolt, followed by clouds of smoke. The Verionist Benacian Army closed down all access to Zolt and quarantined the city immediately. In the day that followed, multiple similar explosions occured in the cities of Wendor and Aurum.
As it turned out, the explosions were linked to a secret government programme known as "Sword of Revenge", which was the Verionist Republican implementation of the similarly named Kasterburger research programme. "Sword of Revenge" did not only include the development of nuclear weapons, building on the previous Shirerithian arsenal in Wendor, but also several types of biological weapons. After the first explosion in Zolt, which was caused by a malfunction in the cooling system of Reactor IV, the Titus Morvayne Research Centre was largely destroyed. This explosion caused several strains of a highly lethal airborne virus, Virus Y, to be released. The subsequent explosions in Wendor and Aurum were triggered by the Automatic Destruction System, that was instigated by a computer algorythm that had mistakenly regarded the incident in Zolt as a foreign attack. This resulted in the automatic implementation of the Chryste Redoubt Plan, which would destroy all military bases in the Country simultaneaously. Although government officals were quick to respond, they could not prevent a massive and unfortunate loss of life. The total immediate death toll of the disaster is estimated at 200,000, with up to a million people expected to succumb from biological side effects of the release of Virus Y.
The Great Disaster saw the end of the Verionist Republic on Benacia. Viceroy Regina Verion stepped down immediately, and was succeeded by Jana Al-Basani, who immediately declared a national emergency. Only two days after the disaster, Monty Crisco changed its allegiance to Shireroth. Following several emergency meetings, Viceroy Jana Al-Basani declared that the government could no longer justify its rule over Elsenar and allowed the Conclave of the People to have a deciding vote on the future of the Republic. On 17.I.1676, the Conclave voted to return back to Shireroth by a margin of 405 in favour versus 89 against, with 81 abstentions.
Although ideologican Verionists had supported giving the Conclave this vote, they could not agree with reunification with Shireroth. After less than one month of service, Jana Al-Basani resigned as Viceroy and declared that the Chryse redoubt area would remain an independent Verionist state, and that the principles of Verionism were still relevant and should be guiding the nation. She assumed the position of Viceroy of Verionist Benacia immediately after.
Meanwhile, Regina Verion, and a group of around 200 loyalists had sailed for Eastern Keltia where her uncle Michael Verion had been residing since 1664. The Verionists joined forces with local South Keltian tribes and warlord to establish a Verionian Empire.
Batavian and Frankish Rule
In 1676 AN the city was transferred to Batavia. When the Verionist Republic left for the continent of Keltia, a small remainder of the original population remained. Arkadius Frederik Gustavus des Vinandy tried to claim the territory with the city under the flag of West Amokolia. But that attempt failed and the vast territory was handed over to Shireroth. Only the city of Chryse was transferred to Batavia. On 16.VIII.1678 AN the city was transferred to the Kingdom of Amokolia, to protests in both the city and in Batavia. At that time, neighbouring Ransenar was already building a fortified border and prepared for a naval blockade. Batavia handed the city over to West Amokolia to prevent it from becoming involved in the Second Amokolian War, which had already broken out between Elwynn and West Amokolia, with Elwynn being supported by the Unified Governorates of Benacia and Ransenar.
The Frankish emperor ordered the evacuation of all children from the city, even before the city was completely closed off as a result of the naval blockade by Ransenar. However, Jana Al-Basani immediately refuted the move by the Frankish, calling it foolish and dangerous for the citizens of Chryse, who had lived in a delicate peace with Ransenar. The transfer of formal sovereignty to the Frankish empire triggered the Second Amokolian War. The Chryse armed forces, as well as the Iron Company private merchants were mobilised in the defense of the city. The city was subsequently bombed for the second time in its history during that conflict.
The Free City of Chryste became part of Gran Verionia following the Union of 1682. The city functions as an important connection between the Verionian states in Keltia and Eastern Benacia. Jana Al-Basani was re-appointed as Governor until 1683, when she became the Governor-General of the Iron Company. Al-Basani was succeeded by Isor Verion, the eldest son of Regina Verion.
The government under Isor Verion opened the borders with Ransenar in accordance with the Treaty of Corcovado. Although the border is guarded, and there are border controls, the opening of the borders signified a more open spirit with Ransenar and the other former Shirerithian states. Continental trade increased, and with Chryse being a major Iron Company port on the Benacian continent, the Iron Company increased its presence too. This caused an influx of more people moving to the already small city-state. Property prices rose quickly (up 35% within just a few months after the treaty's ratification). With this, there was an increase of rent. Isor Verion vowed to deal with the larger rates of homelessness by creating shelters and community work programmes for homeless and unemployed people.
United Benacian Republic
In 1685, upon the collapse of Gran Verionia, Isor Verion declared the independence of the United Benacian Republic, which only weeks earlier had been formed as a merged autonomous republic (consisting of Chryse and Kasterburg, now renamed Lower Batavia) within Gran Verionia. At the same time, Isor Verion removed the "t" in Chryste, restoring the city to its original name.
As an independent city state, Chryse began identifying itself as a neutral trade-loving and peaceful port. It became active in the MTO, where Chryse argued for peace, sentient rights, cooperation, compromise and trade. These efforts coincided with the MTO's selection of Chryse as its headquarters.
In 1687, Chryse announced to the world that it was a a free-trade port, putting no restrictions on international trade in the city state. Some restrictions would, however, remain for local consumption and import. These restrictions were directly mainly toward weapons, animal products (organs for transplantation exempted), and human and animal livestock.
The same year, after Chryse was announced as the MTO headquarters, Chryse and Graecia, unlikely friends due to one of them being ultracapitalist and the other ultracommunist, signed signed a treaty of friendship. One aspect of this treaty was involved the Exodus of the Tarr, where almost a million people of the Tarr ethnicity, would be transferred from Graecia to Chryse. The House of Laegel, a mysterious, rich, Elfinshi feudal house of Menelmacari origins, agreed to fund Chryse's part of the exodus, in return for Chrysean protection for its new colony on the South Feanorian eastern coast on the exodus. As such, Chryse formally acquired a colony far away.
In the years 1688–1689, Isor Verion ran a Deverionization Process intended to remove the Verionist vestiges of Chrysean culture. He changed his own name from Isor Verion to Isor Isor, naming a house after himself. The Royal Iron Company of Goldshire was partly privatized. In this process, Chryse's political roots in Elwynn (through Verionism) were becoming less and less apparent, with Isor Isor trying to rule Chryse in the feudal (Shirerithian) fashion instead.
This of course led to close relationships with Shireroth, and Salome, Kaiseress of Shireroth, was named Queen of Chryse, though more and more dissatisfaction with the Isorist rule became apparent. Isor cut off the Council of Chryse from the process of decision making, moving more and more toward using bribes to allow the legislature to simply rubber stamp his proposals. At the same time, Isor developed a close rapport with Avranel, the Lady Laegel, and began courting Avranel's grand-daughter for a second marriage. Ayesha, Isor's wife, did not approve and took her children on an extended trip abroad. Not long later, medical files with regard to Isor's private body parts were released, and a few days later, Elwynnese media reported that Isor's entire private medical team sought asylum en masse in Elwynn.
The ultimate consequences of this marital rift would be felt with devastating effect during the ensuing Battle for Chryse (19–22.V.1690) that would see the city weather a debilitating surprise attack and the installation of a new government under Ayesha al-Osman following the incapacitation of Isor during the fighting. The attacking force, comprised of personnel drawn from the 5th Division of the Jaysh al-Sathrati, experienced heavier than anticipated casualties in a complex and heavily contested urban environment, in spite of enjoying the element of surprise and local air superiority. The chaotic fighting that ensued did however result in the capture of the airport and harbour, which facilitated the deployment of UDF troops into the city, allowing for the negotiated capitulation of the remaining defenders. Although the Chryse Protection Treaty was signed on 5.XII.1690, formalising the Elwynnese assumption of responsibility for the defence and foreign affairs of Chryse, the last of the Jaysh were not withdrawn from the city until 21.XII.1690 - eleven days after control of the Port of Chryse, including the container port, ferry terminals, and harbour authority was ceded to the Honourable Chrysean Trading Company by the city's High Commissioner, Ayesha al-Osman.
Following the signing of the Chryse Protection Treaty, the small agricultural colony, Laegel, in the Red Antilles was surrendered to Elwynn.
The Imperial City and Exarchate of Chryse is officially divided into legal units: the City and Port of Chryse, which covers the city of Chryse and mainland Benacian Chryse, and the Exarchal Territories, which covers the island of Botha and the colony of Laegel. The island of Botha is governed directly by the Viceroy, and Laegel by the House of Laegel.
A new constitution was enacted in 1687, which restored Chryse's loyalty to the Kaiseress but would remain an independent state. This constitution was abolished following the Battle of Chryse and the signing of the Chryse Protection Treaty in 1690 which saw Elwynnese sovereignty established over the Free City.
The head of state in the Free City was the High Commissioner appointed by the Court of the Prince in Eliria. Following the signing of the Chryse Protection Treaty the inaugural holder of this newly established office was Ayesha al-Osman, the preceding Vicereine.
Ayesha's first act as High Commissioner was to abolish the preceding constitution and implement a period of personal rule pending the introduction of a new city charter. To oversee the administration of the city she appointed Ryabin Chryseoï, a former Imperial officer with ties to Benacia Command as Sardar, inheriting the delegated powers of the Lord Mayor of the city.
Other executive posts would be formed, as required, as part of the Cabinet of Ayesha al-Osman, with ministers reporting directly to her as High Commissioner.
The Free City was, after 1690, governed by the Council of Chryse, which was chosen by the Assembly of Electors for a legislative period of four years. The remit of the Council was to vote the funds required by the High Commissioner and the Sardar for their respective budgets and to carry on the work of drafting a city charter.
The Governor of Chryse holds the executive power in the Free City. Prior to independence, the Supreme Director of Gran Verionia appointed the Governor. Incumbent Governor since 1683 is Isor Verion. In the post-independence constitution, the Assembly of Chryse elected the Governor.
The title of the executive power of the city of Chryse used to be the Viceroy. Regina Verion served as first Viceroy, having previously served as Chancellor of the Iron Company dominion of Elsenar. Aside from having the Viceroy, the Verion family has significant power in the nation, all members of the direct Verion line hold the dignitary title of "Prince(ss) of the Republic". Due to the relation between the family, the Iron Company merchants and the state, the Free State of Chryse is often classified as a Plutocracy. Following the Great Disaster, Jana Al-Basani took over as Viceroy, and remained Governor after 1682 until 1683.
Between 1687 and 1690, the head of state of Chryse was the Queen and Exarch, Salome. Her role was largely ceremonial. In theory, she selected, appointed, and removed the Viceroy with the advice and consent of the Council of Chryse. The Viceroy was her representative and head of executive in Chryse.
The City of Chryse had a Lord Mayor, who oversaw the day-to-day affairs of the city.
There were two legislative assemblies in the city state. One was the Assembly, whose jurisdiction was only the city of Chryse (excluding Laegel or Botha). Its tasks were to oversee the municipal matters, local taxation, and to make laws that were specific only for the city and the city's needs. The Lord Mayor was the executor of the Assembly, and was elected for one-year terms.
The Assembly had two chambers, the First Chamber and the Second Chamber. The Second Chamber was elected in single-member constituencies by the adult citizen population.
The First Chamber, however, was selected in a complicated manner by several nominating committees. These committees represented trade unions, employer organizations, the Royal Iron Company, the Præta minority, the Shirerithian nobility, and so on. Its standing committee consisted of 20% of the members, or 12 people, elected by proportional representation lists, by the First Chamber itself.
The Council of the Imperial City and Exarchate of Chryse was the highest legislative council in the state. It consisted of 25 people, namely the Queen and Exarch (1), the Viceroy (1), the Standing Committee of First Chamber of the Assembly of the City of Chryse (12), representatives of the House of Laegel (5), representatives from the Second Chamber (5), and one representative for the Tarr people (1). The Queen's seat ("the throne") was usually only symbolic and left empty unless the Queen is visiting the city. In the event of a tie, the Queen, if present, decided on the tie. If she is not in presence, the Viceroy decided. In all other cases, the proposal would fail.
The international character of Chryse makes that the city is an exciting mix of new and old cultures. The Goldshirithian past and the Verionist era shaped much of the cities customs, but the influx from merchants, adventurers and refugees from all over Micras created a vibrant and open city.
Security in the city of Chryse is provided by the 16th Vanguard Division, supported by the 2nd Field Gendarmery Regiment of the Grand Army of Ransenar, and liaison teams provided by the Union Defence Force. Security in the port in the responsibility of the Honourable Chrysean Trading Company, which has subcontracted with the Sicureta Corporation of Sanama. Chryse falls within the integrated air defence zone of the Eastern Banner Group of Benacia Command, for which Ransenar is the lead nation in that sector.
The Women's Auxiliary Nursing Service of the UDF operated a Military Convalescent Hospital Oakburgh, for which the High Commissioner was an enthusiastic patron - frequently inviting select nurses to enjoy hospitality events on the private island of Botha.
Chryse is known for its openness and entrepreneurial spirit and is home to many businesses and enterprises. The Royal Iron Company, the expropriated branch of the former Iron Company was by far the most important financial factor in the City State, it possessed many assets and controlled trade and economic development to a large extent. Between the Kalirion Fracture and the Battle of Chryse the prosperity of the port was also impeded by periods of embargo, blockade, and siege as a consequence of being held by forces hostile to the Raspur Pact during the Second Amokolian War and the Verionian-Raspur War. The international situation had subsequently improved, facilitating trade on the landwards side and removing the last impediments to maritime commerce. While the Battle of Chryse had resulted in damage to the port facilities and dockyards, the installation of a regime sympathetic to the Honourable Company, SATCo, and the Raspur Pact would allow Chryse to continue its upwards trajectory so as to supplant Musica as the primary continental entrepôt for the inter-continental trade fleets entering or departing Benacia from pact held territories. As such, the city is deeply connected into the international trading network of the Raspur Pact, which gives it access to a wide array of markets. On 10.XII.1690 AN control of the Port of Chryse, including the container port, ferry terminals, and harbour authority was ceded to the Honourable Chrysean Trading Company by the city's High Commissioner, Ayesha al-Osman.
The main export products of the are gold, timber; stone; Vehicles from the Wendor Motors and arms from the GoldenGun conglomerate just outside Chryse. Aside from exports products, Chryse is a hub of financial and governmental services. The City State was home to the very first stock exchange on Micras, which is still fully functioning.
Bulk goods made up the majority of traffic unloaded in Chryse harbour, accounting for 60% of traffic in 1691. Following years of decline since the Kalirion Fracture, the increase was mainly driven by a rise in liquefied gas and crude oil arriving via Euran trade fleets for the domestic energy market in Ransenar. As noted previously, the Raspur Pact was the predominant import and export market, with 48% percent of goods received from overseas originating in pact member states whilst in return 64% of exports of Eastern Benacian goods were bound for markets within the Raspur Pact's economic area, overwhelmingly to Natopia and also increasingly to Alduria-Wechua.
Places of Interest
Aside from the renowned architecture of the Royal University, Chryse is home to several other notable sites. The Residency, once home of the Governor-Representative of the Royal Iron Company, is one of the most luxurious and eye-catching buildings of the city, made out of bright white marble and precious stones. The city is also home to one of the largest ports on Benacia, the Iron Ports.
For the fans of history among us, the Iron Pit was the second largest fighting pit in Goldshire, after the Kingsgate Pit, before both were converted in to penitentiaries in late 1662. The city also houses the football club Chryste Miners FC.
Chryse's newest landmark is its Church of Elwynn cathedral, currently being built in central Chryse. It is expected to be finished in 1695. Until then, the cathedral is housed in a church in Oakburgh. The Diocese of Chryse covers the entirety of Chryse.
Royal University of Chryse
The Royal University of Chryse is considered one of the most prominent institutes of higher education in Goldshire in the fields of economics and philosophy. Their engineering department, however, has consistently received criticism from other academic institutions. Albeit being damaged in an airstrike, the University compound is still one of the most beautiful buildings of the city. Notable University graduates include:
- Jeremy Archer
- Valkner Lewis
- Ludovic Verion
The University is notably supported by the Society for the Discovery and Preservation of Antiquities, established in 1687 under the patronage of Ayesha Isor, wife of the Viceroy, Isor Isor, whose bequest provides a bursary for the enrolment of one-hundred students of archaeology, history, and classical literature with the university each year. The Society also provides a series of annual lectures available to students and members of the general public without cost.