Author Topic: The Five Cities  (Read 926 times)

Offline Archalofax

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The Five Cities
« on: 17:26, Sunday 10 Apr, 2011. »
The Five Cities (Northaven, Blackbridge, Ondsmouth, Ristable and Satoria) are spread across the coastline of the Western Ocean and are the greatest settlements of man. There are many villages dotted across the land, but a thousand years have led to the growth of these five as the prominent trading and production centres in the known world. Each city has grown around fundamental resources and trades, utilising the land as man spread across the region from Ondsmouth over the centuries. This has led to a great sense of regionalism, and indeed the War of the Black Road was caused by the differing mentalities brought by the differing terrain across the lands. In the end this does serve to keep the whole area from falling into chaos; each is reliant on another for something. The Lands of the Five Cities now operate as independent city states with extremely strong ties, and a fair few grudges.

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Re: The Five Cities
« Reply #1 on: 19:19, Thursday 14 Apr, 2011. »
Ondsmouth

This is the largest of the cities and was the first to be founded after The Exodus. At the crossroads of the Black Road, Black Road South and the Golem Road, Ondsmouth has become home to over a hundred thousand people. Settled around the coast of what became Stryker Bay it is home to the Founding Guilds and the Ondu Council Chamber as well as many other great landmarks. The ruins of the Grand Loom rest near the centre of the city, with the Stalls of a Thousand Trades holding market everyday in and around the ancient building. Here people can feel the true history of man, its growth through the Years of Tyranny, the Rebellion and the reign of the Ondu Council. Even shadows of the War of the Black Road linger here. Above all other things Ondsmouth is famous for being the oldest and most prestigious city. Its age and its central position mean it is the centre of trade within the Five Cities. The lands along the Ondu are sworn to Ondsmouth, including Fort Verge, Standing Dell and Vergetown.

The Golems that forced the Exodus of mankind to this region created the Grand Loom as the centre of the slave encampment at the mouth of the Ondu river. The island upon which it was built is now the central trade hub of Ondsmouth. In those early days slave labour was used to raise the walls of the Loom, vast curving arches holding up pale walls and vast windows. The Loom was used to produce clothes and tools for the slaves to use as they went about building the town around it. It was from the great plaza outside the Loom that the Black Road was started and the Golem Road was forged.

The Rebellion was the end of tyranny, but it was also the start of the struggle to survive. With the destruction of the Golems mankind was suddenly on it's own and without direction. The Grand Loom was torn down in the euphoria that followed, quickly destroying the industrial capacity of the town. It didn't matter that the Loom could have helped the growth of the town, it was seen as the very chain that bound them in slavery. Today the only remnant of the Loom are the shattered arches of the great hall, elegant curving pillars reaching up to the sky above the Stalls of a Thousand Trades, the greatest market in the lands.

Now the city is a sprawling melting pot of peoples from all over the lands, all coming to trade in the capital of humanity.  The skyline of the city is punctuated with temples to the Three Gods, the Ondu Council hall and the noble houses of the city. All these great buildings draw travellers from the other cities. Yet there is much squalor in Ondsmouth as so many people try to live in the shadow of history. Thousands of homes dot the countryside along the Ondu and around the edges of Stryker Bay. Household guards and strykers keep the peace for the most part, but after dark the streets of Ondsmouth can be a confusing and dangerous place.

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Re: The Five Cities
« Reply #2 on: 19:21, Thursday 14 Apr, 2011. »
Blackbridge

Where the Black Road had been laid by Golems across the Ferro the second city of men sprawls as a great centre of river trade and forge works. The great black bridge that spans the fast flowing Ferro became the centre of the city, with buildings quickly cluttering it. The river provided power and the woods around served as fuel for the populous that had tired of living in Ondsmouth, beneath the council's rule. It wasn't long however, before Blackbridge became a city in its own right. With mining camps along the river returning iron and charcoal burning becoming more frequent, the city quickly turned out more metal products than any other settlement. Today the finest weapons and armour in the land are crafted on the anvil of a Blackbridge smithy. The guilds of Blackbridge, unlike any other city, are almost solely geared around the main production line of the city: metal. The lands along the Ferro are sworn to Blackbridge, including Four Hills and Great Ferside.

Most of the city proper sits on the bridge itself, including the Axbridge Guildhall and the Ferro Fish Market. However there are specially built wooden structures reaching down to the waters surface. The Floating Docks welcome back the boats and barges that deliver the bounty of the Ferro to the city. Fish and iron ore are the two main cargoes on the river, with dozens of heavily laden craft docking each day. Most of the cityfolk live and work on the bridge, their homes and places of work mostly structures of wood and thatch. With forges ringing across the bridge and markets dotting the entire length, Blackbridge is never a quiet place.

The most important buildings in Blackbridge are made of the grey rock hauled down from the quarries around Northaven. The Guildhalls and defensive towers that line the bridge are all made of this resilient granite. The gates that seal the city off from the outside world each night are housed in great black frames and have gatehouses of stone built around them. They do admit some travellers in by night, but trade and general traffic is restricted. Due to this a large number of taverns have sprung up along the banks of the Ferro. There is also a great trade in fish and other river goods directly to traders and travellers beyond the gates.

The northern bank of the river is home to the Apalpion Hall the Guildhall of the Steelarm blacksmiths. Housed in their compound is the Forge of Usion. There sits a grand furnace that glows once a year, at which time it burns stronger than any fire known in the Lands of the Five Cities and the greatest smiths in the land gather together. It is said that the flames of the Forge of Usion are hot enough to melt any substance, even the skin of a Golem. The masters of Apalpion Hall therefore hire teams of scavengers to scour the lands in search of the rare metal their smiths call Titan Steel. It was into the Forge of Usion that the once Immortals of Blackbridge were thrown.

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Re: The Five Cities
« Reply #3 on: 19:22, Thursday 14 Apr, 2011. »
Ristable

On the southern headland of Stryker Bay the city of Ristable looks out across the Jagged Sea. Sitting above a vast network of irrigated fields and terraces Ristable is famed for its agricultural production. Centuries ago farmers of the Ondu region slowly migrated into the warmer lands south of the bay. Black Road South lured more and more people, the great long road arching around the clear waters  along a great series of bluffs and cliffs. The views of Ristable are some of the greatest in the Five Cities. With great vineyards and fields of crops stretching to the south and east the harvest is a great time in Ristable, with grand festivals dedicated to Ombine. Farmers guilds dominate Ristable and have a great sway over the cities council chambers. The only force large enough to counter them is the regions famed horse-breeders, nearly all horses in the lands originate from the Five Pure Breeds of South Stryke. The lands between the River Quen and Stryker Bay are sworn to Ristable, including Dark Delve and Reapmarket.

The land across South Stryke and around the farmlands of Ristable is dotted with ancient circles of ruins. These overgrown and tumbledown structures are the shells of once great domed buildings. Today these are linked by the trackways that spread between farms and fields. These ruins are numerous and centuries ago were used to delineate the boundaries of farm lands and property claims. During the War of the Black Road the impoverished people of the South Stryke region raided many of these ruins for building materials leaving little but a clear circle in the dirt. The great clearings that have occurred over the centuries have revealed more of these ruins for the eager tomb robber.

It is believed by many that these ruins are Golemnic in origin as many have turned out to have dungeon like cellars. Most of these are filled with soil and dust, but a rare few have strange creatures lurking in their depths and some say treasure lays there as well. Those ruins close to Ristable have been compromised or cleared, only those out toward Dark Delve are still unexplored. Parties of adventurers and ex-Strykers are often seen leading expeditions out into the eastern hills of South Stryke. It is often seen as a dangerous land out to the east however and the normal folk of Ristable and the surrounding region remain safe working their field or livestock.

The Grand Courses are a stretch of land cleared especially for the raising of horse stock. The horse-breeder guilds commonly own this land and work together to maintain dominance of horse trade in the Five Cities. This is naturally a difficult task, but they control the largest stocks of the five original breeds of horse: Hunter, Foxxer, Fielder, Carter, Charger. In recent decades horse-breeders of other cities and towns have used what existing stocks they have to produce their own, weaker, breeds undercutting in value. Even though these lesser breeds are available (such as the popular Woodshunter of Northaven) at a lower cost they are widely considered a lesser beast. Many nobles and guild officials travel to the Grand Courses to personally examine the mounts they hope to purchase.

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Re: The Five Cities
« Reply #4 on: 19:25, Thursday 14 Apr, 2011. »
Northaven

For a long time the lands to the north had been barred by what became known as The Braiden Hills. With the Golems ranging in the north and the Stalkers clawing their way out of the earth across the Vale of Scars a stryker outpost was placed at the western edge of the hills. This position allowed easy access by sea and a commanding view of the north, all the better to warn the southern cities of any approaching hordes. A swathe of volunteers travelled north during the first years of Northaven's founding, most from the metal working guilds. The outpost grew and began to require all the services of a small town to support it. In time Northaven grew into the City of the North, with the Stryker Academy at its heart, training the best soldiers in the Lands of the Five Cities in order to defend the south. The trappers and fishermen of Northaven provided a potent trade to support the Academy and garrison from the early days of the outpost. The lands around The Braiden Hills are sworn to Northaven including Bluepool, Fermount and Fort Bray.

Surrounded by a great granite wall the city of Northaven is one of the most secure and well protected. Ballista towers dot these walls and from these vantage points the Strykers and soldiers of the city watch for an enemy in the north or from the sea. Not that Northaven has been attacked directly in centuries and these days the walls are less manned than ever. The current threat to the Lands of the Five Cities comes from the creatures of the north this is true but now Fort Bray and Fermount are the dual centres of military action in the North. The garrison at Northaven has slowly migrated over the decades to these two great castles.

Stryker patrols are a common sight in the lands of Northaven. From training camps out amongst the pine and fir forests of the Braiden hills to the raider hunter parties of the North Ferside or Braiden patrols. Strykers keep their own stock of horses and all military weapons and tools, but are fed and watered by the people of the land. Although Strykers are found throughout the lands it is Northaven that is the most military of cities. This is mainly due to its proximity to the tribal north and the Vale of Scars, but also due to the harsher nature of the northern environment. In the early days of Northaven a stronger hand was required to govern the rougher and durable people that settled there.

Slowly over the decades the numbers of Stalkers have dwindled and Golems have not been seen in over a century. In response to this however the wild peoples of the North have prospered and more frequently attempt to raid the villages of the Braiden Hills. There are those that believe the Stalkers have been forced away and that the North folk are all that the Five Cities have left to worry about from the North; the Strykers are therefore forever busy. However, others feel that this is a quiet before the storm. There are those in the lands that feel the Golems are biding their time and gathering to them a huge army of Stalkers to beset the lands of man.

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Re: The Five Cities
« Reply #5 on: 19:28, Thursday 14 Apr, 2011. »
Satoria

Remaining neutral during the War of the Black Road, Satorians are often seen as passive or distrustful. It is however not surprising when considering Satoria is the smallest of the Five Cities and barely larger than some towns, such as Readmarket or Four Hills. The last of the Five Cities to be founded, Satoria was formed by a stream of refugees that under took a pilgrimage to the Deadlands in order to commune with Usion, the Arcane Lord and Sun God. Rumour has it these pilgrims were descended from the animists, astropaths and elementalists of the Ondu people. It was in the warm south that they settled, on the northern edge of the Dry Hills and the Deadlands. The Monument to Usion was erected at the gateway to the desolate world to the south, a gate through which all hopeful pupils of the Three Stars, the centre of magic in the world, must pass and return alive. No lands are sworn to Satoria, instead any town or city will pay greatly for the services of one trained by the Three Stars.

The lands just north of the Dry Hills have nearly as a warm climate as the hills themselves. Due to this the first settlers in the region diverted water from the Quen's source via aquaducts and canals. This diversion, although not complete, was enough to make the delta lands around Quensmouth habitable and provide plenty of water for the monastic settlement that grew up on the hillside overlooking what would become Quenside. The hill became the town after not too long, with the pilgrim's camp growing as more people learned of the work going on at the southern edge of civilisation. Soon more came and not just those that wished to test themselves before Usion.

Tradesmen and merchants brought services and products south and found that there was plenty for them to trade back to the north. The warmer climate on the surrounding hills provided local farmers with new opportunities. Vineyards and orchards spread quickly, with great bounties of fruit becoming a great export of the growing city. Soon the town grew into an oasis of learning and farming, with tiers of houses clinging to the hillside and bustling markets filling the open plazas that dot the city. However, it is not the production of olives or the many spices or fruits that provide Satoria it's main revenue and reputation, it is the production of magic at the Hall of the Three Stars.

The vast building was constructed about the ruins of an ancient circular structure, atop the hill on which Satoria is built, Quentop. The open pillars and broad tiled floors soon became a common style among the few noble houses that made Satoria home. It is from here that the magi of the world are trained, learning one of the three Paths of Magic. These magi are the main export of Satoria. Each works out a period of indenture with a noble house from another city, one powerful enough to  engineer their tuition and rich enough to pay for their three years of study. It was the establishment of the Three Stars that made Satoria into a true city.