Long ago during the Second Era of Altherys, Aredain was once a whole and prosperous realm, its only divisions being the sections of the realm that were governed by either Aredani kings or their Elven liege lords. In the Third Era the realm has since become starkly divided into independent nations, quarreling petty kingdoms, and warring city states, while the Wood Elves of Aryaavaden (The Duskwood) keep to themselves. Scholars and cartographers generally divide the present realm into three distinct regions: The Free Cities, the Petty Kingdoms, and the Duskwood.
The Free Cities hold some of the oldest human settlements in Aredain, many of which having been established straight from the refugee camps established by the Wood Elves for the Tyrenmorian exiles during the Second Era, with Hope’s Landing being the oldest of these by far. During the height of the Second Era and Aredain’s civilization these cities became the realm’s merchant heart, establishing a wealthy economy through trade with their neighbors as well as a proper defense from pirates and invading naval powers. Each city by this point began establishing their own unique characters that set them apart from the others and the rest of the realm thanks to their exposure to the many cultures that took to their harbors and provided them with both luxury goods and raw materials from far away lands.
Not all of the Free Cities had been allied with the old kingdom, however. The three island ports of Reddport, Lyssar, and Tendraig’s Gate were infamous pirate havens during the Second Era. In fact, the existence of these ports were largely in part a side effect of the event that gave the middle section of Aredain’s coastline its name; the Traitor Coast. It was upon the red sandstone cliffs that would later hold the cities of Scrollkeep, Reddharbor, and Hope’s Landing that a group of rebels and fanatics to the old Tyrenmor government sought to destabilize relations between the refugees and their Elven allies. According to the history books the rebels saw the Elves as tyrants and the refugees as willing slaves, and they sought to re-establish the ancient Tyrenmor bloodlines and way of life by making themselves independent of the Wood Elves. Their efforts went too far, however, and a combined army of Tyrenmorians and Wood Elves drove the fanatics off of their shores, “back to the sunken marsh from whence they came.” In many ways this would strengthen the relationships between the ancestors of the Aredani and the Wood Elves of Aryaavaden, helping to establish the great kingdom that was to come in its wake.
It is no secret that out of the three regions of Aredain, the Free Cities are by far the most well off. Though the Duskwood and its Wood Elves are still largely a powerful force to be reckoned with, they have largely closed themselves off from the rest of the world, affecting their ability to seek out trade and good relations with other neighbors. The Petty Kingdoms as a whole are formidable, but each kingdom is independent and at war with their rivals and their constant quarreling and changing of hands largely destabilizes the region to the point of madness. The Free Cities, on the other hand, have kept to their roots throughout the Third Era, establishing alliances through trade and gaining much in the way of wealth that each Free City can use effectively to aid them in any potential conflict or crisis. Unfortunately the only downside is that the Free Cities like their self-proclaimed title a little too much; each city is independent of one another, and while some may ally themselves for a common cause they will not unite under one banner for any greater ideal than an increase in currency.
Like the Petty Kingdoms, the Free Cities each have lords and houses, which contain members of a single family of particular note and nobility. Of course, unlike the Petty Kingdoms, these lords refuse to take part in the squabbling for the crown of all Aredain. Most choose to instead focus inward upon local matters such as control over their own portions of their Free City and its surrounding lands. In this, they are nearly as cutthroat and vicious as the rest of the nobility in Aredain, though they keep their private wars to the shadows so as to appear noble and regal in person. Most of these houses swear fealty to a single high lord and his noble family, such as House Skrolle of Scrollkeep, who acts as the lords, kings, or high councilors of their city.
Shalefort is a coastal fortress ruled over by House Shayle, formerly of Reddport. Its garrison, largely consisting of men of Reddport as well as local volunteers, is charged with protecting the Aredain North Coast against would-be raiders from Fryslon and other lands. Shalefort consists largely of a single citadel composed of a pair of keeps linked by walls and bridges, the citadel itself surrounded by two sets of thick outer walls. In times of danger the Shalefort can garrison half the known countryside between the northwest and southwest spurs of the Wyrmtooth Mountains and can withstand a siege of up to two years. While not a Free City, the Free Cities of Reddport and Scalehold have put it under their protection, while the city of Stonegate acknowledges it as an ally of importance.
Reddport is the northernmost of the four island cities, and according to some it is believed to be one of the oldest settlements in Aredain. Built long ago by Reddmen who sailed south to escape the constant threat of pirates and Fryss reavers, the original city began initially as a simple palisade fort that slowly began to grow outward. Later, the city was settled by descendants of Tyrenmorian exiles, creating a unique culture and racial diversity that associates more with the culture of the Reddmen than it does with the rest of Aredain. Reddport never answered to the Aredani Crown of Tynthalos, and as such was spared from much of the chaos that erupted as a result of the conclusion of the Second Era.
In the Third Era Reddport has one of the largest fleets in all the Free Cities, a fleet that largely takes up its time acquiring the city’s primary exports of whaling, sealing, and fishing, as well as guarding its surrounding waters from Fryss pirates and raiders. Other exports sold by the city include iron from the city’s island mountains, quarried stone, and timber. Reddport is currently ruled by House Reddmar who rules from their keep, the Crimson Tower.
Reddport shares cordial relations with the cities of Scalehold and Arborton, while it remains neutral with Lyssar’s conflict with Tendraig’s Gate. They have a bitter rivalry with the city of Reddharbor.
Scalehold sits under the southernmost spur of the Wyrmtooth Mountains. Home to a large Dwarven population, Scalehold has taken it upon itself to delve deeply into the riches of the surrounding mountain range. As such, due to its rapidly climbing wealth, it has often been a target for raiders and pirates from Fryslon. Thanks to alliances made with nearby cities that date back to the Second Era, however, it has managed to keep itself well defended on all sides so that it can focus the majority of its manpower on its various mines within the mountains.
The majority of Scalehold’s wealth comes from what it mines up from the ground, though it does on occasion export timber (what it doesn’t use to shore up its mines) from the nearby mountain forests. Primary exports include iron, silver, sulfur, coal, saltpeter, and quarried stone. In the Second Era it once counted Mythril as part of its many exports, though in recent years the mines leading to Mythril veins have collapsed, become cordoned off, or were lost to time or other threats. Scalehold is ruled by a Council of Lords, with Houses Tarmond and Stonne of Stonewatch Keep holding the most sway.
Scalehold shares cordial relations with Reddport, and considers the cities of Arborton and Tannerford as primary allies. Recent accidents in the mines have resulted in strikes amongst the Bronze Dwarf, Aredani, and Half-Orc populations which are currently being suppressed by House Tarmond’s military forces.
Stonegate is the northernmost of the Free Cities. Unlike the other cities it considers its role as a ‘Free City’ hereditary and nothing more, and even the nearby Petty Kingdoms make it a point to refuse to include them in their quarrels. This is because of Stonegate’s importance as the first great gate that leads down the long northern passes into the Wyrmtooth Mountains and north into the frontier of Fryslon, the historic home of countless raiders, marauders, reavers, and other vagabonds who would otherwise terrorize the north of Aredain at will. As such, Stonegate is more like a fortress than a city, its towns under its protection heavily garrisoned and surrounded by thick palisade walls and deep moats lined with spikes. Though nearby Fryslon has calmed in recent years the scions of Stonegate do not doubt that danger will some day return from the cold north, and so keep themselves prepared.
Stonegate does not export much in the way of goods unlike the other Free Cities, but it seldom needs to as it is much more self reliant. Any trade or travel passing through the city’s territory is heavily tolled and taxed before it is allowed to pass, and nearby cities have been known to send them ‘gifts’ in the form of raw goods to aid in shoring up their defenses. The exchange is that any one of these cities can count on Stonegate’s aid in times of need, as Stonegate holds one of the largest and most well equipped militaries north of the Stonewall and west of the Duskwood. Stonegate is also home to the headquarters of many mercenary guilds and sellsword companies.
Stonegate is ruled by a group of lords known as the Scions who vote on matters of importance in the city. Occasionally one of these lords is elected as High Commander in times of crisis, though the election is often a formality; the council pre-selects those they desire to be High Commanders based on their merits in combat and command. Historically House Stonne of Beggar’s Hill has been selected as High Commander the most often.
Stonegate counts Shalefort, Scalehold, and the Petty Kingdom city of Winterwood as allies of importance.
Tannerford holds the most arable farmland in all the Free Cities. In terms of strategic importance, Tannerford sits upon the fork where the Tanner River splits into the Tanner and the Tailor Rivers. As such Tannerford is considered to be one of the most important of the Free Cities; should any of the other cities hit a period of famine or poor trade with the Petty Kingdoms, they can count on Tannerford’s grain, tobacco, and cattle to be traded so long as they can match their prices. Tannerford has become very rich as a result, though it has often been the target of raids, bandits, and marauders seeking its primary source of wealth; its goods. As a result, Tannerford has made it a point to hire many Sellsword Companies to serve as its personal guard and policing force, using the wealth they have acquired through trade to keep their mercenaries paid.
Tannerford is ruled through a joint triumvirate of three noble houses: House Tanner, House Tailor, and House Woolworth. All three houses have humble, though often exaggerated, origins, claiming to all descend from the same three brothers who started out as shepherds who, through a feat of daring, won the hand of a noble lord’s three young daughters. They have since continued doing what they always knew, though on a much grander scale, and so managed to bring much in the way of wealth throughout the region.
Tannerford considers Scalehold and Arborton as immediate and primary allies, and has made it a point to avoid conflicts with the other Free Cities for the sake of good trade. Their primary exports are wool, hides, cattle/livestock, grain, tobacco, and other farming goods. Rumors of a plague sweeping in from outlying villages has caused the local officials to become tense and increase the sales of Sellsword contracts to help prepare in case of an outbreak.
Arborton is fairly new in terms of Free City reckoning. Established near the latter years of the Second Era as a lumber camp meant to take advantage of the vast forests of ironwood and lodgepines, the ‘town’ part of its name had begun as a boom shanty for its timbermen and mill workers. During the chaos that was the end of the Second Era new demands were made throughout the realm for raw and furnished timber. With the Duskwood closed and guarded by the legions of the Wood Elves and with the cities of Oldarbor and Arendale unable to keep up with the demands, the simple shanty town quickly grew into a small city, its old workers becoming merchants while new ones built houses in the space surrounding the old ones. By the Third Era Arborton had become a bustling trade port, selling lumber throughout the realm and beyond wherever necessary, while its artisans refine much of their local material into wood carvings, furniture, and the shafts needed to build the pommels, handles, and staves for weapons.
Like the old town, Arborton is run by the oldest of its families who established themselves as the original lumber camp workers who built the first town. They rule as a council of lords, the greatest of these being the Ironwoods, the Redjacks, and the Lodgepines whose names they took from the trees they often felled. They are sometimes referred to as the Tree Lords, though this has brought some confusion due to the official titles taken by the Birch Lords of Arendale and the Oak Lords of Oldarbor.
Arborton considers Tannerford and Scalehold to be primary allies and is trading partners with Reddport, with whom it shares cordial relations. In the recent years Arborton’s back allies have become home to an underground smuggling ring known as the Syndicate of Needles. Lord Hugh Ironwood has personally posted a reward for the heads or hands of the Syndicate’s leaders, which has been met with mixed success.
The most northern of the Traitor Coast cities, Reddharbor sits across the Red Channel that separates the last of the red sandstone cliffs of the Traitor Coast from Arbor Isle, the territory of Arborton. Considered to be an important shipwright city, Reddharbor was initially established by pirates before it was later sacked, taken, and reformed by the rest of the early realm of Aredain. The houses and lords who rule Reddharbor, however, are descended from those same pirates who once constantly heckled and harassed the island city of Reddport along with various other coastal cities. Legends claim that naming the city Reddharbor, in the style of the Reddmen people, was a jab at their bitter rivals, though scholars are unable to confirm this.
Like the other two Traitor Coast cities, Reddharbor’s primary export is quarried red standstone taken from the nearby cliffs that helped give the Traitor Coast their name. Their fleet is of moderate size, though what they lack in numbers they make up for in design. Reddharbor galleys and dromonds are among some of the most stable ships sailed at sea, and their sleek build allows them to cut through the waves quicker than most contemporaries; this has subsequently made them a favorite vessel for privateers, much to Reddport’s chagrin. Reddharbor is ruled over by House Anchorage who have ruled the city since the dawn of the Third Era.
Reddharbor shares cordial relations with its neighbors of Arborton and Scalehold, and are currently allies with neighboring Scrollkeep. They have a bitter rivalry with Reddport. Reddharbor has granted its support to the Free City of Lyssar in its conflict with Tendraig’s Gate.
Perhaps one of the only Free Cities with a significantly higher Elven population than humans or dwarves, Arendale sits just east of the Traitor Coast and was once the furthest reaches of power for the government of Aryaavaden. The city rules the nearby Aren Dales, a series of small hills surrounding the Aren Forest. Though through some channels it still maintains alliances with Aryavaaden of Duskwood, Arendale is just as independent as the rest of the Free Cities and has managed to hold its own in the strange intrigues and politics of the region with ease.
It was believed that the garrison of Arendale were the first to report the coming of the human ships of Tyrenmor from across the sandstone cliffs that would later be called the Traitor Coast. Their lords were the first to receive word from the High King to greet and give aid to the refugees rather than drive them out, and it was their troops that aided the few armed Tyrenmorians in driving off those who would destabilize the region and force the humans to remain independent of their new Elven allies. Arendale has since remained hand-in-hand with the future human governments of Aredain, and it was believed that encounters with their wayward sons and daughters helped lead to the rise of the Aredani race of humanity.
Arendale is sometimes referred to as the Half-Elves’ city, largely because Half-Elves make up a significant portion of its populace and are surprisingly tolerated compared to the rest of the realm. Much of the old blood of the noble Aredani houses that call Arendale home have enough Elven blood within them that many become wizards and druids that aid in the service of the city through its Mage’s Guild. By tradition, the city is governed by a triumvirate of houses whose leaders represent the three dominant races that dwell there. Their nobility is sometimes referred to as the Birch Lords, a title both referring to the large numbers of the native trees of the Aren Dales as well as a title to help distinguish them from the Oak Lords of Oldarbor and the recent Tree Lords of Arborton.
Arendale considers Reddharborand Tannerford to be immediate trade allies. They have a neutral-level rivalry with Oldarbor due to similar origins and trade interests. Most of their exports include lumber, carved goods, furnishings, and magical items. Arendale has recently received the ire of the holy city of Northmarch in the Petty Kingdoms due to the Dale Incident.
Considered by most to be the most aloof of the Free Cities, Scrollkeep sits within the middle of the Traitor Coast, high upon the sandstone cliffs that overlook the Sea of Tyren. Most scholars agree that Scrollkeep is perhaps one of the greatest centers of knowledge in the known world (at least, in Aredain), as it is well known that within its walls holds some of the greatest libraries and academies known in Altherys. It is also one of the most well defended, as its citadels and inner vaults are guarded by many layers of thick walls, magical runes of protection, and a city guard over a hundred thousand strong. Pirates have long learned to find better pickings elsewhere, and many noble houses and merchants have learned that the great vaults beneath the city are the best places to store important documents and valuables where they can never be stolen.
House Skrolle holds a hereditary seat as the lords of Scrollkeep, basing their rule within the Scrolltower; the massive pillar of stone from whence the city gets its name. Both the City Guard and the High Council are loyal by blood ties to House Skrolle, but despite this House Skrolle’s position as rulers is largely a figurehead status, as the High Council of the city consider themselves to be far more enlightened to lower themselves to the rule of kings and lore. House Skrolle has not objected to this; in fact based on events in the city, it seems to prefer the lack of attention and rule so that their family members may take part in the achievements of higher learning their city is so proud of.
Scrollkeep rarely relies on exports, preferring instead to act as a middle man for trade and wealth while also relying on its local populace for sustenance. Instead it makes most of its wealth through knowledge, trade tariffs, vault fees for storing prized goods, and in training through its prized academies. Nobles from far and wide, from the Petty Kingdoms to even Fryslon and Remes, will come to Scrollkeep’s academies to learn under its many professors and tutors. Surprisingly, however, the city does not hold in high regard worship of the foreign goddess Gwyneth Graymane, seeing her clergy instead as a destabilizing influence. This does not stop the Cowled Brothers and Sisters in her service from trying to convert the city, however. Rumor has it they have even convinced a younger son of House Skrolle to join their knowledge-based faith.
Scrollkeep keeps itself largely neutral to all of its neighbors, keeping cordial relations only through trade and education.
Southernmost of the Traitor Coast cities, and considered to be the oldest human settlement in Aredain, Hope’s Landing is considered to be one of the most iconic of the Free Cities. It is where, according to the legends, Prince Gared and Princes Tynraya, the Sibling Rulers, had first landed in Aredain, and it is also where they were said to have taken an Elven Lady and Lord as their spouse, beginning the ancient noble dynasty of House Pendrayg that would rule the Aredani people in the Second Era. Hope’s Landing for a time had been the capital of the Aredani people until King Leon III moved his family to the new capital of Tynthalos, which was established by the year 522 of the Second Era and would remain the capital until the era’s end.
Hope’s Landing has kept its pride as one of the most important cities in Aredain, though this has doubled as its downfall as much as it has been its saving grace. As the chaos of the War of the Petty Kingdoms began to slow down during the beginning of the Third Era, armies under the command of Lord Kaleb Trystane of Hope’s Landing attempted to reunite Aredain under their banner. They failed, not in the least because both the Wood Elves of Aryaavaden and most of the Free Cities entered the war against them. The city now contents itself as a center of trade and a tourist attraction for various noble families seeking to find their roots.
Hope’s Landing has been ruled by the Regent House of Trystane since the end of the Second Era. However in recent years the house’s capacity to effectively rule the city has been called into question due to various mishaps and poor circumstances surrounding the house with misfortune. Many houses lost family members and income during House Trystane’s foolhardy attempt at reuniting the realm, and many more see themselves as better positioned for control of the city and its resources.
Hope’s Landing primarily exports luxury goods. It has good standing with Scrollkeep, and personal ties with Oldarbor. They have refrained from aiding Lyssar or Tendraig’s Gate in their war against one another. They have recently gained some prestige with Stonebarrow due to marriage ties between Prince Kristin Trystane and Lady Jayne Barr of House Barr, which has helped settle differences between the otherwise rival cities.
Lyssar, the Free City of Illest Repute, is a city whose origins are born of betrayal. It seems only fitting, to both outsiders and the city’s inhabitants, that some of their greatest trades lie in betrayal. After the conflict known as the Second Exile by Lyssar’s inhabitants, the conflict born of Tyrenmorian exiles rightfully seeking independence from a race they saw as potential tyrants whose ancestors drove their colonists from their shores for centuries, the majority of the exiles landed on the largest of three islands just west of the Traitor Coast. They have since become an active pirate and privateer community, readily willing to sow chaos along the coast of the continent with their proud warships, taking captives for slaves and other prizes for sale in their no-barred black markets. Even today, in the Third Era, their attitude towards the rest of Aredain is largely unchanged even though their allegiances have on more than one occasion.
Lyssar’s people are a unique blend, and often pride themselves of being separate from the other human groups of Altherys due to their purer Tyrenmorian heritage. While they still have a mix of various Aredani, Remes, and Fryss bloodlines, they largely retain some of the factors that made them Sons and Daughters of Tyren, such as dark, curly hair, pale-bronze skin, athletic builds, and so on. They are ruled by the New Tyrenmorian Council, a group of nobles who claim to have been descended from the original leaders of the uprising that led to the Second Exile. Their nobles prefer to take up family names in a style similar to Remes, reflecting the Tyrenmorian name culture, and refuse to call themselves Houses in the style of the Aredani.
Lyssar is sometimes referred to as the Free City in Name Only, for its primary imports and exports are slaves. Lyssar is perhaps the only port south of the Wyrmtooth Mountains and north of the Remes Crown who practice the slave trade, which was made illegal in Aredain during the Second Era. Their favored cargo usually consists of the other races, especially Elves. The Juntii Family manses are home to a slave household consisting entirely of Elves and Half-Elves, most of whom have served as slaves to the Juntii for generations. Their reputation has put them in ill relations with the rest of the Free Cities, however rumor has it that they intend to bring the benefits of the Slave Trade to any allies they can muster to aid in their war against Tendraig’s Gate.
Lyssar has few allies among the Free Cities, though it counts Reddharbor as a supporter. It is currently at war with the Free City of Tendraig’s Gate.
Oldarbor, home of the Oaken Throne, is considered to be one of the oldest settlements in Aredain next to Hope’s Landing and Stonebarrow. It was built next to the Arborhill Forest, which has been reduced in size for some years due to Oldarbor’s continuous harvesting of its trees, leaving a stark difference between the vast tree farms harvested annually by the city and the Deep Woods, which are protected by law by the crown of Oldarbor. The city has a mostly human population, though some Pinehorn Satyrs and Bronze Dwarves live in the shanties nearby as second-class citizens.
According to some rumor, Oldarbor became the home of many of the secret supporters of the Tyrenmorian uprising which occurred near the beginning of the Second Era. When the leaders of that uprising were driven off, and the red sandstone cliffs of the Traitor Coast were branded with their namesake, their supporters quietly slunk into the shadows, establishing a community for themselves that was as close to the dream of a free human population in Aredain as they could ever get. Their charters largely reflect this, benefiting human settlers and citizens far more than non-human ones. They were considered largely unpopular by the Aredani crown and their power structure was largely contained up until the crown’s fall during the civil war that broke the realm by the Second Era’s end. Though Oldarbor has since grown in that time, due to their age and lack of widespread support they are still fairly weak in comparison to the other largely arboreal Free Cities.
Oldarbor has been ruled by a high lord since its founding, and by the Second Era’s end that high lord established himself as a self-styled king. His first act, according to legend, was to execute the Wood Elf ambassadors and supporters to ensure the crown’s dominance as an entity free of Aryavaaden’s rule. Before any retaliation could be mustered, however, the civil war in Aredain escalated into a war of succession that broke the realm’s back, and Aryaavaden chose instead to close their borders. This act of treachery has resulted in their rivalry with Arendale, whose own city is composed largely of Wood Elves and Half Elves still loyal, in part, to the old crown of the Wood Elf kings. The Oaken Throne has changed hands since, though the old house that was responsible for the massacre is still around. It is currently in the possession of House Lott. Houses of Oldarbor are referred to as the Oak Lords to differentiate them from Arendale (Birch Lords) and Arborton (Tree Lords).
Oldarbor’s primary exports are timber, furnished goods, and fruits from fruiting trees. They have a tenuous rivalry with Arendale. They count Stonebarrow as allies, and have personal ties with Hope’s Landing through marriages. They are secretly supporting both Lyssar and Tendraig’s Gate in their conflict, intending to throw their whole support to the winning side in exchange for wealth and alliances, though not wholly committing to either.
Stonebarrow is one of the most southerly of the Free Cities, and with Oldarbor and Hope’s Landing is considered to be one of the oldest human settlements, though some of its ruins and catacombs suggest that the ancient city is older by far than either of its neighbors. Sitting across from Ebonmere Lake where its source pours into the Shade River, the city hold sway over a large swathe of territory that includes the entirety of the river up to where it meets the edge of the Traitor Coast, where the red sandstone gives way to white-washed sand. The city gets its name from the ten, stone-paved hills that exist within the city’s center, where the royalty and highborn lords of the city are said to be buried in the crypts and catacombs below. It is rumored that these catacombs are the reason why that it is against the law, by penalty of death, to establish wells within the city, as the dead are so rife beneath the city’s streets that any water taken from beneath would be rife with foul humors and deadly toxins.
Stonebarrow has existed for centuries and is considered to be one of the most prosperous of the Free Cities. As the most southerly city on the coastal side, Stonebarrow exists in a strategic position as a crossroads into the rest of Aredain, as it resides along the great road leading north from the fortress of Mountain’s Gate, while its position next to a river and a lake with access to three rivers grants it trading access to the city of Highthrone to the south, the towns along the Prince’s Crown mountains to the north, and the coastal cities that bring trade in from the west. This position of power, combined with its habit of being incredibly self sufficient, puts it in similar league to the free city of Tannerford in that it is a valuable trading ally to any Free City or trading power within western Aredain.
Stonebarrow is traditionally ruled over by a single house, referred to as a High Lord like in the olden days when such great cities were ruled over by lords who answered to a single king. House Barr has ruled over Stonebarrow since the chaos of the Second Era came to a close, though some claim they have ruled since the chaos started. Few question their might, though some houses with the oldest of lineages do question the speed in which they came into power, as House Barr originally was a lowly house of landed knights and ruled the old High Lord’s household guard by the time the fighting started. None can truly be sure what happened, though there are rumors that the crypts and catacombs beneath Stonebarrow hide much more than mere bodies.
Stonebarrow exports fish through its rights to the Ebonmere to most of the lands up the Cord and Whitewater rivers, the two sources of the Ebonmere, while its farms and mills export food and furnished goods to the rest of Western Aredain. Stonebarrow counts Oldarbor as one of its oldest allies, and it is currently in league with Tendraig’s Gate as an ally in their war against Lyssar. They have currently made ties with Hope’s Landing through the marriage of Lady Jayne Barr, the second daughter of Manfred Barr, and Prince Kristin Trystane, the second son of Prince Kybar, King Luther’s younger brother. There are rumors that this marriage tie is an attempt on Stonebarrow’s part to bring Hope’s Landing into the war with Lyssar, though this has not been confirmed.
The Freehold of Tendraig’s Gate is the most southerly of the Free Cities. Like its other island neighbors, Tendraig’s Gate has its origins in the incident that gave the Traitor Coast its name, though the few who settled on their island were not numerous enough to form a city independent of the rest of the realm. The island gained its repute as a city and a ‘Freehold’ when ships bearing escaped slaves who mutinied against their slave lord captains washed ashore on the island trying to escape from the slave trade established between Lyssar and newly founded Remes. The slaves soon settled alongside the pirates and fishing folk of the island, where it was said a captain, Captain Tam Tendraig, declared his home port to be a free port where no man, woman, or child would ever be made as cargo, and the only chains would be upon those who make their living chaining others. So the Freehold was founded and became one of the greatest island cities in the known world.
Despite being a Freehold and a great advocator against the wrongs of slavery, Tendraig’s Gate was still largely a pirate port and to this day is still a home of scum and villainy. Pirates could come to call home the great harbor of Tendraig’s Gate, whose exterior is protected by sharp rocks, reefs, and jagged cliffs that makes the island impossible to land without leave from the pirate lords that call it home. Its black markets have sold many stolen goods, and its prisons hold not rogues or ruffians but hostages composed of merchants with expensive investors or highborn nobles who set sail at the wrong tide. Its neighboring holdfast and fortress, Anchor’s Way, has in the past served as a penal colony by the kings of Aredain who shipped large numbers of Goblin prisoners taken during the infamous Goblin Wars, whose own numbers were freed and intermingled with the pirates, nicknaming the island “Half-Orc’s Haven.”
The Freehold has never been ruled over by a lord, though the closest it has ever had to a lord was the legendary Tam Tendraig who founded the city. Instead the Freehold solves its problems through an election held by the captains of its many ships, who all get a vote whether their vessel is the mightiest of war galleys or the simplest fishing tub; so long as it has a sail, its captain gets a vote. In times of crisis the captains will vote for one of their number to become the Free Admiral, who acts as a naval commander and an administrator of foreign policy whose rule is undisputed so long as he is successful during that time of crisis. The current High Admiral in Tendraig’s Gate’s war with Lyssar is Mad Mary-Anne, rumored bastard daughter of Kyren Trystane, eldest nephew of the King of Hope’s Landing.
Tendraig’s Gate has a mixed number of exports and a presence on the black market. Much of their wealth comes from either piracy, privateering, or from trade between their southern neighbors and Aredain. They are currently at war with Lyssar which was established when Mad Mary-Anne rescued a cargo of slaves that were to be sold to slave traders in Remes. They are allied with Stonebarrow in this cause though have few other friends due to their ill reputation. The High Admiral has attempted to use her family connections to gain Hope’s Landing as an ally but she has had little success.
The Realm of Aredain