Friday, January 20, 2012

[Secaelia] The Two Empires, and the Free City

The world of Secaelia is one that bears the deep scars of years of conflict, but now presently exists in an uneasy peace. Two great empires have arisen, after devouring or destroying all others that lay in their paths. In their wake many small nations, states, and principalities simply ceased to exist; their entire bloodlines wiped out, their symbols of authority destroyed. Those who survived the destruction of their houses have been branded traitors to the new empire, fugitives from justice, war criminals, and dangerously insane individuals; or else have simply been forgotten and living as commoners somewhere within the bounds of their former kingdoms or further abroad. The only remainders are Estia, which rules the south and east, and Ruvirion, who rules the west. On a northern shore, packed between these two behemoths, is the highly contested former capital of the fallen Anstarian empire, the free city of Eflart.

In ages past, Anstaria was the jewel of civilization, but became more and more fractured and insecure as time went by. By the time of the Great Wars, Anstaria was only a pale shadow of its former self, the small nations that splintered away from it broke easily under the military might of Estia and Ruvirion. The wars, which lasted hundreds of years and cost untold numbers of lives, have finally been at an end for nearly 150 years now. The borders between the nations have been more or less stable for this time, maintaining a delicate truce. Both nations finally had to acknowledge that the wars could simply no longer continue. However, a great degree of mistrust still exists between them.

For this reason Eflart was spared. Here neither nation can lay claim, and it is here where both nations carry out their diplomatic business, as well as trade, without fear of treachery or backstabbing. Its symbolic nature as the former capital of Anstaria still carries significant weight, and rather than be the prize which either nation could claim, it became the neutral grounds upon which they might actually open up reasonable dialogue. Indeed, emissaries from either nation wear bright white tunics emblazoned with the symbol of their nation; the color and style are forbidden to all other residents of the city. Both nations have agreed to donate an equal amount of money to Eflart to maintain an internal police force, as well as for basic amenities and upkeep. As a center of trade, its relative freedom from regulation and oversight from either empire has made it even more prosperous. However, despite being free from rule by either of the empires, this does not mean that it is an easy place to live.

Due to its "official" function as the diplomatic neutral-territory between Estia and Ruvirion, laws for conduct within Eflart's walls are draconian and inflexible. All acts of violence within its bounds against emissaries are punishable by death. All other acts of violence are punished almost as severely, be it willful murder or simple brawling, with punishments ranging from public beheading for major offenses, to lashing for minor ones, with the most severe crimes resulting in being hung in cages from the city's towers and gates, and then simply left to die, be feasted upon by birds, and slowly rot away. Most weapons and armor are confiscated by authorities upon entry to the city; special dispensation to do otherwise must be displayed prominently, or risk severe punishment or expulsion. All items can be retrieved by handing in a chit as one exits the city again; losing the chit means you're out of luck. Mix-ups inevitably occur, but are surprisingly rare. Any reputation for disorganization would severely damage the city's status.

Because of Eflart's prosperity and political significance, there is almost as much city that has sprung up outside of its walls than exist inside. Outer Eflart has a much less shining reputation. Despite the main road into and out of the inner city being kept mostly clear, delving too deeply into the newer construction to the west, southwest, southeast, and east of the walled city can be a dangerous experience. There are regular raids by the city constabulary, and even sanctioned military sweeps from either of the two empires, but nevertheless the criminal element is thick. All manner of illicit goods are available, from the dangerous, to the illegal, to the downright counterfeited and useless. Prices, as one might expect, vary widely, and one may occasionally get a great deal on a piece of legitimate merchandise. Additionally, those accoutrements "lost" from the armory occasionally turn up for trade in the bazaars of the outer city, sometimes even for a steal, though being seen in their armor by the original owner might lead to some complicated questions.

No comments:

Post a Comment