Lybermis, The Free City Settlement in Erisdaire | World Anvil

Lybermis, The Free City

The Free City, I'd say it's one of the worst places to visit but for a great many people it's worth the risk in order to find whatever unusual curiosities are for sale there. Just watch your back and your purse, in that order.
— Fouran, Caravan Master
The Free City of Lybermis, situated on the Cygele coastline, is the larger of two trade hubs out of the southern lands. While it has a reputation for lawlessness and chaotic events, it is a case of two natures clashing. Originally a frontier town mostly struggling to survive, the city is striving retain the freedom it has always enjoyed while having some form of order to it, in order to avoid breaking apart. The various trade companies who have routes through Lybermis value the lack of regulation found in Imperial ports, and there are always rumors of smuggling efforts coming out of Lybermis. This reputation is well-earned, as many smaller trade companies are little more than fronts for merchants to move restricted goods through Imperial checkpoints with as little trouble as possible.


As a frontier trade city, there is a good chance of finding almost all of the known races here in some fashion. Dragonkin and tieflings are more common here, owing to both the presence of a frontier which is to be tamed and the distance from Imperial authority respectively. Elves are considerably less common a sight, as this is quite a far journey from their homelands and the jungle climate does not agree with them for long. Celestials are even less common, as the seething cauldron of chaos which is a frontier town sets their senses on edge and visibly gives them discomfort.
For the rest of the races, the population is divided fairly evenly, with a surprising concentration of gnomes and halflings choosing to settle in. For gnomes, it is because of the Moonblood Isles being only a ship's ride away; this is one of the few ports through which they export their minerals and ores to the Empire. Halflings, on the other side, tend to treat Lybermis as a necessary place to keep good relations with for all the exotic goods which can be obtained. After all, the comforts of home and hearth are nice but the exotic does lend a rarefied air to formal gatherings.


Despite being nominally under the auspices of the Emperor's appointed Duchess, Lybermis is ruled by a council of individuals who represent the various guilds and major racial groups inside the city. There are very few official edicts or resolutions, as the council more is concerned with handling relations with other cities, merchant guilds, and nobility who require careful handling. Disputes within town are usually handled privately between the individuals or groups, with only a few trusted mediators employed at times. (This does have the effect of most of these being settled with violence which is usually quickly over, disrupting affairs only slightly.)
The true power in the city, however, are a syndicate of individuals who call themselves the Circle of Open Hands. Their identity is not public knowledge, yet many permanent residents in the city know at least one person who they can approach which represent the Circle. Their presence in the city is a given, understood to exist by every permanent resident, and their influence is felt daily. However, most trust the Circle with making sure the city prospers and is never left vulnerable.


The Free City's walls are made of a mix of wood and stone, barely being proper walls and more akin to reinforced palisades. As such, there are a considerable number of watchtowers built along it, staffed by volunteers. These volunteers are issued crossbows and short swords to fight with in the case of an invasion, and trained by one of the retired adventurers who call the Free City home. There are four dedicated watchtowers made of stone at the harbor, positioned so the militia volunteers have a clear field of fire to the docks.

Industry & Trade

The industry of Lybermis is trade, and as such there are a great deal of trading company houses present inside the city. Caravans depart regularly along the Imperial Road, and the docks are almost always busy quickly handling ships laying in for port. Most of the inhabitants make a living working as porters moving goods from the ships to caravans and vice versa, or as hospitality agents. When trading seasons are over, residents switch to more active professions such as stonecutters, lumberjacks, carpenters and masons.
A less glamorous, but important, section of the city are the ranches built outside the main wall and protected by wooden palisades. The ranches mostly support the city in meat and other animal products over the course of the year. Imports are still somewhat necessary to fully sustain Lybermis residents, but the ranches and forest rangers who forage in the jungle provide well enough for lean years to be passable.


Most of the settlement is built out of lumber acquired from the jungle, and stone quarried from the nearby coastal cliffs. Buildings have been designed to weather the intense rainfall which comes and goes with the seasons, and the streets are equal amounts cobblestone and rough gravel. The walls of the city are a series of wood and stone palisades set up with towers at various points to keep watch on the approaches. The major routes out of the city itself are paved with dwarven-cut stone to facilitate trade, and maintenance of the roads and docks are one of the biggest expenses facing the city council. Luckily, the Broadleaf Trading Company pays for the upkeep of the Imperial Road heading northwards to their trading outpost, by agreement with the council.


Despite being a gateway for all sorts of exotic and mostly-unknown goods into the Empire, very little of wealth is stored inside the city itself. Most of the money made through trade agreements and other fees is returned into ensuring the city remains a prosperous trade and travel hub. One of the few assets it can legitimately claim is a store of silver which is the emergency fund.

Guilds and Factions

There are far too many factions present in the Free City for even the residents to keep track of, and as such many don't bother. The major groups with influence here are the Circle of Open Hands, the Council, and the priestly orders in the city devoted to Opalis and Bartholomew.
The Circle of Open Hands is responsible for keeping a semblance of order inside the city, which is only a semblance. Their primary goal is to profit from the frontier city's trade, and secondary to that goal is to keep the city prosperous and safe from external influences. As such, their agents keep their existence largely unknown even as they deliver missives to various others in the city which hold instructions or "suggestions".
The Council is responsible for handling most of the city operations the Circle does not wish to bother with, and together the two have kept the Free City intact through four generations since becoming recognized by the Empire in an official capacity.


Trying to unravel the origins of Lybermis proves difficult, as there has been more than one frontier settlement in this area which have failed. The serpentfolk and lizardfolk in the area are not to be lightly considered as enemies, but the common story told about how Lybermis came to be begins with one of these settlements being protected by a band of adventurers calling themselves the Order of Ashes. A pitched battle against one of the local serpentfolk tribes ended with the settlement severely damaged but still standing, and following years had the Order of Ashes fight off other such incursions and allowing the settlement to set down permanent roots.
After that, there were a number of supposed "Frontier Lords" who tried to become ruler of the settlement, though they never lasted long. Over time the settlement managed to grow to support itself and build rough docks with which to allow ships to dock for supplies or new settlers. As ruins and exotic goods were discovered in the jungles of the southern lands, Lybermis experienced a boom of popularity until the formation of the Circle of Open Hands began to slowly shape how the town was developing. During this time, they fostered a few adventurer groups of their own and began to encourage exploration of the jungles to find anything else which may prove profitable in trade. Naturally, this stirred up the local tribes and forced another round of attempted invasions of the town. By this point, there was a well-staffed militia and they were armed with weapons rather than tools; the resulting victory established Lybermis as a permanent fixture in the region with little chance of being snuffed out as its predecessors had been. Four generations ago, the Rhyliss Empire formally recognized Lybermis as a settlement and appointed a Duke to look over the territory. This has turned into a mere formality, as the Duke arrived and quietly settled into an estate well outside the city itself. They do not interfere with the operation of the city at all except to occasionally collect taxes and send it back to the Empire.
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