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Stronghold

Capital of the Human Empire

Written by Shiftrex

The grand capital of the Human Empire is an expansive city, to even walk from the northern gate to the southern takes hours. Here you will find wares from everywhere in the world, a diverse population living in relative peace with Humans and of course magic. The prominent features of the capital include liaisons for each major country, an outlet for Fire & Gold, the central market place, a new building for the first official paper of Stronghold "Dern's Word", and of course the royal palace known as Castle Nightbreeze. Stronghold has taken on many forms over the years from fortress to farmland and from capital to center of trade. Today it stands at the center of a strong Empire, currently ruled by Catherine Nightbreeze, a young woman who inherited the throne through divine right though with no small amount of opposition as she ascended in her 16th year.   In Stronghold you can find anything that you need, any specialty of any country can be yours for a price. Merchants, adventurers and anyone looking to make their way in the world can find a home in Stronghold. Nobles of the many districts can often be found here as a meeting is called on the last day of every month wherein the court must appear before the Empress. A large standing military can also be found here along with the training facilities to maintain it while the highest magic institution in the land is found just a short ways to the east of the city. The city is divided into five sectors: commerce, residential, government, and military, with Castle Nightbreeze being the final sector.

Demographics

The majority of the population is Human which makes up more than half of the non-transient population. Elves, Goliaths and Halflings have a sizeable representation in this city, partially resident and partially because of the large focus that Stronghold has on trade and adventurers. Half-Elves, Tieflings, and other folk have a presence in this city as well though it is far smaller.

Government

The charge of the town is handled directly by the Empress and her council of advisers. Justice is swift here though capital punishment is rare. Most crimes can be atoned for by immediate restitution and public service, the choice is given to the criminal in question and faulting on an agreement to atone is met with imprisonment or exile from the capital and the surrounding towns. Justice is carried about and judged by an appointed member of the Empress's council and the judgment of this position can only be superseded by two people in the realm, the Empress or the Grand Duelist. Here the laws of the land are written and proclaimed to the people openly, those that have open grievances may petition the courts publicly and receive their answer in kind.   The current Empress is Catherine Nightbreeze, known by many outside the empire as the Witch Queen. She is noted to be reclusive, charitable and a ruler that recognizes all within her borders regardless of their race or prior origin. Her public agenda is the improvement of the lives of her citizens and their complete protection from monsters, magic and the crime that has historically been prevalent within the walls of the city. Within the last five years, she has fired, abolished and appointed many new nobles and members of the royal council to suit her public agenda, removing what many would consider corrupt or incapable leadership to make way for change. This has gained her great public support and made just as many enemies.   The most prominent law that is enforced in this area is the record of all people that move through the capital and towns within this immediate area. Accurate ledgers are kept that identify the name, purpose and magical discipline of all travelers. The toll commonly associated with entering a settlement is set to 5 silver though residents of the capital or the immediate area are exempt from this process and those seeking to do business within the capital are charged upon their exit instead of their entry. Standard taxes are placed upon transactions that occur on creatures, merchant wares and magical transactions that are built into the prices and paid by the merchants or service provider. Residents in the area pay moderate taxes to finance town defenses, local education and the general upkeep of public buildings.   The enforcement of the law is left to the Night Guard, specially trained Eldritch Knights that have the royal crest of a black flower as their insignia. Varying ranks of these soldiers can be seen patrolling the city at all times of the day in groups of four or more depending upon the area in an attempt to keep the peace and establish safety through presence. The general disposition of the public towards the Night Guard is positive and they are known to be competent at subduing basic crime depending on which of the five levels has been dispatched to the scene.  
  • Level 1 are generally on par with most town guard and militia but with quality equipment.
  • Level 2 are generally on par with most captains of the guard from normal towns and they are usually accomplished Eldritch Knights with standard-issue magic items.
  • Level 3 are used primarily as escorts for nobles or in times of open conflict to defend the capital. These are generally Eldritch Knights with several magic items and access to a variety of magical disciplines that have the judicial ability to pass judgment on dangerous criminals.
  • Level 4 are used primarily as elite soldiers that will be dispatched to combat terrorism, largescale public threats or emergency situations dealing with monsters that have special abilities. These are generally Eldritch Knights that are completely outfitted with magical equipment, weapons, and armor to give them a significant advantage over any enemy that they face.
  • Level 5 are seen as heroes that can single-handedly face down dangerous monsters like Trolls, Giants or even young Dragons without much trouble. They often have numerous special abilities but their specialties are as diverse as adventurers. This level of the Night Guard have great significance in recommending public law and they act as guards for Castle Nightbreeze.
  The Grand Duelist has long been seen as the sixth level of the Night Guard though he is also a separate political entity, the hand-picked champion of the Empire's ruler that has the ability to assume full command during times of national emergency. The range of abilities and powers associated with the holder of this title is vast and lends weight to the name that few others can command.

Defences

Defenses of this area include an organized and multi-branch standing army that numbers well over 20,000.   The Night Guard composes the bulk of this standing army with its various levels. They spend their days thwarting basic crime and acting as the first line of defense for the city in case of an attack. These are generally Eldritch Knights of varying levels that wear a black flower as their insignia, during times of conflict they act as a highly coordinated tactical unit that specializes in communication and short-range combat.   The Black Grass composes the next largest part of the standing army, these are members of the army that specialize in ranged combat. Their public nickname is also the Thistles because of their renowned archery skills. Here you will find varying types of Fighters and Rangers that are skilled with bows, crossbows, ballista and siege machines. They have been charged with the upkeep and implementation of defenses on the walls that can keep attackers at bay and deter many types of conventional attacks.   The Nightshades are a group that supports the army with arcane magic, the majority of these are Wizards and Sorcerers that have had formalized training in combat magic from the Starlit Tower though few of them are true graduates from the Academy. They specialize in area of effect spells and destructive magic to subdue enemies, they seldom see duty except in times of war or as aides to the research of the Starlit Tower.   The Newmoon is an organization that provides the army with clerical support and also creates Paladins. This branch specializes in support magic, healing, buffing and providing heavily armored units to hold lines. These Clerica come from a variety of backgrounds though the most common is the War Domain, specifically worshiping the dragon god known as Kallex. Paladins of the Newmoon are also called Black Knights.   Stronghold is also surrounded by a stone wall, approximately 200 feet tall and it gives the appearance of being fifty feet thick. In actuality there are two walls, each wall is only 20 feet thick and has a gap in between that is filled with water and scaffolding that helps to disperse blunt impacts and preserve the integrity of the titanic structure. This doubles as an emergency water supply for the town in times of danger.

Infrastructure

This town specializes in magical items and wares from around the world in general.   In the commercial district, there is an abundance of stable areas where you can buy horses, Dinosaurs and exotic mounts from the Elven Kingdom. The most notable emporium for this is Slazar's Exotic Creatures, which offers much more to see in addition to mounts. Adventurers can find rare forms of monsters here that can be tamed as companions, strange servants or ranger pets depending on the kind of money that you are willing to spend.   Weapons and armor are to be found around every corner, exotic and mundane materials abound. If you don't like a price you can probably wander around and find someone to cut that price lower within the hour. As far as general wares and mundane items go this is an adventurer's paradise, artisans abound and everyone is trying to set up shop to compete. Because of this, you can often find a deal on high-quality weapons, armor, and even raw materials. A variety of jobs are passed on to the Dagger Guild to obtain special metals, monster products and even naturally occurring materials that are located in dangerous places.   However, if the artisans of other lands beyond the borders of the shores interest you then you it's likely you need to visit Fire & Gold, Inc., a company based along the shore of the Little Greenwood. This is a start-up adventuring company that has seen great success with imports and exports from the Southern Continent, they even dabble in the transportation of passengers. If you're looking for exotic texts, potions and trinkets that won't be found on the Northen Continent anywhere else then here is where you want to spend your money. Quite recently they have sponsored an artist of great renown from the Elven Kingdom, a man skilled with inks and enchantment that advertises the ability to turn his art into magical weapons. Kaazar has set up shop in the newest buildings acquired by Fire & Gold, Inc. with the intent to cash in on his own corner of the money-making empire.   If magic and potions are something that interests you then you will find no shortage of enchanters, Wizards and Alchemists. There are experienced vendors, shops and even small companies that will be happy to accommodate you with standard or custom potions, scrolls, magical items made to order and there are even some novice spell casters looking for adventure that can easily be contracted. Due to the popularity of magic, it is often advised to get a second opinion and ensure that you get what you bargain for when dealing with vendors that have to little to no reputation lest you buy a "heavily discounted" item that doesn't live up to the expectations you have. For customers looking for a product backed by a guarantee, the safest option would be shops that have the official endorsement of Starlit Tower, not an easily obtained license.   The temples and religious areas are actually found within the residential districts where you will find a grand temple. Eight towers stand at the center of the residential area, each one connected to a smaller, central building by great staircases. Here you will find clerics that belong to each of the eight pantheons, they are skilled and able to conduct rituals and services associated with each Pantheon of Isekai. For a fee, novice clerics can be contracted and more experienced clerics can be commissioned to remove poisons, curses and even raise the dead if the circumstances are correct. Usually, these prices are reasonable and have more to do with procuring the materials required to cast the spell than anything else.   Taverns are abundant as are Inns without the addition of a bar and eatery. There are inns for the traveler down on their luck as well as the rich and famous, each of them being found scattered throughout the city. There are few that will turn away paying customers but the higher end establishments may question those that have gold but do not look the part, the questioning is usually quieted with a bit more coin though. The most popular Inn among travelers is the one that acts as the Dagger Guild building for the town where members of the adventuring guild can find work, room and board as long as their monthly dues are paid. The local guild master is a Tiefling by the name of Kel, sorceress by trade and she take no questionable business in her establishment where the sign "The Splittered Bone" hangs proudly.   Under the city lies a historical attraction. Ancient catacombs that have been built, lost, buried and unearthed again several times over the course of Stronghold's history lie far beneath the streets. Here are the tombs of the rich, the poor, the famous and even the criminals that have lived in this area. The catacombs span several stories and are made up of passageways that connect like a spider's web. Some of the more famous areas are well guarded and regulated but the passages are so numerable and forgotten to time that there are no accurate maps that encompass the entire structure. These make a viable hiding place for those practicing occult rituals and criminal activity. Those wishing to avoid shady characters should stick to the tombs dedicated to historical and religious purposes.   Road systems are well kept throughout the capital and the various cities that connect them. Within the surrounding areas, all the roads are gravel with the Traveler's Grass trimmed back at least ten feet. Each town is responsible for keeping this standard within three miles of their town while the capital makes sure that the road is in a usable condition at all times. The condition of the grass distance from the road may not always be up to standard if it is more than three miles from a town.

History

The history of humanity is one of constant struggle, warfare, and pride as they established their place in the world. The city of Stronghold is humanity's most ancient settlement despite being destroyed and rebuilt several times through the course of history because of war, natural disaster, and magical misfortune. Despite this, the ground that Stronghold is built up is rumored to be the exact area where Dern built the original town for humanity...


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