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Krinets

Written by KoshcheiBessmertnyi

Krinets should probably be known as the Mother of all Nor’ Towns, though that title was usurped by Dubno, which became the seat of Grand Princes for three centuries. It was the earliest settlement built up and fortified by the Alferovichi, and it became the seat of the first Nor’ state which the Rovers ruled as a Khanate. Even over half a millennium ago, it was already a major trading node on fur routes flowing to the south and west, and even then, the amount of wealth flowing in from distant lands was such that even today, treasure seekers continue to find buried silver hoards close to its main population centers.   When the Grand Principality of Nor’ divided into separate domains two centuries ago, Krinets quickly recovered its leading role. Its birth as republic was heralded by the so-called Volkhvy Rebellion, when, following the death of Grand Prince Radomysl, the priests of the Old Faith, along with a host of sorcerers and warlocks, rose up against the Gaalite princes, and attempted to retake power in a number of northern and eastern cities (it was rumored at the time that Baba Yaga herself prompted these risings). As a result, Krinets was split into Gaalite and heathen factions, for the old ways remained strong among the northerners, who resented being dominated by the upstarts from Dubno. The heathen faction drove the resident prince and the bishop out of the city, but ultimately, a compromise was struck: the bishop was allowed back in, but the prince would be freely chosen by a civic assembly known as the Veche. Henceforth, although Krinets has always had an Alferovich prince, the real power lay in the hands of the assembly, and the princes have been invited or dismissed at the assembly’s whim. Though this was seen as a temporary compromise at the time, the arrangement stuck because Krinets’ rise as a major commercial entrepôt created so much wealth that all the players and factions in the city and throughout the land remained generally satisfied with the settlement.   That story intertwined with the tale of Sadko, a poor Krinets bard who became fabulously wealthy because of a tip given by the Tsar of the Ocean-Sea, and then used the wealth to establish his city as the easternmost member of the Guild Fellowship commercial network. Sadko donated much of his wealth to the religious establishments in the city, which fostered the recovery of the True Confession in the north. And the gold-finned fish given to Sadko by the Tsar now replaced the Firebird as the visible sign of fortune, and still they swim in the font of the Cathedral of St. Cletus, which Sadko built.   Krinets’ good fortune continued even in the wake of the Kochmak invasion. Its position on an island in the middle of the Moiva River made it hard to attack, though still, the real reasons for Koshchei stopping shy of the city remain clouded in mystery. Shortly after, the city was threatened from the West by the Birmites and the Knights of Ritterheim, the Veche invited Prince Nikanor, a survivor of the sinking of Bogumil, as its Prince and defender. Nikanor began his reign by paying tribute to Koshchei, and kowtowing to the Dread Lord. This gave him the space to address the Western threats, and, in a legendary battle on frozen lake Suden, where magic obviously decided the outcome, he routed the Knights, who unexpectedly fell through the thick ice. After he had preserved Krinets from conquest, Koshchei named him Grand Prince of Bogumil, arranged his marriage to the Khan’s sister, and officially adopted him as a son. Subsequently, the Church proclaimed him a saint, though it never mentions his relationship with Koshchei.   Having escaped conquest, Krinets commenced building its empire. It was particularly interested in eastward expansion toward the Svora Mountains, because its trade partners in the Guild Fellowship demanded squirrel fur, and the old supplies near the city had become exhausted due to overhunting. With the aid of armed prospectors, Krinets colonized a huge territory to its east and north inhabited primarily by Kuz’ peoples, some of whom were enslaved and forced to procure ever more pelts to adequately supply the city’s burgeoning customer base. Protecting this productive hinterland required investing a new kind of force, and the Ushkuiniki came into being. On boat, mounted, or on foot, the Ushkuiniki launch lightning raids against the Birma and the Knights, and come to relieve vassal towns that are threatened by Kliakvites or other neighbors to the south. The most successful among them are rewarded with hinterland estates known as pogosts, which support them through any surplus pelts collected over and above the quotas required by the Dominion. While the Republic’s enemies see them as raiders and brigands, its citizens regard them as noble border patrols, rangers who protect settlers and furriers not only from neighboring states, but also from ancient evils that lurk in the vast forested wilderness. But while Krinets can hold its own in a fight, it prefers to use its greatest advantage in dealing with its enemies: money. Payoffs to direct rivals toward other foes are quickly recouped by selling more pelts. Particularly successful Ushkuiniki who grow wealthy from the fur trade generally join the boyar and merchant elite that really governs the Republic.   In terms of layout, the city is topped by its citadel (kremlin), which contains the Cathedral of St. Cletus, the archbishop's residence, several lesser churches, the city's its arsenal, and its treasury, and the Posadnik's residence, which doubles as meeting hall of the Council of Lords. The Assembly Square outside the cathedral is the site of the veche meetings, as well as the central Krinets market.   Surrounding the kremlin walls are the city's five Ends, each one named for a founding tribe, or the dominant craft within that district. Each End has its own main church, and its own torg (marketplace).   On the right bank of the river is Kniazhye Gnezdo - the residence of the Krinets prince, which is a small city in its own right. On the left bank, connected to the main town by a wooden causeway, is the Eisenhof - a colony of Garip merchants. The latter is filled with stone churches and buildings conforming to Garip designs. Entry here is allowed only with the approval of the Council of Lords, or the Archbishop.

Demographics

Noriki, but with a large number of foreign merchants, mercenaries, and refugees. A significant number of changelings and shapechangers compared to all other Noriki cities.

Government

Oligarchic republic.   While on the surface, the governance of the Dominion appears democratic, the true political system is much closer to an oligarchy. The Veche, summoned to the marketplace by the tolling of a special bell, debates and seeks consensus decisions on all key issues (individual districts and neighborhoods in the city have their own smaller veches as well). At meetings, the Veche votes on important matters of war and peace, and selects key Dominion officials. These officials include:  
  • The Prince of Krinets. The Prince is generally selected from among young aspirants in the dominant houses of Bogumil (Kliakva or Ladeisk), although on occasion, the Veche has invited Galindy princes as well. Typically, the city assembly is divided into two factions – one pro-Kliakva, the other – pro-Ladeisk (and pro-Galinda). The respective factions are represented by big merchant houses, but are also supported by different criminal gangs in the city. By law, the Prince of Krinets has command over the armed forces, oversaw diplomacy, and presided over the courts. In reality, the prince’s power is greatly circumscribed by other offices and factions, as well as the threat of dismissal. He is also prohibited from having a residence inside city limits. Those who are sent to carry out princely duties typically doing it to increase their status among the Alferovichi, to benefit their principality diplomatically, to prepare for serious duties of princeship once they return home, and to establish lucrative trade connections.   The current prince is Feodor Vladimirovich, brother of Trofim of Ladeisk.
 
  • The Mayor (Posadnik). The mayor is elected by the Veche from among the city notables, and serves for one year (though it is possible to serve consecutive terms). The mayor chairs the Veche meetings, administers daily affairs (such as meeting with district officials and addressing traffic problems, fires, etc.), collects taxes, and oversees the courts together with the prince (whose decisions he or she has the power to overrule)   The current posadnik is Varfolomei Shchedroi.
 
  • The Chilliarchs (Tysiatskiye). There are several such officials elected by the Veche, in theory one for every thousand of commoner population. They supervise militias, construction works, and adjudicate commercial disputes. Among the most prominent chilliarchs are Gennadii Temnitskii, Yaropolk Antipov, and Iudita Shchedraia.
 
  • The Archbishop of Krinets. Improbably, the Krinetsites have won the right to select their own Archbishop (whose selection is then rubberstamped by the Metropolitan). The Archbishop is as much a secular as he or she is a religious official, and holds the most powerful office in the Republic. He or she chairs the Council of Lords – a quasi-upper chamber of oligarchs that includes the Mayor and the Chilliarchs, and holds the real power in the city. All decisions of the Veche are typically pre-approved by the Council, which then sets the agenda, pays off speakers, institutes re-votes when necessary, funds elections of the “proper” candidates, and uses the criminal underground to enforce its decisions against a recalcitrant electorate.   The current Archbishop is Evgenii Shcherbatov.

Defences

Stone Walls

Industry

Primary node in the transcontinental fur trade. Commercial emporium.

Infrastructure

Main city sits on an island in the Moiva river. Suburbs (including the Garip Eisenhof) on one of the opposite banks.

History

Founded by an alliance of Kuz', Norik, and Rover groups between 500 and 600 years ago. Established as the dominant trading city in all of Nor' by the Bard Sadko two centuries ago. The city was untouched by the Kochmak conquests, though it pays tribute to the Khan.

Architecture

Whitewashed walls, golden onion-domed churches, wooden log buildings in most residential and commercial areas.

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