Clang. Clang. Clang. The sharp sounds of a hammer on metal come from a shop to your left. And, for that matter, one to your right. As you walk along the streets, the bitter smell of smoke fills your nose. You turn the corner, and hear shouts. Dockworkers are frantically loading piles of boxes onto large wagons while narrowly avoiding collision. You have arrived in Arrokvilla, the manufacturing capital of the western world.
The BeginningArrokvilla was founded when humans first began mining in The Dragontail. The Handi River seemed like the perfect place to build a town where miner's could escape from the dusty villages springing up around the nearby mines. In the beginning, the city was primarily a cluster of bars and inns, with just enough other shops to support those working in the taverns. However, a few enterprising souls saw a bigger opportunity. Previously, the mines had been shipping their raw materials to different cities within Manudagos and Askabao. This was expensive for the mines, since raw materials were heavy and difficult to transport and selling prices were lower than might be desired. But Karlos Itola and Marauri Lezaeta realized that they could profit off of this shortcoming. Karlos began buying most of the material for the nearby mines and hiring as many craftsman as possible to turn it into more valuable goods. Mazauri began to build her own transportation infrastructure that relied heavily on uses the Handi river to move tons of goods west more quickly. The success of Karlos and Mazauri drew the attention of four other noble families: the Arietas, the Aurteneches, the Yereguis , and the Eguiletas. These four families also quickly began to invest in the area, leading to the rapid expansion of Arrokvilla.
The City SplitsAs the city grew, Manudagos and Askabao quickly took interest in it. It was beginning to generate a large amount money, and both kingdoms wanted it for themselves. But neither city had more claim than the other. The city was split almost exactly in half by the Handi, which served as the traditional border between the two kingoms. And of the six families who had built their wealth in the city, three were Manudagion nobility while the other three were Askaban. The two kingoms began to move troops into the Dragontail in preparation for war. The six families suddenly became very concerned; war might be good for business, but a war in Arrokvilla would destroy the city and many of their investments. They proposed a compromise to their respective kingdoms: the city would be divided down the middle, with Manudagos owning the northern half and Askabao owning the southern. Both kingdoms reluctantly agreed, realizing that a war might lead to no money for either of them. And so the Arrokvilla Treaty was signed, splitting the city in two.
Rise of the Merchant FamiliesThe city was governed peacefully for a time, with each country appointing a representative to manage the affairs of their respective halves. However, as all good things, this would eventually end. The two countries once again began to bicker about this or that. This quickly escalated, and soon both sides were refusing to trade with eachother. The trade bans extended to Arrokvilla, where the two halves of the city were no longer allowed to exchange any goods or services. To make matters worse, a loophole was discovered in the Arrokvilla Treaty. As it turns out, neither city was given control over the Handi as it flowed through the city. Askabao quickly declared itself the owner of the Arrokvillan portion of the Handi, and banned all Manudagion businesses from using the river. Manudagos immediatley followed suit, claiming that they owned the river and preventing all Askabans from using it. Almost overnight, all economic activity in Arrokvilla ceased. The six families, concerned about their investments, held a secret meeting. In this meeting, they named themselves the Merchant Families and drew up a new constitution for the city that put them in charge over almost all of the city's affairs. They quickly forced the bickering kingdoms to approve the document by threatening to move all of their businesses and money to Shoria. Thus the city was handed over to Merchant Families, leaving the two countries in control of their respective halves in name only.
The Arrival of MagicThe event that changed Arrokvilla into the city it looks like today was the discovery of emeralds in the nearby mines. The Arrokvillans originally valued them only for their rarity and beauty, and began crafting them into expensive jewerly. However Irene Yeregui, a scholarly young woman dismissed by her family due to her interest in science rather than business, stunned the world by discovering that the stones contained magic and could be wielded, just like those used by the elves. The Merchant families quickly started focusing on how to use Emeralds, and developed an entire new industry centered on the gems. They began to grind them into potions, add them to small artifacts, and, of course, embed full size emeralds into staffs and other accessories for anyone powerful enough to wield their full power.
Center of MagicToday, in addition to being known for its metal and stonework, Arrokvilla has become the center for all things magical. Those with money visit the city regularly in the hopes of purchasing an Emerald and learning to use it's power. In addition, the city is home to the Irene Yeregui School of Magic, the most renowned school for learning to use emeralds and the center for all western research on the matter. The school also regularly invents new uses for emeralds, which are rumored to be passed along to the Merchant Families in exchange for being left to themselves. As a hub of magic, Arrokvilla has also drawn the interest of those with emeralds gifted by the gods. Because of this, many temples have sprung up within the city. This concerned the Merchant Families, since many of the churches have ideals directly opposing their own. However, after a short attempt to drive several clerics out of the area, the Merchant Families have become strangely silent on the matter. It seems that the wrath of the gods may have been bad for business.
Controversial GovernanceWhile many praise the Merchant Families for their inventiveness and ability to keep peace within the city, their governance is not without controversy. Many people claim that the government cares little about the people of the city, and only uses their power to line their own pockets. They cite rules such as those banning the creation of a new business without council approval; the council claims to do this for the safety of residents, but their opposition believes they use the rule primarily to protect their own interests. And it does seem that the complaints have some merit; there is not a single magic shop in the city that is not owned by one of the Merchant Families, however a proposal for pet shop stocking strange and exotic (in other words, dangerous) animals has recently made it through the approval process with no debate. Despite the controversy and the outright disregard for their respective kingdom's governance, the Merchant Families do not seem likely to lose their authority anytime soon. They keep very tight control over the city's population, and neither Askabao or Manudagos is willing to oppose them. Together, the six families control at least forty percent of both countries' wealth and are responsible for almost the entire magic industry. With a war against the elves on the horizon, it's unlikely either country can afford to lose these resources.