Breaking The Chains
Rel Astra is a trading and mercantile city has been ruled by a rival noble house since the acension of the House of Naelax to the Malachite Throne. It is given an individual treatment here (other Great Kingdom cities are not) for two reasons.
First, it has a long history as a semi-independent city charged with rulership of a significant area of surrounding land (north to the Lone Heath), which other cities do not. Second, it is now the major trading center on the eastern coast of old Aerdy, ready to conduct trade with anyone-the Sea Barons, Barbarians (rarely), Ratik vessels, the Scarlet Brotherhood’s proxies from the Lordship of the Isles, Sunndi, and other Aerdy lands. As long as money comes in, Rel Astrans don’t care who provides the coin.
The motivation for this is simple. While Rel Astra did not fall to Osson during the war, the Overking’s pillaging army in Medegia didn’t worry much about technicalities, and tried its best to sack and loot the town anyway. By this time, having despoiled their way through Medegia, the imperial army was both weakened and sated, and the city’s troops fought them off. This created a great hatred of Ivid within Rel Astra, however, and the generals and ordinary folk long for the day when Ivid’s gutted carcass will hang on a meathook above the city gates. In addition, Drax was blessed by his Overking with the gift of undying, and he is an animus and none too happy about it. He, too, longs for revenge. So, Rel Astra wants money and plenty of it. Armies of revenge are hired without bulging coffers.
Drax The Invulnerable, Lord Protector of Rel Astra
Drax rules Rel Astra harshly, ever preaching the merits of thrift, caution, hard work, and the need for self-sacrifrice if Rel Astra is to be revenged.
Rel Astra is a hard, harsh city, but is also the best defended, and the morale of its people is good despite Drax’s fairly tyrannical rulership and the open reverence of evil powers here.
Rel Astra is a large city, even by Aerdy standards, with labyrinthine walls which divide it internally into Old City, Common City, and the charmingly-named Barbarian Quarter. Each of these areas has a distinctive atmosphere.
Old City is where Rel Astra’s “old blood” is found. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they are wealthier than others, but there is a subtle distinction between these folk and those of Common City. A man of the same occupation as someone from Common City will consider himself superior to that other. There is something of a slower and more assured quality to Old City folk, and here Rel Astra’s oldest buildings are to be found in all their strange majesty, together with the fortress keep of the city, occupied by Drax himself, and the offices of city government.
Common City has three-quarters of the town’s indigenous population and is named after the Copper Common, reflecting the fact that this is the place where most merchants and markets are located.
Barbarian Quarter is the only part of Rel Astra where foreigners are allowed to enter unless they have some special invitation from Drax himself (perhaps at the request of an important person within the city). Barbarian Quarter is next to the shipyards and wharfs of the city, and is livelier and obviously more cosmopolitan than the rest of the city.
Rel Astra is rife with despotism. Drax chooses who he consults and takes the advice he wishes to take. The commonfolk have the virtues of thrift, hard work, and sobriety which Drax constantly urges. They are dour, joyless folk; the predominant alignment is Lawful Evil. They also tend to be a religious folk, with the temples of Hextor, Nerull, and even Wee Jas being sizeable. Syrul’s faith is outlawed, however, since a power of lies and deceit is entirely contrary to the Lawful city ethos.