Project Sunset (tentative title)
Aidrice is a city-state situated in the central plains of Adla on the shores of Lake Calend. It is the continent of Adla’s oldest settlement, and arguably the most heavily populated, though it can be difficult to determine as few standing nations openly share information in the wake of The Sealtan Malediction. The name Aidrice, named for the first member of the royal family, originally referred to the city proper, but as its territory expanded through conquest, the name came to simultaneously refer to the city as well as all the lands under its control. It is often referred to as the world’s last standing nation of the old world, the last of the world’s cities whose founding predates the Sealtan Malediction. As such, the nation has become widely known for its strength and resolve in the face of adversity, and is considered by many to be Alda’s most influential nation. Since the beginning of the malediction, refugees have fled their homes to seek relative prosperity within Aidrice’s borders and, if possible, safety within the city’s walls.
Aidrice was founded by a large gathering of nomadic hunters led by a clan of the same name. As history was first recorded in generations, it is difficult to determine an exact date or number of years in the past. According to legend, their leader was blessed by the demigod Lady Adla herself and was given the divine right to settle the area, assuring that his descendants would thrive as long as they kept the region free of heretics, the followers of those that opposed her, whether men or deities. With this blessing, the clan immediately began construction of a permanent settlement. The settlement was named for the Aidrice clan, the settlements’s first leaders whose descendants would become its noble family. The continent became known as Adla, named for Lady Alda, through whose blessing the continent was settled. Over the course of many years, an estimated three to five generations, the small settlement became a source of protection for other nomads travelling through the region. While most stayed only long enough to trade work and goods for temporary shelter, many found a stable life preferable to a nomadic one and began to practice new trades. This attracted the attention of residents of other permanent settlements across Alda, most of whom were at that time struggling to survive the relatively harsh winters and difficulties of perfecting farming techniques. This began the first of Alda’s trade routes as Aidrice, who had prospered in the fields of both farming and architecture, traded their goods and technology for materials rare to them, primarily precious metals and metalworking knowledge from the north and knowledge of magic from the Elven tribes to the east.
Before the Sealtan Malediction
Until the beginning of the malediction, Aidrice was considered by many to be the world’s most powerful nation, primarily because of its wealth. Aidrice’s central location made it an ideal location for nearly all travelers in the region to visit, and also facilitated relatively easy trade between Aidrice and most of Alda’s settlements. This brought riches from all corners of the continent through Aidrice, which only went to further increase the city’s appeal to outsiders looking for a place to trade their goods and services. The sudden influx of wealth brought prosperity unheard of by any of the world’s civilizations at that time. The nobility of Aidrice, spurred on by this rapid financial growth and prestige, began to invest heavily in any project that promised to increase their influence. It became what they considered to be a divine mission as part of their pact with Lady Adla to build monuments to their superiority through public works projects, both by constructing marvels never before seen as well as taking concepts from other nations and building them to scales that were, at the time, unheard of. Aidrice is home to the world’s first known system of aqueducts, wild game preserve and national bank, and is noted for taking the concept of carving paths through the wilderness and expanding on it to build paved roads that stretched across the entirety of its territory, linking it to every major settlement in the continent. Aidrice is also credited with creating the world’s largest library predating the malediction, which housed information gathered from every corner of the continent in its constant trade with others. Using its vast intellectual resources as well as its central location and status as the continent’s greatest trade center, Aidrice also established Common as the single most widely spoken language in the known world, with every nation speaking it in addition to its native languages to this day. Though many of the old world’s nations emulated the accomplishments of Aidrice, in some cases to greater effect, Aidrice remained recognized by many to be the most powerful and influential of Adla’s kingdoms. Immigrants flocked to Aidrice to resettle and claim a part of its prosperity, at several times in history by the hundreds. Before the beginning of the Sealtan Malediction, there were a total of eight times in which both individual districts as well as the city as a whole were either expanded or moved to accommodate its growing population.
After the Sealtan Malediction
Despite the success of Aidrice, both as a city and as a nation, The Sealtan Malediction proved to be the great equalizer. The city’s population was decimated in the first generation by famine alone. While Aidrice’s people were easy to sustain with its vast agricultural regions and game preserve to rely on for food as well as Lake Calend supplying it with a seemingly endless supply of fish and fresh water, the malediction swiftly brought an end to incoming food supplies. Though reserves of grain and preserved meat were more than sufficient to endure a siege in times of war, the nation had no hope of enduring when more than ninety percent of the nation’s crop had been blighted and its wild game had been driven to near extinction by starvation. Lake Calend, now a body of salt water, was now completely inhospitable to its marine life, and its water was rendered undrinkable. This left rain water as the only source of drinking water for many. Aidrice’s vast underground aquifers, some of which managed to remain untainted by the malediction, were immediately secured to provide for nobility and members of the city’s governing bodies, with less than a fourth being set aside to be rationed to the public. The population dwindled quickly as Aidrice’s citizens succumbed to starvation and, far more frequently, dehydration. In the midst of this crisis, war also took its toll on the city. Nations desperate for resources gambled what little they had left on waging war with Aidrice, known for its prosperity beyond all others. Countless skirmishes along Aidrice’s borders as well as several attempted sieges depleted much of the city’s stockpiled resources. As the threat from outside enemies waned, a new threat surfaced in the form of civil unrest and, in one case, civil war. Without the threat of raiders and armies attempting to force their way inside the city, the focus turned to the city’s governing bodies, who continued to ration what little remained to the citizens. Rations shrank in size as supplies dwindled, and in the midst of desperation, rumors began to surface of hoarding by the city’s government. Several failed attempts to placate the angered masses as well as discoveries of corruption within the government resulted in widespread riots across the city, and clashes between citizens and the city guard further lowered the city’s population. This ultimately led to internal conflict between members of the city’s senate as those supported by the city’s merchant class demanded action when rationing finally began to affect them as supplies continued to dwindle faster than they could be replaced. Members of the senate in support of the people began demanding reform in the face of rumors of hoarding, while those in support of the throne accused them of attempting to dethrone the monarchy in an attempt to seize power for themselves. With some measure of truth on both sides and neither side being in a position to back down, armed conflict was inevitable. Though considered to be nothing more than one more example of civil unrest by most of those that lived at the time, the civil war proved to be a defining moment in Aidrice’s history. The royal family managed to retain its power, but only as a constitutional monarchy as they eventually succumbed to demands for greater authority by the remaining senate members. Casualties of the civil war were extremely high, with nearly half of the remaining population being killed in battle and resulting famine as remaining supplies of resources were exhausted. Though dealing a seemingly fatal blow to the city as the population reached numbers not seen since the days of the city’s founding, this is arguably what ensured the city’s eventual recovery as the meager natural resources left to Aidrice were finally enough to support its population. With internal conflicts momentarily resolved and a lack of external threats from those that had not managed to endure the malediction as well, the end of the civil war proved to mark the beginning of Aidrice’s reconstruction efforts as, for the first time since the beginning of the malediction, the people of Aidrice had both the need to survive as well as an undeniable need to rely on each other for that survival.
The Great Reclamation
The entire city had been severely destabilized by civil war, and by its end, nearly 80 percent of the city was lost.. Many of the city’s districts had been completely destroyed by cannon fire and bombings from the rebellion as well as magical fire from the royal guard’s spell casters. Large sections of the aqueducts leading into the lower districts had been destroyed, rendering them uninhabitable without any other means of receiving potable water. Sewers in the upper districts had been blocked by the rebellion and pressurized with water from Lake Calend to cause raw sewage to flood into the streets. Many of the gates along the city’s walls were left open in the panic to flee the fighting or opened intentionally, and many of the abandoned districts found themselves inhabited by bandits, goblins, kobolds and wild animals from the nearby wilderness. As the war ended and the people of Aidrice saw the state of their once proud city, there was a universal fear of both whether or not the city could continue to sustain life as well as the state of their pact with Lady Adla, who all felt had surely abandoned them by this point. Out of fear of her wrath as well as for their own survival, a period in Aidrice’s history began that came to be known as The Great Reclamation, which many argue continues to this day. It was touted by the royal family to be the nation’s last chance to regain their rightful place as the strongest nation in the world as well as regain Lady Adla’s favor. For most, however, it was a simple matter of survival. Many of the changes made that affect the nation as a whole were a direct result of this desperation from both sides of the conflict. The first major societal change to be implemented was an overhaul of the city’s government. In an attempt to reach a swift compromise between warring factions, the monarchy relinquished much of its power and agreed to the establishment of a democratic system of government to assure that the concerns of the people were heard. Through fierce negotiation over the next several decades, a constitution was drafted to guarantee certain rights to citizens as well as a certain degree of political power. The end result was a constitutional monarchy in which the royal family relinquished much of their power, agreeing to share an equal part of its authority with representatives from both the city’s aristocrats as well as publicly elected officials. As negotiations began in earnest, tensions eased enough to begin what is known as the single greatest construction effort in history. Every able bodied citizen of working age was conscripted into The Heralds, a branch of Aidrice’s military that employed people of all backgrounds to aid in the reconstruction of the city and serve its interests on a local level. They were also given the authority to conscript others to assist them in their efforts, ranging from slaves and prisoners of war to indentured servants and immigrants that arrived in Aidrice looking for shelter from the wastes outside the city, a practice that continues to this day. This both satisfied the former rebels’ desire for more influence in government as well as the nobility’s need for reconstruction. While civilian militias reclaimed abandoned districts from invaders and engineers and masons rebuilt vital structures, farmers and alchemists began devising ways to not only increase crop yields and feed livestock with less, but also neutralize the salt spreading across the land and make it once again habitable. Many modern desalination techniques are directly descended from these efforts. Once conditions became stable enough to support their population, many members of the Heralds were trained for exploration to observe the world around them and bring back news of their outlying settlements as well as the state of other nations. Though hindered by a lack of basic necessities as well as disease and losses incurred from continued combat with invaders, Aidrice slowly began to rebuild the city that can continues to thrive to this day.
Aidrice is currently ruled by a democratic system of government in which the royal family shares its political power with officials appointed by both the city’s upper and lower classes. Officials appointed by the city’s aristocrats and merchants, known as The Lady’s Hand, vote to set laws in place. Those voted into office by the lower classes of laborers, known as The Lady’s Shadow, hold the authority to dispute those laws, and in some cases, the appointing of officals, until a compromise can be reached. The royal family, known as The Lady’s Crown, oversees the enforcement of enacted laws and, in some cases, may block actions of other governing bodies or act on their own in the event of a stalemate between The Lady’s Hand and The Lady’s Shadow. This system was established following the civil war to ensure that all citizens’ voices are heard. It also serves to ensure that the city’s nobility, who are often blamed for driving the city to open conflict, do not have solitary control over the lives of the citizens.
Much of the land surrounding Aidrice is currently an uninhabitable wasteland, sparsely dotted with oases and the remnants of settlements established before the malediction. Many of the lands to the west, once vast forests, are now primarily badlands with steep, rocky hills formed by erosion from constant rains and strong winds from the storms that sweep through the region after the loss of the trees’ root systems. The ground is covered in a soft clay, exposed after the loss of the topsoil in the region. The steep slopes of the hills makes the land impassable by carriages, and the soft ground makes travel by foot difficult. The region is also dotted with soft, wet clay in the beds of what were once rivers and lakes. This creates a thick mud that is easy to sink into and become trapped, much like quicksand. The lands to the south, only sparsely vegetated even before the malediction, have become a single, vast desert. No oases are known to exist in any lands explored since the malediction, and few explorers of the region have returned. Much of the region remains uncharted as a result. The lands to the east of the city are largely dominated by Lake Calend, with Aidrice established on its shores. The Lake, more than 400 miles in width and approximately 250 miles in length, covers a large percentage of Aidrice’s eastern territory. The Lake has become a body of salt water since the malediction, with a relatively high concentration of salt due to its being flushed into the lake from several large rivers in the region. The salt concentration is too high for it to support life, and is currently completely barren. The rest of the landscape east of Lake Calend was once largely flat plains and gently rolling hills. This region has seen a small amount of natural recovery, largely due to the frequent rain from storms coming from the ocean to the east. Much of the salt at the surface was pushed to the lower elevations to the west, much of it draining into rivers and swept into Lake Calend. Vegetation can be seen growing in the region’s relatively large number of oases, and appears to be slowly spreading. Much of the land to the north of Aidrice is the beds of what were once large lakes, most of which were drained into Aidrice’s rivers in the early days of the malediction in an attempt to flush the salt from them. The remnants of the lakes are now large marshes and swamps, largely flushed of their salt from rivers further north originating in the mountains south of Vateur. While much of the salt has been flushed from the region as a result, the large amount of decaying plant and animal life as well as largely stagnant water sources keeps the water in the region from being potable. It is also known to be home to a number of dangerous creatures, and is generally avoided.
The climate of Aidrice varies widely as its territory covers an area of thousands of miles. The city itself is generally mild with relatively stable weather patterns of heavy rains in spring followed by relatively mild and slightly humid conditions throughout most of the rest of the year. Summers are hot, but generally regarded as being tolerable. Winters are cold but bearable, with slightly arid conditions and relatively little snowfall. Rainfall, though heavy in spring, is evenly spread throughout the rest of the year.
Few settlements of the days before the malediction remain, with only a small few managing to survive due largely in part to their relatively close proximity to Aidrice. This made it feasible to send assistance from the city in the early days of the malediction, although aid from the city proper tapered off as the malediction continued and supplies beginning to dwindle. The civil war saw the end of aid being sent to any outlying settlements, causing many of them to abandon their settlements to travel to the city itself in search of aid. Many of these settlements were soon taken over by wandering travelers and bandit clans once it became apparent that Aidrice was in no position to defend them. To this day, few have been reclaimed due to a lack of necessary resources. Only those established at certain points along main roads were retaken by the military to facilitate travel in the region.
Aidrice’s population is predominantly human, elven and dwarven with humans making up approximately 40 percent of the city’s population, elves approximately 25 percent and dwarves approximately 10 percent. It is quite common to see members of a wide array of races living in the city. This dates back to the days before the malediction in which Aidrice drew travelers from across the known world. Aidrice employs a caste system that dates back to the first several generations after the city’s founding. In modern times it isn’t officially enforced and is treated as more of an unspoken rule. Most people of Aidrice define themselves based on the status of the families into which they were born. The royal family stands at the head of society, followed closely by legislators and aristocrats not directly poised to inherit the throne. The merchants are considered to be directly beneath the aristocrats, followed by the scholars and learned members of society. Beneath them are the skilled laborers and then land owners, all of whom are considered to be citizens of Aidrice. Beneath them are peasants, people from all other walks of life including immigrants, prisoners, slaves and indentured servants, who are civilians allowed to live within Aidrice’s walls but not given the rights of citizens. While the caste system is no longer officially enforced and it is, in theory, possible for one to rise or fall from one rank to another, it is extremely rare and generally frowned upon for anyone to fraternize with anyone else outside of their own class. City districts also follow this division of classes, with certain districts being reserved for members of specific classes. While the city no longer has the population to support the old division of specific districts for each class, the city is generally regarded as being divided into the upper and lower districts, with the upper districts being reserved for the merchants and higher classes and the lower districts being reserved for the land owners and peasants. Between the two is a small buffer zone inhabited primarily by scholars and skilled laborers.
Languages spoken in Aidrice vary as widely as its inhabitants, and since the days of growing expansion in both population and exposure to the outside world, it has been commonplace for a wide number of languages to be employed in daily life. The most common language is Common, established by Aidrice as the national language and considered mandatory by law for anyone inside the city to be able to speak. While this law also applies in outlying settlements, it is not as strictly enforced.
Due to the large number of cultures represented, Aidrice has no specific deity that it recognizes as its own. Most deities from human, elven and dwarven culture are recognized in some capacity throughout the city. The closest Aidrice comes to having a central religion is The Royal Church of Aidrice, who sets religious guidelines for the nation. Aidrice’s pact with Lady Adla only commanded that they seek out and destroy the followers of her enemies, but as she has no specific enemies or known ongoing rivalries with any deities, it is believed that her needs may change at any time. To that end, the church appoints certain high-ranking members of the clergy to determine the will of Lady Adla, and the church sets its guidelines accordingly. Announcements are regularly made by the church when a new accepted or ousted deity has been determined, and it becomes law that all under Aidrian rule comply with the church’s directives. Heresy is considered to be among the most horrific crimes in Aidrice as it potentially affects the prosperity of the entire nation.
Education is highly valued in Aidrice as its scholarly pursuits have led to great discoveries that have directly resulted in prosperity for all. As such, it is generally reserved for higher classes of society, with none below the class of scholars generally being allowed to study beyond compulsory basic education past the age of ten. Skilled laborers are allowed to study within the boundaries of their chosen fields and land owners are often allowed to study the basics of economics. Peasants are generally barred from formal education of any kind. It is not specifically outlawed, however, and several schools exist in the slums in an attempt to give those born to peasant families a basic education.