Ashara
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(population: 47,000) Ashara is the capitol city of the kingdom of Gwynne, located on a series of hills and stark cliffs along the eastern shore of the Myrival River.


Ashara is a large city, that is plagued with corruption by both the royal court and its petty nobility. This ancient city is protected by both high walls and strong stone battlements; for it has been assaulted many times. In the center of the city, dominating the city skyline, is the massive Gwynnish citadel of Castle Myrkur. Ashara is accessible via the Stoneway that runs west to Kholis and east to Carthac Keep, and the Ansilay Road, that runs north over the Frostcrown Mountains to Morgoth.

The city of Ashara is currently governed by Duke Joran Renfro, who personally commands the City Guard of 300 lightly armed militia. In the event of an emergency, the garrison of Castle Myrkur, which numbers almost 1,500 well-equipped soldiers can respond, but those troops answer to the King, the Crown Prince, and the castle Seneschal; not Duke Renfro.

CITY GUIDE


Ashara sits on the eastern banks of the massive Myrival River, at its junction with the smaller Ghastonne River, before heading south and flowing into the into the Sea of Orel. The city fills the spit of land formed by two sharp turns in the Ghastonne River and Ezrin Isle (which splits the river at its mouth), with a few outlying areas on the far shore of the Ghastonne. It stands on two hills: Garrison Hill on Endarin Isle and Citadel Hill on the mainland. The Narrows of Saint Alexian separate Endarin Isle from the shore. Off the coast of the southern end of Citadel Hill rises Shipwreck Isle, a dangerous outcropping of jagged rocks that jut from the sea and provides a foundation for the Ashara Lighthouse.

Five massive landmarks give Ashara a distinctive skyline. These landmarks have survived for millennia and trace back to the earliest days of the Third Age, when Ashara was nothing more than a caravan stop for Thannish nomads heading for the East.

Castle Myrkur dominates the skyline; standing atop a massive hill that rises to a flattened top. The Pillar Wall stretches across most of the southern end of Citadel Hill, a 100-foot-tall remainder of what was once a magnificent stone barrier.

Just beyond the western terminus of the Pillar Wall stands the “Gatefoot”, which obviously originally belonged to a part of the wall and that once served as a statue of some ancient Thannish hero; Rhodan. The other two landmarks, while impressive, do not come close to the size or grandeur of the ruins. Standing at the northernmost point of the Merciless Cliffs, the Great Tower reaches 270 feet in the air and serves several military roles for the city. Directly south of it stands the equally impressive Hall of Summoning, the center of operations for the Rose Academy.

Besides its impressive landmarks, Ashara’s other famous man-made features include its impressive walls (ruined and otherwise), its beautiful bridges, and its famed Vaults. These it points to with pride, but not all of its distinctive features attract the attention of potential visitors and residents. Chief among the shameful features is the rooftop area of the city known as the Shingles, which serves as both a highway for bandits and a refuge for monsters, thieves, and other undesirables.

GAZATTEER


Ashara is a large, sprawling city; divided into 12 Administrative Districts: Bridgefront, The Citadel, East Shore, Five Corners, The Heights, Graystone, Midland, Northgate, Northpoint, Old Ashara, Ridgefield, & The Slums

Bridgefront


When the people of Bridgefront ran out of room to erect more buildings, they started adding makeshift floors to extant structures. Over time, these makeshift floors gained their own rooftop lean-tos. Spaces between buildings became fair game as well, with ladders and long poles crossing gaps over increasingly narrow roads. Bridgefront occupies a narrow spit of land at the base of Garrison Hill, reaching only three blocks inland from the strait. In those few blocks, though, lives more than a tenth of the city’s population, including most of its poorest and most destitute residents.

Citadel


Citadel is the wealthiest district in Ashara, with more than a dozen noble families and twice that many powerful merchants living within. It contains two of the city’s modern landmarks: the Great Tower and the Great Temple of Myrival. The cost of land in the ward more than doubles that of the next-most-expensive ward. Violent crimes rarely occur in the ward, although property crimes, especially burglary, occur with surprising and unfortunate regularity.

East Shore


The only district beyond the channel of the Ghastonne River, East Shore is home to a handful of noble houses closely tied to various merchant Guilds of Ashara, as well as the struggling nexus College. East Shore is the smallest of the seven city districts, and its residents see themselves as somewhat separate from other Asharans who live across the river.

Five Corners


This relatively crowded residential district houses many of the city’s professional class and their underlings. The ward’s most distinguishing characteristic is Jeggaro Circle, in the far northern corner. City historians frequently debate the origin of the ward’s name, with the two most popular schools of thought arguing that it relates to the number of other wards touching it or to the number of sides the ward has.

The Heights


Standing atop Citadel Hill, the Heights District has a commanding view of the rest of the city, which its residents look down on—both figuratively and literally. Nearly all of Ashara’s powerful and influential citizens reside in the Heights, including the queen herself. This district is home to many of the city's wealthiest families, but most are still considered "new money."

Graystone


Unlike all other districts in Ashara, Gray’s residents mostly stay to themselves and are generally well-behaved. Of course, many of Gray’s residents are dead. The district is largely made up of the city graveyard, as well as a few noble houses and a mixture of tenements. Most residents here belong to the Temple of Nerydia.

Mainshore


The first Thannish encampment on the eastern side of the Myrival River was located on the grounds of modern-day Mainshore. Several early battles took place here between the Thannish settlers and the Ashanti to establish control of the land. Following the third battle, the Thannish settlers erected a wooden palisade, which was later replaced by a stone wall. Sections of first stone wall still stand and mark the boundaries of the ward. Mainshore's residents remember the Thannish blood spilled to establish and hold the territory, and dozens of statues and other memorials pepper the ward. Much of the city’s truly old money still resides in Mainshore; although many of its buildings not belonging to these wealthy non-noble families show their age.

Midland


When most people think of Ashara, they think of the cosmopolitan and friendly district of Midland. Situated on the leeward side of Citadel Hill, Midland stretches from the end of the city wall south to Graystone District and the Pillar Wall. It rises from sea level to climb the eastern slope of Citadel Hill, where it ends just below the summit line. Midland encompasses the teeming, seedy city harbor. Because of its raucous nature, Midland is seen as the most dangerous in the city, even though crime is higher in the Slums. It is here that most outsiders and city visitors can be found.

Northgate


Many visitors from the other regions of Gwynne first enter Ashara via Northgate, as it is to this ward that the North Bridge connects. Many of Ashara’s non-noble elites and old-money families live in Northgate, although such moneyed folk slowly relocate onto the slopes and summit of Citadel Hill. As a result, the property values of Northgate are in a slow but steady decline.

North Point


North Point, at the northwestern tip of mainland Ashara, was the first section of the mainland settled by the descendants of the city’s Thannish founders. The district houses many of the city’s oldest non-noble families. Ashara’s seat of municipal power stands in North Point, as does the city’s Hall of Justice and the wealthy and powerful Banking District.

Old Ashara (the "Old City")


As its name implies, Old Ashara is old. It covers all of Endarin Isle, which rises from sea level along the southern shore on the Narrows of Saint Alexian to a 200-foot-high escarpment on the seaward north side. At the foot of Garrison Hill, as this steep incline is called, sits the beehive-like hovel of Bridgefront. The Old Harbor stands on the relatively flat eastern protrusion of the island. Atop Garrison Hill stands the ancient stone walls of the Ashara Keep, completed in the Fifth Age. The imposing black-marble Arkhona Palace dominates Old Ashara, while the remains of the original wooden palisade slowly rot near the gate into the ward.

Ridgefield


This ward once overlooked the Merciless Cliffs to the south, before the formation of Citadel Crest. Despite losing any connection to the ridge, the ward kept its name. Today, Ridgefield faces the poorest and most crowded ward in the city, and it too is plagued with poverty. Ridgefield serves as home to the Asharan landmarks of the Avenue of Arms. Regardless of the poverty that hounds it from across the strait, Ridgefield enjoys frequent but stilted economic growth and areas close to Citadel Crest and University are among the wealthiest in North Point. Ridgefield is, by far, the most economically diverse ward in the city.

The Slums ("Shingles")


The Shingles came into being only a few decades ago, when urban renewal projects on Endarin Isle pushed Old Ashara’s poorest people into Bridgefront. As people flooded into the area, they quickly ran out of room. Taking a cue from the ancient Ashanti slums, they built upward, with lean-tos and shacks creating impromptu third stories on many of the ward’s buildings. These temporary third stories gave way to more permanent additions, which in turn received tents and shacks atop them. Over time, this progression of haphazard permanency gave rise to a ramshackle wall of residences reaching as high as five floors in some places. These cramped and irregular roof lines gave homes to some of the city’s poorest and most desperate people.

The children of these impoverished people grew up on the roofs of Bridgefront and thought little of traversing the ward by moving above it. Over time, they learned that other sections of the city with equally dense roof lines could also provide hidden and convenient paths. At first, these young daredevils only used the roofs as highways and called running along the rooftops “shingle dashing.” As the practice became more common and different underworld elements saw potential in its use, permanent and semi-permanent way points, structures, and safe houses appeared on roofs throughout the most crowded parts of the city. Eventually, these rooftop communities became known collectively as the Shingles. No accurate map of the Shingles exists, as almost by definition the neighborhood is in a constant state of flux. Generalizations, of course, can provide a basic overview of the Shingles’ features within a ward, but exact directions to a particular residence or shop defy description. The Shingles do not exist as a continuous layer that blankets the roofs of the city.

Rather, large swaths of Ashara remain free of the phenomenon, with areas under the Shingles being large islands surrounded by clear roofs. Humans don’t live alone on the roofs of their fair city. Instead, an assortment of nasty surprises awaits unwary fools traversing the Shingles. Everything from giant spiders to cockroaches hunt above the city, ready at any moment to snatch inattentive prey. Parents in the parts of the city under Shingles frequently threaten unruly children with visits “from the monsters that live on the roof.” Much truth exists in this threat, however, as spiders sometimes snatch up their prey from top-floor balconies or by reaching down into chimneys.

THE GREAT HOUSES


Ashara is a very old city, and has plenty of old money that goes along with it. The Gwynnish nobility flock here to be close to the Royal Court at Castle Myrkur. The nine most powerful and influential Asharan families are: House Arkhona, House Endarin, House Jeggaro, House Kalistrad, House Markova, House Mulsanne, House Orsini, House Renfro and House Vendradi

LOCAL NPCs


Blackjack, Cressida Kroft, Demetrius Davalos, Dharvayne Avratos, Garik Eridani II, Gerold Eridani, Glorio Arkhona, Ileosa Eridani, Ishani Dhatri, Marcus Endarin, Neolandus Dhoru, Ornelos Kalistrad, Roland Markova, Sklar, Trinia Sabor, Vencarlo Orsini, Zenobia Van Holm, Zellara

HISTORY OF THE CITY


Ashara has a long and diverse history, stretching back thousands of years to the Third Age.

Origins as Ashanti Trading Post
The city traces its earliest origins back to the middle years of the Third Age, when migrating tribes of Thanns encountered the Ashanti peoples, who were actually the first settlers of this region. Back then, the location where the city sits today was a small Ashanti settlement called “A'Shorah.” The walled settlement, which numbered only a few hundred people, surrounded a large hill on which sat an Ashanti temple to Lehr; the God of the Earth. The Ashanti called their sacred temple “Myra-Kur;” and legend has it, the temple contained many exotic magical treasures. The Thanns and the Ashanti became trading partners, and eventually the settlement grew in size and importance. This growth was largely due to the fact that A'Shorah was an easy barge ride across the Myrival River, and was a perfect resting stop for caravans of traders traveling into the East from two different roads: the trail leading north over the Frostcrown Mountains and an eastern route that led to the famous Hakeen cities of Ashkavan and Zocolo.

Formation of the Barony of Ghastonne
By the later years of the Third Age, the Thannish had migrated into this region in ever greater numbers, and the Ashanti were being driven out. In the year 900/3, an ambitious, Thannish warlord named Gareth Gwyharë openly declared war on the local Ashanti tribes and launched a ruthless military campaign to conquer the region. His soldiers slaughtered thousands of Ashanti and drove many more into the mountains to the north and east. The settlement of A'Shorah, which by this time had become a small Thannish majority city called Ashara, was taken by force and the temple of Myra-kur was destroyed. At this point, Ashara became the capitol of the newly established Barony of Ghastonne. Soon after the Baron ordered all surviving, so-called "Ashanti Savages," expelled from his lands. From this point on, Ashara was always under exclusive Thannish rule. The Baron also ordered a large castle built upon the ruins of the Ashanti Temple; it was called "Castle Myrkur"

Valden's Great Conquest
For the next 250 years, Ashara continued to grow under the rule of the House of Gwyharë as the capitol of the Barony of Ghastonne. It grew into a city with a population of nearly 75,000 and was the largest eastern Thannish city at that time. But everything was about to change. A new Thannish conqueror was slowly taking over the entire region and uniting all of the Thannish tribes and factions under a single banner. This Thannish warlord was Valden Durethë; who hailed from the city of Tekrit and became known to history as "Valden the Conqueror."

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Over a period of twenty years, Valden the Conqueror and his armies marched further and further eastward, until they reached the western banks of the Myrival. Legend has it, Baron Gillam Gwyharë; the last Lord of Ghastonne offered little resistance and surrendered the city without a fight. This is why there are no statues of “Gillam the Kneeler” found anywhere within the city walls. The city of Ashara then became only one city in the fledgling Thannish Kingdom of Valdor, which was ruled over by King Valden Durethë. Valden was able to unite all of the Thannish tribes under one banner, but his legacy was short because of the bitter sibling rivalry of his two sons; Eldan Durethë and Rhodan Mallistäer.

Capital of Rhodara
A brief seventy years after its founding, the kingdom of Valdor splintered into two smaller Thannish kingdoms; Eldara and Rhodara. Ashara then became the capitol of Rhodara, under its first king; Rhodan Mallistäer. Under the Mallistäer Dynasty, Ashara grew in power and wealth over the years, becoming infamous for its decadence and corruption. The Mallistäer Dynasty finally ended in 1279/4, when King Radovan Mallistäer II was slain by the Vilzari at the Battle of Flint Harbor, and dark times came to the city

Rule by the Mad-King
Rhodara and its capitol city then came to be ruled by the Mad-King; Gayorg Gwyharë. For twenty-five years, Gayorg ruled Rhodara as a despot, and the city of Ashara became a frightful place of dread, with daily executions and arrests by the king's secret police. The city was later sacked and burned during the final desperate days of the disastrous War of Annexation.

Capitol of Gwynne
Years later, Ashara was rebuilt under King Grenn Gwyharë and became the new capitol of the new Kingdom of Gwynne. The city prospered until the Gwynnish Civil War. During this conflict, the city was burned during the Battle of Ashara, and the House of Baldurin overthrown by Gorion Taraghon.

Battle of Ashara
The bloody siege and sack of the Gwynnish capitol that took place in 263/6, at the end of the Gwynnish Civil War. Rebel forces led by Duke Gorion Taraghon stormed the city and captured Castle Myrkur. During the battle and chaos that followed, King Garrett Baldurin was captured and executed and his dynasty came to an end. Soon after, Gorion crowned himself as the new king of Gwynne.

The Forgotten War
Ashara was re-built and endured for many centuries, until the city was besieged and burned by an orcish army in 825/6, during the Forgotten War. But Ashara was rebuilt once again, and became much larger, with two sets of walls. The smaller section of the city is known as "Old Ashara." Today, the kingdom of Gwynne is ailing. Thus, the city is now filled with poverty and decay, and is a shadow of its former glory. Today, the city of Ashara is currently governed by Duke Joran Renfro