The Rise of Arda
The City of Arda
The City of Arda was founded over 300 years ago by Ufirian settlers shortly after the fall of the Eshtea Empire. Originally two separate settlements on either side of the river, as they grew they eventually merged together. The settlements were formally renamed Arda with the completion of the Union Bridge in 143SE.
For a time Arda flourished as a trading port under Ufirian rule. However, after the War of Grim Honor the Ufirians were forced to hand over control of the region to Istvany in 211SE. Over the last several decades the city has been either mismanaged or neglected by its rulers to the detriment of its economy and citizens. Corruption within the city government is now the rule rather than the exception.
Historical records indicate that the region was inhabited as early as 320BFE, but the identity and nature of these early inhabitants is currently unknown by scholars. Despite repeated searches by various scholarly organizations and treasure hunters, no ruins or other signs of civilization have been discovered and most people consider the stories of early civilizations in the area to be myths.
The City of Arda straddles the Sondast River where it runs into the Sundassa Sea in the south western corner of the Kingdom of Istvany. In the middle of the river lays the Bazaar Island, a small island that was once the home of the largest permanent market in the kingdom. The city is surrounded by swamps to the west and hills to the east. Past the swamps lay the Muratas Mountains, an arid mountain range that forms the border between Istvan and Ufiria. Far to the north east of Arda lays the Algens Mountains, which form the border with the Empire of Zedra
Crime & Punishment
While the cities government has become thoroughly corrupt, the laws are enforced by Sir Galin Ryodan, commander of the City Watch. Sir Ryodan does his best to enforce the laws of the city and the kingdom but his superiors often prevent him from investigating crimes committed by or for the upper class.
In addition to the regular watch, Arda features a Citizens Watch program that helps to patrol the city. Outside of the cities immediate surroundings the laws are enforced by the Knights of the Realm, a group that reports directly to the central government.
The falling fortunes of Arda lead to the thieves guild abandoning the city long ago in search of more valuable targets. In their place several gangs sprung up. Beyond the typical squabbles over territory or marks, the largest gangs have formed an uneasy alliance that prevents them from tearing each other apart. For the most part the various gangs stay to their territories and specialties.
Places of Interest
The city can be generally broken into two parts: the swampy western district where the majority of the citizens live and the hilly western district, better known as “Knob Hill”, on the other side of the river. Much of the cities civic buildings, such as the Old Courthouse are located in the western district where as much of the industrial facilities, including the Street of Cunning Artifacers, are in the eastern district. These two districts are joined by the Union Bridge which crosses the Sondast River along the Bazaar Island.
A city well known for debauchery, Arda is home to many inns, pubs, and taverns. Two of the best known establishments are the Tiny Moose and the Dark Lion Tavern. In addition to these public establishments there are also a number of private clubs for the upper classes, the most (in)famous being the Peerage Gentleman’s Lounge in the Eastern district.
On the western edge of town, just barely out of the swamps sits St Ursula’s School for Girls, an institution that dates back to the early days of Ufirian settlement. This working school serves as both a boarding school and an orphanage for the unwanted and ill mannered girls of the city.
Atop the highest hill in the Eastern district sits Golden Bough Manor, home to one of the cities more influential families. The patriarch of the Golden Bough Family is Earl Marrion Golden Bough, a very successful banker who runs a commodities trade and has strong ties to the Royal Family. There have been rumors floating around for years that the family is extensively involved in the local black market, but any evidence or witnesses to such accusations has a tenancy to vanish and the City Watch are either unable or unwilling to press charges.