Chronicles of Eorde
Redkeep is a large city-state, located in the south of the Tarkenian Regions. It is most famous as the home of the Mercenaries’ Guild. Also of note within its walls lies the ancient Ashik College, filled with many tomes of vast knowledge.
Redkeep is a military oligarchy, ruled by the Grand Trust, so named for the trust the people place in its rule. The Trust is made up of five members:
-Rokuro Alessi, the standing head of the Mercenaries’ Guild
-Sir Kelvan Longstride, the General of Redkeep’s standing army
-Shaila von Grast, the elected noble representative
-Mavuto Tholburr, the elected representative of the merchants’ guilds
-Jerra Brightsmith, the elected representative of the commoners
Redkeep is well known as the second most fortified city-state in the Regions, surpassed on by Snowmont in the Hollow Mountains. One of the primary reasons for this is the presence of the Mercenaries’ Guild headquarters. Many hopeful prospects flock to Redkeep hoping to join the Guild. Only about half make it past the entry trials. Those who fail are given some recompense in the form of an escort home… once a caravan is heading that direction. Though there are a not insignificant number of failed recruits who enter the Arena, using what they’ve learned to try and earn their fortune a different way.
The Mercenaries pay a form of rent to the city-state in the form of a cohort of one hundred members to serve in the standing army. This cohort is made up of mostly veterans, with younger recruits making up the rest to gain experience. The high standard of training and nominally higher quality of weaponry and armor the Guild provides makes the Mercenaries highly valued. Redkeep uses the Mercenaries’ Levy (an informal, but well known nickname) as specialized shock troops, their primary goal to target vulnerable areas of an opposing army and destroy high value targets, such as leaders or war machines.
To date, the Mercenaries’ Levy has always accomplished its goal with fewer than twenty casualties. It is a mark of pride to be selected and high expectations are placed on those who serve within.
Slavery and fights to the death are outlawed in Redkeep. But, due to the Mercenaries’ Guild, the city tends to attract a rougher element than in other areas. Decades ago, an enterprising young noble took a gamble on a new form of entertainment after watching a brutal bar brawl during a clandestine visit to one of the seedier taverns in the city.
This noble created the Arena, a place where fist and foot flew, bones were broken, and money flowed like water. The rules of the Arena are simple: no intentional killing, no metal weapons, no magic. Other than that, anything goes. Though initially most of the Trust were against the Arena and its bloodsport, but after seeing a significant drop in public violence and property destruction due to that particular element flocking to watch the competitors (and participate), they simply make sure the contests stay mostly non-lethal and any violence stays inside the ring.
The Arena has grown far beyond its original bounds, incorporating another five locations around the city since its inception. The potential money and fame draw new candidates daily, especially amongst the more “disappointed” of the failed Mercenaries’ Guild hopefuls. The seats are filled to capacity most nights and the populace continues to make the Arena a most profitable venture.
Redkeep is built upon the site of an ancient capital. The chambers and passages beneath the city are thought to be more extensive than those above the streets. One such complex is the site of the fabled Ashik College, the origin of the modern Bardic Halls. Though the Halls reside in a relatively far away locale, Redkeep is a constant destination for its students, and any other who seeks lost knowledge.
The Ashik College lies beneath the Eternal Garrison, so named as it is always fully populated by a cadre of veteran soldiers. The College lies beyond a labyrinth of passageways populated by numerous monstrous subterranean creatures. Sometimes, the way to the College is clear… others, the way is quite dangerous. The Garrison troops’ duty is to Redkeep, not those who seek the College’s secrets.
The rules for entry are simple… pay the fee. Take the Keystone. Take nothing from the College save knowledge in one’s head, or if a seeker can afford it, a copy made with your own hands.
Powerful and dangerous magics surround the chambers of the College. Entry is only possible through use of a Keystone, one of a set of five ancient key-shaped gems. These gems always return to their container three days after being taken out.
While the magic of the Ashiks keeps the monsters out, it also keeps the inventory within. No one can leave with a single scrap of paper that wasn’t brought with them, lest they never be seen again. Some who’ve returned speak of whispers from the walls and pages that turn on their own, as if some unseen hand were searching for some lost bit of lore.
The Mercenaries’ Guild makes quite a bit of coin from those who seek the College’s secrets. As do the merchant guilds, providing supplies to the seekers.