The city of Freehold sat three miles from the southernmost tip of the Reaching River. The outer walls of the city stood thirty feet tall and five feet thick at the narrowest point. The gates that allowed access to the city proper were four in number, one for each primary direction, and each of these gates was made of stone supported by banded iron and lead. The city itself was divided into three rings, or tiers, each of which was separated from the rest by walls and gatehouses. This was to make the city more defensible, and to remind the citizens of their social status. Those who dwell within the city numbered around twenty thousand souls, but some two hundred thousand peoples could be found within Freehold’s walls between the hours of sunrise and sunset. This was due to the bazaar.

The Freehold bazaar was truly a sight to behold. A thousand cultures from one hundred lands converged in one spot. Stalls were set up across the main avenue of the Freehold’s second of three tiers which make up the city of Freehold, and these stalls sold goods and wares from across the entire continent of Alder Bân. The many tined candelabras fashioned by the Nomads from the Goberon Desert were being sold next to books written by the magery of the Southern Peninsula. Customers haggling for furs and pelts which once were worn by animals on the Frozen Peaks stood next to women buying cured meats from the Drendel Plane and fruits which bathed in the sun of the jungles of Timür as their children purchased trinkets forged by the dwarves of the Blue Hills, the masters of clockwork and steam power.

Coins and currencies from across the continent were exchanged. The crowned silvers of Republic of Armlah nestled next to gold coins depicting the face of Emperor Cass whose dominion stretches from the island of Casigür to Lake Peligar, south to the walled city of Canaseh, and north snaking along the River Religar to the northernmost point of the Alder Bân Peninsula, if you exclude the lands beyond the White Gate. The cut garnets of Ironhold were being examined by traders in exchange for the octagonal coins of Freehold. Coppers from the Lowlands were handed over in fistfuls for goods that one magical tome from the Seven Nations could procure.

The languages spoken in the bazaar reflected the full spread of the peoples who called the continent Alder Bân home. The harsh guttural tones of the Casigür Empire contrasted with the breathy dialect spoken by the Goberon Desert nomads. The language used by Republic of Armlah citizens loudly shouted across the bazaar, having been translated from the Freehold script. The language of Seven Nations in all seven dialects was spoken across the entirety of the bazaar, as were the various tongues of refugees that came to Freehold from the hundreds of cities conquered by the Casigür Empire and her legions.

Above all of them was the magery of Freehold. In the lofty Purple Palace, the main structure of the Third and tallest Tier of Freehold were the mages who were the voice in the ears – and the hands in the pockets – of the Counsel, and got whatever laws they wanted passed, whatever tax exemptions they wanted, and whatever people they feared imprisoned. Over their hushed conversations played a band whose members wore little but rags, and whose eyes unblinking and transfixed at movements of the conductor’s wand and the soft green magicks coming from it. In the center of the hall were jesters eating fire and crafting animals from balloons all the while being mocked by the magery.

The mages watched the bazaar day in and day out with a sense of pride and contempt. They were proud of Freehold, and the bazaar, for it was the commerce that sustained the city, and sustained the lifestyle the mages had come to enjoy. Contempt for the long line of refugees that seemed only to get longer as Emperor Cass continued his never ending campaign against the peoples of the Peninsula. Within the mass of refugees stood assassins, thieves, and maybe even revolutionaries. Furthermore, when one hundred nations converged in a city who had no allegiances, people talked. Freehold had a name, and large sums of wealth in her coffers, and the rumor is that with wealth comes power, and with power comes dominion. The mages watched from atop their lofty place in Freehold ever fearful of a coup be it brought on by refugees, Casigür spies, the various nations surrounding Freehold, or the citizens of Freehold herself.

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