Veritshire: the hub of commerce and travel in the Southern Empire, the haven on the horizon for those traveling into or out of Achaean borders. The residents, the merchants, and even the guards all exude welcome and hospitality, though the scars on the walls and some of the people show that their peacable hostmanship is not weakness.
The sounds of merriment and contented rest have only been slightly muffled by the sense of foreboding in the city. Citizens continue to happily ply their wares and greet their guests, unable to shake the feeling that something bad is about to happen yet hiding those fears behind practiced expressions.
While there may no longer be enough occupants to qualify for full city status, Veritshire’s economic and strategic significance make it an important local landmark. Each of its five main gates corresponds with a well-used imperial road, and instead of modifying those roads, the original town was simply built around them. Shops line each of the primary streets, leading to the main market square and The Old Outpost inn at the center, where the roads meet. The merchants and shopkeepers had houses built over or around their stalls or shops, while the garrison live either in one of the barracks or in a private home with their families, usually closer to the walls. Any remaining space within the walls was distributed sensibly for the town’s needs.
No formal districts have been named, so the roads, gates, and well-known shops are used for reference. Each road is named for its outward destination, i.e. Lake Rd. for Lake Demon, Raven Rd. for Ravenstone, Fort Rd. for Fort Fire, and so on. The smaller streets that lead through the town were designed to be easily held by a group of soldiers in close formation, so that the guard or a legion could make a stand even if the walls fell. As for the gates, they were aptly named based on what normally or most notably passes through them.
Points of Interest:
The Old Outpost Inn: One of many inns and taverns throughout the city, but certainly the largest and busiest, and thus one of the more prestigious.
The Manors of the Founding Families: Each of these manors started as a simple house at a cornerstone of the original town. The merchant clans and former Legionaries who banded together to found the town pledged to support and protect each other as they made their home into a safe haven for all friends of the Empire.
The Baron’s Keep: This imposing fortification houses the city’s court and dungeon, along with an additional barracks and armory for the Veritshire Guard. It is the heart of the city’s justice and governmental systems, though currently unoccupied by a Baron after the death of the previous ruling family. The current Steward prefers to reside in his family’s manor, and reserves the keep for visiting royals or nobles until a new Baron is named for the city.
The Red Tower: The rallying point for the townsfolk and the primary belltower for alarm, celebration, etc. It is also the highest point in the city.
The Temple compound: The temple of Athena is highlighted by shrines to gods and goddesses from all the known pantheons, so visitors may ask for any blessings or protection they need before continuing on their journey.
The Unfinished Library: While the foundation and exterior are complete and the building is safe for occupancy, the interior is not fully shelved or decorated since not enough books have been collected. Still, the Founding Families will contribute funding or manpower from time to time, and visitors and residents alike are welcome to delve into what knowledge has been collected here.
The Tower of the Inquisition: The newest addition to the city of Veritshire, the only building made of imported black stone instead of the usual red mud bricks. This compound acts as a staging ground for Inquisitors moving throughout the South, and a garrison of Ebonguards is stationed here for rapid response wherever they are needed.
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Some time passed before the group made its way back into the Empire proper, and many of them were glad to leave the harsh desert behind them. Grass and trees became a more common sight, as did streams and people clad in something other than robes and turbans. The climate was significantly more pleasant, though still noticeably warmer than the north had been.
Upon seeing a marker that said Veritshire was less than fifty miles away, Marcus began to grow visibly apprehensive. He had looked refreshingly nostalgic up to that point, like he was truly going home, but now something was clearly bothering him. Tom or Evvy could infer that it was the column of armed riders in the distance, though it would take a while for everyone else to catch up to their augmented senses of sight. As the riders drew up, the party noticed that Marcus had fallen slightly behind, once again lost in thought. He barely perked up in time to notice that the riders were drawing within bowshot.
Most of the fifty-or-so riders were clad in light grey gambesons and steel helmets, though a few had chain hauberks or bits of plate. A few were even clad in full plate, with their own coats of arms, obviously knights of some lower standing. However, as they formed up in front of the group it could be seen that all wore the same burnished pauldrons, engraved with the image of a legionary scutum,or tower shield, itself emblazoned with a set of balanced scales. The cavalry wielded an array of lances, bows, and crossbows, except for their leader, a barrel-chested warrior who looked like he could give his horse a turn on his own back.
While not much taller than his followers, the figure under the greathelm and burnished plate was no less imposing. His right hand firmly gripped a long-handled flanged mace, an arming sword hung from a simple scabbard on his left hip, and an oval cavalry-style scutum was slung across his back. The rider let his mace dangle from a loop on his wrist as he removed his helm, revealing an eager grin...and a face that resembled a younger, happier, and slightly chubbier version of Marcus. He even had a similar mustache, though his was a bit bushier and less orderly.
“Greetings, travelers! We are the Guardians of Veritshire, protectors of these lands and servants of the Count of Ravenstone. What brings you to our borders?”