|The City of Arc|
|Type||City on the Greater Arc Sea|
|Location||Northern Arc Shore|
The origins of the city of Arc are unclear and differ, depending on which sources at Harenis and to a lesser extent at Dancare are consulted. Arc was founded in the year -2200 and was the first outpost of the Van Empire on the Arc Sea, the Van Empire's capital Deaus-Kaa was based high in the Arching Mountains and the creation of a trading fortress on the ocean shore was part of an attempt by the Vanian Emperors to expand their power and wealth. Van had been at war with itself for nearly three hundred years by the time Arc was created and the the destruction of Deaus-Kaa at the hands of the insurrectionist general Na'Gol in the year -2150 led to Arc becoming the de facto capital of an empire it had little chance of controlling. The founding of Arc coincided with the end of the period of the binding and the development of the Aruhvian religion. The Aruhviad tells the story of Yorhenis the sailor, one of the first great merchant explorers of Arc becoming stranded on the Drift Rock in Arc's harbour during a storm and receiving a visit from the Grace Y'Vestan. The Grace told him of the news of Aruh and the blessings that would be upon the great city of Arc that would rise from the ashes of the cruel and godless Van empire, blessed with abundance and able to navigate the seas now the Old Man slumbered, bound deep into the heart of Aruh.
Yorhenis sailed back to Arc the following morning (though the Aruhviad portrays him walking on water, a claim disputed by the House Fasstyr of Harenis after many years of scholarship). He founded the modern Aruhvian religion, which in its initial stages was a violent iconoclastic cult, smashing all images in the small settlement of the goddess the Lion and burning the hilltop temple to her). Yorhenis's Aruhvian faith rested on four tenants:
The Yorheni who followed him were devoted to Aruh -Piety (their belief was that the closer to Aruh they became the more they would speak in the tongues of graces and see graces in their day to day lives). They took vows of poverty, but at a time of growing material wealth in Arc it made it extremely difficult to recruit others to the cause. Instead the newly enriched Arcian traders would establish charitable houses for the poor and Temples to the Sea - hospitals for sick or poverty stricken sailors. They practiced the doctrine of purity, interpreting the Aruhviad literally and often violently enforcing its rules. In order to show devotion to god they also engage in purging rituals including salt scarification.
For the first 60 years of Arc's existence it was a small outpost of the mountainous Van strongholds on the Arc Sea dominated by Yorheni radicals , but by -2140 a massive building programme by Emperor Traedas began. Traedas believed that the future of the Van Empire lay on the Arc Sea and he planned to move the empire's new capital to Arc. This, he believed, would rejuvenate the empire after the civil war and allow Aruhvianism to become its official religion. As a bribe to the Van nobility who viewed the prospect of living 'below the clouds' as a terrible dishonour and sacrifice' he offered to create a permanent mausoleum at Dancare, which before -2140 had been a series of catacombs in the cliff face of the Dancare Straits. The city of Gol was also planned for massive development; it had been the first city on the Arc Sea and had predated the Van Empire. It was the home of the Cult of the Sea, who had worshipped the destructive sea god The Old Man. It had failen to the Van Empire without an arrow being fired in anger in -2424 during the Van civil war.
In the coming century the construction of a deep water harbour at Arc the the building of the three great desert roads had a catastrophic effect on the Van Empire, far from stabilising and rejuvenating it, the empire was destroyed by the ascent of Arc. The city acted as a hub for all the trade of the Arclands and Eastern Aestis and drained wealth and influence from the rest of the empire. The decision to move the capital triggered the collapse of the Van Empire and its dissolution, but within three decades Arc had reconquered much of it and in time Arc armies would control all of Aestis except the lands west of Dancare. Arc Emperor Khossan I was schooled by the Yorheni at the White Temple at the heart of the new city and marched his own puritanical values across the old Vannish Empire, which had practiced various types of Pheffism, Aruhvianism and secretly worshipped the old gods. The growing prosperity of Arc, however, created an entire new mercantile class of wealthy traders, ship owners and guildsmen who were repelled by the austere Yorhenis and following the death of Khossan in -1995 the Yorheni faith went into decline, replaced by a more flexible and less doctrinaire 'High Aruhvianism', whilst the Yorheni were not banned, their hold over politics was fatally weakened.
The Emperors Edit
The first emperors of Arc were Vannish, the Ordrish Dynasty, descendents of the Vannic emperor Dures II, of which Traedas was the most famous member established their rule in the city. The Ordrish ruled Arc for 150 years between -2140 and -1990 and during this time they did much to establish the city's wealth and power. They waged almost endless war across the Greater Arc Sea to gain control of trade routes, ports and capture vital markets. They also turned their attention inland and crushed the various successor states to the Van Empire, though they became overstretched and failed to re-establish the empire, this would take a further century and a half to achieve. The Ordrish Dynasty also expanded into the south and the east, waging wars in Del Marah and what is present day Nordreach. When Hakei Ordrish, the Blood Prince, died without an heir in -1990 the electors of the Azure Court (Arc's parliament of guilds) offered the throne to Jorei Starrander (John the Feather, as he was known on the streets of Lower Arc), an impetuous and headstrong young prince. Starrander was encouraged to take the Azure court's views into account on every issue and in the weeks between Hakei Ordrish death and Jorei Starrander's coronation, the court appointed a group of ministers who would serve the new king from the Rulderhall ( a large ornate domed building in the heart of Arc, the centre of bureaucracy for the city and the empire), known as the 'Lords of the Dome'. Starrander was furious and worked to undermine the council, but was unable to get rid of them. He sidelined the council and ruled as absolute king for eight years until -1982 but in the winter of that year began to obsess about plots against him. He died mysteriously the following spring, weeks before a planned bloody purge of the Azure Court. The Lords of the Dome elected a new Emperor Faerdyn Askar-Tarro, a powerful and talented Arc General who had fought many battles in the Arclands to keep the city safe from the tribes that surrounded her. His surname Askar-Tarro, was earned from the battle of Askar, north of Gol, where the city of Gol was relieved by Faerdyn's armies (Tarro is a general term for warrior, general or can mean code of the warrior). Faerdyn was generally popular, but this might have more to do with his presiding over a period of prosperity, where growing trade, low grain prices due to plentiful harvests and the beginnings of cultural golden age in Arc all led to a contented populace. Aruhvian texts argue that Faerdyn was visited by Graces who showed him in visions the shape of a new white stone city that he and his ancestors would build. He was told it would take three centuries to complete but would eventually become the mightiest city in Aestis and would be the 'foundation stone of the earth'. It was during this period that the ancient burial caves at the peninsula of Dancare began to be developed into the vast mausoleum city that it became on the great western straits.
Faerdyn ruled until -1941 when he abdicated in old age and infirmity for his daughter Drassa Askar, who ruled along side her consort Viyeldin and the most famous Arc general of the age Nurian Mondrias. It is thought that Drassa, no fool, suspected Nurian of planning a coup and the establishment of a military dictatorship so she exiled him to a remote outpost or 'Dran', five hundred miles to the south. Nurian claimed that he had been granted a royal charter to found a new city that would one day become the third great capital of the Arc empire. He took with him and
The Black Fields of Arc
Arcers worked out how to make their city siege proof long ago. They used the vast caves and catacombs to store five years worth of food at any one time for the population (though the population is so large now that it works out at about 18 months). The city elders maintained this policy for centuries and the city's Marshall of Supply inspects the food supplies in the caves weekly, replacing food that has mouldered. This policy has made Arc very hard to break using siege tactics, but in addition to this, the Arcers sowed the fields around their own city with salt and ash for a hundred miles to prevent any army of occupation from living off the land. Arc relies almost exclusively from trade and its fishing fleet to keep itself fed, and on stockpiling food in a crisis. Arc also knows that any army foolish enough to besiege it will almost certainly cripple the country it comes from as nearly 60 percent of all world trade flows through the city.
The great guilds of ArcEdit
* Each guild covers dozens of practices and trades and smaller guilds may be affiliated to it (i.e. the House of Grain incorporates the Holdwater* Fish Porters Society) *Holdwater is one of the more respectable dockland districts.
The House of Usury Edit
The House of Usury is a guild that dominates banking in the city and across much of the known world. Banking and money lending is a practice that at times has been compatible with the beliefs of the Aruhvians and at other times at odds with it. High Aruhvians are far more sympathetic towards 'those that earn of the coin', and Yorheni Aruhvians have frequently led bloody campaigns against bankers and lenders. The House of Usury is one of the more secretive and closed guilds in Arc and in based at the Marharei (The old silk market in the Heart of the City). An elected committee of the heads of the major banking houses governs the activities of the guild and all lenders within the city are obliged to join if they wish to operate. Small money lenders (Keepsnuffs) up to merchant lenders (who underwrite ships and mercenary companies) do not have seats of their own on the council, instead they have to gain the favour of a powerful patron. The banking house that dominates the guild at the moment is the Double Rose.
The House of Grain Edit
The guild that dominates the food supply in Arc
The House of Smiths: Edit
The master guild that dominates all craft guilds
The House of Sail Edit
The guild of ship owners, captains and crew
The House of SongEdit
The guild of performers, entertainers, bards and musicians
The House of SwordsEdit
The mercenaries guildThe great guilds of Arc are able to nominate several Lords of the Dome and have electors in the Azure Court.