The Gates of Freeport
|Leader:||Sir Lucan D'Lere|
|Race Inhabiting::||Primarily Humans, also mixed with Half Elves.|
The eastern human port city, which shares a border with the Teir'Dal kingdom of Neriak. The city is ruled by Sir Lucan D`Lere and the Freeport City Council. It faces civil strife however as the Knights of Truth vie for control.
Freeport has stood as a vital trading city in the far east of Antonica for decades, although for most of this time the active traders and oft changing governments have found little need to document the earliest foundations. Like its surrounding area, Freeport is rugged, utilizing architecture that reflects the sandstone and nearby Serpent Spine Mountains. Built well after the Rallosian Wars and the fall of the Elddar Forest, the city does not have the haggard, rebuilt over appearance that other states in Norrath do. All the same, however, there has been little serious effort until Lucan's war against the Orcs to bring the surrounding area to a heel, and therefore the city was built with a fortress architecture in mind.
Rumors have been abound that an ancient Elven city, know as Caer'Thiel, was buried over by the original inhabitants of Freeport, however no archaeological evidence to date has proven this speculation, and many have speculated that this is little more than an attempt by various Elves to try to retain a cultural hand in the ever important trade city.
As far back as recorded history has shown, Freeport was inhabited by a primarily mercantile class of citizens. Acting as the only port access to Faydwer and the connection between the eastern kingdom of Qeynos and the rest of Antonica, it was seen as an excellent hub of trade, a continental bazaar in many ways. No one knows how, or why, but following the constant skirmishes with Orcs and other vagabonds that made the roadways hazardous, a religious group of knights began to slowly acquire power in the city. The citizens, usually protected by mercenaries and other militias, turned to the deeply religious paladins and other knights who collectively worshipped the god Mithaniel Marr.
Under the Knights of TruthEdit
As the Knights of Truth came to power over the city, tasks usually assigned to the coalition of merchants and guilds that normally administered the city were turned over to the band of Mithaniel Marr worshippers. In time, the state army and police force was staffed entirely by the Knights, bolstered by men-at-arms from the expanding Steel Warriors. Although peace was brought to Freeport and the surrounding area, the back bone of Freeport's economy, trade, suffered under the theocratic restrictions of Order.
All the same however, a sense of purpose was brought to many citizens, who saw the religious sacrifices as seemingly worth the gain in security and prestige in the city.
Alongside the Knights of Truth, the Priests of Love, under the goddess Erollissi Marr came to prominence in the city. Headed by a high priest, the followers of Marr administered the day to day religious services of the city.
It was at this time that relations with Qeynos were at an all time high. With similar ideals and a focus on the advancement of primarily human culture, the Bayles were content to satisfy trade and cultural exchanges with their ally. However, with paladin enforced ideals, Freeport's relationship with its immediate neighbors, particularly in Neriak suffered.
The Knights were also particular about maintaining a healthy relationship with the Steel Warriors, often befriending the Marshall of the local chapter. They worked together to battle the nearby Orcs, who grew increasing in numbers.
Despite the restrictive rules brought down by the fiercely theocratic Knights, the people were mostly content with their lots in life, however over time, between a burden of high taxes and an aristocratic life style, the fast growing population began to grow discontent.
Early Forms of MilitaryEdit
The Knights of Truth, who by and large ran the city of Freeport, were dedicated to a feudal code of nobility. All members of their ranks were expected to be of noble birth, which gave the paladins an incredible amount of wealth and power over the city. Despite leaving in the framework of the Coalition of Tradesfolk, the once powerful merchant guilds that had formerly made up the backbone of Freeport's society had eroded to little more than an advisory council. Usually, they were left to tend day to day matters of administration and logistics, but the legislation and judiciary actions were commanded solely by the Knights, backed religiously by the Priest of Love.
The primary army of Freeport was composed of Knights, who were expected to undergo a rigorous series of training exercises that culminated in an ultimate loyalty test. Despite the slow turn out of soldiers, the fiercely loyal and well trained army suited the needs of the Knights, as each individual was expected to be well learned in both law and martial skills. To that end, Knights have largely been expected to be judiciary officials, executors of justice in addition to keepers of the peace.
The result of the highly ritualized and intense training was a fanatically loyal, highly trained, but ultimately highly valuable force that was the pride of Antonica. It has been speculated by scholars that this highly professional force was enough to deter the forces of Neriak, despite having record tensions with the Teir'Dal. This was also sufficient force to abet the Deathfist Orcs, who maintained a sizable force in and around Kithicor Woods and the Commonlands.
Knights were typically trained in martial skills that bolstered the use of a shield and sword, but many were also proficient in polearms. With the majority of Norrath's horse masters gone with the Combine Empire, the Knights were unable to maintain a strong cavalry force, however historians have noted that some of Freeport's past knights were noted cavaliers.
The Priests played a primarily advisory and medical role in the militant arm of the Freeport army, traditionally standing behind the vanguard to aid the wounded. However all the same, there are several noted examples of Priests of Erollissi become distinguished combatants in their own right, fielding an impressive force of Paladins at their disposal.
Trade has always been the primary source of income for the city of Freeport. Rugged terrain and the harsh sea air brought on by the Ocean of Tears made cultivation difficult in the Desert of Ro, while Orcs often made it difficult for agriculture to boom in the Commonlands. With a strict segregationist policy in place by the Knights, valuable goods from those deemed "evil" or "outside of Marr" became difficult to acquire. This was seen as a great consternation to the Coalition of Tradesfolk, and represented the earliest signs of rift growing between the holy order and the mercantile alliances.
All the same however, the Knights were careful to court the merchants, keeping them and their powerhouse popularity with the people intact, all the while amassing a fortune through usury, controlling the vaunted Vault of Freeport.
It has been noted that under the Knights' control, the city prospered in prestige, but was clearly delineated between two social classes. The aristocracy often grew to fabulous amounts of wealth, while the poor were usually relegated to the streets and required heavy loans from the Knights in order to keep their fledgling businesses afloat.
Jobs were often difficult to come by due to the lack of circulation of currency - with the majority of moneys being in the hands of the Knights and the Vault, and the crafty orders of Marr capable of producing their own goods, the people were required to either take odd jobs or become mercenaries in order to support themselves and their family.
Despite this however, the city was kept remarkably clean and stable, despite its desert nature. The Knights and Priests have been noted as particular about the appearance of their city, in much the same way Qeynos has managed to keep its underbelly from spilling onto the overt surface.
Law was closely administered with the theocratic edicts of Marr in mind. With each paladin given the authority to deliver justice based on their own training, the streets were often cleaned quickly. Without established courts, law was expedited. Typically, a prisoner was handed over to the Steel Warriors, who were contracting with the Knights and merchant guilds to run the local prisons. Those sentenced to death were often simply used as training or gladiators in the arena.
It has been noted by some scholars that there were many complex legal codes under the Knights, but it was mostly governed with the tactic of common law in mind. Nobility were held in higher regard than the peasantry, though it is at this time unclear whether they were treated differently judicially.
In addition to typical legal practices barring theft and other such common crimes, there was also a harsh racial and religious segregation in the city. Those considered by theologians to be "dark races" worshipping "dark gods" were allowed no shelter in the city, and were often outright killed on sight. This is a practice that has maintained to this day in Knight controlled sections of the city.
The Knights of Truth saw their decline come about under the leadership of Roley DeFarge. At his advent, Roley was a highly popular leader, noted for his ability to tackle virtually any enemy and bring triumph to the city. However, with his gaze often turned elsewhere in the world, his leadership was seen as neglectful, and the Coalition of Tradesfolk began to slowly rebuild itself in power, and began to establish its lesser known counter part, the Coalition of Tradesfolk Underground, which acted as its black market wing.
Roley's extravagance and decadence became something of a blot on the Knights, who were often pressed to find excuses for his constant departures and even his potentially alliance shattering conflicts that littered his trophy room.
Conquering more and more enemies, he routinely dispatched from the realm of Freeport, leaving the day to day operations of running the city to the young Valeron Dushire and Tholius Quey, the respective leaders of the twin orders.
The Deathfist Orcs at this time began to grow in power, recognizing that the Knights were weakening in their military power as Roley stretched the city's resources thin in his pursuit of fame and glory.
Crippled under a harsh foreign policy, restrictive tariffs, and a complex legal system, the first true rumblings of change began to come about in Freeport.
Fall of the Knights of TruthEdit
Under Roley DeFarge, the city began to turn away from the Knights of Truth. Times were changing, people were demanding more and more goods, and the Knights were unable to provide the needs of the state any further, particularly when taken into account the increasingly harsh raids by the Deathfist Orcs. Further, the attempted resurge of the Coalition of Tradesfolk demonstrated the difficulty of the times for the Knights.
Most importantly, however, the Knights maintained their extensive power over the money of Freeport, and as long as the nobles remained intact, they were able to retain their hold on the city.
The Finding of Lucan and the Crusade of TearsEdit
Two key things happened in succession that marked the doom of a continued Marr-influenced city.
First, Valeron Dushire discovered the extremely talented young Lucan D'Lere, who was at the time a young beggar who made his way through the streets, surviving through petty theft and what the nobles would toss him. Despite Dushire's wishes, the Priests of Marr were unable to accept him, as their ranks were currently full. Against his better judgement, and against the edicts of the Paladin order, he allowed a non-noble into the Knights of Truth, personally training him alongside Edwardian Holyblade.
Secondly, Roley's antics became increasingly unpredictable. Despite recent outcries against his regime amongst the merchants, he proposed what would be the ultimate shine to his name. Already having encountered in the past the vampire Mayong Mistmoore, he proposed a grand crusade into Faydwer, with the intent of eradicating the sylvan continent of undead.
It has been remarked that the crusade would be the grandest undertaking in the Knights' history. Despite having no welcome invitations from the kingdoms of Faydwer, Roley insisted on the invasion. The Coalition of Tradesfolk has been noted for its opposition to the invasion. Despite the political boost in power it would gain, the simple logistics would run dry the Vault, and worse, would leave the city virtually undefended.
These concerns were tossed aside, and on Valeron Dushire's recommendations, the city's armed forces were left under the command of his apprentice, Sir Lucan, to the consternation of Sentry Dillius, a young upstart from the Temple of Love.
The Crusade BeginsEdit
The Crusade of Tears was launched to much fanfare, with Roley DeFarge leading the invasion. Left behind were a "handful of Knights", which left Lucan relying heavily on his allies in the Steel Warriors to fill the gap.
Bards to this day tell of the somber mood felt by the citizens as the boats crossed the Ocean of Tears, leaving a city to uncertain times. Despite his idealism and zeal, Lucan could not remain optimistic about the future, as Orcs routinely made increasingly aggressive assaults on the city's walls.
Knights were expected to pull extra shifts just to maintain the minimal level presence on the city at all times. All the same, vagrants and rogues began entering he city in increasing numbers, testing the Knights' willpower to its fullest.
The Beginning of the Freeport MilitiaEdit
With the Steel Warriors waging their own war against the Orcs, and manpower in sharp decline, Lucan took the unpopular step of hiring on a pair of mercenaries known as Hazren and Drazden to bring their men-at-arms as a kind of temporary police force, relieving the Knights. Despite the popularity of the move, the shifts in policies made by Lucan to allow commoners and mercenaries to take up primary responsibility for the city did not sit well with Dillius, who was taking an increasingly active role in day to day measures, and began to head the opposition to Lucan's "rule".
However, Lucan's frugal economic policies and focus on "the people" sat well with the Coalition of Tradesfolk and other merchants, who saw this as an opportunity to re-stake their claim on the city.
It's been noted that Lucan enjoyed a comfortable popularity with the people of Freeport, despite his rapid decline in popularity with the local knights.
Recognizing the need for a more permanent institution for a police force, Lucan took the dramatic step of offering full time, professional work to his private soldiers, naming the new organization the Freeport Militia. Qualifications for recruitment were far less strict than those of the Knights of Truth, simply requiring a bare level of martial training, which was overseen by newly assigned Captain Hazren, while the day to day command was left to the newly promoted Commander Drazden.
War With the DeathfistEdit
Despite the best efforts of the Steel Warriors, the Deathfist became increasingly powerful with the advent of the Crusade of Tears. Bolstered by powerful new leaders such as Lord Shin Ree and united under powerful warlords, the Orcs began an aggressive campaign in the Commonlands, with the ultimate goal of sacking the city of Freeport.
Pressed with piracy on the docks and multiple problems of law and civil defense for which there seemed little answer, Lucan finally took the dramatic step of turning to those previously imprisoned by the Knights to fill his Militia's ranks. Although some of the prisoners' convictions were for simple immorality or other political crimes, it was noted by Dillius that some were hardened murderers and former pirates. All he same however, Lucan offered this as a chance for a clean slate for those in the prisons.
This was a decision that did not sit well with many of Freeport's powerful nobility, but with the bulk of the Knights overseas, and a now deathly loyal military who swore fealty to Lucan, there was little anyone could do to oppose the new bolstering of the Militia's ranks.
The time finally came when the Orcs had to be driven from the Commonlands - and so marked a bloody and brutal conflict that finally united the various factions of Freeport against a common enemy. With the whole host of knights and militia, bolstered by the Steel Warriors under Caine Darkmoore, Lucan sallied from Freeport and effectively destroyed the mighty Deathfist in a prolonged campaign, culminating in the fragmentation of the clan that exists to this day.
At this point, Lucan's fame and popularity grew to stellar heights - and his alliance with the Coalition of Tradesfolk was sealed. Dillius, however, had other plans.
Bolstered by his victory over the Deathfist and confident with his newfound mercantile allies, Lucan began an aggressive legislative campaign that many saw as "righting the wrongs" of the paladins who had previously controlled the city. Despite still swearing loyalty to the Knights, Lucan's policies began to better neutralize the city of Freeport, taking it away from its hard line theocratic form of government. Nobility saw itself increasingly marginalized, especially as debts were repaid, credit was cleared, and jobs began to circulate the city.
A coalition of knights under Dillius were strongly opposed to this, however, especially as Lucan refused their demand to permanently disband the Freeport Militia, which had become the permanent police force in the city.
Although the details remain unknown, an argument between the two factions resulted in blows between Lucan and Dillius, resulting in the temperamental sentry's death. Seen as a dramatic turning point, Lucan ceased the subtle distancing of himself from the Knights, and officially declared himself free of the order. At the same time, he succeeded in pushing forward laws that wholly marginalized, and eventually replaced the institutions put in by the orders of Marr.
The harsh laws relegating trade and foreign policy were lifted, religious taxes were removed, and the complex legal codes were replaced by a simpler form of common law established by the Coalition and Lucan.
A city that had once been defined by its focus on predetermination of social status had become a land built entirely on the premise of self advancement - social status did not determine economic success, as work was available for those who sought it. It became a city of help yourself, help the state, and advance likewise, forever breaking the power of the nobility caste.
This was embodied in the Freeport Militia's motto: Founded on sweat and steel.
Despite the power wielded by the loyal Freeport Militia, Lucan did not gain much actual, legal power. Instead, his power derives from the influence he wields with the threat of violence with the Militia. He maintains a close relationship with the Coalition of Tradesfolk, who are left to manage the day to day affairs with the city. Old customs of the Knights remain, such as an unwillingess by merchants to sell to some particularly violent races, such as Ogres and Trolls. However, rather than before, this remains an issue for the merchants to decide, rather than an actual law enforced by the state.
Economic, religious, and personal freedoms began to flourish under Lucan, however the city took on a particularly rugged tone. Ruffians began to move into the city, and it developed an attitude for harshness and brevity. People were there to work and make their fortunes, but by that same note people were there to plunder and take from those who had gained their fortunes.
The strict moral codes upheld by the Knights had vanished, replaced by a simple form of law that demanded citizens to behave as civilized beings should - but that aside, the Militia would neither aid those who had failed in their endeavors, or were unable to contribute to the well being of the city. Some have noted that the city took on a relatively Rallosian quality in this sense, that the economically and socially weak were cast aside and made way for the strong.