The Lance of Marduk
Cadrin, City Asunder
The city of Cadrin goes by many names. To her people, she is Cadrin; a center of knowledge and wisdom. To the Elven tribes that live nearby, she is Málo, “ally,” in their native tongue; though that word is spoken with utter disdain in recent days. To the common folk of the Nentir Vale, she is rarely known at all. Those who know of the city are likely to know her as Milo (a corruption of the Elven), but even they tend to keep their distance from the city and the reclusive scholars that live there.
Cadrin was nearly unknown for many years after its founding, and it fought hard to stay that way. The Nentir Vale grows smaller every day, though; and it was impossible for Cadrin or any city to remain isolated indefinitely. At first, the city consisted only of a central keep, used as de facto Senate houses, a few temples and shrines, and a university (with, of course, an impressive library). Near the keep, some three leagues away, just within the Harken Forest, was an Elven village. When the two discovered one another – long before the outside world found them – the leaders of both peoples realized that their proximity and mutual, willing isolation could unite them. Where the city was a center of knowledge and learning, its people bred for intellect and teaching; the village was the self-sustaining society that the academic Cadrin needed to survive in its isolation. The two found themselves closely linked; the city became the cerebral center of both, and the village’s farmers fed Cadrin’s people and guided them in their later attempts at sustained agriculture. Even so, both retained much of the independence that had been their desire even before their alliance. In an effort to bridge the cultural gap between the peoples, it was a common occurrence for Cadrin’s senators and scholars to wed the tribal leaders of the elves, binding their makeshift alliance with ties of blood.
It should be noted that there was one area in which the archives of Cadrin fell appallingly short: history. The founders of the city had retreated from the outside world and attempted to start anew, free from the war, pestilence, and desolation that had driven them from their homelands. Believing that the natural state of humanity was peace and innovation, they expunged all record of war and plague from their archives; and then, to be certain of their thoroughness, destroyed all reference to the nations of the past. For some years, this protected them. Cadrin’s citizens knew nothing of their world’s past, and believed that all civilization that existed was confined to the city and the nearby village. But nothing can hide from the world forever, much less a city. Within decades, merchants discovered the city. No longer able to deny the existence of civilization beyond the two towns, Cadrin was forced to accept that they were part of something beyond themselves: the Nentir Vale, Neruval, and ultimately, the world.
As the veil around Cadrin began to fade, the city expanded with newcomers. While the Old City (more often referred to as the ‘inner ring’) was still populated almost exclusively by the descendants of the founders, the city grew into a more recognizable form over the next few years. Artisans and alchemists took up residence closest to the Old City, where knowledge and materials were most readily accessible. Further from the walls, more common tradesmen such as blacksmiths and tanners settled themselves into the land. Farms rose up around the periphery of the city, helping to feed the influx of people. The elves were no more pleased with these developments than the old guard of Cadrin, and in fact much less so. Tied as they were to the city, they had no choice but to watch as their concealment crumbled, and their ‘allies’ appeared to flourish. Little did they know that even as their animosity grew, Cadrin’s senate spent hours locked in debate regarding the interlopers to their land and their world.
As time went on, Cadrin was given no choice but to accept the newcomers, as residents if not as full citizens. Instead of resisting the immigrants, the senate turned its attention to preventing another such influx. Curtain walls were constructed in ever-expanding circles, leading to the districts of the city to be known as ‘rings.’ The old guard, as always, was at the center, and the commoners were relegated to the outer circles. A standing military was formed to serve as a guard and police force for the city. Though the military took recruits from all stations, its officers were invariably the blood of the old guard. As the city grew into the spitting image of the strongholds of old, tensions between elves and men simmered, waiting patiently for the moment when all would boil over.
That moment came in the year 1123 of the Common Age. A number of drunk commoners, wandering the streets of the city after an excursion to one of the outer ring’s taverns, decided that an elven farm would be a prime target for their amusement. The rising tensions had not been lost on the common folk, and it was a popular belief among the commoners that the ‘shank ears’ should simply leave the city (whose population consisted primarily of humans outside of the inner circle) to its rightful residents. Riots to this effect had happened rarely over the preceding months, but were quickly put down by the military police.
After the attack on the farm, the Elves were outraged. They demanded recompense, and the Senate, still trying to hold onto their increasingly tenuous alliance, complied. The offenders were immediately tried and exiled, and taxes were temporarily hiked to collect reparations. The trial for the arsonists was fair, and in accordance with all of Cadrin’s laws; but in a moment of folly the senate decided to hold it within the inner circle, hoping that by keeping the trial from the public eye they could prevent further unrest. Their plan backfired horribly. The people quickly cried conspiracy and attacked the Old Guard as viciously as they had attacked the elves mere days before. The Senate ordered the military police to contain the riots, and the situation exploded. The military split, men torn between their loyalties to family and to their city. Within days, the city was in chaos. Riots ran rampant, and what forces remained firmly in control of the Senate had been recalled to defend the walls of the inner circle. From there, it was but a small leap to civil war. The elves, sensing an opportunity to assert control of Cadrin once and for all, joined the rebels against the Old Guard.
War raged for months in and around Cadrin, and the name “Málo” took on a grim irony. Eventually Cadrin emerged triumphant, thanks in large part to the actions of a prestigious member of the Senate, Luther Yderig, and his daughter, Aryawwn Casalee. By the time The Lance of Marduk arrived in the city, the war hero Luther had been appointed king by the Senate (at the urging of the masses), and was beginning to rebuild the city after the vicious conflict.