Drakkengarde

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Drakkengarde is a bustling port city on the southern coast of Orodeth, and the seat of power for the Mercantile Alliance. Drakkengarde can actually be considered two cities, one on either side of the nearly three-mile-wide mouth of the Belsimar Strait, but it is governed as one by the Mercantile Alliance. The eastern half, known locally as "Old Town," dates back to the founding of Belsimar and is thus primarily of dwarven construction. The western half was established after the War of the Dawn as the Mercantile Alliance expanded its reach. The buildings are more varied in style, though primarily of human construction. Both sides have expansive docks, and barges regularly transport people and cargo between the two sides. Those who have more money and want a swifter journey across the strait can hire riders to ferry them across on hippogriffs.

Drakkengarde was originally constructed by hill dwarves as a natural port for export of stone, metal and gem works; the buildings in Old Town are mostly constructed of granite, marble, and slate. Given the prevalence of orcs and giants, in addition to the very real threat of attacks from the Dragon Lands in the city's early days, the city is built to withstand assaults. The walls are typically between 40 and 50 feet high and 10 feet thick, with heavy ironbound gates hiding deep murder routes. Massive war engines sit atop towers or behind redoubts; though it has been many years since they have been used, they are still regularly maintained or replaced to avoid being caught off-guard by an unexpected attack. The buildings in Old Town are largely drab and utilitarian on the outside, though the interiors are often more colorful (depending on the residents). The construction style of the western half of the city is both more modern and less dwarven in nature, with more ornate exteriors, but its defenses are just as strong as those on the eastern side of the strait. Old Town also has a number of underground homes that appeal to Drakkengarde's dwarven and earth genasi citizens alike.

Drakkengarde is an important point of international trade, resulting in a cosmopolitan population that is a blend of different races, cultures, and nationalities. Many languages are spoken in Drakkengarde, though common is still the most widely-used (with dwarven a close second in Old Town). Major temples exist to Zilchus (in the western city) and Moradin (in the eastern city), though there are several smaller temples to other gods (such as Bahamut) throughout both sides of the city.

The city is governed entirely by the Mercantile Alliance, and serves as their seat of governance for the entire realm of Orodeth. Representatives from all of Drakkengarde's major guilds (jewelers, smiths, shipwrights, masons, and textiles) are active within the Mercantile Alliance, with a variety of more minor guilds having varying degrees of influence as well. While there are no export taxes, import taxes are high. Though the Mercantile Alliance has made it a crime to bribe officials, they are not uncommon; one simply has to learn which officials can be bribed.

Drakkengarde also maintains an elite unit of griffon riders, whose mounts are descended from those the dwarven founders bred to fight off dragons. As attacks on the city are considerably more rare than they were in its earlier days, however, a larger portion of these riders are relegated to more bureaucratic tasks such as visiting ships to inspect cargo manifests and collect import taxes.