Asherta

Asherta

The city-state of Asherta is known as the City of the Tiger, the Vale of War and the Last Stand. Asherta's main industry is war: there are several fine military academies (among the best in the South), mercenary companies, schools of martial arts and fighting, and fine craftsmen who can provide the finest in gear for large numbers of fighters.

Asherta sits alongside the River Tamas, and its harbor is a study in a variety of war vessels. None are so impressive as the Tiger Fleet, however, the military river boats of the city's ruler Subrihan Wind-Tiger.
Sided in bronze plates and loaded with brass firedust cannons, they are the only ships permitted to present weapons ready for use: all other ships in the harbor must have panels down over their sides covering up weapons ports and all ballistae and catapults must be unstrung, preventing their quick use.

The city itself is crafted of fine red and beige brick, with the occasional bits of glass, highly polished bronze and other touches of individuality. None of the buildings save a handful of special buildings are in excess of 3 stories in height, and all of them are flat-roofed, allowing their use as combat platforms should the defense of the city come to it.
By city law, individuals may own buildings, but their roofs are property of Subrihan and the city military. Government officials and others on business for the lord of the city often use these so-called Sun Roads, named for their direct heat all through the day.

History

Asherta was founded in the middle of the Shogunate. After many years of peace from the Delzahn, immigrants and other tribes to the area had begun to settle in the Great Hills area. But after a time, a khan rose among the Delzahn, who began to launch raids against the locals. The Delzahn earned the implacable ire of Subrihan Wind-Tiger, a great war-tiger god in the Panoply of Ahlat, after one of their raids destroyed the temple and assembled priests dedicated to him.

So, when refugees and others found themselves in a set of ruins on the western bank of the Tamas River, Subrihan appeared to them, with a host of his servitor-gods, to wage battle with them. One of the sky-gods of the Delzahn appeared that day as well, but he was defeated by Subrihan's superior tactics, and the Delzahn scattered.

On that day Subrihan swore that those ruins would never be breached by any attacker, and that it would become a place where men could learn the skills to defend themselves. Certainly, he might turn the whole world into warriors, if given his druthers, but better that than a world where some are soldiers, and others only victims.

His priesthood was reestablished there, from among the bravest of the refugees who fought at his side, and he has steadily guided the city's growth and purpose ever since as the City Father of Asherta. His position in the Panoply of the Southern war-god Ahlat continues to be fulfilled, however, by the establishment of the city's war and combat schools.

Government

The city is ruled by Subrihan Wind-Tiger from his Palace of the Great Tiger, a tremendous temple and bureaucratic center for the city. He has two orders of priests, the Upstanding Bureau of Governance and the Victorious Sons of the Tiger.

The Upstanding Bureau of Governance is the bureaucratic priesthood, made up of men who have been trained as quartermasters for military units, and served in other city functions. The Upstanding Bureau operates in the fashion Subrihan believes all bureaucracies should function: with strong hierarchies and a sturdy chain of command that rewards those who go out of their way to make the organization function, and punishes the lazy and corrupt.

The Victorious Sons of the Tiger are the military priesthood of Subrihan and the ones whose traditions are based in Subrihan's original worship. They act as the military for Asherta's defense and have the authority to simply absorb other military bodies active in the city. That said, none of the Victorious Sons are permitted to remain in the organization for more than ten years — they are required to enter seclusion, service with another military somewhere or enter the Upstanding Bureau after their service, in order to prevent an accumulation of power.

Culture

The people of Asherta are a proud folk. They know that they have a reputation as a city of soldiers, and its one they embrace — among outsiders. Subrihan's own personality has distinctly colored the warrior ideal of this nation, and the fact that the god of Asherta considers himself something of a warrior-poet means that its people do, as well.

"Simple elegance" defines the ideal of the Asherti, whether it be in their fighting styles, weapon and armor design, architecture, expressions of art or how they live their lives.

The tiger swords (an exceptional or better quality slashing sword) is well-known throughout the South as the signature weapon of the Asherti. Many of the soldiers of Asherti carry such a blade, even when their company is perhaps best known for its use of another weapon. The Asherti consider the blade to be a symbol of their culture and take grave offense at non-Asherti who wield the weapon.

The camaraderie created by training and fighting together is something of an assumption in Asherta, to the point that fathers train their children in combat in order to build a tight-knit family, and places of employment often host a single night of sparring a week among their employees.

Though not everyone can afford to attend the impressive military academies or schools of fighting common in Asherta, it is simple enough to find retired members of the Victorious Sons of the Tiger who spend an hour each evening in one of the parks, gathering together a group of ten or so and teaching them how to fight.

The proper use of violence is upheld in Asherta, however, and bullies and brigands are considered unworthy of the title "warrior." Still, this has led to a society with a propensity for dueling (a trait they likely inherited from the Delzahn) and it is not uncommon for flared tempers at a bar to end up in a near-riot, thanks to the battle ability of those who choose to partake.

Commerce

The biggest source of income in Asherta is the mercenary companies and producers of military goods. The taxes charged by Subrihan are steep, compared to other places, but both types of establishment know that the reputation of being one of the mercenary companies of Asherta alone is worth the extra money, and Subrihan goes out of his way to make sure that they see a benefit for what they pay. Asherta is clean and — unlike in many other places — mercenaries are not considered scum, and companies need only interact with people from other locations to appreciate the respect Asherti give their profession.

This isn't the only source of prosperity in Asherta, though. Many smiths have found that a combination of nearby iron ore mines and a prevalence of those who need good arms leads to a very prosperous living in the city. The Guild has enough influence in the city through the trade caravans and local smiths that they managed to get a law passed prohibiting mercenary companies and other military forces in Asherta from simply retaining a smith on-staff: all equipment must be purchased from the local smiths, and repairs to equipment brought to them.

On a more agricultural level, Asherta has a great many farms along the length of both sides of the river. Wheat, rice, olives and a variety of other foods are grown here, along with several herds of cattle and goats. The food grown here isn’t sufficient to trade with other places, but the farmers and herders make a fine living supporting the mercenary companies and other inhabitants of the city.

There is also a small industry of potters and tile-makers, who use the reddish clay of the riverbank to create fine, sturdy crafts and the distinctive red tile used in buildings. There is a moderate demand for these crafts, mainly from buyers far from Asherta, so these craftsmen are most reliant on the Guild.

Local Landmarks

Some of the more notable locales in Asherta and its environs include:

The Palace of the Great Tiger:
The Palace of the Great Tiger is a Manse built upon a Solar demesne. It is a massive brass-domed building, with ample grounds all around it. Its forward facing courtyard is a massive public square used for parades and public gatherings, as well as public appearances by Subriahn. The other sides of the palace consist of fine gardens and fountains.
The palace and grounds are surrounded by a mighty twenty-five foot wall, with towers some ten stories in height at each of the four corners. Each of these towers is topped with a gold and bronze statue of a winged tiger, roaring into one of the four directions.

Teran-Woo Bridge:
The bridge named for one of the foremost defenders of the refugees who found themselves pressed against the river trying to defend themselves against the Delzahn, this bridge was built by Subrihan as a mean of providing easy trade access to the lands across the river. Moreiver it has also allowed a great deal of development of the lands along the other side of the river into farms and the like, most of which help support the population of the city.
The bridge itself sits quite high above the surface of the river, with ample room for riverboats passing beneath it. This passage is closed by a river-gate, however, operated from a small control booth beside the gate. A boatman is always beside the gate, ready to row out to passing boats and charge them a toll to pass it. This toll is used to help keep the river here dredged and the bridge itself maintained.
At various times in the past, others have attacked Asherta over this bridge, trying to destroy it and prevent their control over the river, but none have succeeded yet, due largely to the fact that Asherta commands a wide variety of military forces and allies.

The Solemn Crimson Palace:
A sprawling palatial estate, with fine sand-and-stone gardens, the Solemn Crimson Palace is the local embassy of the Court of the Orderly Flame, one of the few such public locales claimed by the largest court of fire elementals in Creation.
It's ambassador, a garda bird named Gulbari Fulaz maintains a demesne lair in the mountains nearby, but can often be found in these buildings, tending to the training and needs of the embassy. The estate is quite well-defended.
The Court of the Orderly Flame is the largest court of fire elementals in Creation. Nearly every fire elemental in the South is aligned with the Court.

Academy of the Fearsome Bull:
One of the few buildings in Asherta that is allowed to grow larger than three stories, and whose roofs are not owned by the city, the Academy of the Fearsome Bull is not just a renowned academy that trains spearmen and javelineers — it is also the local temple to Ahlat, the War God of the South.
The forward building by which one enters the compound as a whole is a grand temple, with a central sanctuary where offerings of bulls are made once a week. It is not uncommon for this large sanctuary to also host mercenary companies, whose leaders arrange for the priests of Ahlat to deliver blessings and benedictions on their men.
Many of the priests of Ahlat here once served as priests of Subrihan; the priesthood of Ahlat is a common destination for those who have served as part of the Victorious Sons of the Tiger.

The Uncompromising Academy of Victory:
The Uncompromising Academy is run by an Earth-aspect Outcaste who was trained in his early years at Pasiap's Stair, the legionnaire training school for Outcaste Dragon-Blooded in the Realm. Five years ago, he defected when his troop was slaughtered by Fair Folk. One of the few survivors, he fled and simply never returned to the Realm or his Legion.
His decades in the Legion have taught him some tremendous skills, which he puts to great use in training his soldiers. His soldiers are among the finest infantry in the area.

The Tower of Swords:
The Tower of Swords is the mercenary's under-Guild in Asherta. Though Subrihan worked to try and avoid having any Guild influence in his city, the fact is that most of those looking to hire mercenaries tend to be Guild or those aligned with the Guild. So, the Tower of Swords is the mercenary's guild in Asherta; all mercenary companies have a single registrar present in this building, and all hiring of a mercenary company is made here.

Notable Mercenary Companies

There are a number of mercenary companies based out of Asherta. Among them are:

The Open Hand:
Though the Delzahn are notorious raiders, they are also known for their ability to deal with violence in a fashion where as few people get hurt as possible. The Open Hand is a mercenary company that capitalizes on that reputation, hiring themselves out as bodyguards in delicate situations, riot control and the like.
The Open Hand is led by an outcast Delzahn named Majahashi, and it marches under the banner of an open red hand against a white background.

Moonstar's Company:
The Moonstar is a young albino woman, called such because one romantic whig once referred to her as "like the moon among the stars." Of course, she kept that name, but that didn't keep him from being beaten senseless for his presumption at the "friendly fondle" that followed his bit of poetry.
Moonstar's Company are best known for being infantry: her light infantry clad in chain shirts and wielding unique crescent-bladed halberds, and her heavy infantry clad in lamellar armor with heavy chopping swords. Both of her troops wear her insignia: a full moon, containing a single starburst in the same place she bears hers.

The Serpent Brotherhood:
The Serpent Brotherhood is run by three masters, called the Serpent Fathers. Each of them bears the name of a different snake, including a patterning of tattoos that mimic the scale coloration on their necks, and tattoos of those serpents encircling their wrists. There have been many Serpent Fathers throughout the years. The current Serpent Fathers are Asp, Cobra and Rattler.
The Serpent Brotherhood is best known for their light infantry and scouts. Their infantry are usually clad in reinforced buff jackets, wearing scale-like coifs and wielding slender straight swords (the finest of which are called Snaketongues) and small round shields. Brotherhood scouts are clad in simple buff jackets, each with a hood that can be drawn up to cover their heads, with attached veils. They wear soft boots and gloves and fight with short bows and short swords.
The Serpent Brotherhood also operates a school of martial arts, the Twelve Serpents School, where they teach a martial art based on the movements of the snake.

Jomash Clan:
The Jomash were once an important family in Chiaroscuro. Like many of the Delzahn nobility of that city, they were fractious and given to feuding. Unfortunately, their feud burnt out of control, and they were forced from the city. Accustomed to city life, the clan's warriors as a whole elected to not join the tribes. Instead, they came to Asherta and registered themselves as a mercenary company.
In the four decades since they've been in Asherta, the Jomash have recruited many more soldiers into their ranks; at this point, only half of the Jomash are actually Delzahn, though those who are not tend to find spouses from among the clan's blood relatives, who have settled in the city. The Jomash ride under the banner of an eagle, clutching a scorpion in its claws. They wear simple breastplates and wield composite bows from their Delzahn mounts.

The Hooves of Thunder:
The Hooves of Thunder are an impressive company of cavalry. They pride themselves on being riders the equal of the Delzahn, and twice the swords- and lance-men. The Hooves of Thunder have one particular claim to fame that makes them capable of charging obscene amounts of money: they can provide heavily armored cavalry in the heat of the South. Thus, they ride into battle wearing suits of articulated plate, wielding maces and cavalry lances.

The Hooves are operated by Elder Storm, an old but vigorous man with a long white beard and a shaven head. Though few know this, Elder Storm was the consort to Yaelma of the Thunders, a storm goddess of the Delzahn Plains. Their children, a pair of god-blooded, act as his lieutenants: his son Foremost Thunder leads his men in battle, while his daughter Heavenly Fire is his advisor, ambassador and a sorceress who enchants the company's heavy armor with the Essence of Air, permitting it to remain cool even in the terrible desert heat.

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