Ides: Port of ParadiseEdit
Ides is a beautiful subtropical coastal city in the far northwest of Alamastra. This is the second major trading port of the Alamastran Empire in total import/export volume, second only to Sandriff in the distant southwest of the Empire. However, it is far more prosperous due to the luxury trades it deals in. Ides rests in the coastal plain, backed by a massive mountain chain, known as the Ravespires for their jet black obsidian-like composition. It was from an extensive quarrying operation of this obsidian-like volcanic glass, known as Dragonglass, that Ides rose to international import. This rare mineral is renowned for its counter-undead properties. Ides grew up as an outlet for Dragonglass to find an international market. The merchants of this upstart city also began a massive dye producing operation, using the crushed shells of an indigenous mollusk to generate the richest royal purple die in the entire Jadess coastal basin. These two international commodities made Ides one of the riches merchant states in the entire Jadess -- even more so than the famous merchant states of the Jadess Coast to the north, such as Lorica-Waerd and Rosenwaeric. The Merchant Lords of Ides were careful to develop a Trans-Imperial Highway with the support of the High Kings of Starcrest which began a constant stream of spices from the Far Eastern Realms to the port of Ides where eager merchant vessels from the Jeadess Coast and the Amyran Federation waited to be loaded to the gunwhales. This metropolis has grown to be one of the largest and most cosmopolitan within the Alamastran Empire, being the only city-state to have achieved recognition as an Imperial Crown. It is soon expected to surpass the capital city of Eishen in population. It is also unique in that it has imperial status as Trade City, which grants it specially immunities, and exemptions under its imperial charter, which few cities beside Gade, in Crown Gossary enjoy. Ides is a large metroplex comprised of an old city center, fortified with walls and citadel against assault by pirates or rival armadas, and surrounded by various suburban wards that have expanded into each other. On the southern qoutskirts of the city, surrounded by its vast slums is the large dying operation, which is controlled by the Council of the Merchant Lords. To the north of the city is the great Dragonglass quarrying operation, also surrounded by shanties of refugee populations from the northlands of Auryas and Eladas and the Amyran Federation. Because Ides is in a subtropical environment backed by the Ravenspines, it is exceptionally well-watered, with aggressive streams running back down the face of the frost-tipped mountains back toward the sea. Ides has also become the banking center of the Alamastran Empire, as great houses of banking lords grew up to support the great houses of merchant lords and their activities. It is also unique in the Jadess as the only free port of trade. There are know state monopolies or guild controls. The Merchant and Banking Houses prefer to compete or collaborate freely. Therefore contracts are strigently enforced by the Imperial Magistry of Ides, to protect Ides reputation as a free port. The Magistracy also carefully controls weights and measures within the markets, enforces import/export measures, and registers all merchant and banking associations. It is from the fees of justice that empire extracts its revenue from Ides, along with some investments in shipping, mining, dying, and banking. In the privatized markets of Ides, the High King is simply one more wealthy Merchant Lord who enters into contracts and forms trade associations with other merchants. Ides has a flat portage tax to raise revenue for the Council of Merchants, but otherwise is one of the least burdensome ports for a merchant to do business, and is therefore an international favorite. The only enforced imperial ban is on the trafficking of flesh. The Merchant Council of Ideas has amicable trade relations with the powers of the Jadess. It has free trade pacts with the following states: The Lumerian Empire, Amyran Federation, Horizon Empire, Lorica-Waerd, Rosenwaric, Ramalyan League, Rosen League, Sea People. The trade fleets from these northern powers anchor in the Bay of Ides annually. Each fleet has negotiated a different month with exclusive rights for anchorage in a massive constructed, enclosed harbor, built by the Merchant Lords. Of course, trade goes on as normal in the main port. A trade festival is thrown to celebrate each foreign fleet's arrival. The local exclave, factory, exclave, or merchant guild of expatriots from that nation are tasked with organizing "ethnic" festivities to celebrate the customs of their nation. The Merchant Council also spends lavishly to enhance the festival. The Trade Festivals can extend up to the full month that the fleet is in port depending on the power and prestige of the empire. For this reason, Ides has gained an international reputation as host of fairs, carnivals, mysteries, and jubliations. It is known among its trade partners as the City of Eternal Bliss or the City of Masks (in reference to the wild masked revelries). This frequent traffic of transiting rival fleets has often led to the sea lanes approaching Ides to be notoriously dangerous -- with several naval engagements of historic proportion taking place within two day's distance from the port. The Imperial Armada of the Jadess is officially anchored within one of the support ports of Ides. It's sister armada is stationed at the port of Sandriff in the Yamari ocean far to the South. This naval force is one of the most tightly maintained imperial military provisions, constantly equipped with new galleons, which sale by wind not by oar, and freshly stocked with the dregs of Alamastran society. The saying goes: "Sleep in cell tonight, sleep on a deck by next fortnight." The Imperial armada officially sales as squadrons with a commodore commanding a squadron of three ships. These squadrons patrol the Imperial Jadess Coast, boarding and seizing ships thought to be engaged in piracy. For this reason, Alamastran waters are considered very safe. The Aramada also assemble to escort into port the trading fleets of its trade allies and observes the passage of fleets as one leaves port and the other regains it. This is a solemn ritual, a massive showing of force to deter the rivals from skirmishing and the prevent them from falling in combination upon the port of Ides. Squadrons are also dispatch to assist trade allies in their far-flung trade and military operations as show of support and of strength. Alamastran Galleons are respected for their swiftness and effectiveness in small numbers upon the high seas. Often they are deployed under trade allies command, hired for a minimal maintenance fee, plus plunder. They are employed for skirmishing, as well as reconnessance, and special missions.