Vaerhaven is a city-state located in southern Aritae, built on the site at which the Upper Zehuari River forks into its Eastern and Western tributaries.
Founding and History
Long before growing into a proper city, Vaerhaven was originally the site of a fortress, erected by a minor noble who left the Bal-Shanaari capitol of Ulaaris some twelve hundred years ago, in the last years before the empire’s collapse. The noble, whose name is lost to history, fled the jungles of Anatar hoping to escape the inevitable civil war and turmoil that loomed over the horizon. He established a modest keep on the bluff overlooking the confluence of the Upper Zehuari and its tributaries, and legend has it his line dwelled there for a few generations, free of the strife that had begun to devour Ulaaris and other great cities to the south, like Bael Turath.
By the time the Sorcerer-Kings had been finally deposed and slain, Bal-Shanaar was an empire in name alone, having lost any real control of its vassal states much earlier. The Flood swept across the land, and in the dark years to come true anarchy reigned, with many great cities falling to the predations of ambitious warlords, bandits, monsters and evil creatures once kept at bay by the light of civilization. The small town that had cropped up around the keep over the years was sacked by the army of a fierce bandit king, and the keep was wrested from its former residents. The old tales say that the lord of the keep and his family were thrown from the parapets to plummet into their deaths in the river far below.
The self-styled Lord of the Fork reigned from the keep for years, exacting a heavy toll from any who would travel along the waterways in his domain. Eventually, a group of merchants from nearby towns met and pooled their resources, hiring a band of renowned adventurers to storm the keep and slay the bandit king. They succeeded in their mission and the keep was freed from its cruel master and given over to the merchants, who formed a council and elected one among them to preside over the construction of a new town dedicated to commerce and trade. His name was Cormyn Vaer, and the fledgling settlement took the name of Vaerhaven in his honor.
Over time, a prosperous community grew, bolstered by villagers from settlements around the Ardenwood and Ebonheart Vale, seeking the security that a larger town could offer. Within a few generations the town had grown exponentially, becoming a major hub for trade along the Zehuari; river travel had become an alluring alternative to following the dangerous remains of the old High Road, long unguarded and unpatrolled since the collapse of the empire.
Today, Vaerhaven is one of the two largest cities on Aritae (the other being Vargheim, to the north). The city has become a sprawling metropolis, home to a huge population and boasting a booming middle class of artisans, traders and merchants.
Technically a city-state, Vaerhaven is still governed by a single ruler elected by a council of the most powerful and oldest merchant families. The ruler of Vaerhaven takes the title “Lord-Mercantile” and rules for a term of 10 years, though there is no limit to the number of terms a Lord-Mercantile can serve; indeed, the current Lord-Mercantile Travus Geldor is nearing the end of his fourth term.
Beneath the Lord-Mercantile and acting as his advisors are a group of eight nobles, descended from the original collective of merchants that retook the city. This body is known as the Argent Council, and it is comprised of the patriarchs (and in one case matriarch) of each of the eight Great Families. Important council meetings are also attended by the Lord Commander of the City Guard and the Chief Warden.
People of Note
Places of Interest