With a population of approximately 75,000 people, Arcaneaux is one of the largest cities in western Japethe. The city is built on both sides of the Hérault River about twenty miles upstream from the river’s mouth. The left bank is the older district and much more developed than the right bank. The city outgrew its walls long ago and is barely defensible. Towers downstream in the low-lying marshy plain can block passage up the river with chains.
The city is the capital of Saronne and boasts three royal palaces. As the kingdom has grown, the royal family has continued to build new and larger palaces to accommodate the expanding monarchy. Arcaneaux is sometimes called the City of Spires because of the number of bell towers, observatories, or clock towers that rise toward the heavens.
While Arcaneaux is a port, it is not a trading center in the same way as the cities of Guiern, Kleef, or even the Freeports of the Kennard Reach. It is a major exporter of wine from the surrounding countryside, and a market for the fresh seafood pulled from the river, estuary, and ocean beyond. Instead, Arcaneaux is a center of learning with four different universities in the city and a center of religious worship at the palace of the High Oracle of Giavere.
Sherbourg is the capital of the colony of Aradie. Originally founded in 1523, Sherbourg was abandoned twice. The first settlement failed the year it was founded due to inclement weather and the specter of starvation, which forced the settlers to return to Saronne. Repeated attacks by natives forced the second abandonment of the city in 1539. When settlers next arrived in 1598, the hostile natives had abandoned the region, allowing the colony to take root without threat of attack.
The city has thrived in the past century as the gateway to the colony of Aradie. The city's population is roughly 5,800 people but swells to nearly twice that on market days, at week's end, and when ships come to port. It exports timber, furs, precious metals (mostly copper ore), and syrup and imports manufactured items and clothing from Saronne.
As the seat of the colonial government of Aradie, Sherbourg is the residence of the Governor General and the High Marshal. The Lord Mayor manages the daily rule of the city and is responsible for maintaing the harbor, regulating the markets, collecting taxes, authorizing guilds, and keeping the peace.The city rests on a steep bluff that overlooks the narrowing of the Grande Vire River. The rock face of the bluff divides the city into two distinct sections - the Lower City, which consists of the Riverside and Longshore districts, and the Upper City, which consists of the Heights, Overlook, and Templetown districts. The Heights
Sometimes called The Heavens, The Heights is the wealthiest district in Sherbourg. It boasts the Governor General's palace, the Lord Mayor's Mansion, and most of the civic buildings. Most of the wealthy guilders live in this district, and it is the location of the Sherbourg Fundament Exchange. It is the home of the Grande Theatre of Sherbourg, and the heart of the respectable social scene with its many members-only clubs.Longshore
Part of the Lower City, Longshore stretches along the narrow spit of land between the eastern base of the bluff and the estuary of the small, winding Chäran River. It is inhabited mostly by fishermen who live in small shacks that are easily replaced after the all-too-common floods. The shoreline here is too shallow for larger vessels and the fishermen pull their boats up on the sandy beach. Longshore is the site of the Fish Market, the best place for fresh fish in the city. Oyster peddlers begin their day here, and their wares are best first in the morning.Overlook
The Overlook consists of the eastern part of the Upper City on the bluff above Longshore. It is the oldest part of the city atop the bluff and is mostly settled by artisans and guilders. It includes the Haymarket and Market Hall in addition to many small shops. Many of the guilds have their offices in the Overlook.Riverside
The oldest district of Sherbourg, Riverside stretches the length of the city at the base of the bluff along the Grande Vire River. Riverside is the largest and most populous district in the Lower City. It includes the harbor, the shipyard, and the bustling Tramontane Square. The district is the site of the infamous Iniquity Row - several blocks of businesses that cater to every vice imaginable, including spirits, women, song, and dice.Templetown
Located in the Upper City above Riverside, Templetown is the smallest district in Sherbourg, consisting exclusively of ecclesiastical buildings and their gardens. The entire district includes the Temple to Giavere, the Oracle's Mansion, the University of Sherbourg, the temple's seminary, the temple library, and the hospital. The entrances to the district are gated. While left open during the day, they are locked and guarded at night.
Saronne founded Ville-Marcelet on a large island in the Grande Vire River in 1567 to counter raids by the Liranequois to the south. It originally consisted of only a fort to protect the Saronnan-aligned Elakanois village of Tutonaguy, but a trading post was added the following year to accommodate trade with the friendly natives. Ville-Marcelet quickly became the center of the fur trade in Aradie because of its excellent location. The island provided a measure of protection against raids while being large enough to support the town with food. In 1642, walls were added around the town to bolster the town's defenses. Riverboats can reach the town from Sherbourg, but can progress no further up the Grande Vire because of the sizable Chinalle rapids just upstream that turns the river into a frothing mass for a three mile stretch.
Ville-Marcelet is a rough-and-tumble town on the very edge of the frontier. Most of the population is involved in the fur trade in some fashion. Voyageurs and licensed traders walk its muddy streets, as do coureur des bois and other scallywags. Because of the huge transient population, the number of saloons and taverns in the town outnumber the homes. Drinking, gambling, fighting, and doxies are commonplace. The local garrison doubles as the gendarmerie, but they can barely keep a lid on the roiling chaos of the town.
The presence of Tutonaguy on the opposite side of the island from Ville-Marcelet ensures a large native population in the town. The local Elakanois act as traders with members of their tribe who live further west in the Lakelands. A large, flat granite boulder outside of town, called Council Rock, acts as the official meeting point between the chieftains and the Governor General of Aradie. It was here in 1669 that representatives of all the major tribes in northeastern Everique as well as Saronne signed the Grande Entente, ending the Pelt Wars which had lasted for nearly 100 years.
In 1488, Pieter van Ostelbeek discovered Maurits' River while searching for a passage through Everique to reach Catai. Van Ostelbeek named the river after Maurits II, the reigning Grand Duke of Kleef at the time. While Maurits' River did not provide a water passage through the continent, the Kleefish soon realized the commercial possibilities of the location, especially the deep-water harbor that is protected from the open sea by several islands.
The Kleefish Catai Trading Company founded the town of Fort Maurits and the colony of Meerpelt in 1556 on the southern end of an island facing the harbor. The fort at the time was little more than a stockade with an attached trading post. From this locale, the Kleefish guilders intended to challenge Saronne's dominance of the highly lucrative the fur trade. The trading company paid the Grand Duke an enormous up-front sum for a charter to found the colony. While many outsiders thought it was an extravagant sum, the trading company received a exemption from taxation on profits made in the colony. The guilders named the city Zollhaven to celebrate their negotiating triumph. Wallem, the current Grand Duke, is seething over his ancestor's decision, but his grandfather was in the middle of a war with Morante and needed money to hire mercenaries.
Zollhaven is the capital of Meerpelt and is administered by a Director General appointed by the Kleefish Catai Trading Company. A group of burghers represents the colonists' interests in the Council of Twelve, but the power of the Directors General is near absolute and they frequently ignore the Council. The Directors General are corrupt more often than not, using the position to line their own pockets. The current Director General, Maartje Heyn, is an exception. Her energetic governance has shaken up the casual corruption that has infested all levels of government in the city.
The economic focus of Zollhaven has changed over the centuries from the fur trade to shipping. Most of this is due to supply as the amount of fur from the interior is declining as nearby territories are being trapped out. Instead, the colony has embraced shipbuilding and numerous shipyards line the shore of Maurits' River. The shipwrights boast that a quarter of the trading fleet of Kleef were built in the city.
Zollhaven is the last port on the western side of the Levian Ocean for merchant vessels making their way north from the Kleefish colonies in Ascuta. The great natural harbor of Zollhaven is rarely blocked with ice, making it an attractive destination. The city has tripled in size in the past 20 years and is now home to more than 10,000 people. Such rapid growth has lead to a chaotic and unruly city. The docks are particularly dangerous, filled as they are with transient sailors. Even worse, plagues frequently sweep through the city, being carried to the port by the many ships that dock there. Rumor has it that the graveyards of Zollhaven have a higher population than the city.