The city-state of Threshold exists along the northern border of Drachen. The domain of Threshold extends east and west along the border for two hundred kilometres in both directions, marked by a patrolled stone wall. The wall is one hundred feet tall and thirty feet wide, riddled with guard posts and inner passages for the patrols to house themselves and provide quick transport along the wall from the city to the hamlets and villages which exist flush against the wall. The majority of those who patrol the wall are normal soldiers, while the commanding officers are more often than not dragon knights. Discipline along the wall is well kept, as the duty of the dragon knights is to keep monsters and invaders out.
Threshold was once a military fortress, held by the mortal races to stave off the advances of the draconian armies at the end of the Age of Dragons. The events of the war culminated with the defection of the Black Lion, Tzepesh hai Draco, and his wife Nightfell. The Black Lion and his armies aided in the defeat of Naydene, and founded the Dragonwright to hunt down those creatures sympathetic to the Dragon Queens. After the end of the war, Tzepesh claimed Threshold as his domain, and transformed it into a port town. It became a major trade point for the north and south, and expanded eventually into the city of Threshold.
In the year 1001, Tzepesh invited Queen Dove and King Tarken to visit Threshold for a visit. During the evening, he spoke of the difficulties of ruling the city and region, and the desire to gift it to the crown of Drachen. During this period, Tzepesh sent his daughter, Lilith hai Draco, to assassinate the other merchant princes of Threshold, freeing the city from their rule, and handed the city completely to Drachen uncontested. Since the Night of Silence, none have ever taken the title of merchant prince.
The Upper City
The inner city houses the core of Threshold, and was the original fortifications which were part of the initial defences for the region. It consists of a large, gated port, and a walled ring which housed the villages and townships, training grounds, other buildings used by the military. Since then, it has filled in, with many additional estates built and a number of regions transformed into parks and menageries. Buildings have been built into the wall, becoming a part of the layered look of the region, and some have secret passages which work through the wall, leading to the outer city or even through into the great wall itself. The noble district is surrounded by a forty foot wall that is twenty feet thick, and separates the lower city from the upper city. The wall is patrolled, but anyone who is a noble of Threshold may pass into the upper city through one of three gates (West Gate, South Gate, and East Gate). Each gate is guarded by four soldiers and two stone golems who stand watch over those coming and leaving. The upper city has a population of about 4000 people, and is about 1 km in diameter.
Entering the upper city requires written or escorted noble invitation, or the person visiting must be a recognized noble of Threshold. The title can be purchased (200 crowns for edler, 400 crowns for herr, 800 crowns for freiherr, 1600 crowns for graff, and 3200 crowns for furst – though nobody currently is willing to take that specific title). It takes from a day to a month to get the title processed, but once done, the newly minted noble may enter the upper city without the need of an invitation. It is expected that the noble will purchase an estate within the confines of the upper city within six months. Failure to do so results in the noble title being stripped from the individual, unless they hold the title of edler, in which case no such expectations exist. The title of knight is not for sale, and any true knight of the realm is given leave to pass through the gates unhindered.
The docks and bay of the upper city are controlled by a gate system which can swing open and closed, turned by the strength of two forty-foot tall iron golems. The gates are hand-cranked, allowing ships to enter and leave, but those who enter without permit are seized. The gates are stone and iron, and the bay is used only for personal ships owned by the nobles of Threshold and their guests. A noble title can be purchased at the docks, allowing the ship to remain in place without being taken, but the cost for the title is double normal – it also covers the costs of keeping the ship from harm.
Known locations within the Upper City include the estate of the Draco Family, which currently is inhabited by Lilith hai Draco, the assassin daughter of Tzepesh. Lilith can be seen coming and going from time to time, but none can ever truly tell when she is in the estate. Lilith does not normally accept visitors.
The grand temple of Mana is found at the heart of the upper city, upon a low hill which now houses the largest park in the region. The temple is home of the Emerald Adepts, and holds the second largest gathering of this order in Kith Kanaan (the largest being found in Siren’s Cove). Within the temple rests the body of Nightfell, the first avatar of Mana, held in stasis within the depths of the temple.
The estate of the Woods Clan can also be found in the upper city. It is not visited often, but is nominally held by Azura Woods. The estate is used infrequently, though family reunions are held there once a year during the summer solstice – the same time that the grand library of the Brotherhood enacts the Festival of the Sun in the lower city.
The Lower City
The outer city houses the middle class and the poor of Threshold, and extends from the walls of the upper city to the outer walls of Threshold itself. Until it was claimed as a part of Drachen, the lower city was a place of filth and hopelessness, but with the death of the merchant princes and the establishment of order, the lower city has recovered and grown. The lower city consists of two ports – the East Port and the West Port, and three gates which lead out of the city, the Gate of Dragons on the western side, the Gate of Hope on the southern side, and the Gate of Faith on the eastern side. There are a number of small parks and gardens in the lower city, but these are not as well maintained as those in the upper city. The lower city is multi-levelled near the outermost wall, with buildings constructed on top of one another, built into and against the wall, using the same tunnel systems as those of the inner city and the guards. When entering the lower city from outside, it is often quite dark, as the only light comes from lanterns hung on lamp posts at irregular intervals, the light of the sun blocked by the houses stacked upon one another and the wooden and stone streets which allow passage at higher levels. The lower city appears much as a ‘bowl’, melding into one another as one comes closer to the gates of the inner city, where there is a gap of about 50 metres between the buildings of the lower city and the walls of the upper city. The outer walls of the city are one hundred feet in height. The wall is irregularly patrolled, but at the entrance of each of the gates are four gate guards, who will request a fee for anyone who wishes to enter. Depending on the mood of the gate guards and the person in particular, this fee will usually be from 5 crests to 5 marks. Those who can not pay the fee are not allowed entrance. The lower city is roughly one kilometre in radius, extending out from the inner city walls, and has a population of about ten thousand people.
The docks of the lower city are controlled by gangs and merchants, who charge a fee for guarding the ship when it docks. There is often much conflict between the different gangs, each trying to keep control of specific docks or trying to sabotage the ships that are held by a rival gang. Merchants coming to Threshold often know the safest docks to tie to, and pay a handsome sum to the gang or guild who holds that dock – but it doesn’t hurt to hire some protection to travel with the ship into dock and keep the ship safe from aboard.
The lower city has no official city watch. Instead, the different districts are controlled by gangs or citizen patrols, who protect their region from intruders and enforce their own rules. Some regions are in fact quite safe, the local gangs intent on keeping the place well maintained and protected, while others are places of ruin and sin. Those who travel through the lower city often hire bodyguards to ensure their safety, and very few travel alone unless they are quite assured of their own capabilities or the protection of the local gangs.
The Grand Library of the Brotherhood is the most famous building in the lower city, and houses hundreds of thousands of books that predate recorded history. The library is quite large, almost a city block in and of itself, and is a maze inside. Very few people have ever visited every hall of the library, and not even the Brotherhood is certain that every room of the library has been seen by mortal eyes. The library is well guarded by the Shield Bearers, and at the front of the library is the Globe of the Sun, which is blessed each year on the summer solstice, calling for the blessings of Arion upon the city.
Natalia’s Emporium is a Sinti shop near the western docks. She comes and goes, stepping between worlds and bringing with her wonders from beyond. At times she has magic artifacts for sale, and at other times she has art or other strange curiosities. None know when she will be present to do business, but if something is needed, she can find it in her journeys – for a price. Sometimes she will accept money, but other times she will take a portion of the person’s very being – a skill, a talent, one’s gifts or attributes. When she has done her business, she and her wagon wander off into the darkness to disappear into another world.
Kyle’s Trade Shop is the home and shop of the lutrai Kyle, and his wife, the Dragon Queen Azura. This shop boasts goods from all across the realms, clothing and goods and spices from multiple worlds can be found here. Those who visit may find Kyle present from one of his journeys, and can hear incredible stories over a mug of ale, while at other times the place is run by the dragoness herself, who is often far less sociable, but who will provide ancient knowledge for those who have the courage to ask and the wisdom to show due respect to the most powerful sorcerer in Kith Kanaan.
The Outer City
Once, there was a tent city outside of Threshold, that extended almost as far as the eye could see. The people here lived in squalor, barely surviving. They were too poor to enter, and much too poor or desperate to leave. Times have change, but the tent city still exists. It is now called the Outer City, and has become more settled and not as desperate as it once was. Tents have begun to give way to actual homes and buildings, and the community, while not thriving, has begun to survive and grow. Here, the workers of Threshold live, farmers for the fields, traders for simple goods, and labour for hire all exist in the outer city, mingled with the poor and needy. It is by no means as destitute as it once was, but the change is far from finished. There are about thirty thousand people living in the Outer City, which extends roughly half a kilometre around Threshold. The majority of the Outer City lies to the west of Threshold protected by the wall. There is no barricades preventing anyone from entering the Outer City. There are no walls, and no guards. The Outer City protects itself, volunteers and gangs patrol their territory, ensuring that dues are paid or that the people are protected. Once in a while someone comes in, attempting to improve the Outer City, and change does happen for a time. Things will improve, given time.
Below are the orders which can be found within the city. Common orders are those who have a noted presence in the city, uncommon are few and far between, rare are a curiosity when they show up, and those marked ‘none’ are a once in a lifetime type of occurrence.
Threshold accepts coinage from both Tarantis and Drachen. Both nations use the traditional coinage of the Mark, the Talon, and the Crest. 1 Mark is the same as 10 Talons, which is the same as 100 Crests. For Drachen, the Mark bears the imprint of Queen Dove, the Talon bears the imprint of King Shaden, and the Crest bears the imprint of Prince Jerec. For Tarantis, the Mark bears the imprint of King Jason, the Talon bears the imprint of Queen Reya, and the Crest bears the imprint of the coat of arms for Siren’s Cove (until such time as the King and Queen bear a child).
- Drachen: Das Drachekönigreich
- Drachenkeep: Drachenhalten
- Threshold: Schwelle
A character will usually be named (name) (father’s first name) von (province). Thus, someone from Threshold will usually be von Schwelle. Only the royal family is allowed to take the title von Drachen. Others from Drachenkeep will take the title von Halten (of the Keep).
Making a Character of Threshold
If you are part of the nobility you are provided with access to the upper city. If you do not want to be a member of the nobility, then you are barred from the upper city. The two most common languages in the region are Drachen and Trade.
Orders and Sorcery are both rare in Threshold, though Psionics are seen from time to time, with the most famous person in the city to be a known psion being Lilith hai Draco. The recognized sorceress of the city is Azura Woods. There is a Joshuite cathedral in the upper city, and a number of smaller temples in the lower city, scattered about. The Arin faith has the Grand Library and the Temple of Mana. There are smaller places for Tempest and Maya, but none of the other faiths have a recognized temple. There is no recognized shrines or temples to the Naiponese, Carcasien, Chang’Na, or Rymnian pantheons in Threshold at this time, though those who worship the Rymnian gods are welcome to the Grand Library, and to Kyle’s Trade Shop.
The Kithain have a strong presence in Threshold, specifically because this is the city where the order was founded. As such most users of magic tend to be subtle with their spells, making most effects look like accidents or coincidence, rather than risking the Kithain dealing with them. No forms of magic are specifically outlawed, but blatant shows of sorcery tend to be upsetting.
There is no court in the lower city except for those created by proxy from the local gangs to deal with trouble. In the upper city, the ‘court’ is done by the noble wronged, and if the person who wronged them can be dragged onto their estate, the noble’s word is law.