Emberstrand is a growing city, located several days travel to the west of Rabanastre. The city is a center of learning, and is known throughout Ivalice as a beacon of civilization. The city is built around several large hills that front the river side, set against the tall cliffs that form the natural eastern wall and the entrance to the Giza plains. The city tends towards grand, open architecture to deal with the heat; the rich live in grand villas, overlooking great views from atop the cities many hills. The poor live in hot, crowded slums below, sandwiched between the bottom of the hills and the cliffside, the Bazaar, industrial quarter and administrative heart of the city are built around the hills that slowly lower into the rushing river that encompasses the western side of the city.
Emberstrand is ruled by the Council of Three, three powerful individuals who are elected to represent the three power blocks within the city. The Nobility, the Guilds and the Churches. It is both a blessing and a curse for the council are charged by their respective power bases to simultaneously uphold their interests, balance them against the interests of the other two politcal factions and keep the city running smoothly so commerce, education and the free movement of pilgrims and the faithful does not suffer whilst looking after the wants and needs of the common man to avoid riotious outbreaks of anger.
The city hosts a famous headquarters for the Hunter's Guild. Perhaps the largest and most benign organization of mercenaries on Ivalice, the Hunter's Guild has long been known, even in the years before Larsa's Folly, as a group that will solve any monster-related trouble for the right price. Split up into Clans that operate more or less independently of each other, the Hunter's Guild tends to serve a similar function as the Judges; carving out places where mankind can grow and thrive from the Fiend-infested wildernesses of Ivalice.
Due to the sheer numbers of brave, foolish, skilled, or simply overconfident youths eager to prove themselves against the hostile fauna of the world, most major cities only have the room to support a single Clan. In Emberstrand, the remnants of Clan Centurio --Montblanc's storied Guild chapter-- have grown into a large, eager force of men and women, ready and able to outdo each other in feats of skill, bravery, and pure luck. Indeed, a greater lure than money is the bragging rights a Hunter may accumulate, the greatest among them treated like star athletes in their city and abroad.
Social standing in Emberstrand is extremely important. If you are a member of a noble family, you are proud of it and you show it. If you aren't, then you can still earn standing with wealth and service to the community. If you aren't wealthy, you try to look like you are, the priest hood is given the same level of respect as the nobility by most people, sometimes more. Visiting pilgrims and the truly faithful of a particular religion might well hold more regard for their priest then a noble. The guilds are also very prominent, most common families see it as a life long goal to get their children accepted into one of the guilds, the education is as good as the churches and people can truly excell in social standing if they are guild taught.
The city is noted for its colleges. The Mage's Guild is an extensive representation of all the colleges of magic, known for producing some of the greatest mages. The guilds all host extensive libraries of their own and the University is a seperate educational institute dedicated to secular persuits such as the arts, history, language and engineering.
Religiously, Emberstrand adheres to no one church, the grand temple of Alexander atop the highest hill is a marvel of engineering, of white marble and silver but one can find shrines and temples to nearly every religious practice. Being situated on the major trade routes it needs to cater to all sorts of visitors, especially pilgrims seeking the more famous landmarks out in the Westersand and across the Giza Plains.
Law and order is dealt with by the independent Magistrates court, or in very serious cases by the Council of Three. Punishments vary according to the circumstances, though the death penalty is only excised very rarely. Sometimes, sending gifts to the right people can help get you off light; sending gifts to the wrong people, however, will only make things worse. The judges and the ancient laws are also respected in Emberstrand, Judges tend to be invited in to deal with disputes that split the Council of three and the magistrates or for serious crimes committed by foreign visitors not on a religious pilgrimage.
Emberstrand is protected by a small, but sufficient military force. They have recently fought a bitter battle, to successfully dislodge a force of invading savages from the Dalmasca Westersand, and gave an impressive account of themselves. While other cities and nations may have much more powerful, they may well think twice before facing Emberstrand's teeth again.
Emberstrand is built against the Giza river where it flows along the border of the Dalmasca Westersand, and the Giza Plains. During the spring and summer, the river floods, and comes alive with lush greenery during the heavy rains. During this time, the farmers of Emberstrand take advantage of the short growing season, planting crops along the untamed banks of the river to the north and south of the city. Rich, fertile dark soil deposited by the floods leads to bountiful harvests to feed the town and for trade.
Emberstrand's principle exports are staple foods, art, cotton, silk, and metals from a few moderately successful mines in the area; chiefly iron, copper, silver, and a few other base metals. Imports tend to be heavy on the metals that are not provided in the mines, such as mythril, adamant, and gold, as well as more simple textiles. There is also no slave trade to be found in Emberstrand, the slave traders avoid the city whose liberal work laws and Council of Three have decided again and again that a free, well fed workforce is more productive to the economy then enslaved, miserable people who tend to revolt eventually when greedy industry owners push them too far.
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