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FRATSFA--Arena 52

Fratsfa is perhaps the oldest continuously inhabited city in Alastari. Founded hundreds of years ago, long before the Chaos Wars, when the Frafrejans were still a Van province, the city grew in power and influence. Being on the very borders of the Van Kingdom, Fratsfa was spared the destruction wrought by the magical battles of the Chaos War, and was able to establish itself quickly as a powerful and safe refuge in the war's aftermath. The city was quick to make contact with as many of the far-flung Van outposts as possible, offering its knowledge and undamaged military might as protection in exchange for fealty. With packs of half-crazed bandits, remnants of armies, uncanny beasts out of chaos and assorted other nasties roaming the landscape, most of the little towns and settlements were only too glad to accept the Fratsfan offer, and so the Frafrejan Empire was built in the first hundred years after the war. It did not take long for the expanding Frafrejans to clash with the Shewish Giants, whose kingdom had also survived the war relatively intact, and who held most of the Shewish Forest.

That was the end of Fratsfa's glory, though it would be several hundred years before Fratsfa realized it. Despite the fact that the great Frafrejan army grew smaller with every decade, as the low Frafrejan birthrate (inherited, alas, from those treasured elvish ancestors) failed to keep up with constant raids, battles and wars with the remaining Shews, the Harkenic forest tribes, the Ferenicians, the Serva Pirates and later the Karnhorns, not to mention the Mordanti Confederacy to the south. One by one the Frafrejans withdrew from their outlying towns, leaving them to their vassals. Eventually only Fratsfa itself remained purely Frafrejan. Still it held a sort of glamour over the peoples to whom the Frafrejans had given protection in those early years, and still poets wrote of its marble terraces and rose-twined courtyards. Fratsfa came to have greater influence in legend than it had ever held in reality: it became the Eternal City, perfect and inviolate, the guardian of culture and learning. As its military power waned, the Fratsfans developed their ever more convoluted chivalric code. Honor and status became of paramount importance. Even as the spiders spun their webs in the abandoned anterooms of the houses that lined deserted streets, the Frafrejan Emperor and his court celebrated the wedding of his only daughter to Clanlord Rylian Olharin of Aruak at the founding of the Andorian League.

The final collapse came ten years later. The troops of the Delarquan Federation surged into the middle of the League and the Frafrejan troops, outnumbered by dozens to one, crumbled before them. The Delarquans raged through Frafreja, burning towns, slaughtering men and women and carrying off thousands of children to be shipped south to the Delarquan cities via the slave markets of Mordant. Fratsfa, the Eternal City, was sacked and many of its ancient buildings destroyed.

The Delarquans were eventually driven back to their own lands by the other Andorian kingdoms. The damage done to the League was far greater than could be measure in terms of lives or property: a dream had died. The Frafrejans had failed.

Fratsfa today is a shadow of its former self. In the sixty years since the war, the rubble has been cleared away, new buildings have risen along streets that are still empty of voices and footfalls. The Emperor still holds court, but his people seldom see him save from a distance. Rumor holds that he is feeble-minded, crippled, or insane, and the Parliament rules the remains of the Frafrejan Empire. It remains to be seen whether the once-proud ruler of half of Alastari can rise from its own ashes, proving itself truly the Eternal City.

Ruler: Emperor Allonji Fratijan Makiall Kyiell. A short, slight man with fair, wispy hair, blue eyes, and a slight stutter. Rumor has it that Allonji is dimwitted, insane, a hunchback, impotent, or any combination of the above. In actuality, the supreme ruler of the Frafrejan Empire is rather odd, but not quite that odd. Allonji was raised in virtual seclusion because, due to the decimation of the Frafejan noble/warrior class during the last big Delarquan/Andorian war, there were virtually no children of his own age and high rank available for him to associate with. Rather than (horrors) let the Emperor play with minor lordlings, Allonji was raised entirely by a few adult tutors. His parents died when he was only a few years old. Naturally shy, he became almost pathologically so by adolescence, suffering from something akin to agoraphobia. Allonji panics when attempting to deal with people, and has absolutely no idea what goes on outside his own chambers; as a result his decrees are often obscure and senseless to the common folk of the city. The city is really ruled by a constantly squabbling group of nobles who vie for the Emperor's ear; because Allonji trusts no one, no one person ever stays the power behind the throne for too long.

The nobility had begun to pressure Allonji to take a wife and produce an heir; this terrified him, and his unsavory reputation has done little to encourage the daughters of the nobility to push for a match. His first interview with a prospective bride ended in disaster, when Allonji threw up in her lap out of nervousness. The Emperor has lately been engaged and married to Kitiara, the daughter of the Adantri ambassador to the Andorian League. As the couple share some interests, the match is apparently a congenial one on both sides, and it is hoped that fresh blood will revitalize the ancient ruling house of Fratsfa, and lead Allonji to be a firmer ruler.

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Published on: 2002-07-14 (1267 reads)

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