The City of Arcadia
The holy city of The Church of the Sacred Flame, Arcadia was founded by a group of survivors led by the prophet Aldric Ingle in the year 6 YOS. Legend says that Aldric was visited by the Seraphim Uriel on Mount Karnak and was told of a place where three rivers met a vast lake, to settle in this land and to await a savior who would come and free the people of the darkness that had been let lose in the world. After five years of searching Ingle and his followers came upon a vast lake situated near the very center of Abilon that supposedly matched the description given to him by Uriel.
Due to it’s location Arcadia quickly became a major force in trade and travel throughout the region. Also a new and popular religion based on Ingle’s prophecies sprung up with Arcadia as it’s center and holy city, bringing pilgrims and more importantly their wealth into the fledgling city-state.
Now one of the largest cities in Abilon, Arcadia continues to be a major force commercially and politically despite it’s small territorial holdings and recent turmoil.
In 497 YOS a little known merchant named Konrad Bach was elected Lord of Arcadia by the Order of Cardinals after the old Lord died without an heir or naming a successor. Konrad’s name was quickly associated tyranny and extravagance by the people of Arcadia, he often executed citizens and government officials for minor or even imagined infractions and spent days on end hosting lavish and hedonistic parties at the palace usually at the expense of the state. He also filled the Arcadian Royal Guard with thugs and thieves loyal only to him and used them to intimidate and eliminate anyone he saw as a rival true or not.
Many Church leaders realized their mistake but were powerless in law and force to remove Konrad from power. They could only watch as the holy city was turned into cesspool of filth and sin, a place much more dark than holy.
All seemed lost until a man named Helbrecht, viewed by many followers of the The Flame to be the savior of Aldric Ingle’s prophecy, returned after nearly 16 years after his mysterious disappearance. Upon his return Helbrecht was appalled at what had happened to the holy city and raised an army of followers to smash the power of Konrad and his Royal Guard.
Thousands marched on the royal palace and Konrad, sensing his defeat, fled the city with his bodyguards through some unknown means of escape. Helbrecht had liberated the city without a sword being unsheathed and with an army in the city he could have easily taken the throne with none to oppose him, however he refused. Against the protests of his followers Helbrecht declined to take power in a coup, instead deferring to the Order of Cardinals to name Arcadia’s new leader once again.
Helbrecht’s thousands of followers demanded that the Order of Cardinals place him on the throne and cried that any other choice would be a continuation of the corruption that led to Konrad Bach’s appointment. In 516 YOS, Despite “refusing to bend to the will of the mob” the Cardinals voted to install Helbrecht as the new Lord of Arcadia nearly unanimously in less than a day of deliberations.
Arcadia in 520 YOS
Lord Helbrecht immediately instituted dozens of reforms, reversing the corruption propagated by Konrad Bach and aimed at restoring the city-state to it’s former and rightful glory. In the four years that have passed since his rule began the city and her territories have entered a golden age of prosperity. The city itself has been transformed into a place of wonder by massive public works projects, technology and magic unseen since the days before The Sundering.
However all are not happy in Arcadia. While many of the Cardinals support Helbrecht others, including the High Cardinal Arkham, believe he is using The Church to further his own political ends. (while suppressing theirs) Their is also discontent among the more radical followers of The Flame who helped Helbrecht come to power, wonder why he hasn’t taken up the mantle of savior as they believe him to be and why he employs the use of magic in the city that most radicals shun.
Still most of the dismay over Helbrecht’s rule comes from outside of Arcadia. Though slavery itself has been long illegal in the territories of Arcadia, the passage of slaves on the Aldric River though the city has long been tolerated and taxed by the city. However in 518 Helbrecht banned the passage of slaves through Arcadian territory and made it law that all slaves were emancipated if brought into Arcadian lands. This has brought the slave trade to a screeching halt in northern Abilon due to Arcadia’s strategic position on the major trade route of the north. This has made quick enemies of the all powerful Trading Guild who have threatened an embargo but cannot do so without cutting off more lucrative trade with the northeast.
In addition, through missionaries and temples in other nations, The Church of the Sacred Flame has been promoting peace, unity and freedom for all the people of Abilon and only through unity will civilization survive. Many rulers see this as a covert attack on their sovereignty and accuse Helbrecht as using the church to undermined their security and that this is a precursor to war.
Weather this is true remains to be seen.