Along the southern coast of Elysombra are three gnome cities. Most of their population is human, but gnomes run themthus the moniker "gnome cities."
Vanashon the Uniter had sent Speakers to each of the cities even before they allied with the Sombrans, so he has plenty of information to provide to King Ravain and his cohorts.
As of the 1st Year of King Ravain, the cities are:
AbakaThe westernmost city, was known as a neutral meeting ground where enemies could parley in peace. It has been destroyed by the Fleet.
GlaneThe nearest, easternmost city, almost due south of Holystone. It has suffered least in attacks by the Fleet. It is known as the most cosmopolitan of the three cities, home to people of many lands and ways.
VindleThe middle city, at the mouth of the Tyru River, is cursed and generally in decay. It is currently at risk of falling before the Fleet's siege.
In addition to these cities, there are many small cities, towns, and smaller settlements, especially along the coast. The coasts have been devastated by Fleet raids, with inhabitants kidnapped and sold into slavery, their homes and boats burned. Refugees have headed inland and into the walled cities.
The Cities in General
The three gnome cities are independent city-states, each claiming territory along the coasts and inland. Though independent, they were founded (or, rather, rebuilt) by like-minded people from the west, and they are rather similar to each other. They form a loose federation, which allows them to work together while preserving each city's sovereignty.
Each city is led by a Central Council, presided over by a First Minister. Council members and the First Minister are selected through a baroque process of power-sharing, deal-making, voting, and traditional rights. Most of the council members and all three First Ministers are currently gnomes, though human and half-elven First Ministers have sometimes taken power.
The people of the cities are primarily Nimican. Each city has various temples devoted to different aspects of Nimicus or to his demonic servitors. None of the cities, however, are known for their zeal. For each city, there is one Low Priest or Priestess, the ranking cleric of Nimicus.
Many of the people in these cities came from the faithless cities to the west. Before the fall of Elysombra, the canals of the Underland allowed swift transportation and communication among the various cities of Elysombra. After the fall, the southern coast is essentially cut off from the north. Those who inhabit the southern coast feel more akin to the western cities than to the rest of Elysombra.
Once home to 20,000 souls, Abaka is now in ruins. The only thing that keeps the Fleet from sending more raiders into Abaka is that there's nothing left to loot. Some of the inhabitants are dead, some enslaved, and the rest displaced.
Before the war, Abaka was known as an honest place of straight-talking people. Enemies and rivals came here to negotiate deals and treaties.
Her Honor First Minister Blissfeather and most of the Central Council escaped the Fleet, and they are guests of their counterparts in Glane, where they are relatively safe.
The Low Priest
As Abaka fell, the Low Priest Karask and his immediate circle destroyed their temple, bringing it down on themselves and destroying them and their slaves and congregants. The ritual they used was said to turn the Low Priest and other powerful clerics into demons (while simply killing the few hundred others in the temple).
Skenda the Conqueror
Abaka was home to Skenda the Conqueror, a mighty fighter, perhaps the equal of Vanashon the Uniter. She disappeared early in the siege during a Fleet raid. Some say she was killed, others that she was captured but will return to wreak vengeance on the Fleet.
Before the Fall
Before the Fall of Elysombra, the city of Abaka was constantly at odds with the throne. It was too tolerant of foreign ways, and its relations with faithless cities in the Land of Seven Scrolls were often better than its relations with Holystone.
After the Reconquest
The Athyr clan wishes to resettle in its ancestrals holdings, Abaka and environs. They are vociferous in their plan to prove themselves worthy of the new Elysombra and to put behind them the questionable ways of their ancestors.
Whatever you want is only as far away as Glane. That's what people said of this city prior to the Reconquest. It was a metropolis of 40,000 souls or more, famed for the variety of its wares, its temples, and its people.
Glane has swelled during the war as refugees flock to safety there.
Glane is the city that owned Lang Garrison, now the Stone of Djess.
His Honor First Minister Rustlereed is stoically awaiting for Vindle to fall and for the Fleet to turn its attention to Glane.
In a remarkable show of force, First Minister Rustelreed has had Low Priestess Talon killed and imprisoned for conspiring with the Fleet. Her temple is closed, but rival temples are still active. Low Priestess Talon is to be revived and put on trial once the war is over (if Glane survives).
Fools of the Sun
One of the stranger groups in Glane is the Fools of the Sun, a faithless cult devoted to bufoonery, parody, and obscenity. They are allowed to break laws of the state and of decorum, and none may strike a Fool (except another fool).
They are known as Fools of the Sun because their cult, or guild, comes from lands far to the east, toward the rising sun.
This spiritual movement comprises people who respect the Sombran history of justice and righteousness. Though not Sombrans themselves, they follow the edicts of Primus, such as the prohibition against images. Many also follow directives that Primus gave to dwarves, not halflings and humans, such as to bury the dead in stone.
Many Abiders are gnomes.
Before the Fall
Glane was a prosperous city, better loved than Abaka and more exciting than dull Vindle.
After the Reconquest
The Lunmote and Gremel families, which held most of Glane and environs before the fall of Elysombra, have no close heirs. Vanashon the Uniter has promised to award Glane to some worthy crusader. (His right to award such a bounty is gone, now that a king sits on the throne.)
By the time of the war, accursed Vindle had shrunk from over 30,000 inhabitants to about 20,000 souls. Refugees have come to the city, where there is plenty of room for them, if not plenty of food.
Thirty years ago, the First Minister of Vindle released several hundred people who had been imprisoned and enslaved by the Church of Hell, the city's major temple (dedicated to Nimicus, of course). Until then, the temple had abused its traditional rights to punish those who violated its laws, exacting the "punishment" of enslavement more and more often. Freeing these prisoners and slaves enraged the former Low Priestess, who called up a curse of Nimicus on the city.
The effects of the curse are subtle, yet ubiquitous. More children are born deformed, fewer marriages are happy, more walls fall on those who are raising them, fewer seeds sprout, more boats sink, etc. The population has dropped as people have left, or simply died.
Her Honor First Minister Gingerloaf has tried valiantly to hold Vindle together as it declined, and continues to labor to protect it against the siege. It was she who offended the Low Priestess of Nimicus by liberating her temple's prisoners, thereby calling the curse down on the city.
The former Low Priestess fled the city after calling up Nimicus's curse upon it. Since that time, the new Low Priests have been expanding their influence. The priests of Nimicus offer to save people from Nimicus's curse if they worship ardently and sacrifice exhorbitantly. Many of those who remain in Vindle are reluctantly devoted to the Church of Hell. Currently, Low Priest Govax styles his temple as a haven from the curse and the assaults by the Fleet.
The Low Priest's sway, however, is challenged by followers of Cho, who are also numerous in Vindle. Some say that Cho, begotten of the First God rather than merely fashioned by him, has power to free people from Nimicus's curse.
The Masons, a guild of stoneworkers and builders, wields great sway in the city. First Minister Vindle has granted them favorable charters in his campaign to rebuild and maintain the city. Overtly, Masons make their will known by influencing the council. Covertly, they are understood to have great sway in all levels of society.
Before the Fall
No one thought much of Vindle. It was a small city that suffered in comparison to Glane, which was much more prosperous. Sailors thought of it as little more than a port to refill stores and to unload wares that wouldn't sell well in Glane or abroad.
The Monastery of the Inner Sun was a school of great learning and teaching, where martial arts, inner strength, and pious history were all valued. It was the greatest Sombran monastery and a pride of the Sunlands.
After the Reconquest
Two families lay claim to the ancestral holdings in and around Vindle. Neither can trace direct lineage to heads of the Ambesso family.
The lineage of the Monastery of the Inner Sun has not survived. While some monks wish to erect a new monastery in its place, it would be just thata new monastery.
The Fleet's Attacks
The Fleet is essentially a large band of (mostly) trustworthy pirates. Their war on the gnome cities have included several kinds of attack.
The Fleet shuttles paying passengersmercenaries, adventurers, and banditsto Elysombra, where they kill, loot, plunder, kidnap, and/or rape. The Fleet gets pay from the passengers and a share of the loot.
The Fleet boards and robs ships sailing under flags of the gnome cities. (Very few of these ships are at sea any more.)
Occasionally, the Fleet masses ships to lay siege to a city, landing troops quickly and retreating if they face stiff resistance. Their major assaults include huge banks of fog that hide their approach, violent waves that batter ships and the shore, potent wizards, and a variety of monsters and monstrous troops from around the Fleet's territory.
Fleet ships are notoriously hard to sink. They can be broken and disabled, but they rarely go under.