The Residuum Must Flow
Approximate distance to Solanthis, The Imperial City
Approximate distance to nearest Holdings
The Metropolis of Barony, also recognized as the Free City of Barony, is the only human dominated culture to exist outside the administrative and social governance of the Empire of Solanthis. However Barony’s history and present society is so closely intertwined with that of the Empire that many historians and spectators debate whether it is a truly “free” city. The chain of residuum has bound the two together with a strength that cannot be undone, yet political maneuvering and cold conflicts exist beneath surface.
The citizens of Barony share many cultural, religious, and political similarities with their Solanthian cousins, with one notable difference: historically the people of the free city have been far less xenophobic. Barony has long been home to a large population of halflings and gnomes, no doubt due to the city’s close proximity to their ancestral lands. The combination of Barony’s love of exploration melded naturally with the small folk’s inclination towards innovation and experimentation. Together, this unique cultural melding produced many advancements in the arcane and science, culminating with the Skyfleets of Barony.
The leaders of Barony did not fail to see the value of their Skyfleets. The influx of residuum allowed the size, speed, and effectiveness of the airships to drastically improve, but they did so in quiet. As the people of Solanthis began to stretch their tendrils into the wider world, Barony developed its proprietary technology to the highest degree. When the reliance on portals and overland travel inevitably failed, the Skyfleets were there to fill the void. Though many have tried to replicate the technology, and while it is undeniable countless attempts have been made to steal their secrets, Barony remains the only aerial power in the world.
The Skyfleets are central to the existence of the Empire in its current form. Although magical residuum can be retrieved through the disenchanting of a magical item (in a crude manner quite dissimilar (in practice) from burning a painting to grasp the essence of “creative drive”, but not dissimilar in the degree of contempt such an act would receive), the most effective method is mining it directly from lodestones, which incidentally are often hundreds of leagues apart. The Empire spread, initially seeking these lodestones, through the construction of heavily defended portals (see the Linked Portal ritual for details). Although these portals still exist, and are used in emergencies or for instantaneous transit, the most efficient form of transportation is the skyship.
The free city of Barony exerts leverage that nearly matches, and some say exceeds, the power of the Emperor himself. Airships, fueled by residuum, traverse the expansive and dangerous wilderness that otherwise nearly completely disconnects the cities of the Empire. While overland travel is possible, no Noble House is willing to transport residuum or other valuable resources through regions infested by beasts and brigands, and the Noble Houses have seen how inefficient the logistics of military movement by land is. That and having one’s highly trained vanguard, replete with shining armor and bright waving banners decimated by Fell Trolls is quite the setback in any sphere, political or otherwise.
In Barony’s existence, a balance is formed. Without the political leverage of the Imperial Throne, the Houses would not be able to produce sufficient residuum for all the factions, the Skyfleets of Barony included. Without the Skyfleets of Barony, the cities would be cut off and the Empire would quite literally crumble as the holdings of the Noble Houses would become independent Kingdoms. Without residuum, the Skyfleets would not function, and Barony would lose both its political leverage and suffer from the cultural, fiscal, and some say literal addiction to residuum that it has acquired.