The Summer Heroes
The city of Darrova is located at the southern mouth of the Röl River, which runs down the eastern flank of the Aljudha Desert. Believed to be founded by desert nomads as a way station along well-worn trails, its people claim it to be the oldest city in Orem—a claim which most historians acknowledge is not unreasonable. It has been conquered, overrun, flooded, broken, and rebuilt so often that it is now a densely layered tapestry of cultures and civilizations, including one of only two civilized troll enclaves in Orem.
The city is constructed as a series of irregularly spaced concentric rings. After the city built its first walls it continued to grow, and soon the sprawl of shacks and hovels had become so dense that new outer walls were built to protect them. The shacks within the new walls were torn down and strong buildings put in their place, and soon a new crop of shacks had sprouted outside the ring. This process was repeated eleven more times over the centuries, resulting in the thirteen rings of modern-day Darrova. As the city changed hands, the walls came to be built by new peoples and cultures, so that today walking towards the center of the city is like walking backwards through time.
But the city did not only grow outwards; as new rings were added, the inner rings were built up higher and higher. In some cases, after sections of the city were destroyed by invasion or flood, the ruins were used as foundations for new buildings. In other cases, using the buildings of a new ring for support, new tiers and towers were added to inner buildings until they towered over the river. Today, the inner ring of Darrova stands 400 feet above the outer, and beneath it lies layer upon layer of ruined halls and sunless alleys.
Because it was originally built on the banks of the Röl, Darrova has long been subject to seasonal flooding. Around the time of the third ring, the Röl was redirected further north and east, creating a large flood plain to protect the city from future disaster. It is believed that this effort was undertaken by dwarves from the north, as no other known civilization at the time had the technology to undertake such a massive effort. However, as new rings continued to be added to the city the flood plain was filled in, such that today the outermost ring once again abuts the city’s docks.
Darrova has traditionally been ruled by the Da’Vorn, a council composed of one representative from each of the city’s rings. Each ring has its own process for choosing its representative; some are inherited, some are bought, and some are elected. The seventh ring is especially—and fiercely—proud of its elective system: every two years a new representative is chosen, and all adults living in the ring are eligible. It was during that ring’s Era that an additional seat was added to the Da’Vorn to represent those who lived outside the city’s walls, and this tradition remains in effect today, though the position is now entirely symbolic.
Though each member of the Da’Vorn has a theoretically equal voice on the council, the members from the innermost and outermost ring have traditionally been the most powerful. The representative from the inner ring takes the title of City’s Eye, while the outer ring’s representative is called the City’s Mouth. The Eye has been held by the Cerule family since the Da’Vorn’s founding, and today the entire inner ring functions as a palace complex for its members. It has remained, in effect, the royal family of Darrova, even as its power has waned over the centuries such that its position is now largely titular. In real terms the city is ruled by the Mouth, which today comes from the thirteenth ring.
The thirteenth ring has been controlled by the Harbormaster’s Guild since its original construction. During the Twelfth Era, the Guild consolidated power over the city’s dock complex and then built a new outer gate on the city road before the thirteenth wall was even built. It quickly became the most powerful force in the city despite not having a seat on the Da’Vorn, and when the council delayed construction of new walls the Guild began building them itself. Since then, it has effectively controlled the entire city from its seat on the Da’Vorn.
Sorian forces arrived at Darrova’s gates in 225 BR, during the Ninth Era. This was a time of great prosperity for the city, and the Da’Vorn was eager to avoid war with the Empire. After learning that the army was marching towards them, the Da’Vorn entered into days of debate before finally coming to an agreement. The Sorian army thus arrived to open gates and an offer: Darrova would voluntarily join the Empire as a semi-autonomous city-state, and it would pay handsome tribute to Soren in exchange for some measure of independence. And to symbolize the union of the City to the Empire, a new seat was added to the Da’Vorn, called the City’s Crown, and given to the Sorian Emperor’s representative.
The Empire accepted the city’s terms, and so Darrova became part of the Sorian Empire. The tenth and eleventh rings were built during Sorian rule, and the city flourished amidst the Imperial Era of peace and trade.
See also: Language in Darrova