A Treatise on Yew
Respectfully Submitted to the Britannian Great Council and the Scribes of Moonglow
By General Debinani Rahl, Commanding Officer, The Black Rose Society
In the thirty-seven years I have commanded The Society, and the decade or so previously I marched in her ranks, I have had occasion to observe and take part in the goings on of Yew and its environs. What follows is a discourse on those observations past and present for the edification of the learned reader.
The City of Yew is situated in the Northwestern most corner of the primary continent within the great hardwood and deciduous forests of that region. The word Yew comes from the huge trees of that forest bearing the same name. This forested land is largely separated from the rest of the continent by two mountain ranges and the few roads that do clear the barriers are often populated with monsters of varying degrees of threat and aggressiveness. Yew is serviced by a Britannian Moongate to facilitate travel and trade.
Points of Note:
The City of Yew would be little more than a frontier logging and trapping village were it not that it contained two of the more tactically valuable structures in Britannia: the Empath Abbey, home of the Shrine of Justice, and the Court of Truth – one of the most defensible structures in the world as well the largest prison complex and court.
The Empath Abbey is a center of arts, humanities, and trade. The massive structure contains several small libraries manned by scribes, a bank, a hospice manned by monks, and a gallery with several private rooms and public lofts for the purposes of the expansion and facilitation of the arts.
The Court of Truth is precisely as the name implies. The structure begins on the mainland with a walled body containing a large courtroom and then extends via raised walkway with guard posts to a small island containing the prison proper and a small and seldom-used portal to the lands discovered after the great quake. Much to the chagrin of those who uphold the law, the prison complex is not only riddled with secret passageways leading to several of the cells, but also is not magically shielded to prevent inbound and outbound magical trans-location traffic.
Social and Political:
One of the common misconceptions among Britannian society living in the two major urban centers is that Yew – being called the City of Justice – should in fact present a shining front to the world much like the whitewashed sandstone walls of Trinsic with banners flapping in the breeze and the steel of the spearmen on the walls or the grand marketplaces and towering palisades in Britain. If Yew ever was such a jewel of society (a speculation which I seriously doubt) it is no longer, nor can this observer see how it could ever be under the present social, political and geographical situation.
There are numerous social stressors in and around Yew that prevent and hinder the urban development enjoyed by Britain and Trinsic. To the northeast are the ancient crypts, home of the Dark Elven Houses – a people though rarely openly violent, still worship and/or manipulate dark forces and are constant denizens of Yew public places. To the south on the Felucca facet are the age-old enemies of Britannia and man, the forces of the Orcs, the Undead, and the Guardian-worshiping men. Those factions spent so long in close proximity to Yew that they seem to feel their influence extends to its mirror in Trammel as well.
Due to the above, Yew has traditionally been home to adventurers and free companies out to carve a living or a name for themselves out of the constant martial conflict that comes when all of these stressors are put in the melting pot together. Add to this the complete lack of defenses for the populace short of the two major landmarks, a large kingdom pressing for independence less than a day’s walk away, and the fact that until recently there has been no formalized governmental body or control within Yew itself endeavoring to exert control and you end up with a very colorful, very interesting, and very dangerous city that speaks more of frontier life then the City of Justice moniker conveys.
In recent times, several attempts have been made to impose law and order more in tune with the social environments found in Trinsic and Britain. Two sessions of City Councils have sat over the city. Both councils suffered from loud and visible accusations of fraud and impropriety in the election process and implemented policy. The second council went so far as to discharge Yew’s militia (at the time blamed for favoritism in law-enforcement) and bring in an independent company (namely, the Society) in an endeavor to impose its laws. Though felonious crimes by and against the citizenry of Yew have diminished drastically since the new watch was put in place, raids by the enemies of Britannia have increased substantially once the edict to disallow them within the city proper was passed. This observer has not witnessed any impropriety on the part of the present Council, though oft times my duties to the protection of the populace distract my attention from such political maneuverings. It would seem that Yew as a people, Yew as a city, and Yew as a territory rebels against government quietly, but effectively, and not in so many words.
It has been my honor and privilege to once again be in the employ of agents of the Crown, and would hope that our relationship will continue long into the future. The opinions of this old soldier and scholar for Yew are as varied as its people. The two primary sentiments for Yew that exist among Britannian society tend to follow two extremes: the “Shining jewel of the North”, and the “Leave It Alone” attitudes.
As pleasant as it would be for Yew to become a jewel of society in northern Britannia, I feel that extreme is unfeasible. To affect the necessary social changes that would be required would involve years of toil and hardship. It could be done with a full division of troops, maybe a good defensive wall, and constant social engineering on the part of the Britannian government to see to it that the existing social stressors are removed or minimized.
And as to the desire of many peoples to leave Yew alone or to its own designs…well, we’ve all seen that Yew. With no persistent or visible governing body or recognized law enforcement, the city would fall into the chaos that we’ve seen many times before. Independent organizations would take it upon themselves to protect the populace, each with differing ideas about who to protect and who to prosecute, and enemies of man would continue to make use of the social services provided by Empath Abbey, allowing them a strong foothold and staging area within a Britannian city.
I am neither a social engineer nor a politician, and the purpose of this treatise was not to provide prospective solutions to Yew’s dilemma, but to endeavor to make an objective accounting of the current state of the City of Justice to those who have the resources and the desire to affect such changes as would be necessary to better the interests of Britannia. I sincerely hope that this discourse will reach the governmental bodies of the land and that those bodies will do what is best in a manner that is just and true.
General Debinani Rahl
The Black Rose Society
In Service to the Council and Peoples of Yew