The City of Bedrin
Bedrin City is the current capital of the Province of Bedrin, though that is likely to change within the next decade. For more than 200 years the city of Morrid has acted as the unofficial capital of the region and houses the provincial offices. With fewer residents, less trade, fewer raillines, and a scant few tourists, Bedrin remains the capital only out of tradition. While tens of thousands of travelers pass through the city each year, most of that traffic is confined to the rail stations on the city’s border and only a handful of travelers ever stray beyond the modern rail station to see the city proper. The stop in Bedrin is nothing more than a logistical and scheduling necessity before the goods or people continue to Morrid or deeper into the heart of the continent. Due to the perpetually foggy climate and the station’s location behind a set of small, rocky hills, it’s impossible to even steal a quick glance of the city beyond.
Mist, fog, and rain veil the barrows and moors of the Bedrin valley. Behind the dense trees, rolling hills, and blanket of fog are the nation’s largest and oldest castles, one of which is home to King Antony Bedrin XVIII.
The Bedrin valley is approximately 10 miles across and completely surrounded by tall, rugged mountains. A network of moors, bogs, hills, and lakes cross the valley floor with houses and farms filling the few flat and dry areas between. Castle Bedrin, with its expansive walls and massive turrets, rests against the southeastern corner of the valley at the foothill of the sharp, black peaks of the mountains. Though the valley itself is rather large, reaching Castle Bedrin before raillines connected it to the rest of Atla was nearly impossible. Hundreds of years ago the first monarchs of the region selected the location for its natural defenses. Narrow canyons and moist bogs have made trekking to the valley difficult alone and almost impossible in numbers. Bedrin Castle itself is set atop a craggy cliff along the foothills of the mountains proper. A single path some ten feet wide twists and winds across the face of the cliff that has served as a final defense in times of war.
Though several major raillines pass through the city of Bedrin, the railline’s impact on the local culture is insignificant. Taking the easiest route through the canyons of the Bedrin mountain range, the raillines enter the city on the north side (where the station is located), then quickly vanish into other tunnels leading to Morrid, Seratov, and other nearby stations. The city itself fills every bit of dry land in the valley with streets winding over hills, between moors, and long the foothills. As a result the population is distributed almost evenly. The rail station, located in the north, borders only a handful of homes and farms. 90% of the people of Bedrin can go about their lives unaware and unaffected by the dozens of carts passing through the mountains every day.
Many of the remaining castles throughout the Province of Bedrin have been transformed into historical sites or forgotten to time. Castle Bedrin, however, is the only fully operational castle on the continent. King Antony Bedrin XVIII rules the city and the province as a whole from behind the walls and turrets surrounding the castle’s inner chambers and throne room.
Touring the nation’s castles is a favorite activity for many of Atla’s more adventurous individuals. The Atla Tourism Board, or ATB, has gone so far as to create an official map and travel guide for those interested in attempting to see every remaining castle. However, through Castle Bedrin is a living castle, many tourists have been disappointed to realize the castle does not exist for their traveling pleasure but as the legitimate seat of power for the region. Guards of the castle, still known as knights, are quick to dispel notions that the castle staff should provide entertainment and lodging.
For hundreds of years the kings of Castle Bedrin have passed the throne to their first born male heir or the closest male relative to the king. Though the Bedrin name continues to this day, not all kings were named Bedrin at birth. When the reigning king is unable to produce a male heir the first born male of the king’s brother or the first born male grandchild will take the throne. If the child has a different name than the king he will be renamed Bedrin. Females born to the king have no official role and can either serve as acting queens or princesses, or they can be entirely disowned. King Antony Bedrin and the Queen, Marie Bedrin have two children. The eldest, a female, will live with the family until the new king is named, at which point if the new king wishes to keep her in the family he may, otherwise she will be severed from the royal line and thrown into the life of a commoner. Their second child, a male, Antony II, age 5, is two years younger than his sister.
The antiquated patriarchal society is mostly confined to the city of Bedrin itself, where King Bedrin has direct control and is less restricted by provincial rules. Equal rights groups regularly travel to the castle and stage protests, demanding equality for the women of the castle and women in the city as a whole. The culture is still based on a class system where the subjugation of women tends to continue outside of the castle’s walls, though to a lesser extent. Given that the culture is many hundreds of years old and has existed in its current state for just as long, the Grand Council is not willing to jump in and make sweeping changes that could be seen as hostile to the king and his kingdom.
Between the classed-based city and the patriarchal rule the city does not sound welcoming to outsiders. Despite the circumstances many of the locals are more than willing to board travelers in their homes or show some of the local landmarks. This friendly mindset is strongest near the rail station and progressively weakens as one nears the castle.
Even though the locals are mostly friendly, few people other than castle hunters and protestors stop and visit the city. Cobbled streets, wood and stone buildings with thatched roofs and wooden shutters, a lack of motorcarts, subsistence farming, and the physical distance from major urban centers make Bedrin City more a relic of the past than a serious travel destination. Modern conveniences such as chillboxes and orb-lights are only found in the few hotels and boarding houses situated around the rail station. Beyond that the people live in a way that would not have been out of place 400 years ago.
The environment of Bedrin has often been compared to the farmlands of Arodil; it is said that the two cities are completely different, yet exactly the same. Much of the similarity stems from the way people of both cities tend to shun technology in favor of maintaining traditions. But where Arodil has adopted the most modern farming techniques to maintain steady harvests, Bedrin city doesn’t have so much as a single motorcart. That being said, King Bedrin has adopted all of the latest technologies and fills his castle with anything new that might make his life easier.
The few tourists that visit Bedrin do so to escape the fast-paced demands of modern life. Whether someone wants to spend a week away from modern life or put their chaotic lives behind them and move to the quaint city, few who visit the area can deny the area’s unique charm.