with contributions from Erskine Fincher and Scott Bonner
Arylon sits astride the River Chionthar halfway between Elturel and Baldur's Gate. It has strategic importance as the only other city of any size along the river between those cities. Arylon sits in a large, bowl-shaped depression on the north side of the river. A barge path follows the rivercourse on the north shore. The lowest point is where the wharves have sprung into existence. The land gently rises both east and north, but is much steeper to the west and northwest. About a mile to the northwest, there is a huge outcropping of stone that contains a quarry. The Fields of the Dead surround the city on the north bank of the river. To the south, the Wood of Sharp Teeth is visible from Arylon. Of note, there are no major roads into Arylon from the north or south, just some paths.
Arylon's economy is highly diversified. The city is an important port and provides many related services ranging from flophouses for sailors to construction of barges and small river vessels. The port quality makes this city a market center for the region. The quarry to the north provides an excellent source of building material; many of Arylon's buildings are of stone or have stone foundations. Near the quarry is a copper mine that provides a small, but steady, amount of ore. Surrounding the city are a number of farms and ranches. The rolling, open Fields of the Dead are good for grazing, but few tend the soil far from sight of Arylon's towers. The Wood of Sharp Teeth provides timber and other forest products to those that will brave its dangers. The River Chionthar also gives forth its bounty. Enough fish to supplement meals can be had, and freshwater clams and oysters are found in beds. These resources make Arylon a stable entity.
Not everyone comes to Arylon to do business in the normal sense. Adventurers flock to the city for a number of reasons. Arylon has been built on the bones of numerous other cities and if one delves deep enough, chambers undisturbed for centuries can be found. In the west part of the town, there is a strange, blue-metalic pyramid that seems to be part of the ground. This 4 foot high, equilateral pyramid is surrounded by a small park. The pyramid is surrounded by a continual force field to protect it from the citizens. Or, is the force field to protect the citizens from it...? The bluffs northwest and southwest are honeycombed with caves and caverns. The deeper one gets, the more worked they become, but who or what worked them is unknown. If one goes deep enough, it is whispered, a passage to the underdark exists.
The Fields of the Dead always attract people that wish to find long lost treasures from ancient battles fought when men first came to the area. The hazards of dead and wild magic zones to the north make only adventurers foolish enough to travel more than an easy day's ride from Arylon. The Wood of Sharp Teeth has an allure of a different type. It is rumored that a lost city exists in its tangled depths. Many rare creatures and plants make the forest their home, some worth much to the right buyer. Because of this, there are many shops that cater to the specific needs of this class of people.
Twenty thousand years ago, elves coming north out of Shantel Othreier found ancient ruins on the north bank of the "Placid River". Eons of flooding had buried almost all of the ruins under yards of silt 'til only tops of the highest structures were above ground. Shamans determined that the site contained enchantments, but no lingering malevolence. Some elves explored the highest chambers above ground and were disturbed to find that the original inhabitants used all surfaces of the rooms. Others found strange items of power that confounded their ability to decipher their functions. Most elves, however, ignored the ruins except as a temporary camping site.
As humans migrated into the area some 3-4 millenia ago, they too found these ruins disconcerting. Further, they found that bluffs both northwest and southwest of the ruins were riddled with caves and some went deep. The first human settlers were from the present-day lands of Calimshan and Tethyr. This area became known as the Calishar Emirates and the ruins provided a ready source of building materials.
A minor wizard and noble named Safalel Hanami claimed the site and tore down the few remainng structures to build a fortified villa and some outbuildings. He founded a lumber camp to log the forest that ran flush to the south bank of the Chionthar. The wood was shipped downriver to the Sea of Swords and on to the south. His descendants fought off nomads, barbarians, humanoids, elves, and other rival Calishites. Finally, around -1000DR, a priest of Bhaelros named Arloki Lundaenor blasted the compound with a storm followed by a flood. He declared the site sacred to Bhaelros in honor of his victory and constructed a shrine on the bluff. After the few attempts to resettle were destroyed by his vengeance, the site was abandoned for 400 hundred years. The spot became known as Arloni's Dell.
A powerful mage named Lhynel Firehands built here in -587DR after destroying the priests of Bhaelros who had the audacity to attack his conveyance. He spent some time exploring the cave system and ruined keeps on the Field of the Dead, and made detailed maps which have never been found. His servants built shacks for themselves by the riverside. One hundred fifty years later, an unknown mage dueled and slew Lhynel a day's ride north of his tower on the Fields of the Dead. The spellbattle was so great, mobile dead and wild magic zones were formed. They caused some trouble to travelling spellcasters, but they were small and more inconvenient than dangerous.
The now masterless servants began to log and quarry. They re-established trade with the south. The town, now called Arloni's Bane, began to grow slowly. This all ended in -375DR when a plague sent by Talona decimated the residents. A scribe in Zazesspur mistranscribed the name as Arloni's Den in official court records when aid was to be sent. When priests of Ilmater arrived, the bureaucratic problem was solved when the people adopted the new name to receive the aid which otherwise they would be denied since they were not residents of Arloni's Den!
For seven hundred years, people trickled into Arloneden. The decline of Calishite interest in the area kept larger numbers from arriving. Fur trappers, woodsmen, bargewrights, and stoneworkers were the main residents. A small Calishite garrison doing 'punishment' duty guarded Arloneden. They frequently battled the same old foes on the Fields of the Dead. In 336DR, Calishite control was permanently ended. Forces of Azoun I of Cormyr sacked and slew the garrison, then routed the citizens to keep from having an enemy force, no matter the size, behind the advancing armies. This was in response to Calishite attempts to claim all the Sword Coast as theirs.
A people known as the Talfirc soon moved into the power vacuum created. They had begun settling the Western Heartlands decades ago and now were poised to control the region. They set up a new garrison town on the old site of Arloneden. This garrison protected a region called the Duchy of Indoria. The town was named Ar'Lonidon to sound closer to the Talfirc tongue. Unfortunately, this land did not last. Goblin armies swept through the region slaying Calishite and Talfirc alike. In one battle that erupted to the northeast, the great bard Talek Talember was slain by an arrow in the back. Once again, all that remained were ruins and a few hardy inhabitants.
The Heartlands suffered invasion after invasion with much fighting occurring on the Fields of the Dead. Ar'Loniden was often used as a staging ground or ambush site, but no permanent settlement of any note arose for nearly 700 years. The wild and dead magic zones increased in size to the north and undead became a constant menace. The importance of the river waned, and no travellers came from the north or south.
Begininng about 300 years ago, there was another change for the region. The nascent nation of Amn began to construct tradeways to increase mercantile traffic to and fro. A new wave of settlers came to the region, and the Caravan Cities were soon founded. Humans again found the largely forgotten town of Ar'Lonidon and named it Arylon in their language. It was reborn as a stop on the river for traffic and as a site to build barges and trade draft horses fatigued from hauling craft against the flow of the Chionthar. In 1238DR, Amn completed the tradeways, and the river declined in importance. A horde of orcs came through the region in 1241DR and devastated many recently established businesses and structures.
It looked as if the cycle of destruction was coming 'round when Arylon was saved from extinction by the Dragonspear Campaign. The humanoid and devil horde that wreaked havoc throughout the West made Arylon an important defensive position. A keep was erected to provide logistic support and defense to Amn and Irieabor. The Dragonspear armies now would not be able to use the river to cut off Baldur's Gate from Elturel and Irieabor. Also, they couldn't use the Wood of Sharp Teeth as an invasion route to the south.
Quickly on the heels of the Dragonspear Campaign, came the Time of Troubles in 1358DR. The wild and dead magic zones increased in size again, becoming a real hazard from the Chionthar to Thundar's Ride and the Skuldask Road. The garrison, and the burgeoning refugee population, rode out these events in relative safety, relying on numbers and skilled veterans. In the year following the Troubles, a council of agents met to decide what to be done about Arylon. They all had seen the value of having this strategic site occupied and thought it wise to maintain its presence. Agents from Iriaebor, Elturel, Baldur's Gate, Amn, Waterdeep, Cormyr, Scornubel, and Berdusk were present. They decided to contribute money to the formation and maintenance of a garrison, but none would supply troops or actively rule Arylon. "Let Arylon decide its own destiny." Elturel opposed this decision. They averred that they would suffer economic hardships from Arylon's increased importance. Only two days from Arylon upriver was the Hellrider lodge of Stone Eagle. It was decided that this would be the easternmost border of Arylon's control by the decree of the meeting.
Arylon has now grown to nearly 10,000 strong since the Dragonspear Accords. Besides the river, quarry, and lumber that always provided income to the city (in every incarnation), copper was discovered nearby. Agricultural products from the ranches and farms have kept the city fed. Discovery of a Staff of Wizardry in caverns below the area caused treasure-seekers to run to Arylon, swelling the numbers. The persistent rumors of ruins in the Wood of Sharp Teeth and tombs and barrows in the Fields of the Dead added to this fever.
A number of things keep the city from becoming a regional power. They are physically isolated. To the north are undead, and dangerous dead and wild magic zones. The south is blocked by the menacing Wood of Sharp Teeth. The Accords keep the citizens of Arylon wary that if they grow too powerful, they will be crushed or subjugated by another political entity. The resources are sufficient for a city of its size, but there is nothing of great value to make it an economic powerhouse. There are no gold and gems. The water is too shallow to allow construction of ocean going vessels. Added up, Arylon is kept in check and prosperous simultaneously because of these facts.
Seven councillors govern the city. Originally it was one for each city at the Dragonspear Accords. Now, the seats are occupied by residents or newcomers, and Arylon is left to "decide its own destiny."