That season we took the hard route South through the mountains, for there had been trouble on the Nauskentor road. As we spent the night in Marrant’s Pass I thought to myself that it was not so different from home. Steep sloped rooves kept the mountain rain off and the ale the wagon guard were fond of tasted stronger and sweeter than the beer of Lewingard, but it might just as well have been a village a mile or two down the road.
It was only when I saw Granmark that I understood the stories. I had been told it was a city of stone and imagined something like the keep at Lewingard. Instead I was swallowed whole by a maze of narrow streets above which loomed endless walls of grey masonry. I saw long terraces of townhouses there each three levels tall. I saw great stone arches with keystones as wide as my arm span. I saw wrought iron gates locked with chains and flagstoned courtyards so broad they contained trees and ponds.
We came at last to the market and wagons, stalls and a boundless miscellany of people stretched as far as I could see in every direction. I understood then why my father had given me so few duties for this journey, for my day was spent in awe at the magnificence of the place and the hours I spent exploring the market were an education that would soon serve me well.
The Lossanbrandt is a kingdom to the South of the Seats of Urthauld. By the middle of the epoch of kings it was the largest single nation on the great continent. It was founded during the age of wars when a market was established in which all the factions of the region promised to respect a truce. It soon became a town in its own right and the stability it brought to the lands around led to a lasting peace.
The capital city of Granmark is home to the palace from which the monarch rules, as well as being the home of the council of families who run the nation in practice. The monarch is drawn from the rulers of the great families and consequently sits on the council themselves. During some periods of history this system has worked well and led to wise governance. At other times, fierce infighting amongst the families has weakened the nation considerably and left it vulnerable to attack or greatly impoverished it. Furthermore, lesser noble families constantly scheme to secure seats on the ruling council, which are kept fixed in number at seven.
As well as being a centre of trade, The Lossanbrant has a reputation as a centre of learning. The study of the secret of geometry has served the kingdom well. As a result of the arts of the geometers, Granmark is a formidable forest of tall, stone buildings. Alchemy is also widely practised throughout The Lossanbrant and has proven a useful tool to its scholars.
There are six cities in The Lossanbrant. To the North, Nyebrant stands at the Urthauld border. To the East are the ports of Nauskentor and Ayl Plass. To the West, Marrant’s Pass stands at the beginning of the difficult trade passage to Lewingard and Sarenland. In the South, Heronsmeer is little more than a fishing town on the far shore of the lake whose name it shares. None of these are close in size to Granmark.