- Capital: Trease (pop. 63,900)
- Population: 115,000
- Demographics: Very racially diverse (humans, demi-humans, few humanoids)
- Economy: Subsistence agriculture (rural); exchange-based (urban)
The modern city of Trease is one of the greatest cities on Aerth and is the largest city on the Azure Lake. Though it is conjectured to have been founded originally by the Elderians before the Shadow Wars, it was near-completely razed in the destruction that swept over the continent in the wake of the Dark One's hordes. It was refounded many years later as a southern outpost and sea port for the expanding Bussalonian Empire. However, the inhabitants of Trease were among the first to claim their independence during the initial break up of that ancient empire, and have proven capable of jealously maintaining that freedom in the years since.
The territory claimed and controlled by the Free-City of Trease includes the walled city itself, and lands that stretch from the eastern reaches of the Bramblewood to the western extent of the Gnat Marshes and from the Azure Lake south to Winsome Bay. This countryside is typically inhabited by clustered homesteaders and small towns, all of which produce the agricultural goods that help support the population within the city. Many of the farms are in fact owned by wealthy landlords who reside in the city and collect rents from the tenants. Such sharecroppers live intermixed with freesteaders in a generally congenial society, an attitude aided by the reliable consumption of those in the city of the excess livestock and crops produced by the countryside. Trease also controls the small port towns at either end of the seaway linking the Azure Lake with Winsome Bay and the open seas beyond. These exist to facillitate the small-scale movement of some overland goods, though most cargo transfer is done in the great harbors of Trease, and as bases for the fisher fleets that provide maritime bounty to the citizens of Trease.
Trease is now controlled by the Lord Mayor, who is appointed by and is directly answerable to an informal oligarchy composed of guildmasters other high persons of the city. Due to the nature of its founding and the spirit of its people, Trease is a champion of free trade and commerce. It is said that anything can be bought or sold within the walls of Trease, whether it be the exotic or the mundane. Not only is Trease a booming center of economic activity, but owing to the interaction of the traders of all nationalities and races and the draw of its fabulous colleges, it is also a center of social innovation as well. No other place is more open to outsiders, at least those with coin and a modicum of propriety, than the cosmopolitan city of Trease. There, wealth and power more closely defines social stratification than does birth, and it is conceivable to rise from rags to riches (or to fall from riches to rags!) in its streets.
Trease maintains a standing army of some 5,000 regulars, with about a fourth of these being stationed within the walls as the City Watch. The rest are maintained in outposts throughout Trease's territories to provide local security and protection for those goods arriving at Trease through overland routes. Trease also maintains a small fleet upon the Azure Lake and along the seaway to protect its interests there, with about 20 capital ships at any given time being under sail (and about equal numbers active in the military harbor at Trease).