An Imperial observer passing through Daggerfall in the early years of the Third Era once remarked that "<...> few buildings of any age survive [in the city], Bretons being unsentimental about their history." What he failed to realize was that Daggerfall is, by and large, one single structure in and of itself - a teeming mass of rock and iron, the product of countless centuries of urban accretion both endless and largely unchecked. It is layered chaos; whole districts hang from the walls and ramparts of ancient mage-spires, and new bastions and extensions are constantly being built straight atop the old.
Castle Daggerfall dominates the urban landscape, its walls and towers reaching out over the riverways and almost to the very walls of the city itself. The skyline is spire after high-reaching spire, and it is here that the royal courtiers and nobility reside; the richest reserving whole towers, while the less fortunate make do with tiny apartments that lean out over the city's industrial districts. Chief and tallest among them is the great Tower of Raven, home to the Stewards - the Kings and Queens of Daggerfall.
Countless walls, hidden passages and sewer-ways connect this sprawl of towers, though many of the outlying nobles rely on the services of wizards and enchanters rather than brave the long way to the royal court. In places, and where the passagewalls are thickest, residential quarters are built straight into them - and here, the hierarchy of Daggerfall is literally carved in stone, with the richest artisans, merchants and servants of the aristocracy residing in the higher reaches, and leaving the sprawl underneath to the low commonry. Some of these wall-districts are home to their own knightly covens, keeping the peace under Crown mandate; elsewhere, law is the domain of royal guards, of aristocratic retinues, or of guilds and their own militias.
Between the walls and towers, criss-crossed by streets, back-alleys and canals is the city proper - with all its industry, its dirt, its grime and its unfortunates. Merchant offices, docks and warehouses line the Riverfront, where much of the business in Daggerfall is done, and forges and manufactories cluster together in little districts of their own; of those, the Iron Street is simply the largest and most famous. Temples, brothels, inns and taverns, lesser guildhalls and wizard towers; all a soul might want can be found here, and anything else - down below, in the sewers and forgotten passageways, where the thieves and nightblades of Daggerfall dwell.
Main article: A History of Daggerfall
Founded sometime in the third century of the First Era, Daggerfall originated as a small Nordic colony on the eastern bank of the River Dirne. According to the Nordic Book of Life, the first inhabitants of Daggerfall were fishers and herdsmen - largely immigrants and refugees from Skyrim. We know little of what brought them to settle on the very fringes of the First Empire of Man, excepting perhaps the allure of a fertile and welcoming land, populated mostly by primitive Nedic tribes that could easily be ousted or conquered.
The riverside hamlet was to grow substantially over subsequent years of Nordic rule; some two hundred years later, the famed enchantress Raven Direnni found it already a sizable town, walled and a centre of trade for the local clans. That may be why she chose to make Daggerfall her abode, erecting the fabled Tower of Raven and taking it upon herself to mould the native Bretons to her needs - an exercise that is now widely assumed to have been another one of her grand experiments. By means lost to time (or perhaps simply buried somewhere within the Vault of Ledgers), she took less than a decade to leave the Bretons a changed people; by the time of her abrupt departure, her subjects were well on their way to being shackled into a rigid service hierarchy revolving entirely around the Tower.
Even without Raven's direct oversight, matters were now set to continue in much the same vein for decades to come, and the city of Daggerfall grew under the rule of the Tower's witch-stewards. By the time of King Thagore, it was a bustling city of over twenty thousand. Archaeological evidence suggests that it was the legendary reign of Daggerfall's first king that marked the single greatest moment of change for the settlement, when many of the mage-spires and towers now nearly lost to the sprawl of urban growth were first anchored here - myth holds, with Thagore's own arcane chains. Whatever the truth of the matter, the bastions then landed (or crashed) within the city remain a defining feature of its skyline to this day.
With Daggerfall established as the chief kingdom of the West, the capital flourished. For nearly three centuries, it would continue as the greatest centre of arts, industry and culture throughout the whole of High Rock, rivaled only by Sentinel across the Bay; a hegemony broken by the chaos of the Betony Interregnum. The city suffered through several sieges, fires, and even an arcane flood before peace was restored. A slow, if steady recovery was only just beginning when we lose nearly all track and record of it in the mists of the Middle Dawn.
A thousand years later, Daggerfall emerged back into reliable historical record a plague-ravaged wreck; whatever its population beforehand, the Thrassian Plague appears to have at least halved it. However, a surprising upturn soon followed as the city came to profit from the ravages that had swept over the rest of High Rock, with many a craftsman and artisan venturing west in search of employ after their own communities had been all but eradicated by the Plague. Many of the royal guilds that have survived to the present day appear to have been founded in the hundred-so years of relative prosperity that followed - only bolstered by the city's inclusion into the growing networks of trade and intellectual exchange fostered by the triumphs of the Reman Emperors.
The dissolution of the Second Empire, and the Potentate afterwards, found Daggerfall nearly restored to its First Era glories - though forced to reckon with the growing influences of Wayrest and Sentinel. Much of the Second Era was spent bickering and competing over the prized trade lanes of the Iliac, and it was only with the arrival of Tiber Septim's Legions that the incessant skirmishing, piracy and sporadic outbreaks of warfare gave way to a tenuous peace. Given the privilege of largely independent economic pursuit as the capital of an Imperial client kingdom, Daggerfall continued its quiet prosperity throughout much of the Third Era, remaining for a long time the largest city upon the Iliac. In recent years, it has ceded this honour to Wayrest, but the capital of the West remains to this day one of the great cities and mercantile centres of the Bay.
Administratively, there is no one "city of Daggerfall"; all that keeps it together is the authority of the Crown, and were it not for the Tower of Raven, it may well all come apart at the seams and unravel into a myriad of little communities and societies. Some streets are royal domains, others held by petty aristocrats in the Crown's stead; some parts of the city are guild communes, and others are quiet and insignificant little corners, forgotten by all but the ones who live there.
It will be most accurate to say that the city of Daggerfall is its guilds, and the various royal guilds do indeed account for much of its territory and populace. They maintain their own councils and militias, keep their own laws, and answer in all this to the Crown; in all but name, then, they are as separate towns unto themselves, except interwoven inextricably with the greater urban fabric of the capital. Of these, the Royal Steel Guild is the largest, and so holds sway over the dragon's share of guildier territory.
Beyond the Royal Guilds, the city is a patchwork. Some districts are Crownland, and so enjoy the protection of a royal guard - and some even boast local chapters of the Order of the Dragon. In places, the nobility reign, be it mercantile landbarons and baronets, or some cadet branch of one of the greater families; most often, they rule through their servants and retainers, or through various knightly covens. Of these chivalric guard-orders, a good few retain a wide autonomy from their aristocratic patrons - or even independence, mandated by the Crown to keep the law in whole areas of the city in exchange.
Places of Note Edit
- Aldsaints Bridge - the largest of the three bridges to straddle the Dirne, the gates of Aldsaints regulate the flow of water between the rest of the river and the carved banks of the Royal Reserve. The bridge itself is a peculiarity - long since surrendered to the urban sprawl, it is all but synonymous with the city quarter that has grown over and around it. This is the single greatest crossroads in Daggerfall - knights and merchant princes rub elbows with streetwitches and bargees, all of them shrouded in the scent of incense that lingers constantly in the air. Countless boneshrines to the saints litter its cracks, crevices, back alleys and underarches, devotive candles dripping their wax lazily into the waters below.
- Blessed Stendarrites and St Alwick Plaza - one of the city's liveliest quarters, Blessed Stendarrites and St Alwick Plaza refers to the sprawl of knightly barracks and aristocratic spires that is hemmed between the walls of Westhill Court and Lilygarden. This is where most of the city's chivalric covens roost, including many of the kingdom's sanctioned orders-errant (that is to say, knightly orders not bound to the heraldry of any given house); and the cityscape itself reflects it, all colourful banners and stern-faced statues to the knighted saints. To the south, it gives way to the Bridge to Our Heavenly Ladies, which shoulders the bulk of merchant traffic between the north and south banks of the Dirne.
- Castle Daggerfall - spilling out into the whole of the capital, the royal residence of the Kings and Queens of Daggerfall is a vast web of (loosely) interconnected towers, walls and bastions. The architects of most its parts have long been forgotten, swallowed up by the same urban sprawl that clings to every which corner of the Castle; all that remains is their patchwork construct, perhaps the grandest, and certainly the most puzzling of all High Rock's many royal palaces. Much too gargantuan for any one force to garrison, the Order of the Dragon has abandoned whole swaths of the citadel to all manner of ghosts, wraiths and petty aristocrats.
- Cathedral of Kynereth - almost a stylized castle in its own right, the Cathedral of Daggerfall is only a vast, crowded square across from the very heart of the royal residence. Here, the Archbishops of Daggerfall reside, and here the Goddess Kynareth is worshipped in all her regal splendour as the Divine Hierarch - her whole cathedral fashioned in the likeness of the Celestial Court. Many have likened the central altar to a throne, and tall stained-glass windows flank it on all sides; images of the gods, arrayed in arms and armour, or come before their sovereign in ceremonial garb.
- Inns of Covenance - sheltered somewhere in the underarches of Aldsaints Bridge are the coven-grounds of Daggerfall's myriad warlocks and streetwitches - or the closest thing to such that these peculiarly revolutionary-minded spellweavers will allow. In an inn favoured by Dirnean bargees and almost no-one else, and which is alleged to hide behind a different door according to the phases of the moons, the streetwitches of Daggerfall take counsel with one another, with representatives from the Glenmoril Wyrd, and - as laid down by ancient pact - with the royal court-witch, always an honorary member of the Inns of Covenance (though not always in attendance).
- Lilygarden - known also as the Dibellarine Quarter, Lilygarden is the muse and soul of the city. Perched elegantly upon the northern banks of the Dirne, beautiful sculptures and shrines to the Celestial Muse herself and her blessed saints - artists, lovers, musicians - line its crossroads and ring its plazas, their carved-tile roofs offering shelter to the occasional vagabond painter or bard come to make their fortunes. Pages to the great (and royally sponsored) masters scurry to and fro between their workshops; meanwhile the sieurs and mademoiselles themselves waste their days away chasing inspiration and showering patronage upon the prestigious riverside coffee-houses that are the quarter's pride and joy. Occasionaly, a delicate and exotic perfume will cut through the crowd, reminding passersby that this is also the home of His Majesty's Royal Dibellarine Guild of Courtesans, incorporating Concubines and Catamites.
- Pulknive Row - 'Pulknive' is little more than an ascended (and inaccurate) moniker meant to denote the most foreign of all Daggerfall's streets - the heart of its Redguard community, and home to the Temple of Leki, whose sworded priests are all but law here. Left, by and large, to their own devices, the local Redguards have contributed more to city life than Daggerfallians themselves might care to admit - not least in their introduction of perhaps the single most successful import in the kingdom's history, the endemic coffee stalls that dot the city's streets great and poor. For their part, and after centuries spent in diaspora, the Redguards here are as Daggerfallian as any Breton; their ready reconciliation of the Yoku goddess Leki with the native chivalric Kynereth is but the start of the resulting peculiarities.
- Riverfront and the Royal Reserve - though docks and ramshackle ferries line both banks of the River Dirne, the largest and greatest are found in the eastern quarters of Daggerfall. Offices and warehouses belonging to all the wealthiest nobles and merchants of the capital cluster behind the riverside harbour, and the river itself here has been deepened and shored up with enchanted stonework. Several inlets and canals branch off to run further into the city, lined in places with the shacks and dwellings of dock-hands and workers - who, in the mornings, can often be seen clinging to the sides of riverboats and cargo barges as they make the voyage workwards.
- The Crownmint - nestled safely within the innermost walls of Castle Daggerfall, the Crownmint is equal parts coin-mint and royal bank. Warden after Warden have kept a close eye on the Crown's treasury, fighting a valiant uphill battle to regulate expenditure. Though this may not be the most popular of positions to take, it remains, all the same, an unfortunate necessity; and that is enough to guarantee the Warden of the Mint a seat on even the most exclusive of royal councils.
- The Iron Street - home to most of Daggerfall's metallurgical industries, the Iron Street runs through the very heart of the city. It is dominated chiefly by the great forges and enchantries of the Royal Steel Guild, and they cast a thick smog over this whole part of the city. Rumours have long persisted that some of the engines and techniques used here are at least partly Orcish designs, pillaged from Orsinium during the Thirty-Year Siege; ultimately, however, the truth of the matter lies with the secretive local masters - and they guard it jealously.