Gebonneauvais was once the centre of an empire founded on power and freedom. Its first ruler, the Eladrin hero Selarion, escaped captivity while his orcish captors camped on that tiny, nameless hilltop. Slaying them with a sharpened bone, he walked a path that led him to claim a kingdom but never forgot the lessons of that hill. There he was wed and there he founded a city, calling other Eladrin from the Feywild to inhabit this brave new world.
But that was centuries past. The empire has fallen and risen again as empires do. Today Gebonneauvais is one of many city-states in the south, wielding its sovereignty over a large expanse of territory and acting as the commercial centre for much of the coast. Anything can be bought and sold in its markets, and its ruling council of nobles struggle to keep to the same principles as the city’s founder.
Nearly 100,00 if one counts the surrounding countryside. Mostly Eladrin, though the city has grown more cosmopolitan over the centuries, welcoming humans, dwarves, tieflings, and all other races. Anyone willing to swear to its laws and pay its taxes may live in Gebonneauvais, though the representation thins out the higher one looks in the city’s social strata. Travelers of every stripe pass through its port each day swelling the population with traders and tourists.
A council of nine noble Eladrin houses form the top level of government in Gebonneauvais, with lesser houses jockeying for position among the city’s army, churches, trade commissions and other bureaus. Many artifacts of the once great empire’s bureaucracy remain, which explains why there’s a Bureau of Imperial Haircare staffed by dedicated civil servants. Much like most other city-states however, public services stop a great deal higher than the bottom. The underclass toiling in the lower city struggle to find their needs represented in the great houses. A leatherworker who crafts exquisite armor might be favoured, but the tanner who makes the leather is never seen in those high halls.
Gebonneauvais is a city defended by spell and sword. Its mage knights and spell corps maintain wards against the ferocious creatures which still stalk the wilds beyond its borders, while its conventional forces serve to keep neighboring greedy-eyed city states at bay. The generals and archmages who command the armies wield considerable political power, often (but not always) of noble birth.
The city-state has a longstanding policy of welcoming artists, and for an artisan of skill it isn’t difficult to find patronage in the noble houses. Works of art adorn most buildings in the upper city, from beautiful frescoes to vicious grotesques. The sound of music is in every market square, and plays, puppet shows, and the occasional juggler can be found on many street corners. But the real passion of Gebonneauvais, the thing that unites all people high and low, dwarf and Eladrin, is lacrosse. Thousands gather in the arena every week to watch the houses compete on the field. Youths of all ages compete for positions on the House teams and lacrosse heroes are admired even above the city’s greatest warriors.