Archenbridge was the only major town of Archendale, and its de facto capital. It was the largest and most fortified city of all the Dalelands, as well as one of their most important trading hubs.
- The Dawnpost
- This major Sembian trading road crossed Archenbridge from east to west. Going eastwards, it lead to the city of Ordulin. Going west, it led to the cities of Saerb, Kulta and Daerlun.
- The West Road
- Going northwest this road led to White Ford, 45 mi (72 km) away, and to the rest of the Dales through Arkhen Vale.
Its proximity to the Sembian border caused Archenbridge to be the first stop of many caravanners. It also attracted Cormyrian traders, who welcomed the possibility trade with foreigners outside the scrutiny of their rulers.
As a result Archenbridge enjoyed a vibrant economy revolving around markets and merchant houses, the center of the town being as busy as Waterdeep at any hour of the day. Its markets were amongst the largest of the Dales, and its merchants amongst the richest.
Thanks to the guidance of the local Church of Lathander, services normally found only in much larger cities were available in Archenbridge, such as re-hilting and blade-tinting of swords, or precise gem-cutting.
Due to the large number of trade costers located in town, Archenbridge was a good place for mercenaries and other men-at-arms to find work as caravan guards. As such, many sellswords came in town looking for work.
The proximity of Archenbridge to nearby metropolises such as Suzail and the city-states of Sembia, such as Selgaunt, contributed to both mercantile traffic and paranoia against foreign influence. The fear of Sembia's military extended out from the Swords' influence in the city out towards the rest of the dale as a whole. As a result, Archenfolks are known to be amongst the unfriendliest of the Dale inhabitants.
The main worship in Archenbridge was dedicated to Lathander (the patron deity of the city) and to Chauntea, whose clergy was the most influential in the region. Veneration of Tempus was also important, especially amongst the Archenriders.
Picnics at Highsun on the glen of Grave Hollow was a popular activity amongst the locals, both young and old. Fishing and recreational boating on the River Arkhen were popular pastimes of the wealthy inhabitants of the River Way.
The city streets were paved with cobblestones. Buildings were tall, each of them rising at least three floors above ground. They were made of stone, and sported slate of tile roofs. The outer area of the city was an uneasy sprawl that reached out to its rebuilt walls.
A typical building had one floor below ground (used as a shop or storage), a shop at street level, offices or rental storage on the second floor, and residential areas above that.
As the landscape made it difficult to grow the town further, numerous walled compounds were built within sight of the town. Those compounds were used by businesses which required large workplaces or storage areas, and were also defended by the garrison of Swordpoint.
Some buildings had basic sewers, which emptied straight into the Arkhen river. During spring rains, the river would sometimes swell and flood cellars.
In addition to its various fortifications, the city was protected by the Archendale Army. No less than 180 mounted soldiers were stationed in Swordpoint, ready to intervene in case of Sembian attack. During peacetime, soldiers patrol the city in 10-man units.
When the need arose, Archendale traders also hired mercenaries and spellcasters to defend their goods and employees. The Swords of Archendale had the authority to appropriate those hires for common defense in time of need.
Circa 1100 DR, a dwarven engineer named Naiden Stonewright constructed a stone bridge near a small village located around Arkhen Ford—previously the only way to cross the River Arkhen in the area. The village grew and prospered as the traffic of travelers and merchants increased and eventually became known as Archenbridge, the largest metropolis of the Dales.
Most of the bridge itself was largely destroyed during the Year of the Talking Skull, 1293 DR due to a severe flood. It was rebuilt using a large span of wood on the original Dwarven buttresses, which still carried lingering magical enchantments from centuries before.
In the late 14th century, craftsmen from town were kidnapped and brought to a ruined estate of House Keleidsa in the Arch Wood, approximately 20 mi (32 km) northeast of town. They were asked by drow to restore the place to its former glory, and were mercilessly slain afterwards.
During the Year of Azuth's Woe, 1440 DR, the town repelled a large mercenary army sent by Sembia. The Swords of Archendale lost rulership when they were discovered to be consorting with the attackers.
Rumors & Legends
It was said that circa 1295 DR a planetar serving Tyr tracked a blackguard of Gargauth outside of Archenbridge. The ensuing battle pitted the antipaladin and a pit fiend against the angel, which paid the ultimate price in order to destroy its opponents. The Chapel of Resounding Justice was built on the site of the battle, and it is said that the statue decorating its courtyard are the petrified remains of the deceased planetar.
Flame of the Spirit
During the Year of the Scythe, 982 DR a merchant died by a powerful eruption of searing, corrosive fire. It was said that she laid her hand on the Flame of the Spirit, a magical artifact sacred to the faith of Tymora rumored to be cursed by a red dragon.
The hill of Grave Hollow was said to be the tomb of an unknown warrior. According to the locals, anyone trying to dig into the Hollow or lighting a fire in the glen would bring forth moaning spirits—and anyone foolish enough to continue this endeavor would be subject to a terrible curse. Those rumors were encouraged by the owners of the grand mansions along the River Way, trying to discourage adventurers and other undesirables from camping in their backyard.
People of Archenbridge had many dark tales to tell of woodsmen who ventured into the Arch Wood and never returned. Some said that those disappearances were linked to the lost ruins of an old elven wizardry school, whereas others believed the wood itself hated and hungered after humans.
According to rumors, several successful merchant families stored their riches in caches hidden in vaults or crypts under their manors. This included the Baulaukiirs, the Ithrymm and the Tantals.
- The Darkwater Brand, a merchant coster that traded ore from Archendale for finished goods from the Moonsea region.
- Elgath's Provisions, a modest shop, run for the former Ridesman Elgath,had all sorts of goods and supplies for adventurers, explorers and the like.
- The Fairwater Coster, a small shops selling suspiciously inexpensive goods—which was secretly a Zhentarim outpost.
- Jendalar's Fine Fruits, the shop that exported the goods from Archendale's orchards and farms.
- Mirksha, Mirksha and Mirksha, a company of three brothers that traded exotic goods from southern coast of the Sea of Fallen Stars.
- Stersen's Paddock, the only horse and tack shop in Archenbridge.
- The Old Dragon Down, a pawnshop which sold relics of Myth Drannor as well as magical knickknacks.
- The Stone Crab Coster, specialized in selling seafood.
- Inns and Taverns
- Drunken Lion, a poor-quality alehouse frequently patronized by the Ridesman as well as loggers and trappers.
- The Bridge and Bow, a quiet alehouse frequented by patrons who liked to relax and talk.
- Old Stonebows, the best inn in the whole city.
- The Black Horse,a more affordable lodging and catered more to adventurers.
- Arkhen Bridge: Aside from giving Archenbridge its name, the city's eponymous bridge was otherwise largely un-noteworthy.
- Grave Hollow: A mysterious barrow in the center of a glen near the River Way, rumored to be cursed. It was nevertheless a popular place for picnics, lover's escapades, and shady meetings.
- Market Field: A wide, open space that would open up, from Greengrass until Highharvestide, for merchants and traders to pitch tents and sell their wares.
- Orosul's Tower, the abandoned tower of the mage Orosul who disappeared in 1351 DR. He went after leaving a warning with the Swords against allowing anyone to enter his tower.
- Swordpoint, a large stone keep served as a fortress for Archendale's army and garrison for the Archenriders.
- Whiteturrets Manor, a manor along the exclusive River Way, could be rented by exclusive guests or for parties.
Both mills were powered by the swift flow of the river.
- Heward's Mill, the city's grist mill, operated by the greedy and generally unpleasant Salath Heward.
- Sandan's Sawmill, a lumber mill which process logs from milling efforts in the Arch Wood. It was named after and run by the former Ride Captain Sandan.
- Temples & Shrines
- The Bounty of the Goddess, a temple of Chauntea.
- The Glory of the Morning, a large temple to the Morninglord that was rebuilt in the 1360's DR.
- The Shrine of Swords, a shrine to Tempus that was located in Swordpoint fortress.
- The Chapel of Resounding Justice, a small fortified chapel to Tyr, was located in an open Sembian field southeast of town.
- Dheren Ogresbane
- An officer in the Archendale Army, who was secretly the Red Sword of Archendale circa 1368 DR.
- Jalia Mossgreen
- Owner of the Old Stonebows, she supervised the militia and was secretly the Black Sword of Archendale alongside Dheren.
- Alduvar Snowbrand
- Proprietor of Jendalar's Fine Fruits, Alduvar was a merchant and a wizard, in addition to his secret role as the Blue Sword of Archendale.
- Gordon Stakaria
- A Battle-Chaplain who oversaw the shrine of Tempus in Swordpoint fortress.
- Thaliach Mindogar
- The cleric who managed the local temple of Chauntea. Thaliach was an eager investor, and played a major role in the local economy.
- Stellaga Brightstar
- The Lathanderian high priestess of the Glory of the Morning temple.
- Vzoun Dakker
- The head of the prestigious Dakker family, owner of the Darkwater Brand. Of bad reputation, Vzoun was rumored to be a smuggler, kidnapper and slaver.
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Bounty of the Goddess • Glory of the Morning • Shrine of Swords
Inns & Taverns
Drunken Lion • The Bridge and Bow • Old Stonebows • The Black Horse
The Darkwater Brand • Elgath's Provisions • Fairwater Coster • Jendalar's Fine Fruits
Mirksha, Mirksha and Mirksha • Stersen's Paddock • The Old Dragon Down • Stone Crab Coster
Grave Hollow • Orosul's Tower • Swordpoint • Whiteturrets Manor • Heward's Mill • Sandan's Sawmill