The Black Citadel is the capital city of the charr, built upon the ruins of the human city Rin. It was constructed on 1112 AE, 22 years after King Adelbern unleashed the Foefire when the charr marched to take over Ascalon City. Adelbern’s wicked spell killed every human in the area including himself, to transform them into eternal ghostly protectors. As ghosts, they mindlessly attack anyone who enters their territory, charr, human, and even sylvari. No one has been able to dispel the Foefire, so the charr of Black Citadel and Ascalon continue to fight the ghosts.
With the return of the Claw of the Khan-Ur to Imperator Smodur the Unflinching, charr and humans have agreed to a peace treaty. The deal was struck only 2 years ago, but the citadel has already become friendlier to travelers of all races, and the war with the humans of Ebonhawk has ceased. Thanks to the foresight of Queen Jennah and Imperator Smodur, this treaty brought the two kingdoms together, setting aside their differences from the past to focus on the dragons which ravage Tyria.
Arriving here from Lion’s Arch, my view was dominated by the Imperator’s Core; a metallic spherical building at the center of the city. Looking at it from the Memorial Quadrant, six charr statues line the walkway leading up to it.
At the statues I met up with my fellow priory friend, Grekel Feraldrum. He’s a charr of the Iron Legion, an engineer, and today my tour guide. It’s not difficult to find charr within the city that are willing to work with humans, but I’ll also be exploring the Ascalon areas with him.
Of the statues he showed me, the one commemorating Kalla Scorchrazor interested me the most. During her time, the Black Citadel had been constructed, but the Flame Legion still ruled and female charr had no place on the battlefield. As grandcub of Pyre Fireceshot, it’s no surprise she wanted to see the Flame Legion finally taken out of power. In 1116 AE, she helped tip the scales of a war between the Iron, Blood, and Ash Legions against the Flame Legion. Arriving on the battlefield with her large force of female charrs, which she trained in secret, Kalla caused the Flame Legion to surrender. But the Flame Legion Imperator stabbed her with a poison dagger for humiliating their legion. Her sacrifice brought more rights for females and ended the worship of false gods (the Titans), which the shaman caste enforced.
The Flame Legion still exists and has a large force in Fireheart Rise and Iron Marches. Sometimes their smaller units pose threats for the city and surrounding areas. However they don’t pose a great enough threat that the Iron, Blood, and Ash legions can’t fend off.
Nearby the statues is the Plaza of Remembrance. The plaques honor warbands that fell in battle.
Moving east to the Canton Factorium, passing the crafting stations, I visited the Durmand Scriptorium. As one can imagine, the priory members here are always looking into artifacts and texts of the past, of both human and charr history. The treaty no doubt gives charr in the priory greater access to the sites found around Ebonhawk.
While Grekel was showing me around the Serrated Blade Tavern, we ascended the stairs and took a look at the Order of Whispers base located on top of the bar. Unfortunately no one in the order really greets or speaks with you unless you’re also a member.
Next I spoke with the people around the entrance to the Imperator’s Core.
Ameranth was a sylvari determined to walk across Tyria with her fern hound Anna. Rather than use waypoints or other methods of travel, she wants to experience it one area at a time on foot.
Down the Mustering Ground path, I turned south into the War Wagon Prep Deck. Here, many of the Iron Legion’s greatest technological advances are being worked on. Charr tanks and racers were on the premise when I visited, but apparently the charr also make helicopters. On the topic of inventions, charr are also credited with inventing the printing press.
North of the prep deck is the Hero’s Canton, the home of charr adventurers, including my friend Grekel.
It’s divided in the ways you would expect; sections devoted to the Iron, Blood, and Ash legions. Additionally, the Hero’s Forum houses those that live here, and a training ground for the Farhar.
Inside the Hero’s Forum where the charr live, I got a look at their living arrangements. Cold, flat iron beds, and a unique shower system. Luckily for me, no one was completely undressed for the shower when I decided to step in here!
Watching charr cubs train at the Farhar of Young Heroes, Grekel and several other charr fielded my questions about their school system.
When charr are born, they are separated from their parents and sent to the farhar. This is like being sent away to school, except here they learn how to work as a warband and everything essential to combat. The young charr know who their parents are, but it’s not the same relationship a human would expect in their society. I’ve occasionally seen charr adults speak with their children, so it seems that some of them keep contact throughout their farhar training.
Lexis Tigerfeet stood out among the crowd, she mentioned the recent loss of her warband stationed in the Brand. From Grekel and other charr, I learned more about her creative side and the contributions she’d made to their community.
This large, shattered horn is the Storm Caller. In 1072 AE, Prince Rurik along with adventurers and other Ascalonian guards were pinned down in the Nolani Academy by charr forces. To gain the upper hand, Rurik led adventurers to the horn which caused a downpour of rain, extinguishing the charr’s flame effigies, and weakening them in battle. They proceeded to kill Bonfazz Burntfur at the ruins of Rin and reclaim the land. Unfortunately the horn did little to stop charr from marching on Ascalon, it only bought them time. Knowing this, Rurik angered his father by suggesting they go to Kryta and recover their strength. His foresight caused him to be disowned, but his courage and sacrifice enabled many Ascalonians to flee.
For the charr that look upon the horn, they think of their ancestor’s struggle and triumph over the humans. The once powerful horn is broken and poses no threat against them. It’s inspirational and gives the feeling that they can persevere against the Ascalonian ghosts.
At the Vigil Chapterhouse, I found their members busy working away on turrets and mortars. With the charr’s heavy emphasis on war, machines, and working together as a military unit, it’s easy to see why this order appeals to them. Their founder is also a charr, Almorra Soulkeeper. She lost her unit to Kralkatorrik, which inspired her to form the Vigil.
Grekel then brought me to the Bane, a large arena which is below the Imperator’s Core. Their announcer mentioned they host solo fights, warbands, guilds, challenges against monsters and sea battles. I wasn’t able to witness the water combat, but it seems that at the center of the arena, there is a section which opens to a massive water tank.
Inside the Imperator’s Core, there are three quarters for each legion and then one central war room. Each of the different legions represents a different style of charr war tactics. Ash Legion values stealth and spying, Blood praises brute force and ferocity in battle, and Iron Legion develops machines for offense and defense.
At the top of the hierarchy are the imperators (one for each legion). Below them are tribunes, with a maximum of ten holding that position per legion. Next are centurions who each command a score of warbands. Each warband is lead by a legionnaire and consists of around five to ten charr.
Starting off, I visited Torga Desertgrave, the Ash Legion tribune. Much as I expected, she had little to say to someone outside her legion, especially a non-charr. From what I’ve heard through other sources, lately Torga and the Ash Legion have been routing Flame Legion from the city. The details of the mission were kept quiet to prevent Flame Legion sympathizers from knowing they were being tracked.
Stepping into the Blood Tribute Quarters, I finally got to meet Rytlock Brimstone. He welcomed me to the Black Citadel, but directed my questions to his aide-de-camp Laria Sharpeye. She often handles logistics and organization for the Blood Legion, sometimes issuing orders when Rytlock is unavailable. Noticing my bear, Rose, she asked my opinion as a fellow ranger about Krytan drakehounds. It bothered her what other charr might think if she befriended a animal companion that humans keep. I reassured her that the choice was her’s, and what mattered was the bond between them.
In the Iron Tribune Quarters, I attempted to speak with Bhuer Goreblade, who then directed me to his assistant Erracus the Wise. Erracus was complaining about Bhuer’s sloppiness around the office. I couldn’t tell if Erracus was just very fussy about minor things or if the office really would have been a mess without him.
Smodur the Unflinching stood in the War Council, surrounded by legion captains. Grekel readily told me about Smodur, since Smodur is his imperator and head of the Iron Legion.
An old charr engineer, Smodur the Unflinching has one eye left and the scars to prove his many years on the battlefield. He’s an exceptionally progressive thinking imperator, which led to the peace treaty between the charr and humans. The Vigil had a human named Dougal Keane and his group recover the Claw of Khan-Ur and give it to the charr to help bring peace between the charr and humans. This prompted Smodur to sign the treaty. With the claw in his possession, he could claim the title of Khan-Ur (a charr leader above all) if he wanted to. He may also choose to destroy the claw, preventing anyone from becoming a dictator.
Leaving the core and heading south through the Junker’s Scrapyard, the Great Imperial Smelter was a mesmerizing sight. It’s strange, but I couldn’t help myself from staring at the scraps being dropped into the bubbling vortex of lava.
Below the junkyard is the Gladium Canton. As the name implies, it is home to the lowest rank in charr society, the gladium. These are charr who lost their warband, or other odd people (which they call plebians) who do not belong in a warband. It’s typically an uphill battle for a gladium to join a warband, often requiring difficult trials.
Of the humans I talked to, Donal Regland warned me about another human in the area named Al, or as he likes to be called, Al’Seen. Once a soldier from Ebonhawk, he is the sole survivor of a unit that went missing for weeks. Now he claims to be the incarnation of an Elonian legend.
Speaking to “The Al’Seen”, I should not have underestimated how crazy the man was. Here are a few of his ramblings I found of interest:
“It was prophesied over three hundred years ago: an Elonian, long from home, living beneath steel, would rise and lead his people back to the Crystal Desert.” and “The Al’Seen will make it fruitful again. All will bow to me, be it that pretender Palawa Joko or the Elder Dragons. The Al’Seen will be loved. The Al’Seen will become the ultimate.”
Following the passage from the canton, I set foot outside on the Ruins of Rin. Before the Searing, this used to be the site of Ascalon’s capital.
Several charr priory members are working on research here. Sten Veilshredder is tracing Prince Rurik’s path, Jorg searches for the Tome of the Fallen, and Arae is investigating the “truth” about Rurik’s ambush of Rin. Sten also mentioned he is studying the ghosts in the hopes of understanding their creation. Powerful magic such as the Foefire is rare. Anything you can learn about it helps to build a defense against it.
North of the ruins, Ligacus Notos is a shallow body of water, with ruins and rubble. One of the scavengers, Petrus Crimsonhack showed me his devourers, which he trained to dig for any shiny objects of interest. I’m not interesting in digging here, but the thought of training my devourers to find loot sounds useful.
Wrapping up my tour of the citadel and the ruins, I spoke with another fellow priory member, Shred Gnarltail. He’s working on research to discover why the gargoyles suddenly disappeared 140 years ago. I don’t know very much about the subject matter, and speculation on the gargoyles can lead to many strange questions. Overall, gargoyles didn’t seem to be very interesting creatures during my heroic ancestor’s time. Their disappearance is strange, I hope Shred discovers more about them in these ruins and shares the information.