The city gates and walls were arranged in a rather typical set up. Like most Drakken cities, there were two layers of defensive wall within the city; The outer perimeter wall which enclosed the city, and the inner wall that enclosed the citadel, a structure deliberately built on a large hill at the centre to tower over the rest of the city.
Drakken earth mages and Gemmenite earth mages differed in one crucial respect; The former were typically far more in tune with the rock and mineral of the earth, as opposed to the plants. The importance of this difference could not be overstated. For the Gemmenites and Humans, constructing artificial hills was a long and arduous process, involving many man days of hand labour. For the Drakken, while it still indeed involved many says labour, they were able to use their greater mastery over the rocks and earth to great effect in cutting these times short. Subsequently, any Drakken city or major fortification worth its salt had, if it did not have a natural hill or mountain to build a keep upon, an artificial hill upon which the citadel was erected, most often but not always near the centre. Attackers would then find, had they breached the outer city walls, that they were now facing a second siege within the city proper, forced to break through the citadel while being pelted with arrows from above. Care was taken to ensure that the towers of the battlements were substantially lower than the citadel, and the interior side of the wall lacked melons and crenel, leaving them open to attack from within.
The attackers frequently used earth mages of their own, of course; Along side siege engines such as catapults, earth mages in besieging forces would work to bring down sections of the enemies walls or exploit cracks created by siege weapons. Defending earth mages would seek to counter this damage. This mage, truthfully, Drakken earth mages the most crucial part of any siege; Fire mages may be able to burn the enemy, and air mages might be able to help redirect arrows and defend their comrades, but teams of earth mages were practically siege weapons in their own right. One of the hardest to defend against, if most time consuming, ways of defeating walls were through earth mages digging mines to sap enemy walls.
Naturally, many of the methods of combating normal tunnelling were frequently employed against these methods too. Moats maintained around walls of keeps frequently led to tunnels becoming waterlogged, sturdy stone foundations were more difficult to mine through and so we're preferred if possible, and counter tunnelling was exceedingly common. Tunnelling and counter tunnelling sometimes led to intense enclosed fights that were dangerous to all participants and frequently resulted in heavy losses on both sides.
Of course, the city being so low standing, even the citadel of Kazark was relatively diminutive, though it lost little of its potency as an imposing symbol all the same, standing taller than anything else for many miles around. Evening has already fallen and the setting sun cast now long shadows from the towers and ramparts of the citadel, giving shade to their approach along the road which road ran up to the city gatehouse. The structure possessed a portcullis at either end like most Drakken fortifications, with the interior of the gatehouse designed to allow attacks from above via murderholes. A handful of symbols adorned the outer wall of this gatehouse, heraldry of sorts for the Drakken ruling clan of Narasierre, a white coloured head of a male Aranz head on a field of black, its horned head lowered as if poised mid charge towards the onlooker.
The Narasierre clan held the ducal claim to the eastern marches of Drakka, collectively referred to as the duchy of Falia. They were often looked on as least of the dukes of Drakka; While there were some fixed settlements such as Kazark in ateas where farming was viable, these were the exception rather than the rule in Falia. Much of Falia was characterised by pastoral nomadism or transhumance, and as such supported a much thinner population. Many of these steppe tribes had traded with their agrarian neighbours for sustenance.Flocks of animals were regularly driven along by herders to graze on new grasslands and much of the Aranzian fleece or Dunar hide that was common in Drakken clothing came from this region.
Historically, however, some Steppe tribes had raided Drakken and non-Drakken alike, and even fought each other to steal food or battle for domination of the best grazing lands. The conquest of Falia by Drakka a century prior had put a brutal end to that; a Falian raiding party had hit a small town along the border regions, an action which usually would not have provoked an overly aggressive response, indeed for a long time it had been simpler for Drakka to simply pay off the more aggressive nomadic tribes than to fight them due to the difficulties in actually chasing them down to make battle.
Unfortunately, a Royal procession had been passing through the town on a tour of the estates and the youngest son of the Queen had been been badly injured during the raid. None knew for certain how he had been injured, and the stories varied; Some said that he had been beaten down by a warrior, others that he had simply been struck by debris from a burning building. Whatever had caused the fateful head injury, the boy was never the same again.
Queen Alaxia embarked on a bloody crusade of vengeance against the Falian tribes responsible - or at least, those she believed to be responsible. Kazark citadel was actually a result of this, the relatively small settlement on some of the only available farmland had been fortified and turned into a military outpost during the conflict. Many a Falian steppe nomad had been executed and displayed here during the conflict; Drakken sewn to their horses or Ganauts and nailed to the walls had been an exceedingly common method of execution.
It had taken a long time, but the 'taming of the Falians' had been completed and many of the nomadic tribes put to the sword. The clan Narasierre was descended from the leaders of the nomadic Naras tribe which had switched sides early in the conflict and assisted in the subjugation of their kin on exchange for power and riches. The depopulation of the region as a result of the genocides had allowed Narasierre to enjoy its new found domination without challenges from its former rivals, though it had also ensured that Drakka had the Naras firmly under their thumb.
Zakroti breathed in lightly as they approached, speaking aloud to the two Gemmenites "Kazark, capital of Falia. Zandre Narasierre rules here, elder of Clan Naras." Zakroti explained briefly to them, glossing over the part about betrayals and genocides. That would not exactly comfort them to know, he was sure.
He needn't have made such an introduction, for as soon as the procession had reached the gate they were stopped by armed guards who approached them, examining their banner for a few moments. Zakroti dismounted and approached the guardsman and there was a brief exchange between them regarding their arrival and requesting right to enter the city; Their entourage far exceeded the typical size expected of travellers and those coming too and from, and being more heavily armed than was permitted there were protocols which must be observed.
Of course, having left their horses here for retrieval, it was known in advance that they were coming, and being the distinguished heir to the holdings of House Unalim, he was not at all surprised when they were swiftly granted leave to enter. They dismounted and returned their mounts to the stables, and the group proceeded through the wide streets; a more than generous amount of space had been left between buildings, which was often fortunate for herders bringing their flock to market.
It was not a short walk to the gates of the citadel where they were to be allowed to stay, courtesy of the charity and kindness of Zandre Narasierre. Once they had reached the gatehouse of the citadel and ascended the winding ramp up to it, Zakdoti took a moment to admire it. It was far from the prime example of a citadel gatehouse, but was noticeably sturdier than the city gate itself. There was a slanted ramp like grove in the structure through which the roof of the interior could barely be glimpsed; Burning logs could be rolled down it during the case of a siege, cascading down the ramp and reeking havoc upon the assailants. For now, it was mercifully clear of such obstacles.
They passed through into a small inner bailey and, like most castles, space inside the citadel was at much more of a premium than the city; It was a keep, after all, and it was easier to defend a small area than a large one - not to mention, easier and cheaper to build. An elderly Drakken woman exited to greet them, passing across the courtyard at a brisk pace before giving Zakroti a polite bow. Her face was leathery and her grey hair was wispy, but she still held a dignified appearance about her, wizened almost. Zakroti removed his sword and scabbard from his waist as he approached her
"Lady Teanne Narasierre, it is my honour to be within your presence. In the eyes of the gods and ancestors, I surrender my sword and ask asylum under moon and star." Zakroti said, extending his hands up and giving a light bow as he offered the blade to the elder, which she accepted.
"The honour is ours as your host, in the eyes of the gods and the great spirit, I return your sword and grant asylum." Teanne replies, and Zakroti rose up again as he took his sword back and afixed it to his side once more. She raised her arm to point to the north of the courtyard. "The night is born. The dormitories for your men at arms aer there. You will have the guest Chambers, there are two rooms. One of your hearth-men may have the second for personal security. Please, follow me."
Zakroti nodded and briefly bid his men a good night, a relatively short warrior silently remaining with them as if predetermined. Zakroti turned to the two brides with light grimace. The wind blew softly into the courtyard and Zakroti raised his hand, causing a light flame to dance around his finger to help light up the way once he went inside.
Honestly, he didn't know what he'd do if he was a water or air mage instead of a fire and earth one. Needing to use candles and matches genuinely sounded so frustrating.
"So, it is up to you whether you wish to sleep in the guest room or the dormitories. I, for one, am not fond of sleeping in a chair, so it seems you're sharing with either myself or Narlemaewel if you chose the guest Chambers. I imagine the dormitories are somewhat less than idea either, given we just dumped a dozen extra men into them." He said simply, giving them a polite and almost jovial smile. It was not an ideal arrangement for the new brides, he understood that much. Especially Nenra, who seemed particularly loath to the idea. He suspected she'd likely be fine with rougher accommodations, though whether she felt like sharing public sleeping arrangements with the soldiers was another matter entirely!