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Iron Gates is the pre-eminent province of Aesedra. It was the first province and remains the spiritual and cultural home of the empire. Its capital is the city of Kellermore in the south central of the province.
Iron Gates is located in central to southeastern Aesedra. Physically, it is bisected by the River Yotu and most of the province is a broad, flat valley with little variation in relief. Only in the southwestern corner, near the border of Senei is there mountainous terrain. The flat nature of the province, coupled with an equable climate, has made Iron Gates one of the granaries of the empire. The Great Gatian Plain dominates the landscape and extends from eastern Kingsland to Kellermore.
The province is so-named due to huge and now ruined stone locks that crossed the Yotu about a hundred miles north of Kellermore. Little remains of them now save for remnants of towering pylons and fallen stonework in the broad river. The iron chains that linked the locks together have long rusted away. The history of the locks isn't fully known and much about them, or their purpose remains a mystery.
The people of Iron Gates are known as Gatians. Physically, they tend to tallness, medium to dark brown hair, with skin colour ranging from fair to deep Mediterranean. The folk of Kartafulia, the western section of Iron Gates, show characteristics from adjoining Keve and Kingsland, with stouter builds and ruddier complexions. People from all over the empire and beyond can be found in Iron Gates, given its status as the cultural, financial and political hub of the empire.
Iron Gates is the homeland of the Rolle dynasty. From the very first days of the empire's founding, the Rolles have been in control of Iron Gates, and now, as the imperial dynasty, they have extended their influence throughout Aesedra. The duke of Iron Gates is considered to be the empire's foremost noble, third only to the Emperor and Heir Apparent. The Rolles have held this post since its creation and the current duke is Duke Paulius Rolle, middle brother of the current emperor. The current Prefect is businessman Balande Corrin.
Day to day control of Iron Gates is handled by a stratified bureaucracy with the Duke at the top. Beneath him are an unelected council of ministers (known as the College) who oversee the various aspects of Gatian business life. Added to this are a number of other functionaries who have oversight over the civic police, jails, waterways, agriculture, wineries and so on. In practice, the province is ruled much the same way the real life Republic of Venice was organised.
Gatians are a gregarious and confident people, very much aware of the power and prosperity of their homeland. They have vied with neighbouring Polatia in many matters, including culture, erudition, wines and political clout.