Ardent is one of the Free Cities, currently under Imperial control like the other surviving cities. The government of Ardent was wise in the way of contract and treaty negotiation, and ceremonial gestures like these were the currency of the realm. In spite of its magnanimous posturing, Ardent was a place of steep taxes and regulation, and mutually-beneficial trade agreements were seldom available or even possible by design. The very thing that made Ardent strong also made it isolated and vulnerable. Having alienated its neighbors through a series of self-serving commerce deals, no one answered the call for aid when the forces of Kyros amassed at Ardent's borders. The city was taken with little more than a formal missive and terms of peace. The Banner of Peace, a symbol of the city, represented unity in trade and war, but was lost in the wake of the Conquest.