The Free Cities were the third major faction in The Tiers. Save for the independence from the Younger Realms, the Free Cities were largely an oxymoron, politically aligned through mutual hatred of other realms, rather than any actual love of liberty.
The Ladies and Lords of the coastal realm of Haven are known to spend as much energy fighting each other as they do the other realms. In recent generations, many of the coastal cities rebelled and became known as the Free Cities, lawless dots along the coast. The majority of the realm’s political and economic might resided within them, and by the time of Kyros’ conquest of the Tiers, all major coastal powers had declared independence. This left Haven with an ambiguous ruling structure that could not simultaneously weather political infighting and armed conflict, granting Kyros’ forces an easy victory.
Sunder and other coastal cities to the east were a notable exception. They sparred bitterly with Stalwart, notable engagements including the Battle of Nineth's Gorge of 253 TR, when they attempted to seize territory by destroying an enemy force in an ambush with boiling pitch in the eponymous gorge (prevented by recon and commissioning a shield that protected the troops passing through the gorge single file). Another was the separation of Sunder in 347 TR, in a treaty that stipulated that Stalwart did not lose a civil war. Another was the Battle of Quelling Field of 398, when the mercenary army advancing on Stalwart's farmlands and nearly winning the day was repulsed by the Dauntless and the wave of patriotic cheer it inspired, sending the mercenary army into retreat.
By 431, there are three Free Cities remaining - Last Harbor, Spiral's Maw, and Baris-in-Chains. The first and strongest of the Free Cities was the Setting Sun, which Kyros crushed in 429 with the Edict of Tumult. After that, the remaining Free Cities were quick to surrender.
- Eb: "There is little 'free' about the Free Cities save for their independence from the Younger Realms. They are not physically adjacent, but rather, politically allied by their shared hatred of the other realms."
- Lore: "In a treaty that ended with the firm stipulation that Sunder chose to leave and that Stalwart did not lose a civil war, the Free City of Sunder marks 347 TR as its year of independence."
- Fatebinder Rhogalus