Located directly south of the Planar Portal that nestles into the great spine of granite that marks the edge of the northern mountains, Guardian City, a vast and sprawling metropolis, is the largest inhabited area in Di'Quinasev. It began as a small group of dedicated gryphon warriors who settled there to guard the gateway between all parts of Di'Quinasev, but gradually the group's size and needs grew to harbor a great network of supplies, trade, and training.
In previous times, the bulk of traffic to Guardian came to and from the Planar Portal itself. The Portal, which was dismantled following the Second War to provide energy for a new Planar Barrier, now lies dormant the vast elemental energy needed for its operation, but Guardian long ago became populous enough to grow independent of the Portal and remains Di'Quinasev's center of commerce and trade.
Traders chart routes with Guardian at their terminus and often set up their primary homesteads and shops there due to the security patrols provided by the presence of the Guardian training center. Although the Guardians themselves are devoted to protecting the Portal (now Barrier) and serving the great council at the Blue Cliffs, they keep order in Guardian simply as a training measure for new recruits, and as a side effect of keeping their own in line. In return, merchants often tithe a small amount of their wares to the Guardians each year, and though this is not enforced, a non-participating merchant can find himself shunned by his fellows if he neglects this duty, a measure that can prove fatal to business. The traders also coordinate and supply the great Winterset Festival, an event much looked toward by Guardians as a whole.
By far the busiest time of year in Guardian surrounds the annual Trials. Candidates come from all over Di'Quinasev to compete for a coveted ten slots per year, awarded after a highly attended competition that lasts for two weeks in the end of summer and draws hundreds of spectators. A Guardian is a Guardian for life, and the positions are highly coveted, though the rush for Guardianship dwindled immediately following the war in light of the intense casualties suffered by all Aeries and the accompanying drive for young gryphons to remain at home and help rebuild.
Despite the recent drop in activity at Guardian, its population and surface area remains increased as a result of the Second War. Guardian became not only an outpost and gathering point for the massed forces of Di'Quinasev -- an effort that eventually brought even the Helvera Guard down from its historic guardianship of Seriden Peak -- but a fallback point for refugees fleeing from the destroyed Starfeather and Goldwing Aeries. While the majority of the refugees returned to their homes once the territory was recovered from the Panaekiri, roughly five percent remained behind, either unable to face the trauma of returning to destroyed cities, or finding new lives in Guardian and being unwilling to abandon them. The war also provided an opportunity to those who had failed Guardian trials or not yet been old enough to take them, and a number of individuals were field-promoted to Guardian rank during the war itself. Guardian, once neatly contained by a perimeter wall of baked brick marked at each corner with a tall watchtower, now sprawls haphazardly in a blotch of hastily constructed huts, brick houses, and stacked timber corrals.
Inside the walls, an area now referred to as the Inner City, was planned prior to its construction and is arrayed neatly with straight-lined streets and largely uniform mud-brick buildings. The West Quarter, downwind from most (except the newly erected Outer City fringes that lie beyond the wall -- decidedly low income real estate), is home to the large beastcrafting sector that supplies Guardian with livestock of all kinds, from the small stockshifts (kept in a small six-legged rabbit form for most of their lives, but imprinted to take on larger shapes to suit the purchaser's taste in meat, from ox to venison to mutton to duck) to the massive burdenshifts (huge creatures kept and by necessity raised in their larger forms, to develop the muscle necessary to do their work), to the delicate exotic shifts kept as pets by the upper classes, to the warrior steeds bred and trained by a select subcategory of the Guardians known as the Shiftwarriors. The East Quarter is home to another trading district, this one for all manner of goods and services -- its northeast-most corner is devoted entirely to a huge marketplace that lies dormant for most of the year, becoming a sea of tent canvas and support poles at every festival. The South Quarter, as well as possessing Guardian's main gate, is residential, containing the Guardian barracks as well as the houses of wealthy merchants; the North Quarter is devoted to training and administration of Guardian's forces, as well as to Guardian's excellent hospital and healerie.
Stretching out beyond the main gate of Guardian, amoeba-like, is an amalgam of temporary and increasingly not-so-temporary residences. Their streets are a morass of twists and turns, although Guardian administration has demanded that four large roads providing access to each gate to the Inner City remain clear; a number of taverns have sprung up in the area around the South Gate, and some claim to rival the fare and entertainment provided by the Inner City's trading district.