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"...and, as the Games rapidly approach, the usually quite sedate pace of the city of Ashton has been replaced by a hive of activity. With athletes, officials, and spectators from dozens of nations descend onto this scenic corner of south-west Krytenia, preparations are being made to ensure the Games run smoothly. With the Olympic Village ready to go, and the Mowbray resort checking out the last of its casual guests, the city is ready. The nation is ready. All we need now, is for the competition to get started, an occasion the locals here await with almost tangible excitement. This is Martin Boston, KBS News, in Ashton."
Welcome to Ashton! This picturesque city of some 135,000 people, in the foothills of the Rutian Mountains of south-west Krytenia, is a city with a long history.
Originally the home of a local tribe of Mercian natives, the city's name is an Anglicisation of the Ancient Mercian name for the original settlement here - Ašos Tàn (pronounced ash-oss tarn), which roughly translates as "Mother Bear". Local legend says that the first to settle here decided to do so because they saw a bear catching fish in the river. Indeed, the bear is a symbol of the city, and has been for centuries; the original Mercian settlers saw the bear as a spirit of nature and providence, and would never kill a bear, even in self defence, for fear of overturning the balance between man and nature.
Christian explorers later settled in the area, across the river from the natives. The two groups had a relatively harmonious relationship; the Christians (Anglicans, to be precise) would teach the children, and both sides would trade their wares with each other - wool, leather, and elegantly crafted wooden implements for cotton, barley, and ceramics. Sadly, disease and interbreeding would take their toll on the native population, but those who were to live here in the coming centuries were taught the legacies of the natives. Even now, Ashton is a "green" city; most of the city is powered by renewable hydroelectricity, and Ashton has the highest number of electric, hybrid, and LPG vehicles in the country.
Being a provincial city built primarily on the agricultural trade, Ashton has few landmarks, and no skyscrapers. City Hall, however, and its spired clocktower, is a fine example of neo-Renaissance architecture; whilst several pieces of "action" artwork, capturing winter athletes in motion and cast in bronze by local artist Dennis Green, will be on display in
Plenty of pubs around, but it's more the "quiet drink with friends" type. Anyone who's anyone (and that's not many people) will spend their evenings "throwing shapes" in the town centre, which boasts all of three nightclubs. There's a theatre and a multiplex cinema in the town centre too, but this really isn't a party town. You're best off getting the train about eighty miles north-east, bypassing Leston, and enjoying the cosmopolitan bars and clubs of Dereapolis.