The Enclave > Known Roads > Port > Local Color

No Two Coins the Same

Nobles, Councillors and wealthy traders of Port have issued coins as a mark of prestige for generations. These coins come and go from the Farthest, are lost, hoarded and melted for new issue. It is common wisdom that the rare occasion of two coins of the same press in the same purse is a sign of luck - good or bad. Ten coins of the same press mean wealth and influence; those coins surely came directly from the source. A hundred coins of the same press must be wizardry and little else.

Even the youngest of merchants are practiced in the use of scales and measures to judge the amount of precious metal in a coin. Clipped or adulterated coinage is not uncommon, as are strangely shaped tokens from the Farthest Market. Any trader can spot such a thing in an instant, and the experienced ones can make a good guess at the value.

New coins originate in the Coin Press, a windowless vault in the heart of Port. The single thick iron door is guarded day and night by the best (or at least most favored) of the militia - a choice duty that pays well. The equipment inside is maintained by a small and trusted staff.

The current Master of the Coin Press is a strange character indeed, a sage of the Black Tower of Three Stones who calls herself The Locked Heart. Control of the Coin Press spurred a great deal of Council infighting in past generations - to the point of driving the Press into disuse - but the arrival of the Locked Heart changed all that. She has simply appropriated the Coin Press from the Council for her own use and profit, but the powerful in Port find this to be more convenient than the previous state of affairs. The Locked Heart has made it abundantly clear on many an occasion that she considers each and every Councillor, merchant and noble in Port to be equally vile and degenerate. She plays no favorites; her motives and methods, beyond the obvious, are a mystery.

The interior of the Coin Press is rumored to hold a fantastical array of ingenious traps and unknown Draugh wizardry from the Black Tower. None of that, rumor or otherwise, prevented the Unseen Hands from stealing the newly pressed coins of Lord Lundarn. The coins were left in the bedchambers of a dozen dockside innkeepers and madams - alongside notes suggesting that the thieves were aiding all concerned by "removing the middle man." Lord Lundarn and his notorious rake of a son, Tarnis, were the laughing stock of Port for a season.

[ Posted by Reason on January 16, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Cast the Eyes Away From Land

Landsmen and cityfolk of Port scarely acknowledge one another - an old division that stretches back for many generations. Seafarers, fisherfolk and even common cityfolk look to the Unending Sea, contemptuous of those who work the land for a living. Better to be the lowest dregs on the docks than a farmer, or so it is said. For their part, Landsmen and those who watch the city Wilds are a proud folk - too proud to want anything to do with scornful, ignorant cityfolk. They dwell in small communities outside the city main, tending their fields, herds and orchards unbothered by militia, dockside thieves, Taxmen or the Council.

An economic sleight of hand brings Landsmen produce - dried fruit, grain, ale, wood, straw, salted meat and vegetables - to the dockside market and taverns of Port. Landsmen rarely set foot in the city main and few cityfolk wander the fields; it is traders from Three Stones who leave the Stone Road to barter with Landsmen for goods to sell in Port.

[ Posted by Reason on February 13, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Winter Seasons of Thieves and Neth

Oh, and you'll be slinking away to a certain girl in Cael once the last leaves fall, I'll wager. You and Saben both, a nice arrangement you have with the Council there - a winter of coin for doing nothing more than staying abed while your spears rust in the stand. One of these years the Neth will blood Cael again; you won't be so warm and comfortable when your guts are painting the thatch. Hah!

Menei, Gereth's boy and that useless eelsucker Arin are off traveling to the King's Keep already, and good riddance. Riding the Forest Road and standing night watches after first snow might teach them a little respect for those who've done more than knock a few drunk heads together. I've had Neth blood on my spear, this spear right here; I wouldn't shed any tears to hear Arin and his oh-so-fine boots got themselves Lost.

No, you all take yourselves away this winter season just like the rest. Myself, I'll be keeping the chance to push a few bunks together in the barracks between patrols. Bring in a willing fisher girl from the docks, who's going to say anything? All the favorites with their coins and red iron, with their "King's Way this" and "King's Way that" ... they'll all be bowing and scraping at the Keep or freezing themselves poor on the Roads waiting for Neth to cut their fingers off. Hah! You're all so eager to carry your spears here and there for a few more coins that you miss out on the easy life right here in Port.

Hah! As though I care a bad coin about a few thieves in winter. A little snow on the ground and they think they can do as they like. But so what? Let them fight each other and freeze themselves finding something to steal. If the high and mighty in their estates cared, they'd give us more coin. No, I'll walk my patrols and drink at the Horn in front of a roaring fire just as I did last winter.

[ Posted by Reason on February 15, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Troubadors and Lady Dalun's Daughters

The troubadors of Port are a mixed breed, "the collision of falling and fallen amidst the offal" as Lady Dalun hashly puts it. Haughty players from noble retinues mingle and romance with common storytellers from the dockside; all who can hold a note or a stirring tale are welcome - at least for as long as it takes to be on the outs with one clique or another. Ammander traditionalists sneer at those who embellish tales of the Emerald Company or Port history while seafarers have no love of fancy players and formulaic lore. Ever-present conflicts over patrons and personalities are never far from the surface, however much of an atmosphere of comradrie is maintained.

Troubadors and their followers roam Port from evening to evening: the Wayward Visitor; taverns near the Guild Bridge; the outskirts of city Wilds; the Dockside Market. They spend coin on ale and high living as quickly as audiences and patrons provide it.

Alane and Teria, daughters of Lady Dalun, are the wealthiest patrons in Port. They inherit more than coin from their mother; both are intelligent, determined and self-centered, red iron hooks for unwary eels, trailed by broken hearts and purses. Lady Dalun strongly disapproves of her daughters' dalliances and expenditures, and the family retinue is divided in loyalty between mother and daughters. More than one troubador has fallen victim to an abrupt shift in the ongoing Dalun struggle of wills; one unfortunate was almost sent to the Prison Hulks before fleeing to Three Stones.

[ Posted by Reason on March 13, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Worn and Scratched Names on the Cobbles

On warm days fisherfolk repair their nets and lines on the cobbled streets and seafront by the berths, quays and jetties. As the seasons come and go, names are scratched on the cobbles only to be smoothed by the feet of the next generation of seafarers and cityfolk. Almost every cobblestone bears a worn, knife-etched name where the fisherfolk congregate.

[ Posted by Reason on March 17, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

A Contest of Thievery

Craw and scale, call yourselves thieves? You're no more thieves than the eels from the Cordage House I throw coin to when I need something watched. Look at you, gathered round a cask of bad ale and not a purse between the four of you. There must be enough coin in the raw for twenty eels like you within a bowshot of this hole, even here on the dockside, but there you sit, poor as old fisherfolk.

Harand wouldn't spit on the bubbles you'd leave, thrown into the bay in a sack of stones, you mean. Blood! It's no wonder the Militia spend their days in the Silvered Horn and their nights abed with fisher girls - they could all pick up their spears tonight and be off to find the King's Way. No-one would see the difference.

Oh, so eager now you are, full of cheap ale, but not so much in the morning I'll wager. Lay a finger on me and then we'll see just what Harand does to whom. But no, I'll wager you this - there's no challenge to thievery in a city of coin stamped from silver and gold. You want to show your mettle? We five, we'll journey to Three Stones and return in a season to compare the results of our trade. Winner takes all - if you aren't afraid of a little hard work, Watch blades, and an old dock rat like me.

[ Posted by Reason on July 24, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

The Enclave > Known Roads > Port > Local Color > Cats

Fisher of the Dockside Market

For many years, a black and white cat of the old Ammander heritage made the dockside market his home. He prowled the stalls and shops, stealing fish and less identifiable catches with charm, arrogance and cunning. On warmer days, he sprawled atop the pedestal of the Fisher in Darkness, watching people come and go. In time, the fishwives and merchants came to know him as the Fisher and indulged his transgressions against their stock.

When old age finally caught up with the Fisher, the famously tightfisted Islander merchant Menas surprised everyone by commissioning a statue of the cat from Lady Talmur of the Stoneworkings. It sprawls atop the pedestal, as the Fisher did in life. The plaque beneath reads "This thief was worth any ten of you."

[ Posted by Reason on January 12, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Queen of Thieves

An old Ammander saying has it that a thief will only confide in a cat - and vice versa.

Some years ago, the young Lady Malel of Port began to maintain a retinue of cats that soon outnumbered her loyal Ammander retainers. The sleek creatures had the run of her manse and grounds overlooking the bay. The Malel estate walls were lined with eyes during the day, cats sunning themselves while carefully watching household retainers, traders and Temple Guard in the streets. By night, this feline retinue roamed far and wide in Port.

While the cats of Lady Malel prowled the streets, the self-styled King of Thieves held court in the dockside safehouses. There were fewer outright thugs in those days and thieves were more secretive - the Temple Guard rather than militia kept the peace. Still, Port has always has more than its share of motley, rough folk.

The night that the King and half the thieves of Port drunkenly chased a cat and the King's spiced spineel all the way to the Malel estate - a dozen of the Temple Guard at their heels, to hear the tale told by those who claim to have been there - has become a good story with the passage of time. The troubadors seized on it one summer and Lady Malel's cat was transformed into a horde of felines bent on eating the thieves of Port out of house and home. It is a popular performance, but few folk know the rest of the story.

It came to pass that the King spent more time in the manse of Lady Malel, and cats were seen more often in the safehouses. But this was all many seasons ago and there is no King of Thieves in Port anymore. The aged daughter of that Lady Malel lives alone and without retainers in the present time, although cats still sun themselves on the overgrown grounds and unkempt walls of her manse.

[ Posted by Reason on January 14, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Lord of the Guild Bridge

The Lord is a slothful, well-fed tom who resides atop the central pillars of the Guild Bridge. He is content to lie in the sun for the most part, but suffers visitors poorly, hissing and clawing at all who approach - even those bearing food. Retainers from the larger noble estates constructed a small wooden manse for the Lord some years ago; he retreats within when faced with rain, snow, curious Ammander children or the crowds of the yearly fair.

"Paying your respects to the Lord" with fish from the dockside is a tradition in the commoner households close to the river. It brings luck, or so it is said - more so than coins to the Taxmen in any case.

[ Posted by Reason on January 27, 2005 | Permanent Link ]