The Enclave > Known Roads > Port > People and Places

The Fane

Some generations ago, a noble family built the Fane to resemble a decaying forest temple dedicated to the Ammane. The Fane abuts Guardians' Wild, largest of the city wilds, half-hidden by trees. Even so, its unusual architecture stands out. Within the crumbling walls stand several modest wooden buildings, currently the home of Tarurn, an aging, well-respected former warrior. He dates from the glory days of the Emerald Company, said to have been the only mortal to slay a Trespasser during the Year of Winter. Tarurn talks little of his past in public, but the parts he played in many a heroic circumstance are well known - albeit often embellished beyond recognition.

Much of the Fane has been converted to into permanent and makeshift aviaries, as Tarurn now makes a living by breeding, training and selling birds of all varieties. Poles and fishing nets wall off open areas and hang from the fanciful, worn stonework.

The Fane and surrounding Wild is a popular place for the conversations of nobles during the day and the trysts of young lovers after dark. Tarurn is held in high regard by many of the city nobles despite his common birth; he currently courts Lady Vari.

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

Ralan's Keep

Aye, I'll row you out to the Keep for a few coins, though I don't rightly know what you'll be seeing there aside from weed and crawcrabs. You'll be after ruining those fine boots for a view worse than from the cliffs. For a few coins, though, aye.

Been just the way you see it from here, long as I recall, few broken walls and the old quay. They say, mind you well, this place is stonefolk built from the early years. Long time past, when wizard folk sailed the sea clear away from land. Won't see no stonefolk set foot in a boat though, look at the sea like it's going to eat them whole they do. Stranger fish in the sea than them, I say, so best they keep their feet dry.

Aye, been Ralan's Keep for long as I recall, couldn't say who he might be. Some old time high born beggar, wizard seafolk maybe ... no offensive meant, no offense. Nothing here now but crawcrabs, and there's better places to catch the spiny little beggars than the middle of the bay. Folk leave this place be, can't say as you could blame them; stink coming off the prison hulks might please the gulls, but can't say it sits well with me. Nor you, I'd say.

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

Light Towers

Two elegant Light Towers stand on the high, rocky cliffs to the Coast Road side of the Port bay. Three more look down from the narrow opposite crags to a sweeping view of the city and lower coast: fishing villages, pebble beaches and the beginnings of swampland. The Towers were constructed long ago by seafarers from the Vanished Isles, formed from weathered blocks of green stone quite unlike any found in Enclave lands. Moss and climbing plants, and in one case an entire tree, have colonized the lower stonework. Worn steps circle each tower to the upper platform.

Each day - under summer sun or rain, in winter snow or storm - the elderly Lightkeeper Nalaan and his apprentices climb to the Light Towers to tend the ancient wizardry of the lights. The post of Lightkeeper is a traditional one, supported by the Seafarers' Guild and held by the descendants of those Magi who sought to retrieve lost secrets from the Datarii. While the Vanishing stole everything from these proud seafarers, the stonefolk still held hints, stories and lesser wizardry from the generations of trade.

Nelaan, like the long lineage of past Lightkeepers, practices what little is known of the old ways in the hope that the Magi of the Vanished Isles will one day return to the Enclave, guided by the wizardry of the Light Towers.

[ Posted by Reason on January 20, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Two Bridges Cross the Lothar

The Lothar rolls gently through Port, past noble estates, guildhouses, rivercraft moorings, Guardians' Wild and finally the docks and dockside market. The river marks a boundary of sorts between the low city of commoners, merchants and cobbled streets, and the high city of nobles, parks and sloping avenues overlooking the bay.

Only two bridges cross the Lothar in Port. Both are very old structures, providing barely enough space beneath their stone arches for small river boats to pass. Fisher's Bridge abuts the Temple of Three, joining the Temple plaza with the dockside market. The crowding and passage of common folk is watched by a weather-worn statue of the Fisher in Darkness at the center of the bridge, and disinterested militia spearmen as often as not.

The Guild Bridge stands upriver, past the Wilds. It is covered in flowering plants during warmer seasons - a long-standing tradition. Flags and pennants fly from tall poles at either end of the Bridge, one for each of the major guilds in Port. At the height of summer, nobles and guildmasters arrange contests of sport, wit and swordsmanship between retainers and guild members on the river and bridge.

This Guild Bridge fair is a popular event, and not just with commoners. Following his humiliation by the Unseen Hands, Lord Lundarn regained his standing and good reputation in Port with coins and imagination lavished on the fair. Even now, with the Lundarn estate reduced to nothing and the old Lord on his deathbed, the common folk of Port still talk fondly of the Year of Lundarn's Fair.

[ Posted by Reason on January 26, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Fourth in the Temple of Three

The Three Powers of Port - the Fisher in Darkness, Salin and Lady Moonlit - are honored by a priesthood who dwell within the unlit Temple of Three. The Temple is a old, vaulted stone hall, built without windows. Great iron doors face the Temple Plaza, flanked by worn carvings of the Fisher and Salin the Seafarer, watched over by Temple Guards but never opened. A smaller inset door is used by petitioners and priests; ornate wooden screens prevent light from reaching the interior.

The utterly dark Temple hall is set with open pools, pillars, and wooden benches. Murmerings of water merge with whispered conversations, soft footsteps and the muted sounds of the Temple Plaza and nearby dockside. Petitioners are led by the youngest priests, finding their way by touch, sound and memory. Large stone statues of the Three, including, or so it is said, the only true depiction of Lady Moonlit, stand opposite the Temple doors. Gifts for the priesthood, made in exchange for guidance or advice, are left at the feet of the Three. Seafarers drop strange coins from the Farthest in front of Salin for good luck, while commoner fisherfolk bring salted fish to the Fisher to celebrate a good catch.

The priests' warren opens up beneath the Temple, a maze of damp stone-lined tunnels and rooms that ultimately leads into the Farthest Darkness. The reclusive priests of the Three associate with Visitors and the Farthest Priesthood, and thereby aquire wisdom and insight into the Powers. In turn, the priest guiding a petitioner through the darkness may not speak the Ammander language and may never have seen the exterior of the Temple - but knows deep secrets left unshared.

The high priest of the Three is a nameless Visitor, one who came from the Farthest Darkness generations ago and learned the ways of the priesthood. He is said to wear blackest darkness as a cloak, to practice unknown wizardry, to be a strange and outlandish being. Some of the common folk of Port claim the high priest of the Three to be a Power in his own right. No one has ever seen or touched him, but petitioners and priests who have heard his voice have nothing but praise: the high priest is a gentle, wise, charismatic man - and let that be enough if there is more hidden in the darkness.

[ Posted by Reason on January 30, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Prison Hulks

The prison hulks, once proud trading vessels, rot in the water close to Ralan's Keep. The hulks are the final destination of prisoners found guilty of murder and other heinous crimes by the magisters of Port - at least those unfortunate enough to lack sufficient coin or patronage. Locked in manacles in the foulness below decks, the keys thrown overboard, they will never be released. Gulls circle the hulks by day; the stench of filth, decay and death floats over the water.

Seafarers' Guildsmen row out to the hulks every few days to throw in food and water. Ax- and spear-armed seafarers remove the dead and wash out the worst of the fetor with seawater with each new season - a loathed duty that is itself assigned as a punishment. Remains are burned ashore beside the walls of Ralan's Keep or simply thrown into the harbor for crawcrabs, eels and gulls to fight over.

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

Mirel's Teeth

Generations of Landsmen have carefully covered the rolling grasslands and small woods surrounding Port with subtle marks and signs - the outskirts of the Low Marsh as well. Hunters' signs allow experienced Landsmen to avoid the Farthest and return home with marsh eels and rabbits.

Not all Landsmen are content with familiar lands and creatures; Mirel and her companion hunters are amongst the few who venture away from the Known Roads into the Farthest Wilderness. She relies on a Seafarers' Needle of sorts, an ornate stone traded from the Datarii - without it even she would become Lost. Independent, proud and quick to anger, often mistaken for a Visitor or worse, Mirel trades unique hides and exotic feathers with Stone Road merchants willing to meet her prices. The teeth she keeps; some she carves into figurines, others become jewelry, but each has a story behind it. A beast the size of a house; strange hunters who sought out rocks that moved; a snake that spoke like a man; birds of shimmering colors; trees that hunt animals. The Landsmen of Port all know of the exploits of Mirel and her fellows, but seaward-facing cityfolk have never heard of her.

An Ammander like Mirel would have been an explorer in past generations, leading hunters and spearmen to the limits of the Enclave ... but there is little call for such activities now.

[ Posted by Reason on February 23, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Wilds

The Port Wilds - Guardians' Wild, Lords' Wild, the Cliff Wild and Commoners' Wild - are dense, overgrown woodlands within the city proper, protected from ax and fire by long tradition or noble ownership. The Farthest is never closer for cityfolk than in the outskirts of the Wilds; few commoners are brave or foolhardy enough to venture out of sight of stonework and cobbles. Even after the leaves fall and snow covers the ground, high brambles, bushes and evergreen trailing ivy render the Wilds no less impenetrable.

Rabbits and birds of all species can be found in the Wilds, but the Farthest Woods are a frightening place and there is no telling what might be watching from around the next tree. Some Lords, Ladies and their retainers hunt the Wilds for sport, but common folk in Port look to the sea for their next meal - thus, the Wilds remain largely untouched and unused.

Only Guardians' Wild on the low side of the Lothar is crossed by paths - a confusing, twisting set of trails and old trellises, one of which leads to moss-covered wooden huts by the bank of the Lothar. Staden, an quiet Ammander priest from the Watch of Trees, tends a shrine dedicated to Laelene here. A small number of Landsmen and fewer cityfolk bring Staden food, keep the paths clear, and listen to the wisdom he brings from the undying Ammanene. The outskirts of Guardians' Wild, especially close to the Fane, are popular with noble retinues and young lovers, but few folk even know of the shrine and those who gather there in respect for the old ways.

[ Posted by Reason on February 26, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Travelers' Rest

Travelers' Rest lies on the outskirts of the low side of Port, a cluster of tombs, ossuaries, graves, wooden shelters, half-fallen halls and the ruins of a modest temple. The Rest is tended - after a fashion - by the Gray Folk; outcast poor, criminals, orphans and cripples unable to make a living in any other way. They dwell in the small buildings and ossuaries, always short of food and shelter; no-one in need is turned away, but all must share alike.

Cityfolk give small gifts to the most able amongst the Gray Folk in exchange for gravedigging, burial of unclaimed bodies, remembrances and the upkeep of tombs or graves. Even when a noble is buried on her estate with great ceremony or Seafarers's Guildsmen are returned to the Unending Sea, it is still traditional and proper to gift the Gray Folk. It shows charity and a respect for all that the Traveler represents.

The temple ruin at Travelers' Rest was once an impressive structure and the center of an order of priests; little of that remains save for a weathered, aged statue of the Traveler in the form of an earnest Datar. The desperately poor, ragged, hungry Gray Folk are neither acolytes nor priests, but they know old ways and ceremonies handed down over the generations - how to show respect for the passed and their journeys; ancient Ammander burial rites; where the old graveyards of Port lie; secrets glimpsed in the Farthest Tombs.

[ Posted by Reason on February 28, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Lords and Ladies

With few exceptions, the Ammander nobles of Port rarely descend from their estates and manses overlooking the Lothar, the bay and the low city. Noble retainers walk the markets and represent their employers in business or trade, returning to the slopes above the bay each evening. Much of the wealth of Port passes through noble hands in one way or another, whether through Council taxes, merchant interests, or less identifiable sources. The most influential families dwell in beautiful manses, surrounded by large walled estates and stone-paved streets; lantern-light gatherings and lavish entertainments are commonplace in warmer seasons.

The Council nobles - forthright Lord Onn, ruthless Lady Dalun and the dying Lord Lundarn - ensure that the best of the militia patrol the hillside streets and estates, but most noble retinues already include watchful spearmen. Nobles of note include the influential, wealthy Vareds, Daluns and Onns. The Lundarn and Malel families were once similarly blessed, but their fortunes have faded with the passing of time.

The present Lady Malel is aged and set in her ways, increasingly reliant on the tolerant generosity of Lord Onn and his retinue. She is the last of her line, an outcast of sorts just like her mother, and lives in an increasingly bare manse amidst a slowly crumbling estate and a retinue of cats. Lady Malel was once a healer who followed the way of the Beautiful Stranger. The sick, poor and helpless still occasionally come to her manse to wait under the watchful eyes of sleek Ammander cats - even Gray Folk from the Travelers' Rest, much to the continuing displeasure of Lady Dalun.

Lord Lundarn has been on his deathbed for a season, driven there by his son Tarnis, so it is said. He was clever with coin and the respect of commoners, but not with his own flesh and blood. While folk are still fond enough of the old Lord, Tarnis is notorious in Port - he is a cruel man with retainers to suit his temperament. Tarnis has rousted, gambled, lied, wenched, cheated and brawled in every tavern and street on the docks and low side of the Lothar, protected from the consequences of his actions by his father's coin. There is precious little of that coin left now; the Lundarn estate show signs of disrepair and Tarnis has become bitter and vindictive as his Lordship approaches.

[ Posted by Reason on March 1, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Old Wall

Little remains of the old wall of fitted, carved stone blocks that once surrounded a much smaller Port. It was built in the seasons of Magi - when the stonefolk still came from Great Home in dry summers to trade for wizardry as the Lother ran low and sluggish. Much of the wall has long since been taken down and used to build warehouses, noble manses and the rough-hewn cottages of common folk. Only a few lengths remain intact, the blocks cracked and carvings worn away with the passing of time and folk.

On the low side of the Lothar, near the Silvered Horn, the old wall ends in half a gateway. The single remaining stone post was once carved to resemble a laughing Datar, but all of the detail is gone now, eroded by rain and generations of passing hands.

[ Posted by Reason on March 19, 2005 | Permanent Link ]


Dockside Market
The Enclave > Known Roads > Port > People and Places > Dockside Market

The Lost Merchant

Each sunrise, Abey'aben sets up his stall in the dockside market, just as he has for many seasons. He sates himself on raw glowfish bought from returning fisherfolk - delicately, with sharp teeth and fingers jointed in too many places - before waiting for trade as the market fills. Throughout the day, the strange, dark-skinned merchant compulsively rearranges his wares: knives, oddities from the Farthest, carved driftwood, dried plants and fruit.

Abey'aben is friendly enough for one of the Lost. He has mastered neither the Ammander tongue nor the customs of Port, but can make himself understood and seems content with his lot in life. The dockside thugs leave Abey'aben alone and he is popular with his customers, his odd mannerisms almost charming in a way. Stranger creatures are certainly seen from time to time in the streets of Port - Abey'aben in his patchwork robe could almost be mistaken for a Vanished Islander in the right light.

At dusk, Abey'aben packs his wares to return to a dwelling in one of the Landsmen villages outside the city. In the eyes of of most cityfolk, the trader may as well have vanished back into the Farthest Market for the night.

[ Posted by Reason on February 11, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

The Eel

A suspicious, scrawny old man of mixed blood tends a shaded stall of curios and strange fish in the Dockside Market. He calls himself The Eel in the fashion of Ammander sages and spends each day in frantic scribbling of islemarks and illegible text on parchment. The Eel hides his work, frowning and grumbling, whenever anyone comes near, deeply resentful while dockfolk peruse his wares or fishers try to sell him an unusual catch from the Unending Sea.

The Eel is the object of many a cruel story and jest; he is not well liked by his fellow traders and has little to do with them in any case.

[ Posted by Reason on March 6, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Coin and Folk of All Stripes

Each new day sees the cobbles of the dockside market packed by stalls, traders and common folk. Summer rain and winter snow may thin the numbers, but the market carries on regardless. The paved corner bounded by sea and river is reserved by tradition for sellers of eel, glowfish, crawcrab and seaweed; these worthies ply their trade in the early morning under the gaze of the Fisher in Darkness atop his pedestal.

In past generations, public drownings were held on the stone jetty beside the river corner. Now the worst criminals are merely thrown into the Prison Hulks to rot. The old heavy iron drowning cages, rusted to uselessness, still stand atop the far end of the jetty - a reminder for the throngs crossing the Fisher's Bridge from the Temple Plaza to the market.

Common goods and curios of all varieties are laid carefully on cloth and tables by lesser merchants, fisherfolk and representatives of wealthier traders elsewhere in the market. Rare or costly items - books, weapons and armor, glass or jewelry - can be found in the shops and craftrooms that face the market cobbles. Amidst the crowds of commonfolk and noble retainers, Visitors from the Farthest Market are not uncommon. Strange folk with strange manners peer at arrayed offerings, talking to one another in unknown languages. Visitors sometimes bring their own goods to sell or trade, an event that brings merchants from across the city in search of rarities or wizardry.

As the fisherfolk pack and leave in the middle of the day, their catch sold, troubadors and their followers claim the slippery flagstones of the river corner. Performances of all sorts are staged here; traditional Ammander plays, disrespectful songs, mock battles, juggling and much more. It is the rare day that no entertainer is working for coin in the dockside market.

The passing of morning brings thieves and thugs from the dockside as well as troubadors, a fact well known to militia and Seafarers' Guildsmen assigned to the market on any given day - although patrols are not always effective, especially if bribes have been placed. Traders and shopkeepers have learned to look after their own, hire assistants or spearmen, and keep careful watch on their goods.

Hard-faced Taxmen also lurk in the market, a far greater threat to thieves than any number of militia, always ready to pounce on large transactions to claim taxes on the spot.

As day passes into evening, stalls are shut up or pulled down and packaged away. The shops close up and are boarded or barred. Bored militia spearmen and Seafarers' Guildsmen watch the traders and their customers depart for the evening. Later, shopkeepers throw seawater over the cobbles and flagstones of the river corner to wash away the filth of the day.

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


Stoneworkings
The Enclave > Known Roads > Port > People and Places > Stoneworkings

The Datar Beneath the Stoneworkings

Never seen one of the stonefolk, I'll wager, eh? Yet there's one not a hundred spans from you now. A hundred spans down, that is. Hah! There by the old workings, only Lady Talmur has the key to that gate; her down below likes peace and quiet.

Seasons ago, years ago, I don't recall - I was sprightly in those days and had more important matters on my mind. Tired of crafting is what she said. She crafted a fine set of stairs to I don't know where, through, and down she went to wait for whatever it is that stonefolk wait for. Inspiration maybe, what with the Lady, Daral and the rest carving this and engraving that day in and day out.

You ever seen stonefolk work? Make you weep it would.

Eager as an eel after glowfish, aren't you? Keep yourself clean, fetch and carry for the stonesmiths, and you might see her one day. Blood! Ask any of the folk here, believe me or not as you will. Now off with you - I need anothor five buckets filled yet!

[ Posted by Reason on March 3, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Lady Talmur's Stoneworkings

Beyond Port and the Coast Road, but within sight of both noble estates and the Wayward Visitor, the Stoneworkings eat into a low bluff. Over the generations, a community of masons and sculpters have adopted the Stoneworkings as their own home. Fine white stone from the bluff is used for statues and noble manses; grey stone from the cliffs or rocky headlands is good enough for common folk.

The Lady Talmur - Lene by given name - of the Port stoneworkings is not in fact a Lady; the true Lady Talmur, her grandmother, dwells in Three Stones. Lene came to Port a number of years ago to escape her family and practice her chosen craft in peace. She is a modestly talented and charismatic sculptress; the traditionally insular stoneworkers adopted her as one of their own and granted her the title of Lady - over her protestations. Lene acts as a spokeswoman for the Stoneworkings folk when reputation is required, a strategy that works well despite her disrepute amongst the nobles of Port.

The masons and sculptors of the Stoneworkings are rarely idle. Many have amassed modest riches in service to the nobles and Council of Port. The most noted of all is one who cares nothing for coin; Daral is touched by madness, obsessed with producing wonderful carved figurines. He is crochety and disinterested, living in a world quite different from that seen by normal folk - his mind is Lost some say, while others whisper that he should have been born a Datar. Daral wouldn't even eat or bathe if not for more kindly folk at the Stoneworkings who look after his needs.

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


Taverns
The Enclave > Known Roads > Port > People and Places > Taverns

The Wayward Visitor

The Wayward Visitor stands at the outskirts of Port, where the Road of Stones meets the Coast Road and travelers pause to take in the view of the city, bay and cliffs. It is a rough but sizable inn and stables, an unusual structure built of worn stones taken from the old city wall.

The Wayward Visitor is owned by the Ammanene Unsharee, known in some circles as The Cursed. Her storied past in the Enclave as swordswoman, sage and member of the Emerald Company is reflected in the clientele, staff and regular visitors. Odd, talented, outcast, well-connected and unusual folk seem to find their way to the Wayward Visitor more often than one might expect. For all that, Unsharee is rarely seen - like most Ammanene, she has little to do with mortal society. The very existence of an establishment like the Wayward Visitor under the auspices of an Ammanene is a something of a mystery.

Port cityfolk and the insular landsmen shun the inn of The Cursed; it has a bad and not entirely undeserved reputation amongst commoners. The Farthest Inn spills into the Wayward Visitor - the winding passages, shadowed rooms and hidden alcoves of the interior almost seem to encourage it. Visitors here are stranger and more different than most from the near Farthest. It is not just a matter of oddly colored eyes, unusual scents, strange clothing and an unrecognized language. Some of the rough and tumble folk in Port - from the militia, Seafarers' Guild, noble family retinues or less reputable groups - treat a drunken night at the Wayward Visitor almost as a rite of passage.

One Visitor in particular has been in the Wayward Visitor for as long as any of the staff, and is as much responsible for the reputation of the inn as any. It stares from darkened corners, red eyes and long teeth buried in a brutish body, like an overfed Neth dipped in pitch. It drinks ale on the house and causes no trouble. There are many interesting stories as to its origin and associations, but no one who knows the truth is saying anything.

[ Posted by Reason on January 8, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Draining the Silvered Horn

The Silvered Horn is a worn, comfortable tavern nestled against the old city wall on the low side of the Lothar. Mottled awnings and rough-cut benches overlook the river bank, a good place for crawcrab and ale in warm seasons. The nearby militia barracks and training hall ensure that the innkeeper, an old, white-haired spearman formerly of the Temple Guard, makes a good living. There is nothing quite like a thirsty patrol of spearmen on a wet night to make the inside of an inn seem crowded. Red Iron smiths, guild craftsmen, Temple Guard and Three Stones merchants round out the regulars.

The Silvered Horn itself, an ancient drinking piece from a huge and no doubt dangerous beast, is given pride of place above the tavern fireplace. The innkeeper has long said he will gift ale and board for ten nights to any mortal who can drain the horn in one draft - a hopeless task that is nevertheless attempted at least once every season.

Dockside thieves tell wistful stories of a vast stash of coins - the profits of a generation of overpriced ale - hidden within the Silvered Horn. No-one has yet risked the wrath of half the spearmen in Port to establish the truth of the matter.

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

The Woodwyrm

Leaning ramshackle against the thick landward wall of the Shipwrights' Hall, the Woodwyrm looks like nothing quite so much as the remains of a great ship fallen to the ground from a great height. Every part of the tavern is built of driftwood, old planking, keels and beams, lashed together with lengths of rope.

White-sashed Seafarers' Guildsmen, shipwrights and drunken thugs from the docks raise a great noise within the Woodwyrm each night, telling tales and singing the old songs while draining casks of Landsmen grain spirits. The preserved remains of unlikely fish float in great glass bottles above the bar; scorched, stuffed spined eels hang over the central firepit. Toasting sweetmeats (or anything else that comes to hand) over the burning flames is a popular pastime for those patrons too drunk to sing. The Woodwyrm has the stench of a pickled glowfish Lost in the Low Marsh, but is undeniably popular. The tavern has burned down twice in living memory - it was built again in a few short weeks on both occasions by eager seafarers and dock folk.

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

The Broken Wheel

Once a boathouse on the dockside, the Broken Wheel has been adopted by Harand's thugs and other rough types as a safehouse and drinking establishment. The ale is poor and watered, but Harand and his trusted thieves drink only the best grain spirit. Commoners give the disreputable Broken Wheel a wide berth, save for the fisher folk who clean their catches on a nearby stone jetty. The numerous safehouse cats steal glowfish heads and eel spines; the remains of their thievery litter the tavern and the cobbles outside.

The Broken Wheel once housed the court of the King of Thieves, or so it is said. It is sadly diminished from those long-ago seasons; its crumbling stone walls are patched with ill-fitting boards; the furnishings are broken-down and battered, the bar a plank over casks; ragged, scarred cats perch on beams and fight over bones under the rickety tables; the thatch leaks in the rain. Still, there is a certain prestige associated with control of the Broken Wheel amongst the rough dockside folk - Harand's swaggering trustees make sure that is well understood by common thieves and their fellows.

It is an open secret that the Broken Wheel stands atop dank tunnels and storage rooms; so much so that it is the first destination for militia, Seafarers' Guildsmen or spear-armed retainers from the noble estates after any particularly grand theft or new outrage on the part of the Unseen Hands. Harand's patronage is an expensive and uncertain proposition, but thieves who do not pay the price risk being given up to the magisters to placate an angry mob or influential noble. Like most of the well-known rogues in Port, hard old Harand has cozy relations with militiamen and the Seafarers' Guild - and no shame in using those relations to his best advantage.

[ Posted by Reason on February 19, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

The Cordage House

The Cordage House is a rough tavern in one of the narrow cobbled streets behind the Berths and dockfront. Seafarers' Guildsmen, fisherfolk, dockside toughs, thieves and their hangers-on are the usual crowd. Every battered item of furniture in the Cordage House - up to and including the heavy wooden bar itself - is lashed down tight with good, thick rope to eyelets in the planking. Good coin is paid for burly thugs and lesser Guildsmen to keep the peace inside, but their paymaster, Shipmaster Komashk, is the most common cause of the frequent brawls in the House and on the cobbles outside.

Komashk owns the Cordage House, lives on the upper floors, and is rarely seen elsewhere. He is deeply suspicious of strangers, crude and surly, but nevertheless a font of sea tales for the few he trusts. The Shipmaster - absent a ship for as long as any of the dockfolk can recall - claims to have been a raider and shiptaker out on the Farthest Sea, wrecked off the Enclave coast and cast ashore on a broken spar many years ago. Like all of his stories, the particulars change with each telling and the whole is only barely plausible. Komashk is a proud man and challenging his words is unwise; more than one seafarer has been beaten near to death in the Cordage House.

[ Posted by Reason on February 20, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

An Evening at the Wayward Visitor

Blood! I wasn't gone for longer than it took to scare those young eelsuckers away from the mules and someone falls on a knife. I'll wager Kalei was holding it too, and now she's off hiding somewhere. Back to work, you eels! Make some noise, look happy! You know the way the Visitor goes when the mood gets ugly - break open a cask of the good stuff and strike up a song afore we see Trespassers and worse.

Stop your wailing! You're a big man, plenty of friends on the dockside, and if Kalei saw fit to stick you, it was at least half your own fault. You're getting bound up, good coins worth of spirit wasted on the wound; if it was anywhere vital you wouldn't have breath to be shouting. Blood! See this ax? Don't make my life any harder! Now quieten down, you and you, afore you spoil the mood any more and bring out something ugly from the Farthest.

Hah! You and how many others? Blood, I'd like to see it, just for the looks on your faces after The Cursed has her way with you. Go on with you, take that excuse for a man away. You're lucky I'm not making you scrub the planking clean!

Rednail! Follow those eels out and then find me Kalei. Blood, the air tastes like bad ale in here. It ended badly the last time that happened. Where's that cask of good grain spirit? No, the one with the circle mark, girl, not the regular rot. All you with coin! A gift from the owner, so drink up!


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

The Lantern in Darkness

Across the Temple Plaza from the steps of the Temple of Three, the Lantern in Darkness is a cellar tavern favored by petitioners, Temple Guards and the fisherfolk who land catches at dawn. The cellar air is always thick with smoke from sputtering fish-oil lamps. The ale is strong and the food heavily spiced, but dockside thugs and thieves favor rougher taverns - or at least taverns not under the watchful eye of the Temple Guard. The regulars at the Lantern are honest commonfolk; fishers in the morning, petitioners during the day and Guards after dark.

The trapdoor and ladder to the Lantern are open at all hours of the day, oozing smokey air into the Temple Plaza. The establishment is run by a covy of old Vanished Isle women and seemingly endless supply of younger relatives. Rough-hewn, oil- and smoke-smudged carvings adorn the stonework Lantern walls; the exploits of Salin the Seafarer feature prominently; the central cellar support is shaped and painted to resemble the Fisher in Darkness. Islemarks have been carefully carved into the wooden tables - some say that the owners know more of Magi wizardry than they let on.

[ Posted by Reason on March 4, 2005 | Permanent Link ]