The Enclave > Known Roads > Three Stones > People and Places

Walls of Three Stones

Three Stones remains a walled city, unlike Port; the walls of Three Stones have only grown larger with the passing of generations. The main city wall, built of weathered blocks carved long ago from the closest of Krineth's Hills, is a good eight spans high and just as thick. Spearmen of the Guard patrol the broad wall top, keeping watch for Neth or those who would make an unorthodox entry to the City Within.

When approaching Three Stones from the Stone Road, New Road or Trade Road, only the largest structures project above the wall - the Temple of Powers, the Black Tower, the gatehouse facing the New Road, the Guard Keep. Enormous solid red iron gates are set into the city gatehouse, never opened in the hours of darkness, the only way for most travelers to enter and leave the City Within. All are taxed and searched under the eyes of the Watch.

The high city walls give way to a far less impressive barricade at the end of the Great Way facing Krineth's Hills. A more recent stone construction three spans high, this serves to keep the poor of the City Without from entering the City Within. In cold seasons when lesser Neth color the snow with commoner blood, the wall serves the City Within well also. The thick wooden gate linking the two halves of Three Stones is rarely opened.

A similar lesser wall surrounds the Guard Keep, built outside the high wall on the New Road side of Three Stones. Well-guarded gates lead from the Keep and its training ground into the City Within and out to the New Road.

[ Posted by Reason on February 7, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

High Priests of the Vessel Ascendant

Blood! There's much to be said of her is what I'm saying. Mending bridges with Tarlen of the Library; keeping Lord Dren's retinue and the Guard civil when Jaldra's Watch blades push harder; keeping the City Without as quiet as it's going to be. By the Vessel, Sara even had Lady Talmur and Lord Verden eating at the same table not five summers past! There's strength in that, mastery even. She may not have commissed a statue to join those of the other High Priests before she fell ill, but don't mistake modesty for anything else.

So now she's up in the high Temple rooms for two seasons despite the best the healers can do. Hadren is a strong one, yes, but he doesn't have Sara's touch; not half a season was Sara ill afore Hadren as the Vessel Ascendant stood in Krineth Hill stone in the Temple hall. He may have the Temple priests and Watch behind him, but not the Library, nor the noble families. Yes, and I know where you stand, as you know for I.

There's strength in not doing, just as there's strength in doing, mark me well. This raising of taxes for a new Hall of Burning Truth on the Great Way, talk of laws, and Watch blades blooded in the City Without just last season; Hadren is one to watch. He'll build something great in the name of the Vessel ... or pull it all down around us in the trying of it.

[ Posted by Reason on May 7, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

At the New Road Gatehouse

Flames and burning! Look at those City Without rabble - and the gate not even opened for the day. It is a wonder the sun rises at all when that is the view presented to it. Abeth, you are not to be taking up your blade with breastplate smeared! Those who huddle beyond the gate are leavings, scraps beneath the barrel, but we are not. We stand in black Watch plate worthy of service to the Burning Truth, or we do not stand at all - this I vow, by Jaldra's watchful eye.

Now bar the walltop doors; I'll have none of Lord Dren's goats in armor crossing the Gatehouse by day. This is Watch duty, these are Watch walls - ours and ours alone. Thelei, Farer, you'll open the gate in full plate and on your own this day or I'll find worse for you tomorrow. You'll put your backs into it, and you'll thank me for the chance to show strength!

You there, scribe, and you, come forward with the toll chest and your parchments. Why are you not ready on the Causeway? Your chest weighs less than my blade and breastplate, there is a Truth for you, and yet you bend beneath it? If you are not seated with your quills and fancies, taking coin from the rags and rats yonder, afore Thelei and Farer open the gate, I will send them for you - and that you will not like.

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

Three Stones at the Center of the City

The walled-in Causeway leads, straight as a blade and with no other exit, from the New Road Gatehouse and determined, black-armored Watch to the Court of Three Stones at the center of the City Within. From the shade of the inner Causeway arch, a place for City Guard patrols to rest their spears in warmer seasons, a newly arrived traveler faces the rough, black stone monoliths that give Three Stones its name.

The Three Stones, an imposing sight in any season, stand on a grassy mound surrounded by a low stone wall and the bustle of city life. Streets radiate out from the paved Court to all parts of the City Within, making it a hub for travel inside the city walls. Traders and troubadors take advantage of the stream of common folk to chase after leaden coin, watched by City Guards and lazing noble retainers. Through a combination of decree and tradition, buildings abutting the Court are entered through other streets. Neither windows nor doors face the Three Stones on their grassy mound and the Court walls are thick.

Like all remnants of the Draugh, the Three Stones - and the looming Black Tower, taller than even the Temple of Powers - have stood in their present location for far longer than the surrounding works of Ammander and Vanished Isle folk. There is an air of age to the paved Court of Three Stones that the cries of entertainers and lesser merchants, strutting noble retainers and the chatter of common folk going about their business do little to dispel.

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

Great Way

The Great Way is a long, stone-paved street, wide as a court and busy with cityfolk from sunrise to sunset. It runs from the lesser wall and thick wooden gate facing the City Without and Krineth's Hills deep into the City Within, past the visible signs of wealth and power in Three Stones. Noble manses, the houses of wealthy merchants and influential priests, a small private park, looming Watch barracks and chambers of the Council of Traders all face onto the Great Way. The inner end of this great paved road is but a short walk from other centers of influence in Three Stones: the Temple of Powers, the Library and the Black Tower.

Ten wide, deep wells stand in a line along the Great Way. They are the sole source of water for the City Within; water carriers and cityfolk crowd at the wells throughout the morning on any given day, in sun, rain or snow. Noble retainers fetch their water at sundown and expect lesser folk to keep their distance. In the very center of the Great Way, a raised platform is given over to affluent or favored traders and craftsmen; rare and expensive goods change hands for leaden coin beneath their colored awnings.

Both Watch and Guard patrol the Great Way by day, yet thieves from the City Without still make it their hunting ground. It is better in their eyes to steal from those who oppress the poor of the City Without than from common folk in the Grand Market on the far side of Three Stones.

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

Gravefields

The dead of Three Stones have been buried for generations in the sprawling, unkempt Gravefields, ever since cruel Neth overtook the old tombs in Krineth's Hills. The Gravefields have become a maze with the passing of seasons and the passing of lives: aging grave markers, spreading trees and collapsing, overgrown mausoleums now press up against the Stone Road and New Road close to the city walls. A modest shrine dedicated to the Traveler stands a little way from the New Road, once home to priests who tended the Gravefields, but now infrequently used.

The Farthest presses close in any tangle of graves and crypts; common folk of the City Without and Guard spears who walk the walls of the City Within tell frightening tales of what can be glimpsed in the Gravefields by moonlight - or by day, for those unwise enough to wander far from the Roads. The Farthest Gravefield is no place for mortal folk no matter where it is entered, but the Gravefields of Three Stones have a noteworthy and dire reputation. The poor dwellings of the City Without are not built close to the Stone Road and New Road, and travelers do not arrive at Three Stones after dark - the great red iron gate facing the New Road is closed and barred at nightfall.

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

Nobles of Three Stones

Now and now, I don't mean to offend, but your talk is all bones and litter - all folk have their Lords and Ladies, such is the way of things in the world and the Farthest. Truth, save for the stonefolk under the mountains, but they are who they are. Why, I'll wager your ancestors were sent out a-trading on the Unending Sea by mighty Lords from the Vanished Isles. It is the way for mortal folk, and even Magi seafarers were mortal.

No, now! Your Port nobles are a covey of come-latelies - merchant and trader coin all, not a drop of noble blood from the old Ammand in any one of them, mark my words. No, the true noble lines came to Three Stones far and many years ago; Lord Verden, Lady Talmur and their folk are of the old blood, descendants of Ammand kings. Truth, a Lord is as a Lord does, and just look about you and see! Three Stones is a great keep for the old Verdens and Talmurs, greater than any keep built for an Ammand king, I'll wager. Afore the Temple came to power, the Lords of Three Stones ruled like Lords should. Just you pay the red gate toll and look for yourself at the stonework they wrought.

Well and well, Dren is no Lord in my eyes. He may be a blade after the old fashion, may have ridden with the Emerald Company, but he might as well be a commoner raised to Guard captain for all the blood he shows. No fire in him, I say, no manse nor retinue either - lets the Watch and priests of the Vessel tread him under. Look at Lady Talmur, now, there's a noble worthy of the name! A generation she's been Lady of her family and not one to be crossed, not by retainer, blood relative nor priest. It may have been a Verden who brought noble blood to its rightful place in Three Stones, but the Talmur family kept it there - brave the Neth in the hills and you'd see three Talmur tombs for each Verden laid to rest.

Folk have forgotten the way life should be and there's a truth. Following the rule of priests and Watch as though they were noble folk - that's not right nor well, and I'll say that to any who care to listen. You and your mules will be away on the Trade Road on the morrow, but I'll still be here in the City Without. One day the Lords and Ladies of the old blood will take their place again, and all folk will be the better for it.

[ Posted by Reason on May 21, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Parchment From the Farthest Library

Welcome again, Hethei. Might I take it from your early appearance that the tome you clutch was of no use to your master in the Black Tower? As I thought ... well and well, we shall simply have to do better, will we not? The road of the Seeker is never straight, nor well marked - I acknowledge your frustration, but a scribe must learn the limitations of the Library, just as she learns her own.

No, leave it with the acolytes here in the sunlight; they will find a place for it amongst the darker shelves and corridors before the day is done. Strangers' ink and parchment has a way about it; your tome will find its way home if given a good enough start. It might even be that a Power has need of it, no? Well and well, as you please.

Come, walk a way with me amongst the pillars and stacks, closer to the Farthest Library; let us leave the priests and readers to their work. You have a talent for strangers' inkwork, Hethei, or so I hear. It is what brings you here so often at the beck and call of an unappreciative sage. Ah, you do me too much justice; I simply listen to the talk of scribes and acolytes. I would be a poor priest if I did not have some understanding those who Seek.

Not more than ten nights past, here in this very aisle, I watched a dripping vision of beauty return books to the shelves. I bowed and pointed a way back to the Farthest ... the water marks remain on the stone, and here, look at this bound volume - is it not simply exquisite? It would be the work of mortal years and require skill decades in the making were it scribed and illuminated in the Ammander tradition. What secrets lie within? I could not say and none of us will know, for it waits to return to the Farthest from whence it came.

You have come here many times seeking parchment and ink from the Farthest Library, but you know that there is more here than all the sages of Creation could ever know. To be a scribe for the rest of your road? I would be surprised. You would be welcome to stay longer in our Library, Hethei, should you choose so. Think on it as I ponder how best to better the last tome found for your master.

[ Posted by Reason on May 25, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

The Black Tower

The Black Tower of Three Stones is an uneven, rough crag jutting from the ornate, worn paving stones of the Tower Court, the work of Draugh or long-departed Datarii if the old tales are to be believed, made of the same black stone as the Three Stones that give the city its name. The Black Tower looms high and broad over the surrounding buildings, a invulnerable monolith writ large or fragment cleft from a greater mountain. The thin windows of its highest crags look down on even the vaulted dome of the Temple of Powers.

As for many remnants of the long-distant past, there is a potency to the Black Tower - more than just the nature of its stone. Commonfolk tell hushed stories of what might lie within the darker spaces of the tower of sages; stonefolk wizardry from long ago, things best forgotten or left well alone. The wizardry of the Tower drew The Denier and other sages to it many generations ago, before the city of Three Stones came to be.

The Black Tower has neither door nor gateway, yet sages, scribes and lesser folk have come and gone across the generations - and come and go still, even now. The Expected Smile once wrote of The Denier that "he quested mightily and for many seasons to find one beneath the mountains who knew the secret of the black crag and stones. Yet he had carried the secret with him all along, that entrance is given to those who need." It is today just as it was then; those who need to be within will find the way. For those who do not, the Black Tower remains a rough-walled mystery of high windows and no door - as much a secret as the activities of the remaining sages of Three Stones who dwell within.

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

Guard Keep

The Guard Keep stands outside the City Within, but is surrounded by an extension of the lesser, Hills-facing wall at the end of the Great Way. It is a thick-walled, imposing stone structure that looms over the nearby city, serving as a barracks, crafthall and armory for the Guard of Three Stones. More than just a place for spearmen to rest, the Keep is home to a number of smiths, armorers and other commonfolk who serve the needs of the Guard. Much of the trade carried out within the Keep is against the Law of Three Stones - as laid down by magisters and priests of the Temple of Powers - but Lord Dren's influence protects the Guard and Keep from the Council of Traders, Watch and Temple alike.

Lord Dren is a legend in his own lifetime to spearmen throughout the Enclave; a man who denied his own nobility to ride with the Emerald Company, who fought side by side with the commoner Tarurn to slay Trespassers in the Farthest Winter. Lord Dren and his estranged half-brother are the last of their line. He holds no great wealth, nor a manse in the City Within - indeed, he is rarely seen beyond the Guard Keep these past years.

With each new day, spearmen leave the Guard Keep for the King's Keep, away down the New Road, passing companion warriors returning from their journeys. It is no deterrant that these travelers must traverse the City Within with arms packed away and face the disapproval of Watch blades at the great Gatehouse. Spearpriests from the great shrine at the King's Keep are not an unusual sight in the training grounds beside the Guard Keep, and many Guard spears pay their respects to the King of All the Ammand or follow the King's Way. A modest shrine to the King is hidden away deep within the Guard Keep, but is well used despite its small size and inconvenient location.

[ Posted by Reason on June 5, 2005 | Permanent Link ]


Taverns
The Enclave > Known Roads > Three Stones > People and Places > Taverns

The Bitten Eye

The scarred door to the Bitten Eye stands in a narrow and unpaved alley beside unkempt stables, a stream of mud in wet weather or following the last snows of winter. The alley entrance faces the Trade Road at the edge of the City Without, marked by a large, battered wooden ball carved - and once painted - into the stylized likeness of a bleeding, dead eye. Folk come and go from alley and stables throughout the day and night.

The Bitten Eye is a merchants' tavern, catering to traders who choose not to enter the City Within - those of modest means or less reputable agendas. The Council of Traders and law of Three Stones essentially forbid trading in the City Without - or in coin other than priestly lead - but trade takes place anyway, hidden and expensive. The Bitten Eye is a meeting place for those who defy the Council to earn a living, as well for traders passing through Three Stones to the Trade Road, New Road or Stone Road. For all the whispered conversations, knowing looks and assignations, the Bitten Eye is usually a peaceable enough establishment for folk who can keep questions to themselves. Hired spearmen in the stables across the alley are enough to keep thieves away from mules and goods - but thieves of the City Without are often enough on other side of the table, making what would be an open, honest trade in any other part of the Enclave.

The stables of the Bitten Eye are of tumbledown wooden construction, but the Eye itself is a solid enough stone building. The shutters and doors of the ground floor are iron-backed; regular visitors can point to the stains of Neth bile from five years before, or the deep cuts of Watch axes on the front shutters from the previous summer.

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

The Third Flame

The Third Flame Inn is mostly hidden away behind thick grey stone walls on a paved street leading onto the Great Way. Hired spears in red iron and expensive cloth guard the entrance, for the Third Flame is a meeting place for the wealthiest and most influential of Three Stones; nobles, priests of the Temple of Powers, Watch captains, magisters and merchants with influence in the Council of Traders - and renowned sages, in past times. The high-born and influential meet behind four walls and in the great carved cellar of the Third Flame. Retainers, guards, servants and lesser brethren drink and dine on a wooden deck overlooking the Great Way, calling down to friends and cityfolk, wagering on the fate of thieves, suitors and those who bargain with well-dressed tradesfolk.

The high-vaulted cellar of the inn is set into booths and long tables, lit by a smokeless stranger's flame - the Third Flame itself - burning tall and hot, purple and white by turns. The carved walls depict scenes from the history of Three Stones in between shelves holding curios and engravings.

The Third Flame Inn has stood for generations; the origin of the stranger's flame in the cellar is a mystery, however. It was never unveiled by the merchant who rebuilt the inn and enlarged the cellar, now long passed from the World. The inn was already much as it is when it passed into the hands of Tivia, an austere old woman who was once a trusted retainer to Lady Talmur. Tales are told as to just how is was that the previous owner went before the magisters, and thence to the prison vaults in chains, fined all his possessions - but many similar tales are told by the poor folk of Three Stones.

One new addition to the rich decor is a statue of the High Priest Hadren as the Vessel Ascendant, a smaller replica of that recently placed in the Temple of Powers; the innkeeper is a shrewd old woman, well versed in the ways of power.

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

The Goat's Tankards

The Goat's Tankards is a haggard stone structure, slumped against the base of the great city wall in the City Without. The slanting roof would give a view of the Stone Road and flanking watchtower hills, were any so foolish as to trust their weight to the sagging beams and leaky thatch.

No-one has owned the Tankards since the aged barkeep Lafal passed from the World five winters ago, but the poorest of commonfolk in the City Without haven't stopped coming to drink as they always did. Honest farm folk and crafters made poor by the Council of Traders have always taken their ale side by side with lesser thieves, outcasts and coinless travelers. Now the honest commonfolk pool their leaden coin to bargain casks of bad ale from passing traders at the Bitten Eye, and appoint one another barkeep or "Lord Lafal" for a night.

Above the Tankards' doorway, covered against summer rain or winter wind by rough boards rather than door and frame, hang battered wooden mugs on rusted chains, remnants of an old tavern tradition in the City Without. A prancing goat statue once hung with them, but that has long been gone. The poor folk come to drink, but the Tankards continues to decay a little more each winter; soon enough the roof will fall in, and the drinking will continue elsewhere.

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

The Road of Spears

The Road of Spears is a little more than piled ale-casks, wooden slats for shade, open walls and bundled spears for posts. It stands, such as it is, atop the lowest grey stone blocks at the unfinished end of the City Wall closest to the Guard Keep. Those within overlook the coming and going of Guard spears from the Keep and Great Way - and, often as not, spearpriests and their followers from the King's Keep, come from the New Road and through the red iron gate of Three Stones.

Spearmen, Guard and their friends crowd the Road of Spears from the middle of the day until dusk, for the ale is cheap and plentiful. Casks are rolled along the Great Way from the Grand Market across the City Within by tens, morning and night - commonfolk say it's Lord Dren's coin that pays the traders. There are no steps up to the makeshift Guard tavern, however, and few commonfolk are helped up span-high blocks by the spears above.

The Road of Spears is named for an ancient, half-forgotten song, and a tale older still - a tale of spearmen of the old Ammand, betrayed and beset. A standing spear stood above each of the fallen on the long road between two cities; in the end, only one of the company remained to ensure the tale was told. The song is known to spearpriests, the tale to sages, but commonfolk and honest spears of the Enclave know little of such distant times and places.

[ Posted by Reason on January 6, 2006 | Permanent Link ]