Sails & Sabres
South Landing (Ezrepellian)
Gateway to the JungleThe jostling chaos of South Landing is the most striking clash of culture, color, and agenda in the whole of Henal. The desperate, curious, greedy, zealous, and, yes, adventurous all tumble from their vessels into tropical sun and gentle sea breeze. From the decks of docked ships, the jumble of steamy color spills across the short stretch of cleared ground right up to the shadowy bases of massive trees. The jungle hunches over the town, its shadows and humid breath leaving newcomers feeling as if the whole place could be swallowed-up without warning. Ezrepellian has always been a constantly changing cityscape. Nearly everything has an air of transience. Most residents until recently considered it a temporary home at best. Resources are valuable, and that which is left unattended too long will quickly be found a use by someone else without a second thought. The lone exception to this seeming impermanence is the watchtower-come-lighthouse at the north end of the city. This first sight of Ezrepellian predates all known records. While there are no official districts in the city-state, it can be loosely divided into several neighborhoods of similar function or class:
A) Dockside is the busiest and most important part of the city, and presents the image most visitors come to immediately associate with Ezrepellian. Two piers extend on stone pilings out into the small harbor, and a wharf runs along the shoreline between them festooned with smaller docks and slips for ships’ boats and the local fishing fleet.
Brightly colored birds cover the rooftops of warehouses hastily built of mismatched, oft-salvaged planks. Sailors stumble around among them trying to find their ships or shipmates. Tossed between the storehouses are grungy, rotting taverns and brothels bearing such names as the Golden Wedge and the Broken Hunter. Brutish sword-arms stand idly by the warehouses or taverns they’re hired to protect, utterly disinterested in the pirates and sailors gutting each other in the next alley or drowning in their own vomit. Music shrieks everywhere from the afternoon to the wee hours of the morning.
During the day, the docks are non-stop activity as ships load and unload under the wary eyes of captains, merchants, and the one-handed Harbormaster Ellick Boarguard with his dangerous entourage.
B) Carnival is exactly what is sounds like. A higher class of drink, and women, in any flavor, shape, and color you could want (and afford). Singers and artists searching for inspiration or running from trouble collect here for communal familiarity and good times. In a deadly part of the world, it’s about the most fun a traveler can have.
C) The Tower keeps a light shining high above the trees to guide ships in. At its base is a small compound that took on a new life during Ezrepellian’s fight for independence. Once the tiny stockade administered by St Cuthbert’s jurists, it now serves as a military fort of a kind. The headquarters of the city militia is housed here, run by Commander Griff Swavely and his lieutenant, Captain Rori Duffey. There’s no standing army or police force, but Griff and Rori have no shortage of volunteer fighters when it comes to defending against southlander attacks or jungle creatures that push too close. Volunteers for constabulary work are, on the other hand, limited to the handful of Cuthbertians that stayed behind when the main hall returned north after the “war.” They rarely make much of a dent in the utterly rampant hooliganism and debauchery that is the city.
D) Athelstan’s Heap is a named in honor of Athelstan “Roaring” Harrington who history recognizes as a hero of the city. An infamous pirate captain hunted in the north, Harrington organized half a dozen ship crews into a rag-tag company of fighters that took on the Kard cavalry at the Battle of Red Sand. Harrington was right in the thickest fighting, and died leading a few men in a charge against King Lambard II and his honor guard. The charge managed to break the Kard line, and left the king with the wound that slowly killed him over the following year. Many suspect poison was used on the blade that struck him, and it’s not unlikely. Athelstan’s Heap is a low hill on which the wealthiest merchants and crimelords have built their mansions. The crest of the hill is adorned with a monument honoring Harrington and the sailors that died to save Ezrepellian that day.
E) Kilby Keel is where many, if not most of the southlander population lives. They are the poorest area of the city, building their huts from tree limbs and scrap wood from the shipyard. Most of the southlanders in Ezrepellian are not native to this particular area, a common misconception. The tribes once living on the site were wiped-out long ago. Those here now are exiles, remnants, or runaways from other regional groups. They make a living as hunters, guides, and porters for the rest of the city and travelers going into the jungles. Many supplement their income with traditional handicrafts, ritual medicine, and fishing. Despite their fearsome reputation, this is probably the safest neighborhood in the entire city, and the best kept cultural secret as so many different tribal cultures coexist in relative isolation.
F) Shipyard is another high-value area. Located a safe distance down the shoreline from rowdy Dockside, the shipyards have the capacity to construct a small number of ships each year. However, they primarily service visiting vessels in need of repair after the long transit around the daggers. Carpenters, millers, coopers, seamstresses and every other trade related to nautical construction work and usually live in this middleclass district. Many live above their workshop, lest their livelihood be stripped bare by thieves and drunkards.
G) Turtle Pits area a considerable distance south of the city along the dunes. A handful of traditional southlander families raise and breed sea turtles in great, dug-out sandpits filled with sea water. A complex dam-gate network lets the turtlemen refresh and drain their pools with the tides. They feed their stock with spoiled fruit or scraps, and the combined odor of the brine, animals, and feed makes the entire area unpleasant at best. Because of this, criminal dealings, or more accurately secret dealings, are often conducted by the moon’s light near the pits. More than one body has been discovered by turtlemen, half-devoured by their livestock and the other tide-pool creatures that inevitably get in.
H) Capy Road is a wide thoroughfare comprising more than a dozen markets for livestock, provisions, clothing, equipment, and armories. Named for the capybara markets that sell the only pack animals adapted to the lethal, merciless southland jungles, this road is the beginning and the end of many voyages, blessed and cursed alike.
I) Pikewall is not so much a neighborhood as a dumping ground. The perimeter of the city, beyond the crop fields, is marked by a wall of sharpened logs driven into the earth. The blackened wood is resistant to burning and hardened to resist exploratory attacks by monsters and unfriendly tribes. As it’s far from where people live, garbage and the least desirable vagrants that pick through it are usually left to rot in the jungle heat way out here. A common punishment for severe crimes is to tie the idiot dumb enough to get caught to the outside of the wall for a set number of days. Most die before they free themselves from the bonds, or shortly after they flee into the jungle on their own…
Laws: The legal code of Ezrepellian is far smaller than most places. The capital crimes are covered (murder, burglary, robbery, kidnapping, etc) but there is no standardized court system or punitive code. Given the nautical history of many residents, and the ever-changing population, trials are usually overseen by a tribunal of powerful figures. Enforcement is not specified in the city charter, but authority is granted to activated militiamen. In practice, the commander and captain of the militia, assisted by the Jurists of St. Cuthbert, are the only law enforcement apparatus. The rest is street justice.
Government: A rotating council of merchants, influential ship captains, and former noblemen handle the day-to-day business of government such as tariff rates, harborage rates, international policy, and city defenses. Members are voted in or out by the main body as situations and needs arise, and there is a minimum of five counselors and a maximum of fifteen.CN Large Town
Corruption +7; Crime +5; Economy +2; Law -4; Lore +6; Society +4
Qualities notorious, rumormongering citizens, strategic location, Tourist Attraction
Demographics Pop. 2,800-3,400; 60% transient, 20% Foreign, 20% Native…Unknown racial statistics.
Language: Chellachella, though just about every major language is common
Religion: All Common, Shamanic faiths prevalent among natives
Government: Mercantile Oligarchy
Currency: 1 crown/gp, 1 spinnel/sp, 1 pence/cp…no moneychangers, sales by weight.
Dominant Exports: Precious antiquities, Hardwoods, Exotics, Contraband
Dominant Imports: Grain, Textiles, Durable goods
Class Demographics: Wealthy 5%, Mercantile 10%, Tradesmen 15%, Poor 50%, Destitute 20%