In the Shadow of the Colossus
Sitting on the mouth of Breakwater Bay, the Teeth Islands are close enough to be considered a part of The Republic of Tarascon, and indeed the Republic Council does claim sovreignity. However, the public coffers are very rarely filled with coin from Farport’s mercantile oligarchy. And while the bureaucrats in Musei send levies, tax collectors, and port authority officers year after year, they all manage to come back empty handed. On the eastern most edge of this broken island chain sits the harbor city of Farport.
Travelers rarely arrive from overland, preferring to keep to the anonymity of the seas. Facing out towards the sea, the Sunset Harbour’s moving pontoon docks sit at the feet of the city. A series of barges, tugs, and sampans pole around the floating docks, rearranging the blocks to accommodate any and all ship makes. As the easternmost landfall for the entire continent of Genmar, the natives of Farport see all manner of exotic trade, far away customs, as well as the people that bring them. The first Genmarine land stop, Farport is the head of R’pice Trail that brings silks, spices, precious metals, and most importantly slaves from the mysterious Occident beyond Genmar’s Western Sea. This trade route proceeds west from Farport to the Genmarine mainland, whence it splits in all manner of directions, taking these commodities to the north, south, and west into the Genmar heartland.
Approaching Farport from the sea, the observant mariner with a good glass (blessed with a clear sky and the afternoon sun at his back) will first see the shining minarets of the Religious Quarter. Fashioned from substances including obsidian, polished Colossus bone, glass, and everything else in between, the Religious Quarter sits on the highest hill on Haven Island (the westernmost). While all of the various and sundry cults, faiths, collectives, et al are ostensibly in direct competition, the Religious Quarter sits on a perfectly even level mountain top. As a result, each brotherhood, sisterhood, and every other blessed -hood has striven to build higher and higher towers to represent their ascendency.
The so-called topless towers of Farport have been a source of constant construction and industry within the city, with competing merchant families and guilds in turn sponsoring rival religious cults to assert supremacy spiritually, financially and vertically. Further, as a result of these taller and taller growing towers, Farport has become a ever more important strategic observation point. Before the advent of sorcery—arriving with eldritch eastern necromancers fleeing persecution in the Kaliphate across the eastern sea, despite my esteemed colleagues various arguments that sorcery and wizardry evolved independently here in Genmar—Farport was frequently sacked by the navy of the Kaliph.
However, as the years went by, and sorcery evolved in the more conducive environment sponsored by Farport’s merchant families, the protective measures adopted by the Farporters became more effective. Meanwhile, the collapsing strength of the Kaliph turned his once crack-trained navy into independent, competing bands of pirates, dragoons, and marines. And while these forces have been enough to threaten Farport (and all of Genmar, as in the case of Khal Bravo Sheras, the self-proclaimed pirate king) the ruling council has been able to maintain the characteristic ebb and flow stability of Farport.
Farport’s ruling council (comprised of the 12 most ascendant families and guilds, with a thirteenth member selected by the dozen) has striven long and hard to maintain the freedom of trade on the seas. This means that in Farport, all items are acceptable for trade. Within the Market District, the rule of the Council stands firm; there are no restrictions on trade among the open air markets, bazaars, and other trading posts. Alongside sacks of grain, bolts of cloth, and ingots of precious metals, the aspiring merchant will also see service providers such as eunuch body guards, concubines, barbers, doctors, hedge-enchanters, diviners, masons, and slavers.
Between the moving docks, and the grand markets, the Wharf District festers against the water. Whereas the the Religious Quarter is a shining example of what the sentient races are capable of, the wharves are their antithesis. A hovel tenements, black market bookies, brothels, this zone festers as a stain upon the shoes of the merchant elite. And while they may detest this less than fair area of their city state, it makes for a wonderful cover when conducting clandestine affairs, which more than a few of the powerful families are rumored to have ties. A warren of streets, alleys, and canals, this area is built upon salt flats, stilts, and tidal detritus. Pilings from burnt out store houses serve as foundations for flop houses slapped together from scavenged timber acquired in ill-gotten back room deals. Materials stolen from the city dry dock will end up here sold to so many different small-time crooks that it becomes impossible to track. Truly this zone is ruled by slum lords, pimps, waterfront toughs, and old salts too decrepit to sail but too tough to die.
Farport was founded as a gnomish port of call, and indeed there are more gnomes in Farport than in any other city. Many other races, particularly half-orcs and shifters from The Republic of Tarascon and tieflings fleeing from Kaliph. Draconians are occasionally found living in Farport as well, but are mostly in Farport for trade. Even though Gnomes may not form the majority of the population in Farport, they still hold most of the power, with 8 of the 12 Ascendants comprised of gnomish families or guilds.
One such guild, which is most well known outside of Farport, is the Farport Mariners’ League. The League, as they’re commonly called, represent the sea faring members of Farport, protecting the interests of free trade, fishing, and the health of the sea. The core members of the League, and indeed the very heart of it, are known as the Sea-folk. These gnomes adhere to what they deem the truly traditional gnomish lifestyle; they never set foot on dry land, except in certain stages of their lives. Most of these hardy sea-gnomes were born on a ship, grew up in the water or on the pitching deck of a fishing vessel, and may go years at a time without stepping on land. When a Sea-folk youth reaches adulthood, he or she becomes responsible for resupplying ships with timber and fruit from dry land. This period lasts 10 years, and marks the only time that gnome will ever walk on land.