THE MANTHRIAN PORT CITY CIOSA ("PORT CAEL")

DESCRIPTION - LOCATION - PEOPLE - COAT OF ARMS
CLIMATE -
FLORA - FAUNA - RESOURCES - CELEBRITIES - HISTORY

Ciosa or "Port Cael" as the poets often use to refer to the city, is an ancient harbour of about 35.000 inhabitants with a history dating back nearly a dozen millenia. It can be found at the southeastern tip of the Santharian province of Manthria reaching far into the Adanian Sea and was named after the famous leader of an exploring Glandorian expedition, who stranded at what is now known as Gebl's Nose Cape and eventually founded a settlement. Later the Avennorians (descendants of the Glandorians) built a large exploring fleet, which was stationed mainly in Ciosa. From there adventurers set out to discover mainly the eastern and southern parts of the world, reaching until Aeruillin and making a fortune in trading with such distant regions.

Much later, after the unification of the kingdoms south of the Tandala forming Santharia, Ciosa also became a center for all people interested in astronomy and astrology. The so-called Starcharts Astrendum under the guidance of the elf Mowi Farseer developed more and more to the key location for all people interested in observing the stars and discussing their movements and purposes in relation to the destiny of Caelereth.

The Ciosan Starcharts Astrendum

View picture in full size Picture description. View on one of Ciosa's famous landmarks, the famous Starcharts Astrendum overlooking the port town. A huge Mowickle clock can be seen above the front gate. Picture by Seeker.

Description. Three things will catch your eye from afar when approaching Ciosa from the sea: For one you'll notice that the town was built on half a dozen gentle hills, the further inland the higher the hills. This gives you a splendid view of nearly the whole town and its dark grey, at times even black buildings when entering the harbour, and if you've been away for weeks and months at sea, you can't wish for a better welcome home - the magnificence of Ciosa's leveled town stands for many a sailor for a greeting of the whole Sarvonian continent. The second thing you'll notice is the prominent building on top of the highest hill of the town in the east contrasting strongly with the White Widdow mountain in the background. The building is a compound of black granite houses resembling in shape the great Sanctuary of the Twelve in Elsreth and seems to reign over the many houses below. The structure has a round dome located in the center and two massive dominating towers in front of it, in between the towers a large clock face in the shape of a sun can be easily spotted at the area above the main entrance: it is the Starcharts Astrendum, famous home of Santharia's astrologers and astronomers society. Finally you'll also for sure discover another landmark, which is very difficult to miss: To the west of the town, where the Hawkeye Quarry is located, there is a natural face set in the rock, which appears like a thinking man, who overlooks the town - the locals call him "Brooding Jepp". He has been a companion to the Ciosans for literally ages now, as the town has a long tradition not many towns in Santharia can offer.

Ciosa in fact is one of the most ancient towns in the whole kingdom, its founding is said to date back more than 15 millenia, a fact that is also obvious when looking at the town today. Nevertheless, the construction of buildings made of solid stone, especially from granite and limestone found in the nearby quarry, was started only around a millenium before Santhros' ascension to the Santharian throne. The dark granite variety of the Hawkeye Quarry comes mostly in the shades of black and grey and is extremely durable. And though it was very difficult in ancient times to get the stones out of the quarry in proper shape and use the material at important buildings of the port, some of these very old buildings have survived until this very day like the Baveran Temple, the so-called Port Hall or the ancient buildings of some of the greatest Avennorian merchant families (called "kilvs"), who made their home here. These few buildings still stand proudly in between newer dark grey granite and limestone constructions, the latter representing the vast majority of houses found in Ciosa. The amount of whale bone structures used for housing has diminished here, though, you'll find many more of these traditional Avennorian constructions further south in Klinsor. - Summarizing we can say that the ancient character of the port town is omnipresent, providing a very unique flair to the city. It is a somewhat melancholic atmosphere maybe due to the predominantly dark colours of the stone many houses are built from, ranging from grey to black, and combined with the heavy fog often engulfing the coast, Ciosa invites to contemplate. On the other hand the town also emanates wisdom with its age with Brooding Jepp watching over it and at the same time a sense of innovation and openness can be felt for the new, for adventure and opportunity.

The most important buildings and attractions of Ciosa can be summarized as follows:

Location. The port town of Ciosa is situated in the central Santharian province of Manthria, on the most southeastern landmass of the province. The latter is called Gebl's Nose Cape, due to the fact that the mushroom (Gebl's head) bearing this name grows well in the damp miasma of the swamps along the southern edge - and there is no relation whatsoever by the way between the odd elongated shape of the mushroom, the obscene stories people associate with it, and the outlines of the cape as they can be observed on a map. At least that's the official version. (With other words: The fact that the cape incidentally has the appearance of a nose and that some like to see certain similarities between this body part and other anatomical features of males and furthermore that this specific fungus is quite common in this region all has to be just pure coincidence!) Actually - despite its questionable name - Gebl's head is a delicious cooking mushroom, and the locals have quite a bunch of specialities in store you won't find anywhere else.

Anyway, Ciosa lies in a geographically rather diverse region with the "guardian of the town", the White Widdow mountain, to the north, swampy areas to the northeast and further west and finally the gigantic Hawkeye Quarry sitting right beside it. In between, on a large patch of fertile land with direct access to the sea and its hundreds of ships anchoring on the quay, there is Ciosa. And once you've been there and have seen the fog-covered idyllic mountains and the deep blue Adanian Sea, tasted the unique flair of the city and smelled the flavour of adventure, you will understand why the poets write so much about Ciosa, the "portal to the wide world". Return to the top

People. Ciosa is also sometimes referred to as "Port Cael", and this very well reflects the people's self-interpretation and their way of living in this town: Since they settled on this location, Ciosans have always seen themselves as inhabitants of a city open to the world, a harbour that connects the north (Northern Sarvonia, the region from where the first settlers originated) and the south (Aeruillin, which was the Glandorian/Avennorian second big discovery after Southern Sarvonia). At Ciosa even trading with the very eastern landmasses of Caelereth through their close connections with the dwarven Iron Realm, Denilou, take place, and it is one of the major ports associated with the Stormcloaks Trading Guild with their headquarters in Quios. So if you look at Ciosa coming from this side it doesn't surprise very much that you find in the populace of this port town traces of ancient and more recent Northern Sarvonian lineage, of the darker coloured "desert folk" - as they are called - coming from places like Shan'Thai or even further south, or you might see Doranians, Carmarhim elves and even men returning to the main continent from the eastern isles, jokingly dubbed "Ironites" in reference to the dwarven "Iron Realm" of Denilou. And of course you also find various half-orcs here, often employed as workers on the docks loading cargo and sailing on trading ships, and even small Brownie communities live here and there among the big people, entertaining the latter at special shows. With other words: If you want to get to know very different people from practically all parts of the world, then come to Ciosa - a whole plethora of races and tribes awaits here, cultures, customs, religions mix here like barely any other place in Santharia. The Avennorian saying "Don't talk Ciosan to me!" has its justification here, as it needs a good ear and a profound knowledge to understand all those diverse languages and dialects spoken in the inns and taverns. People come and go, there are constantly new faces in the streets - while the ones come from inland, others venture to Sarvonia from afar to search their fortune in Santharia. Well, the sailors of course come back regularly, but still they are away for quite some time during the year - some might even find a love interest elsewhere or drown in a storm, all facts the city has learned to live with. Innkeepers summarize the fleeting character of the town when saying "You might see a face twice in Ciosa, but never trice" (referring to newcomers) and the sailors they often call simply "Visitors", knowing that they'll only be their customers for a few days.

In this regard the mentioned poetic term "Port Cael" means two things: On the one hand a harbour, a safe place for everyone, whereever the origin, in the heart of the world of Caelereth. Because as a matter of fact, Ciosa is a friendly and forthcoming city, exemplary in this respect. On the other hand "Port Cael" means a city, from where you can set out in order to reach exotic places, which are a whole Cael away, thus opening new possibilities and providing new hopes. - This all for the right price that is. As it shouldn't be concealed that Ciosa with its Avennorian roots is not a cheap town, the jingling of sans, hak, w'aer and silverbards is often what brings people together. The fact that you can get wares from distant places here and that not many new people stay in the region has driven prices up, and only the locals are aware of the cheaper establishments. But all in all there isn't much to complain about for the inhabitants as the business runs fine. Many taverns, inns, hostels, markets or even brothels belong to just a few barely competing families - as far as business in town is concerned the big players don't get into each other's way, ensuring that prices maintain a pretty high level. - So if you're going to Ciosa, make sure you have a full purse with you. But beware as well, cutpurses are always where the big money is... Return to the top

Coat of Arms/Sign. The Ciosan coat of arms is simple, but full with tradition. It shows the rising golden sun on the horizon on an allia coloured sky over a deep blue sea. The ball of the Injérá can be halfway seen and features seven spiky rays, said to represent the seven Glandorian explorers, who set out ages ago from the Sarvonian north - and one of them found his way to this place, which was named after him: Ciosa. The sun of course is also symbolic for their voyage south in general, as it is from there that the sun reigns over the world of Caelereth. Furthermore the Avennorians didn't cease to go further south after having founded Ciosa, discovering what is now known as continent of Aeruillin twice. Between the sun's rays there are six gems or stars, representing the six wealthiest ands thus ruling families in Ciosa, who regularly alternated in leadership over the centuries.

Of course the coat of arms also has its cosmological implications, which have to be mentioned here: The depicted sun and the stars surrounding it are also references to the extraordinary and unforgotten work of Mowi Farseer and his followers at the Starcharts Astrendum, Santharia's largest and most famous royal observatory. Thus both key elements Ciosa stands for, exploration of the sea and observation of the stars, are both represented in this sign.

The coat of arms by the way is usually set into a shield where the edges are covered with two elegant curved stripes at the bottom and two stripes at the top left leading all to the top right, thus pointing geographically at the origins of the Avennorians in Northern Sarvonia. The colours of the stripes are black and charcoal grey, colours said to be associated with the ancient Glandorians. Return to the top

Climate. Sailors often call Ciosa - sometimes synonymously with the sea - the "Foggy Old Lady", which has its reason in the fact that the port region is often covered in mist, mainly in summer and then in the early mornings and late at night. Wafts of mist often slowly move through the harbour districts, lending the cobblestone streets a wet look. The air is very fresh, carrying the scent of the deep wide ocean, and the waves rolling to the shore constantly speak of enticing new adventures. However, sometimes it gets very chilly as well, especially when strong windy gusts are lashing at the shore from time to time and the water level rises to seemingly threatening heights. But the chances of floodings are slim, also the sailors have learned to live with the moods of the "Old Lady", and if you meet one and he tells you that "She's grumpy again", then it's very likely that he's not speaking about his wife, but about the "Foggy Old Lady", the Ciosan sea, most often his only true love.

The sun comes up in the late morning, chasing the fog away, and the dark stone of the town appears in a completely brand new light, losing its mystery and the melancholic touch it had in the early hours. The fishermen set out to "hunt for the Svealer" (see Resources) and the streets become bustling with life, and one finds oneself seemingly in another reality until the fog returns in the evening hours, engulfing everything, making things grey and somber again.

Ciosa sees no snow in winter and temperature is quite moderate the whole year through compared to other Santharian regions. Though it gets hotter in the summer months and colder in the first and the last months of the year, one cannot speak of any extremes - only the fog is a characteristic of the region all year long and a constant companion for the Avennorian sailors. Return to the top

Flora. Gebl's Nose Cape, the peninsula on which Ciosa rests, is famous for the Gebl's head mushroom,
an elongated edible fungus with a bright pink cap and fleshy stem. This chewy, delicious fungus is a main ingredient in many local specialities, often used in conjunction with the sulcho - try the Ciosan mushroom mash, you'll love it! The water gourd (or pompion), which grows best in warm, damp areas, is cultivated extensively near the Kaimun Marshes west of Ciosa and is also very popular therefore, as food, container or toy. Various mosses grow around the city as well, especially moon-moss, which serves pretty well for sanitary purposes and is even exported in larger quantities from Ciosa. Trees like pines, oaks and birches can also be found in and around Ciosa, along with different kinds of ferns and lichens. Return to the top

Fauna. In the Adanian Sea around Ciosa especially barsa fish, boneheads and the small, but delicate glimnings can be found - a walk through the town and the fishmarket streets will convince you that great quantities of these fish are caught day in day out and are practically everywhere, in the sea and at the tables of the locals. Furthermore kraken and trysters are considered delicacies, but also whale oils and fats are attained in Ciosa, especially from Ashalea and Caefan whales, common near the Jhokathan reef. Of course wherever there are fish the ithild-grey Sarvonian gull also isn't far away.

In the nearby swamps kaimuni lizards are hunted in order to produce i
tems such as bags, shoes or boots, armoured vests, belts and even decorative articles of jewelry. Up north, deer and tarep can be found, complementing the Ciosan's diet. Return to the top

Resources. As natural resources which can be found in Ciosa one has to mention tryster delicacies, oysters, pearls, all kinds of fish, whales and of course building materials like limestone and granite which are mined and processed in the nearby Hawkeye Quarry. The harbour is directly adjacent to the quarry, so the large triton ships are in use to move the stone to where there is need for it.

The southern and eastern part of the harbour deals with the other mentioned resources - pearldivers look for precious gems in the shallow waters close to the coast and whale hunters set out to bring home ashaleas, caefan sword whales and even larger species in order to use their oil, meat or even bones to build homes or makeshift warehouses from them. Fishermen by the way have a major advantage around the area of Ciosa as closeby, usually only 30 or 40 strals from the coast to the east, an extremely cold stream can be found in the sea, a small strip only actually, which masses of fish use as their habitat - an easy prey for the fishers. That is, in case the stream can indeed be found, because as a matter of fact it shifts its location day by day and sometimes disappears altogether for several weeks and months. Locals call the stream the "Svealer" and use the saying to "hunt the Svealer" synonymously to "fishing". There's of course also a story associated with this name: It tells about a giant, immortal, though men-shy worm having its home deep down in the waters of the Yanthian Gulf. People say that he lives in so deep and cold waters that he himself can only survive because he is of purest ice. It is believed that he makes his regular rounds around the Jhokathan reef though, southeast of Ciosa, and attracts in his ice cold wake a whole plethora of fishes. Common fishes found in the area of the Yanthian Gulf are especially the barsa, the bonehead and the small but delicate gold-red glimnings (also called "boltfish"), found at the Gulf area down until Klinsor only. Return to the top

The Glandorian Captain Troi Ciosa

View picture in full size Picture description. The Glandorian captian and founder of the City of Ciosa, Troi Ciosa. Picture drawn by Faugar.

Celebrities. Ciosa is also a town famous for its literaric output, namely its outstanding poets and poetesses. It seems the town's openness to the world and its partly melancholic, partly adventurous flair attracts the men and women of letters and guarantees fresh ideas. Actually it was the poetess Irphanin Dyrondell who first used the term "Port Cael" in a homage to her hometown - a strong and acclaimed statement, which the town officials have thankfully accepted as their self-interpretation and motto. It fits just right to the Avennorian soul, always on the lookout for the grand and the new. Other famous authors of Ciosa are Katha Veirs, a novelist of the past century whose fervent love stories sold and still sell better than fresh loibla, not only among the aristocracy but at the common folk as well. Or Thyrram Knaast should be mentioned here as well, who made himself a name with writing pirate stories based on legends of the region.

The most famous Ciosan poet, however, who by some is already seen as the new Monsonius, is the contemporary poet and sailor Chyrán. In 1558 he became famous overnight with his poetical novel, where he intentionally didn't provide any title at all. This work, by many known in the meantime as "The Ring" is an extraordinary cyclic story, claimed to be way ahead of its time regarding style and content. It is a story written from a subjective point of view where the protagonist returns from a long voyage on the sea and discovers himself sitting in his house already upon arriving home. He observes himself writing on a novel describing a man returning home from a long voyage on the sea. As the protagonist looks over the writer's shoulder he seems to read about himself and his return home, but still things change miraculously chapter by chapter when the character in the book discovers another alter ego and so on. This leads the reader more and more into a world where nothing is what it seems and at the same time the reader gets overwhelmed with fascination by the strong poetry found in the text. While some have shrugged off this work by saying that it's obviously the product of a confused mind or of too much vaninen consumption, people old and young of very different education levels seem to enjoy Chyrán's poetic novel. Even sailors take it with them on long trips, reading it again and again, constantly discovering new sides in the text, and being lulled into sleep by the rhythm of the lyrics found in the book, reminding of the breath of the sea while conveying an aura of peace and tranquility. Return to the top

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THE ERA OF SUNDERING
(YEARS 11.900 B.S. - 10.000 B.S.)
ca. 11350 b.S. The Glandorian Expeditions south
Glandor of the Glandorians, the naval commander and new leader of the Glandorians and founder of the Port of Marglith (North Sarvonia) authorizes two ships to explore the lands and seas south of them. One ship is called the "Fijor Skull", and is captained by Drekem Leignolf. The other ship is named "Svarring Joling", captained by a man called Troi Ciosa.

They launch one late spring around the year 11350 b.S. Their voyages are supposed to last no more than a year. After prayers and sacrificing two children to appease their Goddess of the Sea they set sail. The "Fijor Skull" returns approximately five months later. They have found some land south of them, but no gold or anything else of value. The "Svarring Joling" never returns and is considered lost at sea by the Glandorians.
  

ca. 11340 b.S. The Founding of Ciosa
The Glandorian Captain Troi Ciosa
Cpt. Troi Ciosa
After they have set sail from Glandor the ship "Svarring Joling" has a good journey for a while then a huge storm comes and blows them off course and way out to sea. Finally after years of sailing the crew sees land and heads for it. The ship runs aground on a hidden reef near a peninsula, which would later be known as "Gebl's Nose Cape".

Scuttling the damaged and sinking ship for supplies the group of explorers, men, women and children born at sea found and build a small settlement for themselves. They name it "Ciosa", after their captain and leader of their expedition. The top of the masts of the "Svarring" Joling can still be seen at low tide.
  

ca. 11320 b.S. Troi Ciosa's Final Rest in the Deep Julin Barrows
Ciosa's dies approximately 20 cycles after the arrival at the suposedly newly discovered island in a late summer at age 73. He is interred at the foot of the so-called Mount Evermourn, part of the Caeytharin range. He rests in a proud, but scarcely ornamented stone mausoleum, far away actually from the town which bears his name. However, his resting place in this practically deserted area also stands for Ciosa's strong will and determination to master the odds and venture forth into inhospitable no-man's-land, which led the former Glandorians to a new home and undescribable wealth. At Ciosa's side a series of barrows is erected in the course of time, harbouring the remains of his successors and the most wealthy or famous Avennorians, who earned great merits for their people.
Thorgeir's Naming of the Tribe
Ciosa's son Thorgeir is given leadership of the people. He names them the "Av'ennors" in the Glandorian tongue, which means the "Arrived Ones".
  

ca. 10350 b.S. The Mashdai Expedition and the Founding of Nisheton (Marcogg)
Explorers under the leadership of Liemolf Marcogg reach Vildegg Bend on the Mashdai River. They set up a settlement at the base of the falls which they call Nisheton-on-Vildegg-Bend, which would later become Marcogg.

THE ERA OF CATACLYSM
(YEARS 9.500 B.S. - 8.500 B.S.)
ca. 9500 b.S.
to 9000 b.S.
The War of the Chosen
The wars during this time nearly destroy Ciosa, but the settlers rebuild the severely damaged town and in the following millenia bring it back to former glory. The connections to the "new continent", Aeruillin, are completely lost.

THE AGE OF MYTHS
(YEARS 3.400 B.S. - 1.655 B.S.)
ca. 2000 b.S.
to 1000 b.S.
Stones from the Hawkeye Quarry
Some of the key buildings of the town, which still exist today, like the Port Hall, are constructed with material (granite and limestone) from the nearby Hawkeye Quarry.

THE AGE OF AWAKENING
(YEARS 1.655 B.S. - 822 B.S.)
1645 b.S. Rekj Swanhild is crowned Avennorian King in Ciosa
After his cornoation Rekj sends emissaries to Chrondra - contact and some trade is re-established with the Serphelorians living there.
  

1642 b.S. Rediscovery of Aeruillin
A new Avennorian ship is developed in Ciosa, which is called the "Barek", named after Rekj's father. It is larger, sturdier and carries a compliment of thirty crew members as well as the captain and nine officers. It has two masts instead of one. She is christened "Starmir" and is captained by the daughter of Okar Snivild, Thea Snivild. She sets sail in late summer and returns in early summer of the next year.

The crew brings back stories of a land that is almost all deserts (Aeruillin) and Okar also brings back people who she believes may be the people of the King. She tells the King she had to buy them from a place called Shan’Thai. Rekj's anger is kindled, thinking that his people are still being sold as slaves. After he releases the slaves he begins to prepare plans to attack Shan’Thai and free his people. This begins the Seven Hundred Year War.

THE AGE OF THE BLOOD
(YEARS 822 B.S. - 50 B.S.)
265 b.S. Ciosa joins the Stormcloaks Shipping Guild
The independent shipping guild with strong Erpheronian roots signs first trading treaties with Avennorians of Ciosa. Trade with the North and the South now begin to flourish.
  

125 b.S. Work on the Starcharts Astrendum in Ciosa begins
People interested in the observation of stars, hailing from various tribes and races, begin the erection of the Starcharts Astrendum in the Port of Ciosa, what should later become Santharia's most famous center for astrology and astronomy. It lasts several centuries until the main buildings are finally completed.

THE AGE OF CHANGE
(YEARS 50 B.S. - 172 A.S.)
70 The Introduction of the Santharian Calendar
The elven astronomer Mowi Farseer
The astronomer Mowi Farseer
Following the works of the famous elven astronomer Mowi Farseer, the Santharian Calendar is introduced in the kingdom. It is the product of several years of research and scholarly work of experts done in Ciosa at the Starcharts Astrendum, the Astrologists Center of Santharia till this very day. The Quaelhoirhim elf Mowi Farseer (originally called Mór'weí Kýn'vaí in Styrásh, 95 b.S.-111 a.S.) accumulates data and observations from all civilized races of the kingdom in order to construct the new time measuring scheme. It needs to be emphasized however that the new calendar is to a great degree a detailed update on the Cournanian Calendar elaborated by the astronomer, philosopher and alchemist Tandelrah Cournan (1701-1636 b.S.).
  

100 The Santharian Clock - the Mowickle
The Mowickle
The Mowickle
Celebrating hundred years of the United Kingdom of Santharia, the famous astronomer Mowi Farseer presents the Mowickle sun-clock, of which a large version from now on constitutes a famous landmark above the Astrendum's entrance. The mowickle complements the works of Mowi and his colleagues on the Santharian Calendar, dividing the day in hours and sections and should become from now on a central measuring unit for the Santharians.

THE GOLDEN AGE OF KINGS
(YEARS 172 A.S. - 547 A.S.)
243 The Gnome Nolan invents Svaq
The svaq inventor Nolan Drinkbrewer
Gnome Nolan Drinkbrewer
The Daran gnome Nolan the Drinkbrewer of Ciosa invents svaq, the tasty sobering drink with the legendary repute, steady companion of drunkards and especially sailors. Thanks to the great success of his drink Nolan builds Nolan's Farm northwest of the large port of Ciosa and many other smaller breweries in the Santharian province of Manthria. He exports svaq through all Santharia and makes a fortune. He was, is and always will be the "First Of The Svaq Brewers", as he is called among his workers and his descendants.

THE AGE OF REBUILDING
(YEARS 1.062 A.S. - 1.144 A.S.)
ca. 1.129 Shop Treaty between the Mitharim and Ciosa
A treaty is negotiated by the Mitharim Kuan Kasthomin, Earthguide, and a foundation set up in order to procure a permanent retainer to secure the Oltgyr Vradvo (Mitharim Hundred Year Pilgrimage). The responsibility for having a ship always in good sailing order is passed down in the Avennorian family of Harooming, human merchant traders from Ciosa, and the bargain has been satisfactorily met on both sides to this day.
1.129 Ship Treaty between the Mitharim and Ciosa
The Mitharim Kuan Kasthomin makes a ship treaty with Wil Harooming of Ciosa.
THE TIME OF REUNION
(YEARS 1.540 A.S. - TODAY)
1.550 The Invention of the "Hawkeye"
A device is created by the Mitharim dwarves, the "Hawkeye", which manages to reduce labour time by one-third when cutting stone blocks. The Hawkeye would prove to be a popular tool not only in the local quarry but in many parts of Manthria. So popular is this tool that the physical quarry takes on the mantle of the tool as its official birthplace. Ciosa once more establishs its name as a driving force of technological innovation.
  

1.586 The Mysterious Death of Knupp the Sneaker
Knupp the Sneaker
"Thief" Knupp the Sneaker
Knupp the Sneaker, a youth, who grew up in the Crayleway's Cradle orphanage in Ciosa and was made responsible for many crimes, eventually suffers an early death. During the 16th century a.S. a series of break-ins and thefts holds the populace of the wealthy Skull's Landing Quarter at the Manthrian seaport of Ciosa in unease. Even the thorough investigations of the city guard after the murder of judge Nirdak Kirrild at first don't shed any light on the matter, until an orphan youth called Knupp is caught in the act of stealing from a noble man's house. Knupp, a retarded young boy not older than sixteen cycles, finds his death through the wrath of an agitated mob. He is pursued down to the docks, where a heavy item thrown at him hits him. He drops into the water where he drowns without receiving any help from his pursuers.

Whether Knupp was really responsible for the murder of the judge, as with all of his thefts, still remains a mystery, as only little of the loot is found in his humble room at the orphanage, not to mention that his educator, Master Retthgar, has miraculously disappeared, never to return again...

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