THE MANTHRIAN PORT CITY MARDURAN

DESCRIPTION - LOCATION - PEOPLE - COAT OF ARMS
CLIMATE -
FLORA - FAUNA - RESOURCES - MYTH/LORE - HISTORY

Marduran, a bustling city on the Mithral Coast, is the biggest human settlement east of the Mithral Mountains, holding approximately ten thousand people. It is, in a number of ways, a traditional Avennorian town. This is most obvious in the architecture of Marduran which shows an extensive use of hulk-roofing and oyster-shell decorations, but can also be seen in the character of the people and their ostentatious modes of dress. Its chief industry is as one of the major providers of pearls to Santharia; it is also the main port and markets for the few towns on the Mithral Coast of Manthria. Marduran is also regularly used as a base for hunters: hunters of many different things…

Description. Marduran sprawls across a broad valley which slopes down on both sides to its harbour. Due to the city’s history, it was never planned, so a jumble of labyrinthine streets – some paved, some little more than muddy alleys – is the setting for a mish-mash of different styles of houses. Tall granite hulk-roofed constructions, which sparkle more brilliantly than the sea with their oyster-shell paint and ornamentations adorning their light grey sides, sit cheek-by-jowl with rickety flat-roofed wooden buildings which are barely more than shacks. While it is true that the edges of town sport more of the former and the centre more of the latter, this is certainly not a hard and fast rule in the city’s chaotically organised streets. The city is, very roughly, divided into seven sections:

Location. Marduran is located on the eastern coast of the Santharian province of Manthria, between the Mithral Mountains and the coast. This puts it in the Duchy of Huiscen, in the Capstan Coast fief. It is one hundred strals from the centre of Marduran to the middle of Starmiran, a journey of two and a half to three days, although the journey between the most outlying farms of the two towns takes only one. It takes three days to get to Clendor Tower or Fanghenge, six to reach the ruins of Karthmor, and between three and five days’ sailing to arrive at Dead Fisherman’s Grotto. Return to the top

View picture in full size Map description. Location of the Port City of Marduran, located at the eastern coast of Santharia in the Duchy of Huiscen, in the Capstan Coast fief. Map by Artimidor.

People. The ten thousand people of Marduran are a diverse bunch, much as the Avennorian tribe as a whole is. Its history as an outpost of lawlessness is certainly apparent in the spirit of the city, although not always in a negative way. The people are often the first to speak out against unjustness in the Thanes or Gravens they are beholden to, but will hold to those they deem worthy more faithfully than most towns.

The Avennorian spirit is noticeable in the people of Marduran’s clothes. Most people in this city dress as wealthily as they can, seemingly weighing themselves down with the pearls for which the city is famous, amongst other splendid ornaments and the most luxurious fabrics they can afford. It is also visible in their predilection for acquiring wealth and fame through whatever means are necessary, their enjoyment of competition and adventure, and their cunning in any sort of financial transaction. Many is the time an unwary traveller in Marduran has found herself on the raw end of a bargain or bet, leaving her muttering the old saying, “Never lay odds with an Avennorian”!

The enterprising Avennorian spirit can also be seen in the number of hunters of various sorts the city sees. Boar, deer and other game animals live in the forest and hills to the south-west of the city. For the more adventurous, it is said that a type of dragon called the blue drake lives on the islands off Marduran’s coast. For those more daring still, the ruins of Karthmor, Clendor Tower, Dead Fisherman’s Grotto and Fanghenge all wait to be explored from Marduran, most with rumours of great treasures for those who can survive these places.

Marduran is a port city, but it is not a major one. Most goods come through Ciosa unless they are bound for the Thergerim in the mountains, or a small town. The many offshore islands sea-side and the soaring Mithrals on land make it difficult to move cargo over the sea to the port, and from the port to the rest of Manthria. This does not, however, seem to deter the many smugglers the town seems to play host to. It is well known in the less reputable parts of town that they regularly buy off guards, or make use of sea-caves in the cliffs to hide their stolen or dangerous importations, before lifting them to the tops of the cliffs by whatever agency they have at their disposal.

For the markets in spring, in part due to the closure of Broken Dream Gap over this season, Thergerim come from their cavernous homes in the Mithral Mountains. There are usually some of the dwarven race, mainly “Kavoninn Yabarrah” (which translates from ThergerimTaal as “travelling unwed males”) who live permanently in Marduran, often as smiths or building advisors. Other than these, the city’s permanent population is mostly human and for the greatest part, Avennorian.

This tribe is so well represented here that there are even quite a few of that rare type of Avennorian person who, instead of ears, has slits which they can close – these are here, as everywhere, most often employed as divers for the pearls and seafood which can be found on the offshore islands. Many of these people are very rich; they are well-paid when employed by a captain as their diving skills are highly sought-after all over Santharia. These divers are also often members of the blond, fair-skinned Glandorian-descended Avennorian upper class, so many can afford to run their own vessel to take out diving, rather than diving for another captain, becoming richer still as they get the best prices for their catch.

One might imagine that there are a number of unflattering “nicknames” for those who have these ear-slits as opposed to “normal” human ears. As a matter of fact, the typical names one might hear for these people in other Provinces (from the least offensive “slit-ear” to the highly offensive names “gill-face”, “fish-man”, or “redfish” for their usually pale, easily burnt skin) are only ever heard rarely in Marduran or, in fact, in greater Avennoria. In fact, a much more common insult in Avennoria and Marduran is the opposite: people with non-Glandorian ancestry are often called “Tarep-ears”! This may be a large part of why these people are most often seen in Avennoria when they could command high prices for their services in any province of Santharia.

While there are no derogatory sayings about these people, there is a saying which is often used to explain the ear-flap peculiarity to those from other parts of Caelereth before they rashly offend a person with this characteristic. It goes: “Big slits – big lungs – big house – big pouch”. This attempts to illustrate that having ear-slits means that they can dive for a long time and this, along with the high probability of connections to the nobility (or a noble "house", as it states in the saying), means they are rich, and therefore powerful people.

The professions best represented in Marduran are those which involve gathering the bounty of the sea. Sailors, fishermen, whalers and the slit-eared divers mentioned above are regular fixtures in taverns when they are not out at their work. Traders of all sorts are perhaps the next most regularly found, especially in spring and summer when the markets are opened. Less common, but found more regularly in Marduran than in other places are the adventuresome types – hunters, rangers and those who study the old ruins in the area, trying to understand the magic of the old sorcerers… or worse. Similarly there is a high number of people living in the centre of the city who seem to be involved in nothing good – thieves, itinerants, those wounded in shipwrecks off Marduran’s coast and stranded with no money. The middle of this city is no place for the weak or unwary, particularly at night.

The Gravens of the Capstan Coast have a residence here, but they usually seem to stay away from Marduran, taking residence on a large estate in the smaller town of Starmiran, just inland. When asked, Gravens usually say that this is because Starmiran is more peaceful. Whether they mean in ambience or merely for them, given the reputation of the people of Marduran to speak out against unliked leaders, has been called into question by the people here. Return to the top

Coat of Arms/Sign. The coat of arms for Marduran is a karikrimson toran eagle spread-winged on an ancythrite blue shield. The head of the toran is turned to the left and it wears a slim silver band around its neck. These two aspects both signify that Marduran now looks to Santharia's rulers for guidance, rather than using its strength on its own terms. Above, below and to each side of the eagle a perfect pearl is depicted, showing off Marduran’s wealth. The toran represents both their pride in their Avennorian Mithral Coast heritage and the proud, martial nature of their ancestors. The blue background represents the ever-present, life sustaining sea. Return to the top

Climate. Marduran’s weather is characterised by variation. Spring is cool, with occasional gentle rains which never seem to deter the marketers from their business. The breeze from the sea means that a lot of the rain falls further inland, toward the Mithral Mountains. Summer is hot, although the winds off the sea keep the city’s people cool enough, especially in the evening. Autumn is clear, with warm days, crisp mornings and cooler nights. Winter brings high winds, heavy rains and regular storms. Snow can cover the ground briefly in mid-winter, but it is usually quickly trampled to slush in the city proper, and scooped up by children to make snow-elves or throw at one another at Lawman’s Death on calm days. Hail and sleet are much more common than snow, driving people indoors and occasionally punching holes in roofs of shacks in the central city. Late at night during the hours of nightsban or daybreak in any season, sea fogs occasionally obscure the docks and shroud the taverns and administrative areas in a murky haze. Return to the top

Flora. The areas beyond the farms around Marduran are mostly grassland, with the occasional thickets of bushes and stands of trees. The only real exception to this is the wood to the south of the city. Despite the occasional complaints from farmers who wish to work the land, these large woods – fifty strals long and eight wide at their widest point – have been kept as they are. The opinion of the town is that they and the grassy hills beyond make an excellent hunting ground for the various fauna which can be found there, for both locals and visitors who enjoy hunting as a sport. Pines and coastal redwood trees feature heavily in this forest making it an airy, spacious wood with little undergrowth in most places, although toward the centre are more thickets.

The man-made plantings around the area are much more varied. Along the clifftops, pines and cedars act as windbreaks for clifftop farms. Near the Temple of Grothar groves of willows wave in the wind, awaiting their branches’ use as headdresses or ornamentation for the temple. The Lawman’s Death gardens are planted in what seems to be every imaginable type of flowering bush, tree, shrub, vine or herb, along with some of the more beautiful non-flowering plants. Willows are favoured here, too. Out on the market area, a small number of huge old baych and eur’oak trees ornament the lawn. Return to the top

Fauna. Many sorts of tame animals – cats, dogs, and occasionally birds – live in the city as pets, and many other sorts dwell as pests. Horses are common, although there are some lanes none but a shire-pony could fit through. On the farms cattle, sheep, fowl and other livestock are as common here as anywhere.

Banded ricau and gulls are a familiar sight on the cliffs and shoreline, and many types of fish are found offshore, including the tasty barsa. In the waters off the islands, crabs, lobsters, trysters and oysters are caught by the divers of Marduran.

In the woods to the south many small birds and animals can be found, like rabbits, rats, kuatu, ferrets and others. Hunters come for the bigger game of deer and wild boar. Foxes and wolves can be found here too, as well as in the hills further south. Toran eagles are seen here occasionally, although their homes are much further inland in the Mithral Mountains.

All these are well enough, but what the hunters really wish to find is the secretive, elusive blue drake. Occasionally spotted by diving boats that sail to the islands, the drakes are said to live on all of the islands off Marduran at one time or another – Gaurgoroth’s Claw, the Cliffs of Hyndillan, the islands of the Strait of Kharamm, and the Nightfog Cliffs. For a fee, some diving or fishing boats will take adventurers out to look for the beautiful lesser dragons. Return to the top

Resources. Pearls are, and have always been the main export from Marduran. As a port which is comparatively difficult to access from both land and sea, it was never going to be as commonly used for sea traffic as Ciosa or even Lorehaven. Early on, therefore, the people began to focus on harvesting the pearls which are available in abundance, as compared to most other towns, on underwater rocks at the base of Marduran’s cliffs and the islands off the coast. Marduran also trades with Starmiran and the Thergerim, sending live fish and other edible sea creatures by fast coach in exchange for money or resources.

Some locals, notably tavern owners and stall holders, consider the ruins around the area a resource. These “curiosities” bring travellers from far and wide – travellers who must eat, sleep, and provision themselves, spending their good coin. Others, however, find the travellers that these ruins attract to be a nuisance, arguing that they are violent, ill-intentioned and unscrupulous. Return to the top

Myth/Lore. Marduran is full of stories; it seems you only need to turn a corner to discover a new one. Karthmor, Clendor, Dead Fisherman’s Grotto, Fanghenge, shipwrecks aplenty over the years, murder, oppression – Marduran has it all. Part history, part embroidery, some of the most important stories which relate to the city itself are recorded here.

Of the beginnings of Marduran: The first people to settle in Marduran are popularly said to be the remnants of the fabled settlement at the base of Clendor Tower. This is unconfirmed, although the fact that the town was called Clendor when it was “discovered” by agents of the Avennorian Kingdom supports this line. Others espouse the view that the Darian people (ancestors of today's Shendar) were the first to live here, later joined by Avennorians. It is possible that both are true; however, the Mitharim affirm that humans have always lived at Marduran – at least for as long as they have taken an interest in above-ground affairs. Explorers, wrecked seamen of varying respectability, travellers, adventurers, and those fleeing from things such as justice, or conscription in the times of war have over the millennia stumbled upon Marduran and settled there, unrecorded by the rulers of Avennoria:

Of the Temple of Grothar. One settler who came to Marduran in the earliest years, millennia ago, is said to have been an ex-cleric of Grothar. People tell that he was ousted from his faction and the God no longer heard his prayers for rain or to calm the sea, as punishment for evil deeds he had done. These deeds had made him very wealthy indeed, although it is not known exactly what he did. Different versions of the tale expound different ideas of what it may have been, usually at great length, but no two versions seem to be the same. He is said to have found Marduran in his shamefaced wanderings and stayed on there. After a time, following a long period of meditation, he received an inspiration and set out to use all of his ill-gotten money to build the most magnificent Temple of Grothar he could design, carved out of white marble, to try to please Grothar. Years passed and the building was completed. Having spent every last san, the man lived in abject poverty for forty years, praying to the Rainlord to forgive him. Eventually the Grey King listened again to the old cleric's prayers; some have said that this was Grothar at his most capricious, as the man led a mere – but joyous! – three days of re-blessed existence before he died of his old age.

Of Ta Ivashi from Karthmor and his Rule. Legends are whispered in Marduran about Karthmor and its reign in the east. While Clendor, the sorcerer who built the tower of the same name near Marduran, is remembered as arrogant, he is not spoken of in tales as evil. Ta Ivashi, in contrast, is immortalised in these legends as a horror; half-beast, half demon and not at all a man. It is said that he oppressed the people then in Marduran, alternately using them as slaves, promoting them to command his armies of netherbeasts, or torturing them for amusement. Travellers asking about Karthmor are told never to go near there by most they ask, if they get any answer at all.

Of the Gardens called Lawman’s Death. The area was once the home of agents of the Avennorian King who ruled the previously seditious Marduran with an iron fist. After the departure of the final incumbent under Santhros (the name of the gardens could be said to be somewhat optimistic on the part of those who decided on the appellation) the town knocked down the wall the first Lord Enforcer had built, and his mansion outside the wall. Later generations of citizens have grassed the old mansion area, turning what was once the inside of the house into lovely raised gardens separated by what were once the walls of the ground floor of his mansion. The markets are held on the wide, gently sloping park the Lord Enforcer had marked out for himself.
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THE AGE OF THE BLOOD
(YEARS 822 B.S. - 50 B.S.)
807 b.S. Marduran "Discovered"
Until this time the central administration of the Avennorian kingdom has been occupied in war or survival, so exploration of the Thergerim-occupied Mithrals and the coastline beyond has been minimal. An official exploring party led by Jaera Mardurils discovers a small settlement on the coast between the Mithral Mountains and the Adanian Sea, known to its inhabitants as Clendor. The people there are highly lawless and violent, and seem governed only by the maxim "the strongest survive". Surprisingly then, Jaera's journal records that the people do seem to have the rudiments of Avennorian culture; in particular she mentions seeing the familiar whalebone huts of her tribe.

Jaera openly (and, some say, stupidly) declares to the town that she comes to claim the settlement for the Avennorian King, and to collect his rightful tithe in money, goods and fighters for the war with Shan'Thai. This is met with equally open violent reprisals, in which Jaera is killed along with many of her party. On hearing of these events, Eyfi Swanhild names the town "Marduran", "Settlement of Mardu(ril)", after Jaera, whom he calls "a valiant servant of the Kingdom".

Soon after this pronouncement, Eyfi dies and Anir Snivild ascends the throne. His treaty with the Shan'Thai leader begins the Avennorian Civil War and this, combined with the effective repulsion by the people of Marduran of all forces sent to subdue them leads to the newly named Marduran being left to its own devices for the next seven years.
  

800 b.S. Marduran Tithes to Marcogg
After the attack on the Tethinrhim Ria, Anir Snivild decides to withdraw from the First Sarvonian War and no longer aids the human cause. This gives him time to work on securing his own territory. Marduran is finally subdued and made to tithe through the appointment of the first Lord Enforcer, Contrin Paerst. He arrives with armed troops numbering nearly the same as those of the town; Anir has soldiers to spare now that he has withdrawn from the war.

Lord Enforcer Contrin begins the construction of a mansion for himself and a barracks outside the small town, and a town wall. He tells the people that the wall will be for their protection, although few of the suspicious people of Marduran truly believe him. Mutiny is precluded by the large guard encampments around the village. Whilst soldiers and architects are the main force involved in the wall’s construction, criminals against the new regime – including people trying to leave – are forced to build for days on end with limited rations as punishment for their crimes. Taxes are minimal at this stage so that co-operative people are not heavily burdened.
  

784 b.S. Marduran's Wall Completed, Troubles Rising
As feared by many, taxes on the small community sharply rise after this completion as it becomes apparent that the wall is not to keep bad things out, but to keep the citizens in and the money flowing. Even the ocean is guarded – phalanxes of guards are placed on fishing ships to ensure they return to port. Off-duty soldiers maraud through the town raping, pillaging, or in the case of one female soldier whose name is not recorded, stealing citizens' children.

The situation deteriorates further over the following years, although Lord Enforcer Contrin keeps the situation in hand to a certain extent. Records show that part of the anarchy amongst the soldiers is sanctioned, with the goal of keeping the people frightened and fragmented. In this way the people are kept too off-balance to formulate a co-ordinated resistance, and the Lord Enforcer is made to seem the only thing standing between the people and their decimation by debauched soldiers.
  

783 b.S. Starmiran Founded by Marduran Escapees
Before the Marduran city wall is completed by the Lord Enforcer Contrin, a small sector of Marduran’s population escape past the guard encampments by night from Marduran. The escapees are mainly those of scholarly or otherwise more peaceful leanings. They live hiding in the wilderness west of Marduran for a year before officially founding Starmiran in 783b.S.
  

770 b.S. Second Lord Enforcer in Marduran installed
Awakening Earth. After the retirement of Contrin in the early spring of this year, the second Lord Enforcer is invested on the last day of the month of Awakening Earth. He is younger than his predecessor Contrin and has less respect from both the troops and the people. The following months can only be described as horrific for the residents of Marduran as lazy soldiers run amok while the Lord Enforcer holds somewhat hysterical talks with his advisors. Messengers of increasing rank are sent out to barracks and guard camps in fruitless attempts to have officers control their troops.
The Marduran Rebellion
Burning Heavens. Before the Avennorian King is aware of the desperate situation in Marduran the Enforcer's mansion is stormed and the incumbent's throat is slit, along with many of his closest advisors and retainers.
Third Lord Enforcer Installed
Sleeping Dreameress. The third Lord Enforcer arrives from Marcogg in the month of Sleeping Dreamress, one month after her predecessor was killed. Lady Enforcer Katha Jovinth is a stately woman, not much older than her forerunner but with an imposing gravity. Employing harsh tactics she gets the army under control and creates a peace in Marduran before midwinter – a far cry from the way she found it. Taxes increase slightly but the people bear it; she is known as harsh but fair.

Enforcer Katha remains in power for nearly forty years. Few changes in the way the town is run occur from this time until after Santhros' crowning, although some Lords and Ladies Enforcer are more despotic or useless than others.
THE AGE OF CHANGE
(YEARS 50 B.S. - 172 A.S.)
9 Petition to Santhros Frees Marduran
The Port town Marduran is freed from the often tyrannical rule of its Lord Enforcers by Santhros' decree after he hears of the town’s unique situation. Having outwardly become quite different from the lawless people they had been 800 years ago, the people of Marduran become great supporters of the Santharian province of Manthria and Santhros. In a town meeting after the jeering eviction of the final Lord Enforcer, the town's first communal action is to knock down the imprisoning walls. This is done with great enthusiasm, although it wanes fairly quickly as more essential tasks beckon. No section of the wall is left untouched, but great parts of it are left standing and degrade naturally over time or are, in later years, incorporated into new buildings.
  

118 Lawman's Death Planted
The old ruins of the mansion of the Lord Enforcer, previously left untouched, are renovated by enterprising citizens under the direction of the new Lord of Marduran. The ruins become a garden and the park-like lawn surrounding it becomes the setting for Marduran’s important markets. Around this time the city begins to flourish, expanding over and beyond the old walls.

THE CLERICAL AGE
(YEARS 610 A.S. - 825 A.S.)
728 Holt Settled
A group of six large families leave Marduran after a dispute over their right to fish off her shores. They go north and settle a new place which they name Holt.

THE ERA OF THE SOUTHERN WARS
(YEARS 825 A.S. - 1.062 A.S.)
1.025 The Storm of Three Nights
In the winter of this year, a three-day long winter storm so dark and violent it turns day into night batters Marduran. Whilst the city is nowhere near as devastated as the village of Nepris to the south for example, its docking facilities are smashed by the power of the waves and warehouses and guard stations at the port are flooded. After the storm abates, the docks are rebuilt stronger and more organised than before, making it perhaps the best planned section of the city.


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 Date of last edit 17th Molten Ice 1667 a.S.

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