Sunth is a fair sized village
of about 600 people on average, although it varies considerably as ships come
and go, set on the eastern shores of Manthria province
in Santharia. In its prime it enjoyed the profits
of a rich fyrite mining trade as well as a bustling community of
whalers and other crafts. However some
years ago the ore dried up and, as such, recent times have seen a sharp decline
in prosperity. Crime has become much more prevalent, with a large variety of
thugs and thieves preying on drunk sailors and other vulnerable people. The
remaining local villagers have been left clinging to the few vestiges of honest
trade that still remain around the busy docks.
Description. Sunth is a somewhat depressed village on the north side of a small inlet on the eastern coast of Manthria, about 300 strals to the west of the capital, Marcogg. The village itself centres around its fairly large docks and spreads across both sides of the small river that descends from the Svanfrill Mountains to the north. Warehouses, shops and busy taverns dominate the docks, along with several brothels concealed down some of the darker streets. All are filled with a wide assortment of sailors and trademen. Black Butterfly rovers, beggars and other more seedy types are often seen hanging around the area too, looking for whatever opportunties might sail in on the next high tide.
Some way out from the docks, away from the thickest smells of salt and fish, there's a modest chapel to Grothar, the Weatherlord, and a shrine to Baveras, the Sea Goddess - both Gods are typically worshipped by the Avennorians, who see themselves as a folk of the sea. Some of the more religious sailors tend to pray at one or both of these before heading out on a long voyage.
Most of the buildings are constructions of quarried limestone and timber brought in from the surrounding area, with roofs varying from simple thatch for the general houses, to clay tiles for the larger inns and warehouses. The few roads leading through the village are not well maintained and become especially treacherous during the wet winter. Heavy rains make the surface very slippy and turn the smaller roads and many crisscrossing alleyways to thick mud.
The land surrounding the village is a rather barren landscape of rock, scrub grasses and the occasional hardy bush clinging to life in the thin soil. There's little place for agriculture of any kind, only a few small fields close to the village that provide some fodder for local livestock and thatch for houses. Some of the larger homes and inns keep small gardens that provide a reasonable produce of vegetables and herbs.
Location. The village lies on the eastern shores of the Adanian Sea in the province of Manthria, which is part of the the United Kingdom of Santharia. The village sits at the eastern extreme of the Propsper Mountain Range, and is characterised by its rocky, acidic soil. To the east, some 60 strals, is the hamlet of Kneef, situated between the two major mines nearby, Deepgorge and Propsper's. Deepgorge in particular holds some reverence to the long time residents of Sunth, being the main source of their once great wealth. Nowadays it is home exlusively to the large population of flittermice and cave spiders, although rumours say the huge number of tunnels and labyrinthine passages are still used today by numerous smugglars and other criminals.
80 strals to the south is the fishing village of Parthanul, a simple place with heavy Thergerim influences from times of heavy trade with the mining dwarves to the north. Some of Sunth's population moved there when the mines closed, preferring the quieter fishing life to the subversive bustle of modern day Sunth.
People. After the mines
closed, Sunth lost a fair quantity of its founding population, and today seems
to serve as a local haven for those seeking to avoid the law. A motley
collection of pirates, smugglers and other inscrutables move fairly openly
through the dingy streets, dodging around the beggars that seem to position
themselves on every major street corner where a passing drunk may be inclined to
throw a coin down. The local watch is minimal, consisting mostly of thugs
working for little more than a roof over their heads and a hot meal each day. A
quick word and a few coins is all that's needed to turn their attention
elsewhere. In practice, unless watched by their officers, they serve no more
function than breaking up the more serious of tavern brawls that happen
regularly, and even then only when they spread out on to the streets.
The population of the village is estimated at about 400 regular habitants, mainly poor Avennorians. The populations swells to over double when a large number of ships dock all at once and during the summer, when regular groups of Black Butterfly rovers pass through, and trade from across the land is easier, the population is closer to a thousand causing a boom in trade.
Recently, an Avennorian calling himself Garerth Jorskan proclaimed himself Mayor, a supposed descendant of Sngar. He is backed up by his right hand man, the captain of the guard, Rigneth Terst, along with a selected few officers appointed from amongst the thugs. They run the village, or more accurately, the docks and the trade that passes through them with an iron fist, collecting excises and duties from all cargo (although carefully set cheaper than official taxes would charge). While there is no proof of some of the claims rumours speak of, there have been buildings, businesses and homes that have mysteriously been burned down, or ransacked, and every now and then, someone just seems to 'disappear' only to be found days later washed up on a nearby beach.
Coat of Arms/Sign. Garerth, on becoming mayor, introduced his coat of arms which is now displayed on the coat of every member of the watch and flies as a flag above Garerth's office.
The bright ribs of a wrecked ship contrast with a dark blue-green background and in addition, a large carrion bird, with dark brown plumage and black eyes, is depicted swooping down towards the ship . The wrecked ship supposedly represents the vessel of Tenvild Sngar's (Garerth's apparent ancestor), which he grounded and gutted on the shore of what is now the village of Sunth. The carrion bird is considered an ironic statement toward the scavenger-like activities that saturate Sunth's trade. Perhaps it also serves as Garerth's not so subtle declaration to outsiders that this village is his, and subject to his views of the law.
Climate. The climate is fairly temperate, like much of Manthria, becoming very warm in late Burning Heavens. However, the village is subjected to strong sea breezes the year round and heavy squalls can fly in from the sea with little warning. Some flooding of the poorer outskirts happens regularly, particularly during spring when the melt waters from the northern mountains turn the river into a torrent.
Flora. Despite the relatively poor soil surrounding Sunth, the efforts of the population over many years have yielded a wide variety of plants and herbs, mainly within their private gardens, but also in the wild lands around the coast, and the river banks.
One of the major herbs grown in the village is known as the arv. It's seeds contain a very powerful stimulant that can be used in emergency medical care with little/no preparation. Excessive use can cause death in extreme cases, and it is also highly addictive. Typically there are stringent controls on its use, but Sunth being the kind of place it is, there is a healthy black trade in it, providing it to rich consumers in other towns and cities that struggle to grow it without the richly salty air it requires. Wild varieties of this can be found in a few places along the coast where conditions suit it; mostly it is grown privately though.
Other more mild medicinal herbs, such as the bladeleaf fern, redberry bush and jeshanna lily all grow well in the gardens and sell well for treating a wild variety of ailments. Some herbs, like Dreamer's Breath, require considerable care to protect them from excessive rain, storms or direct sunlight and careful drainage, use of walls and other coverings enable the villages to produce them fairly successfully in their gardens.
The waterstar is an example of one of the herbs available wildly around Sunth. Also known as "Baveras' gift", owing to the belief it is her favourite flower, mean they are in high demand by sailors. Certain sheltered parts of the river running through the town are cared for to nurture these beautiful plants that also carry medicinal properties.
Onions, carroots, several varieties of neeps, and even small cabbages and other kail are all grown in the villagers gardens to provide food. Usually not enough for trade, although in some years with bountiful harvests some will be sold. In the most protected parts of some gardens some pea vines will be encouraged to grow although not always with much success.
Fauna. With a freshwater
stream, coastal waters to the south, the
Propsper mountains to the north and the lowlands around the village, Sunth is
home to a wide variety of creatures.
The coast boasts good fishing, including scuals of the large bonehead fish, found amidst collections of crustaceans such as the large southern variety of the flyer crab and even some copper lobstere around the rockier areas. Meat aside, the flyer crab provides many uses in the village; the wings for clothing and windshields in the gardens to protect some of the more delicate plants and herbs, the hard shells for crockery and tools.
Along the banks of the stream, a variety of amphibians make their home, most notably the green frog which thrives in the reeds and lowland brush near the water.
On the land, rising up into the mountains, packs of mithral wolves are common, and even some argrothia bears have been sighted within the more secluded valleys, feeding on deer and small game found in the small patches of forest and grassland.
In the air, many varieties of the common gull flock around the harbour feasting on fish scraps and village waste, along with flying fishermen and banded ricau further out. Eagles make their home on the mountain cliffs, hunting tarepi rabbits feasting on grasses in the sandy soils. In recent times, sightings of the large scavenging mathmoor bird have been noted, quite a bit further south than their usual habitat, but perhaps finding less competition for territory here than in the north.
Resources. With the local mines all but exhausted, fish is the only major natural resource still remaining, the same as most of the small villages on the coast. Most of the original inhabitants maintain the fishing industry, maintaining a living on whaling as well as smaller catches.
Across the river, to the south, large deposits of clay, and even some pockets of nickel and copper can still be found and are being actively mined to supplement incomes. Mining continues the year round so as to have healthy stocks for sale ready for the summer trade boom. The village has a single blacksmith that does some work with the ores, but the majority is traded in its raw form. A fair quantity of the clay is taken by a local enterprise that casts and fire-hardens it into tiles used for roofing. Such tiles are highly thought of, and a private home able to afford a tiled roof is subject to some considerable envy in the village. Some tiles are also exported.
There are still sizeable thickets of pine and other evergreens to the north, and north west before hitting the hills approaching the mountains, and these produce enough wood for local ship repairs and building. Permits for logging, and supplies of wood though are strictly controlled by the Mayor, it being a major trade bargaining chip when dealing with anxious captains needing to repair their ships, but looking to avoid taxes on their suspect cargo.
Some locals make a fair income on growing herbs and spices in gardens and also whatever can be found in the wild shrub lands surrounding the village - a surprising variety both along the moist banks of the river, and nestled in cracks between rocks and amongst the low lying shrubs.
By far the village's biggest resource is their docks. Well positioned, generous in size, and with deep waters surrounding the small bay allowing access for the larger ships that normally restrict themselves to big city harbours. A flourishing trade passes through the docks year round, bringing goods from near and far, including the capital, Marcogg.
Myth/Lore. According to the Mayor, it was his distant ancestor, Tenvild Sngar's, that founded Sunth back in the early 800's. The story is told that Sngar was a Glandorian adventurer who wrecked his boat on rocks to the north during a great storm the likes of which hasn't been seen since. He lost half his men that dark night, but managed to bring the rest of them coughing, splutting and half drowned to the shore. The next morning, after a night shivering on the sand, he roused his men and spoke to them. He declared that during the night he had been visited by the gods amidst his wild nightmares. The storm, he was told, was a warning from Grothar that his years on the sea were over. The wrecking of his ship in this place was an omen from Baveras that this is the place he should make his new home.
His crew weren't convinced, but he berated them and insulted their faith throughout the morning until they finally submitted to his divine vision. They set about recovering what salvage there was from the ship wreck, fashioning a rough raft out of the larger pieces of wood. For ten days and ten nights they followed the coast south, dragging the raft through the surf behind them, and picking up what they could from the beach. Eventually they came across a small bay, where a river emptied into the sea and Tenvild declared it their new home. His men rejoiced, and threw themselves exhausted into the cool fresh waters of the river in delight. The story continues to explain how the first buildings were raised from the remains of Tenvild's great ship, and within a year a small village had been built.
History shows however it had not been Glandorians, but rather the Darians, the people that originated across most of modern Manthria, that built the village many years earlier and had been quietly fishing there for generations. Peaceful as they were, they were no match to the might of the Glandorian expansionist forces that arrived in 886. A small village like Sunth barely slowed them on their march north. The Glandorians who stayed behind to oversee the village dominated the Darians as was the case across the land. Forced to work as little better than slaves, the Darians expanded the village dramatically under the guidance of the Glandorians, and the first exploratory parties were sent out to discover what would become the profitable mining industry that drove Sunth's growth for the decades afterward. Over time cautions were dropped and the inevitable intermingling with the Darians producing the first Avennorian generations that formed the people still living there today. It could be that it was a man called Tenvild Sngar that led the Glandorian charge on the village, or perhaps the man left in charge of the forces holding the village afterward.
A few myths and supersitions have filtered down from the mines over the years, and despite the reverence the people hold to the source of their one time wealth, they now consider the mines a cursed and haunted place. Whilst few ever travel close anymore, during the earlier years after the mines closed many witnesses confessed to seeing the tortured spirits of ancestral miners, trapped in the tunnels of the mine for ever more, some with missing arms, or legs and other horrific injuries caused by the regular landslides and cave-ins. A result of this is a general fear of caves and being enclosed by stone and as such no building in the village uses stone for walls beyond the ground floor. Strangely this hasn't affected the people's desire for the clay tiles on their roofs, apparently clay is not considered the same, despite a falling loose tile being as deadly as any rock falling from a cave ceiling.
Most people, during the cold months, will also hang a sprig of leaves from the arv plant on their front doors, supposedly an offering to appease the ghosts during their time of strength (the dark, cold time of year). The seeds of the plant contain a very strong stimulant, so the offering serves as a symbol of being forever awake to the spirits of the mines. Some will go so far as to lay wreaths at the entrance to the mines, but this becomes less common each year as the younger generations fear to go near.