Caravan Camp, Tradetown
Good afternoon, dear reader. Gods, I am sore today – but happy to be alive! Many on The Span yesterday weren’t so lucky. Seventeen people lost their lives and not a single soul walked off that bridge unscathed. Our rescuers from Trade Town were amazing, though, and the bridge was cleared and back in operation by mid-morning. The only evidence left to show the tragedy ever happened is a large crater blasted into the stonework where the halfling’s cart exploded. I am told that the area has been roped off until a team of engineers from Fairhaven arrive to assess the damage.
Before I get into the details I promised you about Trade Town and The Span, though, I want to provide a quick update on my companions.
I went to check on Seraphine first thing this morning… and she was on her feet, prancing with excitement at the sight of me! I could hardly believe it! All that remained of her shrapnel wounds was a myriad of tiny pink scars. Her left ear was a just tattered stub and that eye socket was a dark, empty cave – but Seraphine was alive and beautiful! Throwing my arms around her neck, I buried my face in her mane, sobbing with joy as she leaned into me. I asked after the elven healer that had saved my sweet girl, but no one seemed to know her. The mysterious healer had simply gotten up and walked off into the night after her work was completed. I will be forever in her debt, though, whoever she is.
Wimmet is also doing well this morning. During the initial triage healing magic was reserved for the worst injuries, and Wimmet, like most others, was only spared enough to stabilize him. Paws After The Fireflies was so beside themselves with guilt, however, that they paid for additional healing once they got Wimmet into town. The old gnome was still limping, but I found him already up and insisting on going to check on his teams and equipment. Paws After The Fireflies would hear nothing of it, though, insisting that Wimmet should rest since we wouldn’t be leaving until tomorrow morning.
Two of our caravan guards, one of Wimmet’s apprentice teamsters, and one of the oxen had been killed in the Thunder Squall. On top of that, both wagons were damaged and some of the trade goods were lost. Business is business though, and repairs were already underway – prioritized by guild rankings, of course. As the second highest ranked merchant in need, Paws After The Fireflies is in a good position to be able to replace their lost goods and possibly pick up another guard or two. Supply and demand rules Trade Town’s economy like nowhere else, however, and everything will cost a premium with so many in need.
Oh yes, I nearly forgot – Sunshine’s real name is Byron Aranis. Unfortunately, it only took sharing breakfast this morning to discover that Byron and I are… not compatible. He is incredibly brave, devastatingly handsome, and completely incapable of intelligent conversation. After surviving the Thunder Squall, he also decided to resign his post and has already left to return to his family in Fairhaven. Ah well, I owe him my life and will always treasure the comfort we were to each other.
The Span is a colossal example of The Confederated Guild City-States of Fairhaven’s greatest strength, and also a testament of what the people of our world can achieve when they set aside their differences and work together. After the cataclysm, so few people remained that there was no room for the old racial enmities and prejudices.The people were forced to band together for survival, and established a society that placed more value on what you could contribute to the greater good than on what you looked like or who your ancestors were.
Our fledgling country was split in two, however, by The Great Divide that ripped across what remained of our land during the cataclysm. In order to reunite the continent and have access to the resources of the west, the greatest engineers and magical minds of the time put their heads together and designed the Span. Construction began even before the city of Fairhaven was restored and it took more than fifty years to complete. But the results were a testament to what wonders can be accomplished with all peoples working together.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention, “The Span” isn’t even its real name, that’s just what we call it. The Guild Masters of Fairhaven were so proud of the finished bridge and the people who built it that they asked those workers to name it. Unfortunately, more than three hundred different names were put forward… and one hundred and fifty years later the matter is still before a committee. They are getting closer to a decision, though – I believe the list of possibles is down to less than thirty now.
Measuring two miles long and just over a quarter mile wide, the massive bridge is the largest in the world, and the only way across The Great Divide within two hundred miles. It’s stonework is polished to an almost blinding white, and all of its lines and angles are impossibly, perfectly straight. A huge five headed hydra, just like the one on our nation’s flag, is intricately carved into the seaward side of the great bridge. Each head is said to represent one of the original Guild Masters of Fairhaven and carved hydras decorate the bridge’s cornerstones as well. Powerful enchantments are woven through every stone and mortared joint, warding it so strongly that The Span has never even required maintenance… well, until now, I suppose.
Of course, as the guilds and the greed of our great nation developed, The Span did not stay free to use for long. Having control of the only bridge across the Great Divide was too tempting a revenue source for The Guild Masters to resist. Today, crossing The Span costs a silver mark per person, and if you don’t have a Writ of Passage from one of the guilds, the rates for wagons and carts are impossibly high. Most farmers and villagers can’t afford to cross regularly, even to visit family or see the capital, let alone to bring their produce to the city’s rich markets.
As a “gift” to the people, The Guild Masters did declare free crossings for all on the first day of each month. With a half day’s travel between The Span and the capital, however, this does little to help people with the return trip. So, the local farmers and craftsmen began hauling their wares only as far as the foot of the bridge. Then, instead of paying the toll, they set up stalls along the road and sold their goods to the travelers and merchants headed across. Which is how our next national treasure, Trade Town, was born.
What began as a small trading camp of farmers and crafters is now a thriving boom town with one of the largest outdoor bizarres in the country. It is not even officially incorporated as a town and has no government of its own. Instead, the Merchants’ guild capitalized on the opportunity and took over the operation. They were granted a Writ of Authority from Fairhaven to manage the area and ”keep the peace”.
Today, Trade Town is still mostly a canvas city with an ever shifting population of traders, farmers, craftsmen, and con artists plying their trade and filling the carts of wealthy merchants from the capital. There are a few permanent structures now, though; the Merchants’ Guildhouse (effectively both town hall and the bank), the Merchant Guard’s barracks, a small multi-faith temple, Westside Tavern, and Madam Maxine’s brothel – all managed by the Merchants Guild.
Among the tents, however, you can find nearly any non magical commodity, legal or otherwise, for the right price. Independent taverns, shops, brothels, and other businesses set up temporary structures of all types and sizes; from huge multi-room pavilions to wooden carts that convert into shop stalls. And each day the landscape and faces change as some traders move on and others arrive.
Despite the transient population, lack of organized government, and the cut throat haggling, Trade Town is one of the safest settlements in the realm. The Merchants’ guild takes its duty to keep the peace very seriously; stolen goods are bad for business and dead men pay no debts, after all. Your finances may be in serious jeopardy, but you can walk the ”streets” with nothing more to fear than the needs of beggars and the occasional brave pickpocket.
Don’t mistake that to mean everything in Trade Town is on the level, though. Beyond violence and outright theft, the Merchant Guard will look the other way for the right price, making Trade Town an ideal location for shady deals and clandestine meetings. Powerful people of all guilds can sometimes be found slipping in and out of the tent city on business not fit for Fairhaven’s marketplace. In Trade Town, as long as the “peace is kept”, the only other laws are written by the terms of the deal and the weight of your purse.
Watch for new journal entries from Revelry on the first and third Thursdays of each month!
If you missed any of the previous journal entries, you can find them all here.
In these postscript sections I will loosely discuss how the random events generated by The Adventurer’s oracle decks that inspired the journal entry you just read. If a solo play journaling rpg sounds like fun to you, pick up a copy of The Adventurer and start writing!
Today’s entry was the conclusion of the previous day’s catastrophe. Aside from the update on how Seraphine and Wimmet are recovering, this post introduced more of the lore and history of Fairhaven. While the people of this kingdom have set aside their racial differences and prejudices, the merit based Guild system that has evolved is far from a shining beacon of equality and freedom. As the Merchant’s Guild rose in power, greed and corruption spread through the governing beauracracy and a new social hierarchy based on your Guild and your position in it was formed.
We’d love to hear your thoughts and questions so please leave them in the comments. Some answers may have to wait until the appropriate journal entry to be revealed, but we will be as responsive as I can! 🙂