Tamarus: A grand new frontier…
An excerpt from the musings of Pedro Sanding, Best baker in Newport,
Watching the loaves rise to meet another dawn…
Written shortly after the Celestial Knights first came to Tamarus
If we look at the history of this place, Tamarus has always been divided. The north was a land of trade, entertainment and, ancestors forbid, tourism. This was where the world met Lantia… and what Lantia looked like to the world. But south of the Wall was different… the great forests and marshes giving way to fertile, rolling hills in the south and west. The cities in the east were beacons of light and gayity, build in awe of the great citidel of the Draken that stood nearby. L:ight, life and wonder. All in one isle… the people of Tamarus had it all.
Well. The Tamarus of today has changed… the balances and checks have gone… the scales tipped and nature run rampant over the ruins of this idyll. Perhaps thats too poetic to be descriptive. I’ll elaborate: The forests and marshes south of the Wall have grown… we get more rain here and marsh now merges with forest without warning… and the forest grows verdent and close… almost too close. In some places its getting to match the description of a different type of forest… something people call “Jungle” who know such places. The southern hills around Ruby West are turning to great grasslands… their slopes untilled and untrodden by flocks… creepers and vines twine over the remains of the city of Topaz South.
South of the Wall, the land is overgrowing through lack of care. The earth untilled, the forest uncut, the march undrained… It’ll take a lot of effort to reclaim that land. But thats not the reason that people don’t start trying… oh no.
Perhaps its best to describe the state of the Wall itself… or I could start by telling what I mean by the Wall. We all know about the big wall… that rings the whole of Lantia. Keep invaders at bay etcetera, etcetera… Well… at Tamarus it cuts inland, see. The whole north is cut off from from the interior of Lantia. They’ve got a harbour on the outside and the inside, see, the trade port of the west: but the ships from elsewhere still can’t get into the Steel Sea without going past one of the forts. Well, anyway… where the wall cuts inland, see, thats the Wall. And the Wall had holes in it when we came to it.
Now some of them holes were just plain wear and tear. Time wearing at the stone bringing them down. Some were plain to be seen as having fallen down with all the shakes… but some holes now… they were made. Like as something had beaten at the stone until it had been gotten out of the way. And other places… they had claw marks in it like something, somethings, had gone over. Makes the blood shivver sometimes.
When they sent people to Ruby West… they never saw anything right dangerous, but some of them did see shapes movining in the distance, especially in fog. And all of them felt like they were being watched at night. Unnerved them right enough, they’d rather be up here and I can’t say as I’d blame them. When people were working on the walls… they’d say the same thing. Always camped in the north, they did. And always there would be some of the Knights there to keep them reassured. Even the most cynical of them would be thinkin a knight would stand to the last to let them get away… but nothing came over that disturbed them. Anyhow, once those walls faced North… but now people watch the south when they walk along the top.
Aye. We’ve got the lands to the north west turned to cultivation, mostly and the harbour of Newport is back to dealing with. boats if they’d be comming this way. Plus there’s Steelport on the eastern side of the bay… we reach it by water-taxi mostly. The roads to reach it go south of the wall and folks don’t like to use it much, save in fair numbers. For all its in sight of one of the three places the Knights are using. There ain’t many of them, y’see.
Certainly not enough to fill all the mile-posts of the old Wall… so they’ve kept up three of them. The big one, the smaller at the far western side and the fair-sized tower tween the the north Wall and the wall ’round Steelport. Castle White, Westwatch by the Sea and The Dawn Tower they’re bein called. But I don’t know rightly if the Knights started calling them that or the people as live hereabouts. They do patrols between you see, catch any signs of things commin’ over the walls. Had that a couple of times, they have. Sent some riders straight out after the signs they did. People are saying that when cornered, the beasts have always had more claws than sense. Always a Knight or two ends up in Lady Bethany’s care when they do catch it. I’m just glad they have to come over the walls first.
They say as how all loads of creatures escaped from the colliseum when things went down and them as are still roaming around are what’s being caught. But I rekkon its worse, see. If I were runnin’ a circus I’d have had a few creatures right enough, but to give people variety you’d have to get new ones… breed them. And with a ritual circle so close, I woulda thought that they could use magic to make them as couldn’t breed with each other able to, like. See what the offspring came out like. Now imagine that they’d been running around in the woods to the south for some hundreds years, now… I wouln’t want to mess with what came out top of the food chain.
The lodge by the colliseum is largely put back together and has the Guardian in it… and a damn fair pub run nearby. That dwarf, Morgan, sure knows how to brew her ale alright, though I hope the wife doesn’t see me write this. Plus we have Lady Bethany’s school. Mr. McCormik’s school of midwifery it may be called, but we didn’t know him and we always see Lady Bethany. My wife trained under her, even though she ain’t got the Touch to heal. Say’s she’s a wonderfull Lady. And what she’s done for the people since she moved in as Sirene… well, lets say any man as didn’t let her by in the street would find it hard to get bread of a morning once word had gotten round.
For govenance, we’ve ended up relying on the guildsfolk. Not them big-up Guilds, like, but the Trades. Stonemasons, Bakers, Butchers, shipwrights… them as gets things done. The heads of the Trades meet in council and decide things for the city. A’course they’ve taken all the advice that the Knights give, seeing as how they’ve never given bad advice. “Forget the castles for now… get some good houses for your people first” they said… and I’m sure they ended up sleeping in tents longer than we did. “We’ll get people to teach your kids to read, if you let them the time” they said… and my son tought me from them… he’s better than I and loving the books he can get his hands on. Council voted on it and we’re doing a tithe… one in ten of the goods goes to the Knights in return for the protection and support. Of course some of it comes straight back to us for the needy and the people as teach, ‘cos the Knights don’t keep more than they need. And they still thank us every time.
One of them claw-things was brought in to the council meeting. Not alive, like… but it was still scarey enough to make the Tradesmen think. They didn’t want to see them getting over the Wall no more, nowhere near to the their children and such. They talked to the that Sir Alvin, but he doesn’t have the Knights to keep the wall as tight as can be. And you could see that that was bothering him, like. So they voted, I heard unanimous, to form a militia. There’s men around now that the bulk of the building’s done, but they wont ask the men to fight these things, if it can be helped. They’ll be trained to watch, track and shoot from afar if it does come to that. That Sherif, Sir Aldous, used the words “to watch the Wall and walk the ‘ways”. Sounds right poetic it does and it’ll make land north o’ the Wall safe for us all, I hope.
I’m thinking, though, that what these men’ll be most good for once they’re seasoned and all, is to go into the south. We’re alright now, but there wont be enough room in the North forever. Plus them caves, with all them people in them. The Knights got people looking for the one under Newport, for what I’ve heard, but they can’t get down to the other city and the two towns down south without risking the wilderness. And nobody knows quite how much of a risk that is. So our lads will be ready in time, I reckon… do their bit to free the South from the wilderness thats gripped it like. It’ll be hard for some, I reckon. But we have faith that the Ancestors and the Celestial Knights, can come through for us.