Tales of the Beagle and the Courtesan – The Story of Port Tempest

Image result for fantasy art port city

Its been a long night at the pub, but I have time to relate the legend of the founding of Tempest and a little of its history up to today.  Tempest is a port city and the capital of Shadowshift Island.  Currently it would probably be considered a small city with about 13500 souls that dwell in a walled city set on the River Crest.  It is the River and the steep drop off on the ocean side that attracted settlers to it and in particular fishermen who build floating docks out into the ocean to practice their trade.  The mouth of the Crest River was also fairly deep but not so much as the ocean side but it was a good place to build docks as well which would be sheltered from storms.  These days this I where most of the ships reside except one – The Shadowshift Liner which docks on the ocean side along the main and modernized dock that stretches along the west side of the City.

There are many legends of the founding of Tempest, but the one that is probably closest to the truth was in the early days of the the main migration over a thousand years ago.  The story goes that Tempest was some sort of hedge wizard that came from Europe with Viking explorers in the early days of their exploration.  Probably one of those lost expeditions that was blown so far off course they were never heard of again as this up till recently was the only way new blood got to the Island.  Tempest was not a war chief or anything like that but kind of a medicine man combined with hedge wizard but once he landed on the Island he began to experience the magic enhancing power that dwells here.  He gave up whatever name he had before and started calling himself Tempest because the one magic he became quickly powerful in was storms and electricity.

What followed was Tempest the man slew the Viking warrior that was in charge of the group and took his place.   He then founded the City which he called Port Tempest.  People very rarely call it Port Tempest anymore although that it is its official name.  People only call it Port Tempest when they are talking about Tempest the wizard as well and want to make a distinction. It is believed that there was becasue of the fresh water river there had been a village of another name their created by local orc tribes but they quickly allied themselves with him to build his city.  I am not so sure ‘allied’ is the right word as it seems to me the orcs were just engaged in self preservation.  It quickly became clear that warriors, even the best of them, were no match for the unbridled power of magic that only a few men could wield.

The oldest stone building in the city is the Citadel which is perched on the main hill in the north part of the city.  Tempest himself built The Citadel as a capital for the city and did the first city planning.  It is a tall fortress with tall central tower.  From here Tempest and his decedents ruled the Island for centuries.  The hill in the north, which the Citadel was the centerpiece, became the home of the wealthy and powerful each of them major families building manors and small towers over the years.  As you head south toward the river, which heads runs fro m the ocean and the east and then turns sharply and runs north to the Mountain creating an natural barrier for the city both to the south and the east.  The Hill became the northern boarder.

The city itself has four main quarters which start in the north and run south to the banks of the river.  The Citadel  Quarter where the rich and powerful still dwell.  The Sword Quarter which was home to military families that served the rulers long ago.  The Merchant Quarter was home to the craftsmen, patrons, tradesmen and merchant families that met the cities needs for hundreds of years and then finally the Fisherman’s Quarter which is home as one would expect to all the fishermen, sailors and dockworkers.

It should be noted that there two other neighborhoods that deserves mention – Southside and Eastside which are on the south bank and east bank of the Crest River respectfully outside the city walls.  Both neighborhoods are home to the poorer classes of workers and tradesmen.  Southside in addition has a more sinister reputation as the center of crime in the city. It is a part of the city that is only accessible by ferry across the mouth of the Crest River so it is also pretty isolated relatively speaking.  Southside is  on both sides of the East road that stretches to the other side of the Island at its widest point and Southside is a little bit more accessible as the East Bridge (a three hundred yard long stone structure) runs through the middle of it.

A few other structural notes are in order.  First in the center of the city is the market square which is spans part of both the Sword and Merchant Quarters.  It is here that my little pub – The Beagle and the Courtesan is located.  It sits on the middle of the south side of the market square between two other merchant establishments.  In some senses The Beagle and the Courtesan is dead center of the Merchant Quarter.  In addition one of Tempest’s later decedents built the wall around the city which was started by Tempest but it took a hundred years to complete.   The wall is forty feet high and uniform in width at twelve feet. They form in a perfect rectangle around the city.  The geometry of the city inside the wall is uniform with  straight streets running east and west and north and south with uniform blocks.  People do not get lost easy.  A narrow roads run inside and outside the city walls.  The Ports are just outside the walls  and don’t take up a whole lot of room as they are just docks and the few building needed to service the ships, boats and nets.

For a long time this was the arrangement.  The revolution a couple hundred years ago changed things.  It established a more representative government for all instead of the wizard’s council with its head wizard.  It is said by some that the reason such a revolt was even possible was that the power of magic had faded to the point that large numbers of warriors could now defeat the small group of wizards.  It ended the need for the military class as protectors of the ruling class but they shifted into mercenary bands that some now even today serve the most gold.  The Citadel has now become the Senate and is home to a very limited government for the island.  Modernization over the last sixty years has made a lot of things very different as some parts of the city, houses and shops have been replaced with more modern versions.  Most notable is the now modern dock facility on the West side that services the Shadowshift Liner.

From a people standpoint, the old castes are gone and there has been a migration of sorts where people live in the city based more on what they desire and can afford than anything else.  The names however remain as a testimony to a darker past although Southside has always had a sinister reputation for crime and the houses near the dock still are home to sailors and fishermen.  The hill also seems to be home of the richest of the rich.  Sword and Merchant Quarters have become more mixed up.  I mean in the Sword Quarter there is a business offering cyber security these days and in the Merchant Quarter there is a gunsmith of some note.

The one thing that can be noted is that some things have not changed at all.  The Citadel and the walls made by sweat and preserved by magic stand as they always have although now only a small police force patrols them.  Other buildings have been in families for generations but some have failed to adapt and new business pop up under new owners including some immigrants from the outside world.  For me, The Beagle and the Courtesan stands as always servicing the needs of its patrons.  But as I grow tired and need to get to bed, that is a story for another day.

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