Orithia- Skull & Shackles
Small city, population 4,320
The Blacksand Spike ends in a splintered archipelago of tropical islands covered in beautiful sandy beaches, lush green jungles and crawling with filthy pirate towns. The largest of these hives of scum and villainy is Port Blacksand, the unofficial capital of the Shackles.
Port Blacksand was founded by the Capitavirate in 2430 as a safe haven to protect incoming ships from Kondar against the pirates of the area and as an additional source of income for the colony. Port Blacksand’s trade is plied mostly trough fishing, sailing and trading… at least officially. The real source of Blacksand’s prosperity is of course piracy. Rogues, thieves, pirates, brigands and nasty sorts of all kinds dwell here and ply their dirty wares. Plenty of religious missions also make their base here trying to change the dirty population’s beliefs or benefiting from them depending on the particular faith.
Port Blacksand is officially part of Salamon, the government has little power here as attempts to install any kind of governmental figure have repeatedly failed. Instead the Shackles and Salamon have come to a truce. The pirates don’t attack ships flying the colours of Salamon and help to defend the nation when under threat and in return Salamon agrees to leave Port Blacksand (a city technically within Salamon borders) under the rule of the pirates.
The Hurricane King of the Shackles is elected by the Pirate Council and is officially recognised as the ‘Mayor’ of Port Blacksand by the Salamon government.
Since this uneasy alliance was brokered, the Capitavirate have been keen to end the Shackles confederacy once and for all, thereby removing a major part of Salamon’s naval defences.
Port Blacksand is home to a number of interesting districts which stand out from the rest of the squalor. These places are most likely to be the reason for someone’s visit, unless they are already a pirate.
The Moss Hill district is a walled enclave belonging to Salamonis. Guarded by well-paid mercenaries and kept tidy by equally well-paid gardeners, it is the last bastion of nobility and cleanliness left in the city. Noblemen from Salamonis often have their summer homes here in Hilltop, where they can get a few over the city and the busy docks (which look a lot more impressive from so far away) as well as a great view east over the plains of Salamon.
Fort Hazard stands out against the dilapidated docks of Port Blacksand as the bastion of the Hurricane King.
The Alchemy quarter is a popular destination for wizards, artificers and other arcane characters whose ideas and plans are not always exactly in line with the government of their native towns and cities. Because there are little to no rules of any kind in Blacksand, there is no persecution for necromancy, dark magic, summoning fiends or any other base powers. Shops selling all kinds of magical equipment can be found here and the canals running through the streets often glow green or purple at night with the amount of magical waste dumped into them. Flesh golems guard mages’ enclaves and undead can be heard groaning from within rubbish skips. If one is after illicit magic or information on dark things, this is the place to come.
The Arena is a favourite amongst visitors to Blacksand. Most days small fights are organized and the events are usually pretty affordable, making it a sport for every citizen. Fights are run in traditional Alhane style, ranging from one-on-one brawls to tactical re-enactments and even non-lethal performances featuring magical light shows and illusory beasts of legend. It is the annual Challenge of Champions weekend event which draws sell-out crowds however, this event draws heroes and adventurers from around the world to compete for the coveted champion’s belt. 10 years ago, the Gentlemen of Fortune adventuring company won the events after defeating reigning champion Auric and even whilst saving the town from an otherworldly threat. Since then they have returned each year to defend their title. This year’s events are not far off and there are rumours that a rival group has sprung up to compete against the champions.
Little is known about the early history of the region. At one time it was part of the now-lost kingdom of the Wind Dukes of Aaqa. There are many ruins of this ancient civilization dotted around the tropical coastline and lost within the deep green jungles. Some of these ruins are easily identifiable as Aaqan- built with the traditional green stone and carved with symbols of Hextor, these ruins largely resemble vaults and burial tombs. There are some ruins however which have been left behind covered in disturbing carvings depicting cannibalism and blood sacrifice. These ruins intrigue scholars to this day who believe that they are newer than the Aaqan constructions as they generally represent temples, shrines and sacrificial pits- not something that the Wind Dukes were known for.
As trade grew between Dashar, Alaris, the Borderlands and Kondar in the 2420 s, it attracted those who wished to prey upon it. Pirates found that the ancient harbours and concealed coves of the The Shackles made excellent hiding places from which to strike. Soon these havens grew into proper communities. In response to this, the Capitavirate built a fort at Port Blacksand in order to deter pirates and protect the trade routes. The vast coffers of the Capitavirate treasury were employed and the cities in the area thrived. People from all over Orithia swarmed to the docks of Salamonis, Port Blacksand and Shae. New districts were constantly being built and buildings at the centre of the towns were expanded upwards in the Kondaran fashion. Soon small thorps and farmsteads flourished into market towns in their own right and the population boomed. The burgeoning nation is named ‘Salamon’- the newest colony of Kondar and the jewel of the Capitavirate’s crown.
Despite the best effors of the Capitavirate, pirates continued to use Port Blacksand as a hub from which they launched raids against ships coming in and out of the new country. When they were pursued by Capitavirate navies, the pirates used comprehensive knowledge of the area to hide amid coves and small towns hidden on the many islands of the Shackles.
In 2465 Capitavirate troops pull out of Port Blacksand proper, retreating to the Fortress at the noble’s district of Moss Hill and leaving the rest of the city to the fate of the pirates and thieves which had taken over the streets. Meanwhile a rail road is built linking Shae to Dun-e-Dor. Port Blacksand (apart from Moss Hill) secedes from Capitavirate rule and declares itself an independent state (generally ruled by whichever pirate had the largest crew at any given time.
In 2470, Salamonis also rebels against the harsh rule of the Capitavirate and declares itself independent. Shae remains firmly in the grip of the Capitavirate.
In 2471 Capitavirate troops march on Salamonis but are beaten by a dug in and determined, yet under-trained resistance force. Native Liel ambushes in the wilds disrupt supply trains and the Capitavirate is forced to pull back north to Shae.
By 2480, successful blockade actions by hired pirates from The Shackles coupled with raids from native Liel tribes had whittled down the Capitavirate forces in Shae to little more than a single company of troops. The soldiers were forced to retreat back north to Dun-e-Dor, leaving Salamon to its fate. The country crumbles however as Shae initially remains independent but strong supporters of the Capitavirate and the pirates of The Shackles also declare themselves independent of Salamonis’ rule. The small towns, ports and farms throughout the land are left to their own devices. Some support Salamonis, some support the Capitavirate and Shae whilst others simply remain independent.
This chaos continues until Zachary Efferlacke, a Borderlander wizard of noble blood is appointed Count of Salamonis and wins the support of the townsfolk after opening up new trade routes with Shae and Dwarven towns along the Dun-e-Dor coast.
The next fifty years are known as ‘the golden age’ in Salamonis. Count Efferlacke forges strong links with Shae and the dominant pirates of the Shackles. He founds many small towns throughout what used to be Salamon and improves the farming infrastructure to support the growing city. Native Liel tribes continue to attack convoys and villages throughout the land. Count Efferlacke uses this to bring the wayward towns and villages back into the fold of Salamon by promising protection from the hordes. Mercenaries and Pirates are hired in lieu of a real army however to help defend the nation. This creates even more problems in the form of looting, and crime rates increase throughout the land despite financial prosperity. Salamon is officially reinstated in 2510 as Shae, Apple Hill, Rose Falls, New Scenzan and most smaller towns agree to follow the much more powerful Salamonis.
Count Efferlacke dies in 2514. A day of mourning is held throughout Salamon. His son Ranir is named as the new Count. Ranir begins his rule well by allowing Liel tribesmen to integrate into the towns as citizens. Dozens of families agree and move into Salamonis especially but are faced with prejudice and scorn. Most Liel are forced to live in squalid camps outside the walls and are not given the same rights as other citizens.
In 2520 the Salamon rail road is extended to reach Salamonis itself. Trade increases with Dun-e-Dor and Shae as a result.
In 2525 Dwarven troops from Dun-e-Dor are sent to Salamonis to help with the increasing Liel problem. The garrison increases steadily over the coming years. Count Efferlacke receives gifts from Dun-e-Dor in the form of spellbooks and magical equipment for his laboratory. He spends an increasing amount of time locked in his tower studying the tomes and developing his magical talents and doesn’t notice the foreign influence growing over his city. General Thorik Mithraleye, a Dwarven nobleman and secretly a high-ranking officer in the Capitavirate had been bribing the count with gifts while slowly moving his own troops into the city disguised as Dun-e-Dor mercenaries and passing bills to the distracted Count for him to sign, gradually giving away control of the city to the Capitavirate.
When General Mithraleye announced his allegiance in the summer of 2530 and marched his troops to the Palace and Fortress, Count Efferlacke was unable to do anything to stop the Capitavirate reclaiming Salamonis. Mithraleye had control of the military presence and most of the economy thanks to Count Efferlacke’s blindness and greed. Capitavirate warships sailed into the harbour, blowing pirate blockades out of the water and more troops arrived via the rail road. Count Efferlacke and his only child Zalina disappear during the confusion and are never found, presumably assassinated by the Capitavirate.
During the winter of 2530, tensions had grown so high amongst the citizens of Salamonis, fuelled by the sudden harsh regime of the Capitavirate and a surge in gang warfare in the back alleys that a series of riots broke out. Entire blocks were burned and many lost their lives in the chaos. Mithraleye’s priests call on the aid of a troupe of Inevitables from Mechanus to aid in riot control. The heroes; The Gentlemen of Fortune allied with Isodore Pettway, a exiled nobleman from Count Efferlacke’s court and staunch nationalist to fight back against the Capitavirate. Underground feuds were put on hold as the ‘Gents’ united gangs and mercenary groups while Acilian Bayvacari led a pirate fleet from The Shackles in a large naval attack on the docks against the warships. Even the great dragon Silvanus the Wise helped in the fight, killing Mithraleye himself. Eventually the oppression was ended and Capitavirate troops once again were forced to flee Salamon, this time to their new colony of Tor Acarne, many miles east of Salamonis.
During 2531 the population of Salamonis began to surge. To cope with the growing number of citizens, Silvanus orders the town walls to be extended north and south, creating new districts of the city.
By 2532 the situation in Salamon had stabilised and the last remaining Capitavirate troops were driven from the land. Silvanus, who had taken temporary stewardship of the city called an election. Taiyend d’Tremmellin, leader of the Salamonis People’s Movement, Gentleman of Fortune and Hero was named as the first Governor of Salamon. Salamonis entered into a new ‘Golden Age’ which rivalled the first. Links were formed with the new city of Menephene in the Diamondstar Mountains and Liel living in the slums were granted full citizenship within the city.
The Cathedral of the Great Wheel was constructed to honour the huge variety of religions and beliefs within the city and a new religion in itself was created. Governor d’Tremmellin also founded the first regiment of the Salamon Army with more on the way.
The new districts of Salamonis are completed by the end of 2533, creating lots of new houses for the influx of people fleeing catastrophe in Valonia and the large number of Liel who were re-homed in apartment blocks after the slums were torn down.
Gunforges are built near the river (a conveniently short walk from the new Liel tenements), and the nation’s first blackpowder weapons are produced. Tensions rise between Menephene and Salamon as the underground nation continues to expand onto the surface.
In 2533 Salamonis defends itself against a surprise attack from an army of undead from the southern deserts, earning plaudits for the Salamon Army 1st Company. Magical phenomena are blamed and a group of heroes are praised for their help in defeating the rotten menace. The leader of the undead, a mummy named Vestrilar is still at large.
2534 (present day).