Founded in the waning years of the Dwarven Civil War, Gorktindin is a town with a history born from conflict. It isn’t a large city by any means, and in fact is smaller than some unnamed villages in larger countries. Nevertheless, it has a proud reputation for being a refuge for those who need protection, and is thus a fitting place for a fateful meeting…
As the Dwarven Civil War drew on, the countless prisoners kept as slaves began to escape. With nowhere else to go, many of them fled west, to the edge of the Inland Ocean, in hopes of being transported across the waters to freedom. While many slaves did, indeed, find their freedom in this manner, the limited quantity of ships in the Inland Ocean (as well as constant threats from dwarven fleets) prevented everyone from fleeing so quickly. As such, dozens of small communities sprang up along the shores, places of refuge for those who needed it.
Of these camps, Gorktindin was the largest. With over a thousand refugees at any given time, it was an easy target for dwarven reclamation patrols. In order to keep the slaves safe, thousands of merfolk rose up from the waters to use their vocal magic, casting an aura of protection around the city.
Maintaining the spell required over one hundred merfolk singing without ceasing. Thousands of the majestic beings came into the area to help, singing in shifts to protect both the refugees and their own voices. Nevertheless, there often weren’t enough merfolk to go around, resulting in many of those faithful protectors losing their voices for the rest of their lives. A number of them even died in the service, giving every last ounce of energy they had.
When the war finally ended, the protective song had been going for over three years. When it finally stopped, many of the refugees reported extreme disorientation as the noise faded for the first time in their memory. While this resulted in its own wave of issues, the threat was over. The merfolk moved back to the depths, and many of the slaves left to return to their families.
Dozens of the slaves stayed put, though, building up a true city in honor of the wartime camp. Though not enormous, the city still stands to this day as a hub for merfolk activities, and is a primary destination for trading ships all across the Inland Ocean.
Some of the businesses in town are as old as the war itself, others are much newer additions. All of them come together to form the proud civilization… A civilization that continues to remain just as diverse as the slaves that formed it.
1. The Lakehouse
About a hundred years after the war ended, Gorktindin was a booming town. It was the only major city in Donisil that maintained regular contact with the merfolk, making it ripe for trade. The value of the goods being moved through the city each and every day was higher than the entire national value of Sournous. This was due, in part, to the contributions of Jake Hassenfond, a human businessman.
Jake himself was an anomaly, having studied at the wizarding academy for several years before being expelled as he failed to keep up with his classes. Undeterred, and having never enjoyed magic that much anyway, he moved north and started a company that specialized in moving commodities through the town. He would buy goods from the traders coming in to the city, then turn around and sell them to the ships. While most parties except him lost a bit of profit off the deal, it proved far easier for both the traders and the ships. Travelers, tired from trekking across country after country, no longer had to go out onto the docks to find a ship transporting their type of good. Ships, battered from the seas, no longer had to try and look presentable in an effort to win customers. The arrangement was able to allow ships to remain in harbor for less than half the time they had once done.
In short, it made Jake Hassenfond a very rich man. As he accumulated more and more wealth, he built a series of extravagant lake houses along the northern side of town, mansions where he could enjoy peace and quiet. They were the talk of the entire country, as they rivaled the stone homes of Ondsouous itself. Gorktindin was well on its way to becoming a proper metropolis, perhaps even the capitol of the country itself.
In the end, it was Jake himself who put an end to the brief well of prosperity that the town enjoyed. He became so wealthy and bored with life that he packed up his fortune and left town, moving back down to Distisil, where he ultimately helped reform the wizarding academy. While others tried to run the business that he had maintained, greed and infighting soon caused it to collapse, and soon enough, everything went back to the way it was.
The houses themselves, still just as grand as ever, were purchased by the government of the town itself. To this day, they are rented out as richer customers on vacation come through Gorktindin. It serves as a form of income for the town, with the profits going to renovations and improvements around the small community.
2. The Merfolk Memorial
The name here is fairly self-explanatory. In the years after the war ended, upon request, the names of all the fallen merfolk that died defending the town were passed along to the slaves that stayed in the area. Though moving the bodies above the waves was strictly prohibited, the merfolk did allow for a monument to be constructed in their honor.
This is one of the few structures in all of history that has been built with such quality in such a short time. Every member of the town came together, pooling their limited money to purchase hewn stone from the quarries to the south. Once the resources had arrived, construction lasted a mere three days. Upon request, a human warlock came to the town and cast a heavy spell on the memorial, protecting it from minor vandalism, along with a few other magical effects.
From that point on, the memorial has stood. Walking into the small building will result in a thunderous noise, the sound of a storm as heard under the ocean waves. The names of the fallen merfolk are etched into the stones at eye level, while several stone benches allow for quiet contemplation of their sacrifice. Visiting the monument is considered a must for anyone visiting the small town.
3. The Northern Gates
While most cities will hide behind a protective outer wall, Gorktindin has never felt as though it needed such protection. Nevertheless, ceremonial gates do stand at both roads that lead from the city.
In the past, the gates have been used for little more than the occasional visiting royalty. Occasionally, disputes about town boundaries are solved using the gates as reference points, and town guards will often take up post there.
The only point in history where the gates have seen true use was during a crisis during the split between Donisil and Distisil. Confusion over the exact border resulted in travelers flocking south to the new country, only to flock back north as they realized that they might not have to move at all in order to move to the new government.
After several months of confusion, even after the boundaries were officially defined, the governor of Gorktindin was called upon by the king of Donisil to institute some sort of action. In response, a tax was founded, to be collected from every individual as they passed through the city. Being forced to pay as they traveled back and forth began to put a dent in many a person’s pocket, and, soon, the confusion calmed down. The governor, an elf named Berseron, was rewarded with an official seat on the king’s advisory council, where he served for the rest of his life.
4. The Jail
Little needs to be said of such a building. Its first construction occurred during the war itself, as several slaves turned out to be traitors, loyal to the dwarven empires. While the first of such traitors were simply executed on the spot, a pit was soon dug to house the rest.
Anyone even suspected of allying with the dwarves was thrown into the pit, where food and water were tossed down as necessary. To say that the conditions were inhumane would be an understatement, but it was a war. In addition, the makeshift prison did allow potential traitors to be contained without simply killing them. Several individuals, most notably an elven slave named Zilnaris, were able to prove their innocence through the cruel process. Zilnaris, holding no grudge against his captors, went on to found the national court of Donisil in Ondsouous.
Following the war, a proper building was constructed over the pit, using wood hewn from the forests of the mountains. This worked for a time, though it was burned down twice within fifty years after the war ended. The first time involved the imprisonment of several dwarves attempting to flee the country after the war, while the second involved the attempted capture of a notorious magical criminal, Corcimsus. Eventually, Jake Hassenfond built the new jail out of stone drawn up from the ocean depths itself. Since that construction, not a single prisoner has ever escaped, though many have tried…
5. The archive
Yet another feature of the town born from Jake Hassenfond’s time, the archive still stands as a collection of texts from across the land. While Jake never married, for a short time, he enjoyed the company of a young girl named Samantha that fancied herself an archeologist. To make her happy, he built her a building to store all her artifacts in, and even hired her several expeditions to search for more goods.
Samantha was thankful for the gifts, as she had originally wooed him for his money, anyway. She took the resources granted to her and began a search across the country for any texts that she could find. Scrolls were pulled from the dwarven ruins, texts were purchased from the elves as well as the wizarding college. It grew to become one of the single greatest archives in the entire world…
Until, of course, Jake found out that she had only been after him for his money. He wasn’t surprised or even cared that much, but did want to make an example of her. As his revenge, he set fire to the archives, destroying priceless artifacts and countless knowledge. It is unknown how much was truly lost in the fire, as Samantha took her own life shortly after. While the entire town certainly blamed Jake for the loss, there was little that they could do, since he owned most of the town.
Jake never regretted burning down the archive, though many people reported seeing him weep over his lost lover. In the end, his last act before leaving was to rebuild the archive and attempt to purchase as many new texts for it as possible. To this day, it still stands, though many of those purchased texts were eventually shuffled elsewhere. The city took custody of the building, and maintains official ownership over it to this day. Few people ever use the much-dilapidated archive, though it certainly still is available if anyone was to desire information.
6. The Bank
Yet another relic of Jake’s time in the town, the bank was founded to keep track of accounts as traders and ship captains found it difficult to simply carry their money around with them. A human, Francine Barmonte, was the first to see the problem. Setting up shop in an old church, she spent her entire life’s savings to dig a vault and hire security.
Though it was rocky starting out, a few desperate traders put their savings in her capable hands. When they returned months later to find their investments intact, word began to spread. By the time of the town’s height, Francine held thousands of pounds of gold in her vaults, and it was said that her ledgers would stretch for a mile if all the pages were laid out end to end.
When Jake began preparing for his departure, Francine was intelligent enough to realize what was about to happen. She bought a wagon and a horse, sold the bank to her sister, Geraldine, and loaded up her fortune to move to the big city. A week later, when Jake moved, the bank collapsed. Geraldine was left in ruins, without so much as a piece of copper to her name. Destitute, she became a beggar, living off the scraps from the pier before being accepted on board a ship as a hired hand.
Francine’s duplicity, thankfully, did not go unpunished. Hasinrod, an elf that Geraldine sailed with, became incensed at the tale. Years later, he made tracks to Ondsouous to put the tale to rest. However, upon arrival, it became clear that Geraldine had never arrived. After spending nearly a year investigating, he came upon a simple ledger that noted a city guard coming across an overturned wagon covered in blood. Whether or not it was Francine’s blood was never discovered, as there was no body or money. Nevertheless, it seems fitting that such a cruel deed be punished with such obscurity.
7. Rest and Respite
Perhaps the only thing more critical to a city’s success than a pub is a successful inn, and the proud Rest and Respite has been around for as long as anyone in the town can remember. Originally founded around a hundred years after the war, a man named Julesiar realized that many traders and travelers passing through the town often just set up tents in the market or outside the city gates.
In response to this realization, he spent a good deal of his savings to build a small, three-bedroom inn. He was instantly successful, and was booked every single night. Some traders, seeking refuge from the weather, would cram four or five people into a room, especially during winter months.
It didn’t take long before Julesiar had more than made back his initial investment. He soon began to expand outward, adding room after room until the lodge had expanded to encompass fifty rooms. He hired a chef to cook for the guests, initially an aqahartis named Bartung. Though Bartung moved on after only a few years, having a cook in the building proved just as much of a success.
Eventually, Julesiar died, leaving the business to his son. And thus, a family tradition was born. It was passed from father to son, mother to daughter, until the present day. Contrary to many of the other businesses in the city, the inn has never suffered any major losses or setbacks. In the wake of Jake’s departure, even more people than usual took up residence in the inn, allowing it to become the only business to actually succeed from that move.
To the present, it has never turned away a guest, a policy not reflected by many inns throughout the land. Though no one comes to Gorktindin for the inn, many individuals wind up staying there.
8. Teres’s Bar
The pubs of Gorktindin are some of the less constant features of the city. On any given year, there could be any number of the buildings. With alcohol being a commonly desired substance, anyone selling the stuff is likely to draw a business in such a bleak and wartorn land. That said, with drunken warriors and adventurers being what they are, anyone trying to run a decent business is likely to wind up caught in a crooked business deal or dead with a sword in his back. Many a pub owner through the years has simply vanished from the town, to the dismay of their faithful patrons.
Teres grew up in Gorktindin, relishing in the residential districts to the south of the business areas. From a young age, he spent all his time either in the bar listening to the stories or adventurers, or in the caves to the south of the city, exploring.
It was the southern caves that perhaps solidified his life as a pub owner. One day, while exploring deeper into the cave than he had ever gone before, he came upon a chest of gold left for centuries. As any young boy would do, he ran to the chest and proceeded to pry it open. Which activated the trap carefully placed so many years before.
A spear sprang up through the ground, driving through his leg. It was a miracle that it missed his torso. It was perhaps even more of a miracle that he didn’t die shortly after from blood loss or starvation. Impaled on the spear, he screamed for hours, trying to attract the attention of anyone that could hear him.
He was saved from dehydration from water dripping down through a crack in the ceiling, though only just. As it happened, he was in the cave for a full week before a dwarven smuggler named Fondistar, using the cave as a base, happened to hear his desperate cries. The dwarf then spent hours freeing the boy from the spear and taking him back into town.
By the time he got there, Teres was very much unconscious. Fondistar delivered him to the infirmary, but was soon forced to flee as the authorities began to ask questions. By the time Teres recovered, Fondistar was long gone, never to be seen again. Teres spent a great deal of time trying to find his rescuer, but to no avail.
As the years wore on, Teres spent more and more time in the bar, listening to stories, trying to find any word of the mysterious dwarf. When his parents informed him that they would no longer be supporting him, he simply began working at the bar as an apprentice. When the owner at the time mysteriously vanished, he became the full owner, to the great delight of the bar’s patrons.
Since that time, Teres has become a staple of the town. His knowledge of the southern caves and the dangers they contain has “slipped” to many a customer, resulting in far more income than most barkeeps have a right to make. He is known as a lady’s man, attempting to romance nearly every woman who walks through the door. He doesn’t succeed very often, but he tries.
9. The Graveyard
The graveyard was constructed while the town was still a refugee camp, as… Well, it was needed. As with most graveyards across the continent, it was built at the exact center of the town, where it was surrounded by thick, protective walls.
While necromancy is certainly illegal, magical storms and unintended accidents have resulted in dozens of the dead rising over the years. The worst was during the recession that followed Jake’s departure. Many of the town’s human residents turned to magic in an attempt to survive, though without proper training, things didn’t go so well.
A group of five witches gathered together, using the graveyard as a hub since what they were doing wasn’t exactly the most ethical use of magic in the world. In theory, the spell that they were preparing to cast required a simple sacrifice, no more than a bird or a goat, and would provide more than enough food for the entire town following its success. The only problem was that it didn’t exactly work as planned, and brought the entire graveyard back to life.
Every witch trying to cast the spell perished in the ensuing chaos, and several other residents were killed as the undead broke through the walls and attacked. In fact, the only reason anyone at all has knowledge of the event is because of a young witch that fled before the ritual began, fearing the worst. Since that time, no other attempt has ever caused quite as extreme of a result, though zombies have certainly cropped up from time to time.
Without a doubt, the graveyard is the most deadly spot in all of Gorktindin… And not a place to simply stop by for a casual visit.
10. Grave Liquors
Built directly adjacent to the graveyard, Grave Liquors is the newest pub to have been built in Gorktindin. Following the drunken revelry of a rather powerful wizard, the previous bar burned to the ground. Broke and destitute, the owner departed for Sintison, where he had family.
In his stead, a young dark elf named Zinusar rebuilt the pub, doing most of the work by himself. Upon its completion, he decided to give the bar a more ironic name, in order to stand out. In addition, he hired several necromancers from the wizarding college to set the tone of the restaurant, by animating several skeletal hands and heads and trapping them in cages around the bar.
While certainly an oddity in the country, many individuals decide not to visit the pub simply because of the undead trapped inside. That said, the people who do visit enjoy the decorations quite a great deal, and are loyal to a fault as a result. Occasionally, to further the mood and keep excitement high, Zinusar will let a hand out of its cage, watching as patrons flee or try to find the rogue limb.
Of course, such a business has stirred up its own share of controversy. The dark theme of the pub has actually attracted a number of dark elves to the town, and encouraged a number of the purple-skinned traders to detour through the town for a taste of their home country. While technically beneficial for the city as a whole, backlash has certainly been prevalent, as the handful of high elves and concerned mothers expressed their discontent with such a business.
To date, no actual violence has occurred around the business, a fact that Zinusar most certainly appreciates. Whether or not the pub lasts will be up to time. And, of course, how much customers are willing to keep paying.
11. Sword’s Edge
The lone weapon shop in Gorktindin, Sword’s Edge is, by all rights, a dying business. When it was founded, fifty years prior to Hesione’s arrival in the town, there wasn’t a single business like it. A young man at the time, Kilnurn, set up shop with a small blacksmith’s forge and a dream.
For many years, he did quite well, forging only the finest steel and strongest blades. Unfortunately, as the years went onward, he was unable to find an apprentice willing to continue the trade. All the guards, all the hunters, all the adventurers in the land came to his shop to purchase his swords, bows, and more exotic means of destruction.
Unfortunately, as Kilnurn began to grow older, his skill began to fade. After the arrival of Jalison, the dwarven owner of the current blacksmith shop, many individuals simply stopped coming. Many older customers still have him mend their older weapons, and many of the traders still sell him their weapons purchased from foreign lands. That said, his business is steadily dwindling. It will not be long before he is forced to close up shop, for good…
12. Trading Post
A staple of Gorktindin has always been trade. Be it from one individual to another, or dealing with the enormous businesses across the waters, trade has kept the town going for centuries.
The Trader’s Market, mere feet from the trading post, is a place where hunters and artisans can come together and simply make deals, exchanging money or goods for whatever price they can negotiate. That said, not every trader operates on the same schedule. Night fishermen, for example, are often asleep during the ordinary hours of operation that the trader’s market functions off of.
And, due to such necessities, the trading post was born. A small building was erected, with dozens of booths and barrels inside. At any time, anyone who couldn’t personally attend the trader’s market was welcome to deposit their goods inside, mark a price, and leave. Deposit boxes collected the money, while a town guard stood watch to ensure that the proper fees were paid and no money was taken by the wrong person.
Even without a guard, in such a small town, the system would likely have worked simply off of honor. As it is, the trading post has stood without interference or manager ever since its conception. While debates have arisen from time to time, all have been solved without bloodshed or jail time. It still, to this day, serves as a fantastic place to find an odd trinket or sample local cuisine.
13. Trader’s Market
Founded before Jake ever arrived, the trader’s market has been alive and thriving ever since the refugee camp was first founded. While traders from far away, carrying expensive goods or raw materials, want to continue to ship their goods on farther, local traders simply wanted to put meat on the tables of those in the town.
And thus, the trader’s market was formed. While it has never taken on any formal shapes (no permanent building has ever been constructed on that ground), there hasn’t been a day in centuries where the market hasn’t seen action. Much of the trade that happens here occurs without money, and simply happens between two interested parties. Whether it be gardeners bringing in their produce, hunters bringing in kills from the wilds, or local craftsmen peddling their trade, it never fails to serve as a bustling hub of activity, and one that the town would never be able to survive without.
Following the war, the first thing constructed in the town were the docks. Indebted to the ships that carried them to safety, as well as the merfolk that inhabited the waters, a more formal access to the waves was needed.
The man who supervised the construction of the docks, Ralphious Clade, was an escapee of the dwarven mines. In response to their oppression for so many years, he took dwarven metal from the ruins of the war and built the first docks from the remains of their former oppressors, melting and forging dwarven steel into struts and planks.
While poetic, this proved disastrous on multiple fronts. First and foremost was the fact that the metal released toxins into the water that made much of the nearby merfolk population quite sick (though the metal wasn’t discovered as the cause of this until much later). The second issue was that the re-forged metals, away from the incredibly specific processed used by the dwarves, wasn’t capable of standing up to the weather. Within a month of the dock’s completion, it had become so rusty that simply walking across it was nearly impossible. In mere weeks, a ship attempting to dock caused the entire structure to collapse into the waves. The dock was then rebuilt, this time with timbers. It’s had to be rebuilt again several times over the years, but has stood as a constant since then, allowing the lifeblood of the town to continue to flow.
15. Healer’s Brew/16. Death's Cure
The story of Healer’s Brew and Death’s Cure simply cannot be told without each other. The two businesses were founded by a brother and sister, Jeremy and Jasmine, both alchemists that graduated with honors from the wizarding academy.
Upon graduation, the two siblings began wandering the countryside, more or less using up whatever money they had until they ran dry in Gorktindin. Jeremy got a job working as a dock attendant, while Jasmine began working as an apprentice for the local healer. She was able to use her knowledge of herbology to increase the efficiency and success rate of the small infirmary, while Jeremy was able to discretely make alchemical purchases and sales through the docks.
After several years of working in such a manner, the two siblings decided that they were ready for something more. After getting quite drunk at the pub, Jeremy realized that he could create alcohol with far more ease and less time than anyone else in the area could. The siblings bought an old building on the edge of town and set to work, fixing it up as a reputable establishment. Notably, both of them kept working even as they prepared to launch their new business.
Finally, when it was all said and done, both of them quit their jobs, and Jeremy opened the bar. He became quite famous for keeping fresh fruits and vegetables in stock in the bar, and using his alchemy to ferment the drinks in front of the customers. It allowed the clientele to mix their drinks in front of their very eyes, and soon proved quite the novelty.
Unfortunately, that’s what it quickly boiled down to: A novelty. While it was certainly a higher quality than the surrounding pubs, the high cost of materials forced the siblings to keep their prices quite high. The steady stream of rich traders, along with the richer elements of the town, certainly kept the business afloat for a time, but it soon became clear that it simply wasn’t going to last long-term.
And, thus, Death’s Cure was born. Jasmine, who had been feeling fairly left-out in the bartending process anyway, took over the job of town healer after the former healer died of old age. She began incorporating potions into the regular faire of the shop, selling cures for dozens of skin conditions, as well as magical brews that allowed a person to run faster, breathe underwater, and more. Traders began to purchase poisons to dip their swords into, as extra protection on the road. Young lovers bought love potions, and while no one attributed any marriages to the shop, several individuals cite Jasmine as the sole reason for their children existing.
It wasn’t long at all before the two siblings realized that the two businesses worked off each other fantastically well. Jasmine began to hint to her patients that she worked her healing herbs into Jeremy’s drinks. And, like that, customers began to flock back to Healer’s Brew. To top matters off, Jeremy began mixing his drinks with herbs that would cause minor skin conditions, warts, even temporary blindness. Which, naturally, drove clients back to Jasmine. It was the perfect setup, and, as long as they aren’t discovered, isn’t likely to fail anytime soon.
17. Jalison’s Forge
As stated above, the town was without a proper blacksmith until the arrival of Jalison, a hill dwarf exiled from his home country after the failed courtship of a dwarven princess. After realizing that there was already a weapons smith, he simply opened a standard blacksmith forge and set to work.
Instantly, he was a success. The mere fact that he was a dwarf made people flock to him, regardless of whether or not his swords were better than anyone else’s. It was a fact that he certainly didn’t complain about, even as he was forced to shoe horses and craft nails instead of simply focusing on weaponry.
After several years of working, perhaps his biggest break arrived, in the form of a dwarven embassy bound for Distisil. A squire, upon a brief investigation of the town, came across Jalison’s forge. It emerged that they were cousins, both born from the Ison family, and while the squire could do nothing about the banishment, he did make it his goal to help his cousin.
During the embassy’s time in Distisil, the squire made several purchases, the basis for the construction of a dwarven enchanting forge. Upon returning, he gifted the materials to Jalison, who happily constructed a small, magical forge in the rear of the shop.
Shortly after the construction of the forge, Jalison was approached by the governor of the small town, who requested of him that he not practice enchantments at all. Jalison was distraught for a time, though he began to realize that the governor’s words were wise. Despite the war having ended several hundred years prior, a strong anti-dwarf sentiment was certainly prevalent in the community, and though most had accepted him, he knew that it would only take a single critic to get him thrown out.
And, so, he closed up that portion of the shop, refusing to even mention his enchantments unless specifically asked. Nevertheless, on late nights, many passersby can hear him whistling mining tunes and hammering away at his magical forge… Forever pursuing the practice that no true dwarven blacksmith should ever be without.
18. Eastern Gates
The eastern gates, much like the northern gates, serve a mostly ceremonial purpose. Their use and history is identical to that of the other gates, with the only notable difference being a slight amount of damage caused by an accident with a number of spooked horses pulling a wagon of bricks.
Gorktindin, while small, serves as a wonderful hub of activity. It’s a wonderful blend of cultures, a society born from the pain of war. It is a society that will likely continue onward for centuries to come, weathering anything that Calsin has to throw at it.