Wednesday, 14 December 2011
damned city: animardente
On the northern ridge, the keep of Arcemalba guards the first crossroads of the Spine Road. This keep defends against centaurs and Riccoferran exiles. Pale granite walls hold a garrison of malicious soldiers clad in spiked splint mail and helm, wielding halberd, longspear and bow. Their prisoners endure sadistic brutality. Running across caltrop beds, gauntlets of spiked fists and living archery targets are some examples. Their cruel behaviour fuels their martial reputation. These spinati are drilled in anti-cavalry tactics by the bellicose, brilliant and overweight general Gazar. Gazar holds Arcemalba for Animardente. Spinati enjoy some notoriety outside the city walls, enemies of the city dread their presence in battle.
The northern slope is split into two neighbourhoods. Balineum has bitumen, salt and sulphur mines. The oily Bruciatura spills from a cistern high on the northern slope stained maroon with aromatic naphtha. It's bitter waters causes dizziness and burning rashes, with prolonged exposure resulting in fainting. It carves a lifeless course to the Black Road. There it sinks into a morass of tar pits, the Black Road and it's branches providing safe passage. Balineum's mines has a mix of indentured centaurs and humans using slaves to toil in mine and refinery. Centaur overseers drown troublemakers in refinery baths.
The other, Ossarogis, sits on the north-east slope, behind the tar pits of the Bruciatura. Centaurs avoid Ossarogis though some gangs launch destructive raids. Smoke from conical stone kilns provide charcoal, pottery and smelt metal while disposing of dead bodies. Locals are patient souls as likely to use nearby white oak as corpses to fuel kilns. Where Balineum residents are passionate, they have cooler heads. Animardente's lords are watching them, they argue, so actions remain circumspect and words civil lest someone awakens.
The second crossroads sits on the edge of a crater housing a smelter and a busy market. The Spine Market trades in hematite, metal ingots and food. Traders often cough, smoke from the smelter is distracting. It processes Riccoferran ore with local rocks to make carbon steel sold exclusively at the Spine Market. Whispers persist that meteoric iron is smelted for the lords of the city on certain nights. Such rumours would alarm factions in the city. As a result they are played down by all hearing them lest the lords get involved.
The southern slope is taken up by one community. Palepratis is agrarian, growing persimmon, black walnut, inkberry, juniper, sweet magnolia and white oak. Beehives prosper amid the trees. Yew and white poplar stands offer shade. Slaves and centaurs here serve the farms, who work to feed both themselves and the lords. Farms keep goats and swine for meat. Yet not all is idyllic here. Centaurs are abused, foreign slaves get better treatment. All toil under the sun. Farmers bloom early and perish in their prime, this land is difficult to keep maintained. The Black Road terminates halfway around feeding into Bacino. Beyond the Black Road, the Fiumorte widens out.
Petranera, a smoke-wreathed citadel of black stone guards the Spine Road's final crossroad where easternmost roads converge. This is home to Lord Belias, attorney for the city and his beguiling, libertine daughter Fiammera. Belias tolerates the dissolutes she collects, Fiammera makes an efficient chatelaine during his duty-driven absences. When he does return, the halls empty of sybarites. Belias is a serial widower, though dark whispers insinuate unwholesome liaisons with Fiammera in Petronera. Guarded by a spinati garrison, the lords scheme and plot.
The Black Road girds Animardente, with traffic from the crossroads, Oroguida and Bacino. Where the Bridge of Smoke arrives is the halfway point. The kilns of Ossarogis and pig-pens of Palepratis meet in a permanent market where people buy district goods to bear to their allies. The craft is excellent, not prolific as Oroguida or Riccoferro yet skilled in construction and presentation. Notable is a post where a greataxe is buried in it's head. This post announces local executions and mercenaries for hire.