Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Crux: Urban Fantasy Campaign Seed (Part Four G)


Garden of Ablutions
Certain areas of Crux, notably the wealthiest of the Day Quarter areas, possess indoor water for baths and fountains. Some draw their water from reservoirs atop their buildings, while others have managed through skill craftsmen and secret bargains to gain access to the general water supply of the city. This water is apparently pumped through the central pillar and out to various “wells” scattered throughout the blocks. No one is quite certain where this water originates: is it rainwater collected somewhere, sea water magically filtered or perhaps liquid drawn in from the earth surrounding the city. In any case, fountains serve to showcase influence and wealth in the city, regardless of the liquid’s source.

One business that draws from the limitations of the water supply is the Garden of Ablutions, a closed estate dedicated to providing the most luxurious and relaxing bathing environment to its patrons. The baths- some private and some communal- come in various temperatures and grades, ranging from a sauna pool to a chilly northern pond. Leodis of the Wane runs the establishment carefully, screening customers, selecting the proper scents and providing an area for contemplation as well as cleanliness. He relies on the rich variety of local flowers and herbs to create scented waters and a variety of oils and soaps to aid one’s skin and complexion. Tea of exquisite delicacy is served by his experienced staff and blind masseurs can be found to treat one’s painful joints. While other bath houses exist in Crux, none is so famed or so widely used by the wealthy as the Garden of Ablutions.

The Gatetakers: New assassin brotherhood. (Person)
The Gavels: District of Dusk. (Place)

Ghanai Wogus, Immaculate Master
Born to House Cynis well over a hundred years ago as Cynis Hazchani, his first career lay in the military, not among the Immaculate order. Aspected to Wood, he did moderately well for himself in the House of Bells, serving with moderate distinction. However he shared many of the Cynis appetites for excitement and new experiences. The hedonism of certain portions of his family had little appeal for him. Instead he sought to find things that had not been done by others. For several seasons he took up the banner of roaming the countryside during the Calibration- tracking down strangeness, avenging wrongs and causing them himself. The restrictions on such activity, more implied than stated, eventually forced him into the Threshold.

He traveled through the northeast, through the jungles and woods there. The final adventure of his old life saw him leading a group towards the edge of the Wyld there tracking a set of great cats who had cut a swath through neighboring villages. Less from honor and more from curiosity he followed these beasts. By the time he found himself in the Wyld itself, half his party had vanished into the darkness of the jungles and the other half had already been tainted. He planted himself carefully in a single place and prepared to meet the beasts who had tracked his steps. It is said that he killed one of the pair but suffered from deep wounds that even his elemental strength could not heal. Orienting himself to the Pole of the East, he tried to make his way back. However, the Wyld itself clung to him, extending its reach in order to keep him within.

When he finally found help, he was near death. His rescuer tended to his wounds and kept him alive through the fevers for several days. In exchange the man asked for the tales of Cynis Hazchani's youth and deeds. The Dragon Blooded lived and told his stories, to his regret. Only towards the last did Hazchani realize what had happened. This was the fae partner to the one he’d slain and now by bargain and exchange, he’d given up his memories and life to the fae. Hazchani wandered out from the Wyld, with only the memories of the last few weeks left in him and nothing else.

Surviving simply on instinct, he found himself rescued by an itinerant monk of the Immaculate Order. Shipped back to the Blessed Isle and his family, sorcerers attempted a number of methods to restore his past to no avail. Eventually he was placed with the Order, perhaps the only group with the resources and patience to retrain the Dragon Blooded from the very beginning. Taking the name Ghanai Wogus, after his master and the monk who’d found him, he steadily grew in power and strength, walking the full measure of the Path of Wood and then onto Earth. He served in temples in the Blessed Isle for many years, his life as a Cynis fully behind him. Nearly a decade ago he came to Crux to serve as the House Master here, a delicate balancing act for the Order. Too much pressure and action against rogue spirits and superstition risked upsetting old alliances and agreements that bound the Scarlet Empress. 

Ghanai bristled under the restrictions and usually undertook action against any spirit or little god who had a demonstrated compliant lodged against it. In some cases, he would pressure witnesses into making such statements in order to take action. This eventually brought him into conflict with the popular Magister of the City, Azeries. As a result, Ghanai had heavy restrictions placed on his actions; the Temples in Crux would have to be staffed by mortals. Actions would have to gain explicit permission of the Magister. It had become clear that there existed a great gap between how Ghanai and the locals defined spirits acting out of order. Over the last several years, Ghanai has mellowed and now takes his steps more carefully and secretly. With the absence of the Scarlet Empress, however, that situation may change, though whether that will come from Ghanai or the Magister.

Glain Kolath Bloom: Thorn of Dusk Quarter. (Person)
Glimmering Stitch: Prized tailor. (Person)
Golden Floret River: Central traversable waterway in Cascading Flowers. (Place)
Grace’s Hold: District of Dusk. (Place)
Grand Spice Fortune: Originally from Arjuf, sells rare and unusual birds at the Tower of Feathers. (Person)

The Grievous Pit
The walls of the Dusk Quarter were fortified long ago by the First Age builders who created Crux. Over the years however, portions of those walls have cracked or been opened up by residents of the city. For a time, the wealthy sought the stone from these walls for construction. However, that practice is now banned and anyone caught damaging the walls or cutting stone away faces summary execution. A number of tunnels and divots still remain from these earlier assaults. In some cases, such as the Mirrorstone Gap, a small number of workers have been licensed to dig outwards hunting for minerals or valuable gemstones. The number of such operations is kept small and the bounty available from them is equally minuscule, but there have been periods when a particular valuable vein has been located.

More often these pockets in the wall are filled in or else, as in the case of the Grievous Pit, become a business of residence. Unlike other tunnels, the walls of the Grievous Pit leak only slightly, making it a fine location for this unusual tavern. Customers have to climb a set of wooden stairs (set on rollers because of the turning of the city) up ten feet to reach the Pit, set up in the wall as far as it is. Meritous Draught, the owner, lowers out the stairs at dusk and raises them at daybreak. The interior of the bar is a great round tunnel, perhaps thirty hands tall and forty hands wide. The floor has been laid with wood to keep it flattened. How the tunnel was original carved is uncertain, but sorcery is suspected. The tunnel is said to be over three hundred hands deep, though only the first two-thirds of that is for the customers. A wooden wall, like a barrel top separates the storerooms and quarters of the owner and servants from the common room. It is said that the tunnel ends in a great slab of metal that stopped further excavation, but that is more rumor than confirmed fact.

Meritous Draught buys alcohol from surrounding merchants but also brews his own Sake, Spiced Ale, and Flower Wine here. He occasionally has musicians, singers or other entertainers perform on a smallish raised stage behind the bar and the sound is said to hauntingly echo through the place. The walls of the common room have be carved into over the years by a succession of sculptors and, it is said, Meritous himself. Cloaked figures, fantastic animals, horrific Yozis loom over the guests, most illuminated by candles set behind the sculptures or atop them. This dim lighting makes it a foreboding place for the casual passer through. Added to that is the fact that the worst quarter of the city turns to face the Pit at closing time, keep many away.

The Grim Reach: Southern border region. (Place)

The Guild Council of Crux
As with the central Deliberative of the Guild, Guild Council in important Hub Cities have nine members. Merchants highly value seats on the Council and the prestige and influence it brings. At the same time, such a position bring great responsibility and financial burdens. Members of the Council advise, set and monitor Guild laws and regulations. They also serve as managers of investments, masters of loans and subvent insurance offerings to caravans and other worthy operations. In particularly bad years, an inadequately prepared Council member may find themselves drained of wealth. Usually, though, members profit from their role. The Guild Council is Crux is:
  • Coffin of Grief: Artisan patron
  • Fayt Abandoned: Mercantile network
  • Khopus Barge: The apparent current director of drug and slave trade
  • Machelbas: The master of sea-borne trade in and out of Crux
  • Nihlus Means: The senior member of the Council
  • Sasazi Kohn: Factor of the Threaded Chamber
  • Sestain Fields-of-Holly: Artisan patron
  • Zanoc Orchid: Master Artisan and head of a number of practical orders