Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Salireta: City of Heroes

[Written for, but never submitted to, Kenzer & Co. for the Kingdoms of Kalamar -- and before the City of Heroes video game]

A Sourcebook for the Kingdom of Kalamar

by Scott Casper

Welcome to Salireta! One hundred and fifty miles upstream of the capital, Bet Kalamar, Salireta is a small but important port city along the Badato River. It has a rich history, almost as old as the kingdom itself. The appellation, City of Heroes, dates back only 200 hundred years, when the first of several Kalamaran heroes called Salireta home. Today, it is a thriving city, built on river travel commerce, logging, and agriculture.

Bet Kalamar and Salireta

To understand Salireta, one must look at its relationship to its considerably larger neighbor. Bet Kalamar eclipses all other cities in the Kingdom of Kalamar, if not the known world. Bet Kalamar is the largest of cities -- grand in its excesses. Not counting lands handled by lieges, the king directly controls a roughly 300-mile radius of land around the sprawled metropolis, because Bet Kalamar and its suburbs need that much farmland to support them. There are cities the size of Salireta and larger within five miles of the capital, few of which delude themselves into thinking they have any autonomy. Smaller towns fan out from the capital in a fifteen mile radius. Everywhere else there are much smaller farming villages and thorps. Between all of these locations is a vast network, a web, of commerce that connects them. Salireta is very much a part of that web, yet it still retains much character from its frontier days when this was not yet so.

History & Background

Salireta in 30 IR

It was only 29 years since King Ali Inakas established the Kingdom of Kalamar, and nine years since Rulakan and Fulakar seized the throne. To the northeast of Bet Kalamar, the Paliba Woods remained unexplored, and considered beyond the frontier of Kalamar's immediate holdings. The carpenters of Bet Kalamar must have salivated, thinking of all that unused timber, but instead they fought over scraps from lesser, closer copses that have since all been decimated. In fact, Rulakan did indeed have plans for a great logging enterprise situated where the Badato River met the Paliba Woods -- the modern site of Salireta. But he was swayed by advisors who warned that the Paliba was reportedly full of goblins, and would have been too costly to clear out.

The reports of goblins in the woods, as it turned out, were greatly exaggerated. Oh, there were goblins there all right, but they were not great in number, and they had no wish to draw the ire of the First Legion stationed in the capitol. Aside from their wastes found floating down the Badato, and the occassional raid on a village, the goblin threat existed only in rumor and fairy tale.

Now, at this time there was already a small thorp of farmers and herders living in present-day Salireta. It is thought that there might have been only four large families of initial settlers, which made them brave people indeed. Yet for their bravery they were rewarded with ample wood for building, water for drinking, and land for farming and grazing. Life must have been difficult, for it was a ten mile hike to a village downstream that had a mill. This tiny community had attracted a blacksmith before attracting its own miller.

Almost nothing is known of The Smith, except that he was responsible for organizing the first militia in the area in response to a goblin raid. The Smith's name remains unknown, and there are no written records of his existence, which has lent an appealing air of mystery to the countless retellings of the goblin attack. A mythology of sorts has arisen around The Smith, and the more glib-tongued bards present him as Salireta's first hero -- almost single-handedly fighting a horde of goblins. It is unlikely, of course, yet goblins are the first boogey-men most children here learn to fear, and The Smith is the fairy tale hero who drives them off in each night's bedtime story.

Moving back into the province of facts, it was in the spring of 30 IR that The Smith's thorp is mentioned in any documentation. Prince Fulakar himself was leading the First Legion north along the Badato River, to engage in some violence far afield. By some chance, they continued past the Wooded Road (it might have been washed out, which has always been a problem) and Fulakar first eyed the site of Salireta. He remarked it was a promising location and went to investigate. The settlers, he learned, were illegally free serfs, yet he uncharacteristically spared them from execution. Instead he ordered that enough men be left behind to construct a watchtower on the spot. It was a long overdue precaution against goblin attacks from the Paliba Woods, and the tower's garrison would need food. The settlers would provide it -- in addition to other heavy taxes -- to make them pay for their arrogance in wishing to be free. Whether or not The Smith actually spoke to the prince and convinced him to be so lenient is questionable, but it is usually a glib-tongued bard who raises such questions.

The Legionnaires, disgruntled at having to miss out on the spoils of war, were vindictive towards the settlers. Much of the labor of constructing the watchtower was done by local hands -- after a full day of their regular chores. It would take until the following summer for the watchtower to be completed. It remained for 42 years -- longer than The Smith ever did.

Salireta in 100 IR

The thorp struggled hard over 70 years to grow into a village. It had its biggest setback nearly three decades ago (72 IR) when orcs and hobgoblins marched over the P'Sapas Hills and charged down into Kalamar. The watchtower was razed, and most of the people were killed or taken for slaves. That might have been the end of the village, had it not been for Baron Balamir Aroposi. Baron Aroposi was overseeing the defense of the region, and was determined to keep the humanoid invaders from getting any closer to the capitol. He was also an ambitious man with eyes on the throne in Bet Kalamar, which had been disputed since the death of King Kolokar in 89 IR.

To secure the Badato River, the baron dubbed one of his knights Baronet Pilamel Salireti and dispatched him to construct a new keep where the village had been. There were low expectations for the young baronet, but this suited the baron who feared granting power to competent vassals who might turn against him.

In the previous decades, Salireta had been a frequent stopping point for the Badatarans. These nomadic anglers had been moving up and down the Badato for years without making any permanent homes, choosing instead to follow the spawning habits of the trout that populated the river. When Pilamel neared the ruins of the village, he found the Fishermen waiting for him with a proposition. The village needed new people, and the Fishermen wanted to settle down.


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