Palisade

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Council of Nine

The Council of Nine is the governing body of Palisade and surrounding holdings. The nine members are elected from the merchant aristocracy, technically by anyone in Palisade with a badge of citizenship, but in practise by the ruling families (from which they tend to hail, although occasionally through history, commoners of various races and backgrounds have found their way into the council). The nine each have their own area of expertise and are responsible for presenting suggestions for new laws regarding their area for vote in the council. Once a law is approved and written up by the council it goes to the Harbour Master for final approval. The nine are elected “for life until infirmity”, as the law of election states, but changes in the council tends to happen primarily via scandals, political intrigues, the occasional poisoning or imprisonment.

Harbour Master

The Harbour Master represents all of Palisade. The city wouldn’t exist without the trade made possible by the craft of sailing and any harbour needs a leader to enforce order and good trading conditions. The office of Harbour Master dates to the founding of Palisade before the Upheaval and through the centuries, many illustrious leaders of varying levels of sanity and acuity have graced the office of Harbour Master. The official domicile of the Harbour Master is the huge, fortresslike building called Harbour-watch Bastion on the southern strip of land that encloses the Palisade harbour complex. The current Harbour Master is Thelonius Covingstrong, a gentleman of advanced age who is only seen in public in his wheelchair. Harbour Master Covingstrong has been in office for 26 year, which is quite a feat of politics in this city. (The joke among the populace is that he glued his bum to his wheelchair so nobody can take his seat.)

Nobility

There is no nobility in Palisade, unlike certain other city states, but there are families of higher class and greater wealth, a sort of aristocracy of merchants. Each year, the Harbour Master elects an honorary High Merchant from the city’s wealthiest families, and this person serves as his secretary, which is considered a great honour. The wealthiest families, although not made noble by any king or other similar authority, still act like aristocracy everywhere else does, however.

Protection

Throughout the city of Palisade, merchants and law-abiding citizens hope for peace and security and happily three different corps of guardsmen work to ensure that, using a predictable mix of force, law and checkpoints throughout the city.

City Watch

The city watch is hired by the Council of Nine and patrols the checkpoints in the city, make sure citizens have their badge of citizenship on them, distribute said badges from their headquarters of Palisade Yard, enforce basic order and investigate minor offences, such as bakers grinding sand into their flour to save money, and fine the wrongdoers. The city watch wears a green uniform tabard with a yellow stripe.

Harbour Guard

Ensuring that pirates or the fleets of other island states don’t threaten the city of Palisade is the job of the harbour guard, the guardsmen of the office of the Admiral, one of the nine. They have ships out on open water at all times and patrol the harbour complex, both from vessels and on foot when on land. They deal with accusations of fraud among the merchants and guard debtors in the dreaded prison Burned Bridge Island at the harbour entrance in the lagoon. The harbour guard wears a brown tabard with a blue wave emblazoned.

The Sentinels

The enforcers simply known as the sentinels are technically the “private” guard of the Harbour Master. Since the Harbour Master’s wellbeing and security is a public matter, however, they are paid by the city treasury (known as The Mint). The sentinels deal with matters of city state security and are rarely seen in everyday life around the city. Their agents are rumoured to be both clever brutes, spies and diplomats and also to operate in foreign territories. The sentinels have a presence at parades and community functions whenever the Harbour Master is seen in public but other than that, little is known of their day to day dealings. The sentinels’ official uniform is red and gold.


Badge of Citizenship

In order to vote, cross checkpoints in the inner city walls and lawfully trade within the city of Palisade, you need a badge of citizenship which is obtained for a nominal assistance-fee at Palisade Yard, the headquarters of the City Watch.

Landmarks

There are several important landmarks in and around the city of Palisade. Here is a list of some of them.

The Chain

Below Harbour-watch Bastion is a cave carved into the rock. Far opposite, on the artificially constructed sea wall, hemming in the greater harbour, is another large cave, this one built of brick. Each of these caves houses a gigantic rock troll, mistakable as statures until suddenly: movement (albeit slow). These two trolls, nicknamed Crusher and Glob (perhaps it’s their actual names, but who knows?) hold between them an enormous chain that can be stretched taut between them and block all traffic in and out of the harbour. These two can also hurl boulders at oncoming invaders, should the need arise. You aren’t quite certain how long Glob and Crusher have been doing their job, but sometimes sailors entering the harbour report having heard them speak, or even sing, in their slow, rumbling language.

College of Fine Bardic Arts

“Bardart”, as it is called among students, is a very elegant old building, dating back to the early days of Palisade’s history. Purposefully build half inside the city wooden palisade and half outside (today half in Old Town and half in New Town) it is a sprawling place of learning for those of musical, writerly or theatrical talents to hone their craft. The College of Fine Bardic Arts is home to an impressive collection of old tomes of history and poetry that the students can seek inspiration from. These archives might on occasion be accessible to the public, but contacts and fees will likely be required. Bardart lets in students from the most prestigious families but also from the poorest dregs of the slums, as long as they show promise in their craft. Funding comes in part from private investors and from the many and varied performances open for the public at (sometimes) reasonable ticket prices.

The Mint and the Bank of Palisade

The Mint is the (very severely guarded) building near Harbour-watch Bastion, the Harbour Master’s residence in Old Town. It functions as the city’s treasury and new “gost”-coins are minted here. The gold standard (“gost” for short) coin of Palisade is regulated from The Mint, too. A large part of Palisade’s wealth and influence hails from the export and maintenance of the currency system to other island states where the gost is the stable coinage which the value of other currencies are calculated from. The Bank of Palisade next to The Mint functions as a regular bank, extending loans to private persons, but also invests in business ventures on behalf of the state.

Harbour-watch Bastion

Harbour-watch Bastion is the fortress-like home and headquarters of the Harbour Master of Palisade (currently Thelonius Covingstrong). The building was started before the upheaval and supposedly the older parts of it are still in use, hidden behind the large grey walls of the current building. The square, imposing building is the first part of Palisade an approaching vessel can see, and a fire is kept burning in the top tower all night. Below, at the edge of the cliff the Bastion rests upon, is where The Chain is anchored.

Hall of Justice

This sharp, angled building sits at the heart of the western side of the dock district of Kaala Wharf. Palisade’s lawyers, advocates, solicitors and other serious people deal with judicial matters here. It is from here that those condemned to a stay in Burned Bridge are taken to the Dock of Despair and ferried over to the prison island. Just braid your hair for luck and hope it never happens to you!

The Spire

No matter where you are in Palisade, the Spire, mysterious, ancient and unknowable is visible in the northern distance. The spire itself rises up from the rock of an enormous plain on the north-western side of the island of Narran where Palisade is situated. Like a grim, foreboding needle it stabs trough the bedrock and the top of it is often hidden behind clouds. What is at the top is completely unknown but stories run rampant: it’s the capital Fortress of the Hildana dwarves from which the upheaval was launched upon an unsuspecting world to appease their dark goddess (…when in doubt; blame the dwarves), it’s the mountaintop where Merea, the queen of the pantheon, makes her home, it’s a magical landing pad for ships from impossible harbours – undoubtedly sailing the very currents of magic itself! What it actually is, perhaps just a natural piece of strange geography, is unknown.

The Marshlands

The eastern portion of the island of Narran is a vast, low plateau, swampy and dank. Here, those found guilty of serious crimes are sent to work in underground mining complexes, underground mushroom farms or plantations of swamp-leaf bushes (whose leaves are ground into a kind of flour to make bitter-bread that is the staple food for many people in Palisade.)

Palisade Yard

Next to where the original palisade that gave the city its name, stood, the Yard was build, originally as a barracks for the city watch, next to the main gate. Nowadays, this quite overlookable and rather anonymous building sits next to the inner wall separating Old Town from the harbour district. At Palisade Yard, newcomers to the city who plan on staying go to register for their badge of citizenship and people go to report crimes like minor fraud, small-time cons and the like.

The Grove

On the outskirts of New Town, near the rundown slums, is a peaceful and beautiful place of worship and contemplation for those of druidic and shamanistic inclinations. Their magic in itself is not advertised highly, but since parts of the beautiful grove is open to the public (provided they behave, which is enforced by the grove-keepers) most people have no quarrel with them. Perhaps it is just a place for worshipping the nature-gods? The grove features actual tall trees (a rarity considering most of the world was flooded during the upheaval and mostly mountains remained) that seem much more ancient than they rightly should be considering the grove has only been there for a few decades.

Hildana Rock

The low, broad, imposing structure in the harbour district of Bright-wharf, tiled in polished volcanic glass, functions as a sort of embassy for the Hildana dwarves and their mysterious nation. What goes on there, the how, why and when of the operation, is not known to anyone but the specially initiated. The few rare dwarves seen in the city often have business there.

Burned Bridge Island

Burned Bridge Island at the harbour entrance in the lagoon is a feared place of reckoning for those in Palisade who incur debts they cannot repay. Exactly how putting them in prison is going to make them pay their debt is a somewhat murky and unanswered question… What is “certain” (in popular opinion) is that conditions at the prison, closely guarded by the harbour guard, must surely be horrendous and many a bard’s tale (tall or not) revolves around the horrors and hauntings of Burned Bridge. The prison building itself is tall and square, with tiny windows, built on a small rocky island in the middle of the lagoon. The security of the building and its guards aside, the island itself is neigh inescapable since it is always within sight of the entire busy harbour and several guard-stations, and the likelihood of leaving unseen and unchallenged is spectacularly low.

Temple of Merea

The beautiful main temple of Merea, the goddess of hearth and home, queen of the pantheon, is located close to the Harbour Master’s Bastion in Old Town. The shining spires and beautiful archways of her temple are elegant and awe-inspiring and can be seen far and wide across the city. The main temple houses the high priestess of Merea and the temple’s administration. Services are held daily and the temple crafts-shop sells idols of Merea for the private shrines of the faithful.

The Mush-room

This is perhaps the most famous brawling-bar in all of New Town. Located in the poor district of Burthoc Corner, it still manages to attract an impressive range of society to watch the fights, bet on the fights, get drunk, start fights and be cleared out by the watch when things get too rowdy.

Council Hall (The Niner) and Plaza

The council hall in Old Town, somewhat affectionately nicknamed “The Niner”, has often been elected the ugliest building in Palisade by popular opinion, but any attempt through the ages to have a new one build has been met with bizarre sentimentality and the building has survived. Every generation of elected nine has made a point out of adding some stucco ornamentation, a statue, a new decorated drainpipe or some other nonsense to put their name on it. By now, the building looks a bit like a cake about to cave in under the weight of its decorations. The plaza in front of it is quite a popular picnic spot, with tables and benches in the middle and cafes along the sides. From here you can let your eyes wander the wonder of crowded decoration or see when your favourite council member is leaving, so you can corner them and explain what you think of their policy. It’s a world of choices!

The Astounding Cabinet of Unbelievable Rarities – and shop

Mr. Rutherford Dibble, salesman extraordinaire, is the owner of The Astounding Cabinet of Unbelievable Rarities, situated in a rundown part of southern New Town. The Cabinet is a highly motley and ever-changing collection of bits and bobs (most of it quite believable) and occasional art (that might legitimately astound), all viewable after an entrance fee that lets the visitor into the holy sanctum of strangeness that is his collection. Mr. Dibble is known to occasionally have procured items of great beauty and power, and the museum does have a backroom, or maybe more, where shady, unknowable things might lurk. Mr. Dibble also imports and sells all sorts of strange goods, like candy, mountain climbing boots and duck butter, from faraway islands and nations and can likely procure special goods … for the right price of course.

Margan Elfslayer’s Hospital

Margan was a halforc warrior who earned her nickname in the battle of Spire Plain in 98 AU (after the upheaval). There are several bardic epics on her heroics, but she later became a stout defender of the rights of the poor people in Palisade and funded a hospital in the very seedy part of town that had cropped up as the city expanded northwards. The hospital today employs only medics, alchemists and herbalists (not priests with healing powers granted from their deities) and also educates medical professionals on site. The funding comes from private charity donations and patients are primarily the poorest part of the population.