Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mirabar the Jewel in the Mountain

“Welcome to Mirbar! Do you need a guide? My name is Sal… Sal Grimstalker, but don’t let the name mislead you Sai.” The dwarf said as phlegm filled laughter follows Sal’s crude attempt at humor. “And this is me brother… Igvand.” Hawking a troll-green puddle to the stone pavers, the crazy looking Igvand nodded in greeting.

Mirabar is a city of grim folk, hard work, long hours, hard drinking, and exhausted slumber. There is little rowdiness and little crime. Visitors are frequently watched to make sure they are not thinking of starting trouble or mayhap spying for other cities. Thieves are frequently apprehended rapidly by the militia, who employ professional ‘thief watchers’ throughout the city.

Some 20,000 humans and more than 5,000 dwarves live in relative harmony here, working the earth shoulder to shoulder. Rivalries over forging skills are common, but all regard fellow citizens as friends and the rest of the world as unfriendly. Treachery is unthinkable to the shield dwarves of Mirabar, furthermore it’s hard to tempt even the poorest human in the city. The miners are on constant alert for plots, attempts to sway or mislead them, and attacks or surveillance by rival cities or clans. Rocs are a common sight in the skies above Mirabar and the surrounding mountains that add a certain splendor to the realm as well as a constant threat.

Three distinct districts comprise Mirabar: the River Keep, the inner mining community called the Anvil, and Upper Mirabar. The River Keep is a ground-level borough where all trade is conducted; large merchants establish shops to barter and trade raw ore, gems, or refined metal goods to trade costers that transport Mirabar products south. Master craftsmen can also be found in the River Keep; mostly unfriendly shield dwarves who secretly clamor for social status among other craftsmen. River barges are also commonplace on the River Mirabar taking goods and metal wares to Luskan.  

The Anvil is a dwarf community who also shelter miners that do not have a place of their own. Many humans stay here their whole lives and are warmly accepted as veritable equals. Several shrines to the Dwarf-gods are placed at the entrances to the major mines indicating rich cashes of gems or ore. Basic needs are met here as well as exclusive smiths that make their living by word of mouth. The most fascinating feature of the Anvil is the incredible lift that can transport small caravans and important cargo from the River Keep to Upper Mirabar.

Upper Mirabar is a marvel and pinnacle of highborn living in what is commonly seen as another grime—layered mining city. Temples, noble villas, and numerous feast halls are found in abundance high above the clouds in Upper Mirabar overlooking the North from the Spine of the World. Upper Mirabar is a jewel in the mountain with its beautiful architecture and stylish designs; a sharp contrast to the River Keep and its function. Also in contrast to the picturesque buildings and wide thoroughfares is the reverence paid to the gods of Fury. Nearly every street corner and structure has a ward or symbol to placate either Umberlee, Auril, or Talos.

Galvendo’s Lodge: Galvendo’s advertising schemes are highly effective, for he is considered one of the top hunters in the North and the best to be found in Mirabar. “I guarantee you a shot at the big boys, if you want the huge racks, you’ve got to come through me,”  “Galvendo: Big Game Hunter Extraordinaire,” and “Kill or be killed at Galvendo’s.” His advertising, hitting right to the heart of hunters, explains why he’s very busy. He’s guiding people to the best big-game hunting spots in the Frozenfar.

Balkin’s Weapons Outlet: One of three weapons shops owned by a triplet set of brothers, Balkin’s Weapons Outlet is a fairly stock weapon shop. The brothers make their money by purchasing weapons surpluses from armies or smiths that supply large groups. These purchases are split amongst the three brothers’ shops.

The Goblet and Gems: This is the only exciting and impressive-looking tavern in Upper Mirabar. Its magically lit golden goblet signboard beckons to passersby. Inside, visitors find a crowded room filled with live music, dancing, and side booths where folk drink and enjoy the company of the ‘Gems’ the place is named for.

Hall of Sparkling Stones: This massive stone fortress stands at the center of town on a raised eminence or knoll, looming over Upper Mirabar. Its soaring central hall reaches to the roof, where a magnificent, many-hued glass window depicts the double axe of Mirabar encircled by flying dragons of various hues. The window casts its polychromatic light onto the ring-shaped council table below. The polished, black marble table is pierced by four passages to permit access to the podium at its center.

This is the Marchion’s palace and courtroom; the state chamber of Mirabar, where important visitors are received; and the meeting place of the council. The architects set out to impress the visitor, and they succeeded with awesome ease.

The House of the Bright Blade: This establishment is the most popular shop in River Keep among human tourists. It’s widely known as the place to get specially made swords and masterwork weapons. It’s the smithy and shop of the noted wordsmith Zespara Alather where she toils here with six female apprentices. Blades can be custom-made in two days for triple the usual cost, or in seven days for double the usual cost.

The Sign of the Forgehammer: Visitors who aren’t staying in the homes of Mirabarran hosts or the guest houses of merchant companies are directed by the Axe (Mirabar militia) to this inn. The Forgehammer stands with stables, a strong house, and kitchen garden in its own walled compound just inside the River Gate.

The walls of the compound are adorned with the symbol of the inn: a vertical hammer, handle down. The symbol appears on the stout, copper-plated, double doors of the inn. Beyond them is a dimly lit network of stone chambers, interlaced with chimneys, fireplaces, and dark stairs winding between the rooms. The inn is cool in summer and warm in winter, and guests’ rooms have bear pelt rugs and canopied beds for warmth and comfort.

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