Notes on Parth Morren [Orien]

Parth Morren, as its name implies, is the port built by King Morren in northern Orien. Situated on a ridge between the shallow Delyas Bay and the Tirion River, the city rests on a bed of solid rock. Protected on the south and west by strong walls, the northern end of the peninsula is capped by Castle Hill, and Dun Morren. The great keep, measuring over 130 feet high and 60 feet on a side, was built by King Morren about 140 years ago. The town grew up around the stronghold, and was gradually enclosed by its present walls.

Two bridges, the Old Bridge and the New Bridge, cross the Tirion River to the southeast. Both bridges are constructed of stone, and they are designed to prevent river traffic from approaching from the sea. The New Bridge has a single large arch under the river, while the Old Bridge has two; four of the city’s six mills are located under the bridges in the stream, where the water provides free power.

South of the bridges, a section of the wall has not yet been completed between the river and the Ceramica, the potters’ district. Over two hundred yards of water are still exposed to the river, and numerous small boats cross the seventy-five foot wide spread of the Tirion, avoiding the bridge taxes. During the high fair season, guards are stationed along this shore to make sure taxes are collected. Beyond the eastern walls and the river are orchards, farms and fields.

The districts of the city are as follows. Starting in the south is the Ceramica, the potters’ district. Located just inside the Sameline Gate is the Ropewalk of Karsten, beyond which is the High Street. The houses here are narrow, tall and rickety, and the whole district is poor but hard-working. Many of the city’s brothels can be found in this quarter.

In the Southwest is the Shambles, extending from Sheep Street to Soap Street, and as far north as the Wool Market. The houses here are less rickety, but the smell from the soap-making, the butchering, and the leather-tanning make this quarter the least desirable residential or commercial area in the city.

Northwest of the Shambles is the Horsemarket and the South Docks. Here Andren the Shipwright, Ilon the Boatwright, and Carl and Sons the ropewrights ply their trades. The Ropewalk here is more than 500 feet long, which allows them to make anchor cables and other heavy line. Mikel’s Stables offer the finest horses in the north for sale, just south of the Ropewalk. Three smaller ropewalks provide smaller lines in hemp, silk and pentasilk.

East of the Shambles and north of the Ceramica is the Weavers’ District. At the south end, abutting the Wool Market, is the Brandished Crook, a popular eatery, inn and tavern, winner of the gold medal at Fairtime for the best Market-Ale twenty-two years’ running. Between Dyers Street and High Street are numerous weavers, fullers, dyers and haberdashers, as well as the Indigo Hospital. Weavers’ District ends at the Clothmarket, and the Temple of Mother Earth.

Southeast of the Clothmarket is the New Bridge, and the district is called Riverside. Mostly middle-class artisans live here, and Smith Street and Armor Alley are just north of the bridge.

West and north of the Clothmarket is Waterside, a district of boarding houses, inns, warehouses, gaming clubs and shops catering to the long passage traders and the crews. Chandler Street and Spinnaker Street are home to the general stores and the sailmakers.

Customs Street and Old Bridge meet at the Spicemarket, where the lapis-roofed temple of Grandmother Ocean stands. A belltower stands beside the saltwater reflecting pool before the main doorway. The nearby wells are all arranged in such a way that the Archpriest, standing on the doorstep, cannot see any fresh water. A nearby granite palazzo is home to the Archpriest and his retinue. Customs Street ends at the waterfront, where the Customs House stands four stories tall. A little southeast from the Customs House is the Guildhall of the Crimson Hoods, surrounded by the warehouses and counting-halls of its most prominent members.

To the north of the Spicemarket are the fashionable houses of the Garden District, while to the east are the less fashionable houses of Castle Hill. Many of the wealthy citizens of Parth Morren live here, close to the castle walls — but merchants and seacaptains tend to choose the Garden District, while more conservative and less well-off artisans choose Castle Hill.

Above these two districts looms the granite outcrop of the actual Castle Hill, surmounted by Fort Morren. A single gatehouse opens into the broad paved space at the foot of Morren’s Tower; the whole court is enclosed by a wall with eleven small towers. The space within the fortress is divided between storerooms, stables, the Great Hall and apartments for Dalanas Strong-hand, the King’s BlackCloak in the region. There is also the sacred apple orchard of Lady Moon, where the ashes of the city’s nobles are usually scattered.

Northwest of the city is Delyas Bay. Partially dredged and magically transmuted to stone in the days of King Morren, the southern half of Delyas Bay now forms the city’s harbor. Two points of earth were left alone when the harbor was cut out of the mud — Paros Island is now home to a lighthouse; it also serves as the anchor point for the chain that defends the city harbor. The other island, Shallowhead, is home to a small village of clammers who collect mussels, clams, scallops and other shellfish from the tidal flats in the rest of the bay. A little ferry runs out to Shallowhead Island and back every hour or so, but few go out to Paros Island, for a Yellow-sash, a wizard, makes her home in the tower, and the woman is apparently more than a little crazy.

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