Parth Morren lies at the political and economic center of the Crown’s wheel of domains called the Dominion of Deira, which forms most of northeastern Orien. Deira is rocky and relatively wild, but with rich mineral deposits and plenty of suitable grazing land for sheep and ponies; the waters which surround it are thick with oil- and flesh-bearing fish, as well. The city therefore serves as the principal seaport in the north, and its communications and transport with the interior are critical. In the last two hundred years, a net of five paved roads has spread outward from Parth Morren, which itself sits on the Kingsway, the highway laid down by Inaradd more than six hundred years ago. The roads join twelve market towns and their Districts to the city with fast roads with the usual posting stations every half-day’s ride (15 miles). Further unpaved roads and paths join the tens of hundreds of villages to these towns and ultimately to Parth Morren.
Almost 600,000 people declared their homes to be in Deira at the last census, but less than 50,000 of them live in towns or in Parth Morren. An additional 150,000 are involved in migrant work of various sorts, whether digging mines in the Oceanspine Mountains, fishing, seasonal farming work, or long-distance sailing. In a territory 300 miles long (north-south) and 200 miles wide (east-west), this amounts to about 10 persons per square mile, most of whom live in settled villages within thirty miles of the coast. Much of backcountry Deira is empty and unworked land which has not yet been settled.
The Black Cloak of Parth Morren is working to change that, offering bounties to families who stay and work the land, mounting regular patrols through frontier regions, and working on completing the road through the Oceanspine Mountains at the Garrai Gate. Even with these incentives, progress is slow. The coastlands were easily farmable, if rocky; much of the inland regions appear inhospitable to those from further south, though they are as capable of supporting farms as other territories. Moreover, many settlers who do stay choose to join existing villages and towns, rather than risk their lives on the frontier.
The city is jointly ruled by the Black Cloak of Parth Morren, the Charter Council. and the City Kantrath. The Black Cloak, appointed by the Crown, is responsible for the defense of the city and the maintenance of the King’s Justice, including capital crimes. The Charter Council, made up of thirty-one members of the city’s prominent families, appoints the city’s magistrates, passes minor laws, and controls the city bureaucracy (such as it is). The Kantrath (the body of all citizens, about 9000 of the city’s 15,000 adult inhabitants) meets irregularly, to install a new Black Cloak or chief royal magistrate, to elect a new city council member from a slate provided by the council, or to vote on proposed changes to the city charter.
As Parth Morren is a port city, the Guild of Navigators and Seafarers (commonly known as the Crimson Hoods) have a prominent if unofficial voice in civic affairs. They frequently amend the harbor regulations to their own liking, and even the Black Cloak is reluctant to intervene in business involing them.
The other group that has a significant effect on city policy, though often in a negative way, is the Jade School. The Crown required Parth Morren to found a college or university within fifty years of the city’s founding. When the city fathers failed to fulfill that duty, the Crown duly appointed the Jade Robes the caretakers of several parcels of land around the Temple of the Sun, and gave them the responsibility to found the educational institution. The disreputable storytellers, songsters, and rogues thus acquired their first official center in the realm, and established the Jade School. While the faculty is constantly shifting, and the students are shiftless, the School is careful to safeguard its rights. At this point, the Jade School has survived more than a hundred years in Parth Morren, and the pranks of its students are part of the city’s history.
Perhaps to counter the presence of the Jade School a bit, the Oracle of Kemblis declared Parth Morren sufficiently important to warrant the presence of an Archimandrite eighty years ago. The present occupant of the office is in his eighties, a thin and humorless man named Jerart Tallstaff, accompanied by seven White Shawls. The city council does not often heed him, though his palace is right next to City House; they are more likely to consult with his circle in White than with him.
The City Watch
Ser Parker commands the city watch. A veteran of the royal fleet for more than fifteen years, today he leads not men at sea, but men on walls and towers and streets. (FTR 14) His force of 150 guardsmen are ranged in 2 divisions, with 70 on duty by day and 80 by night. The Watch patrols in teams of 5, with six such teams arranged on the city gates and two more on the walls themselves; the six teams patrolling in the street are divided into pairs of men, allowing for more coverage of the city. By night, two more teams are added to the walls. In an emergency, Ser Parker may draft an additional 750 men from the city militia with 4 hours’ notice. He can also draw on the Black Cloak for special teams to investigate serious crimes.
The Watch exists largely to keep order at the city’s gates and bridges, and to discourage significant public disturbance. The patrol teams stick to well-defined routes along major streets, for the most part, and rarely leave those patrol routes except when summoned to the scene of a crime or accident by cries for help or ‘friends of the Watch’. The result is somewhat limited coverage, but regular appearances every 10-15 minutes on the main routes through the city.
Two 4th level Fighters command the two divisions of the watch, and each has a 2nd level fighter as an aide. The Watchmen are all 1st level fighters or warriors, equipped with long spears, short swords, clubs, and chain mail. Each man also has a high-powered whistle, and each pair of men or pentad also carries a signal horn.