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West Portage (Barony of; Empire of Thyatis)
Location: Known World, Isle of Dawn (east of the continent of Brun; southwest of the New Alphatian Sea), west-central area.
Area: 9,977 sq. mi.
Population: 5,000, including 1,000 in the capital West Portage.
Languages: Thyatian (official), Alphatian.
Coinage: Thyatian Standard: Emperor (pp), lucin (gp), asterius (sp), denarius (cp). Coins of many other nations are in common circulation here.
Taxes: 25% income tax collected quarterly (Va. 1, Ya. 1, Fy. 3, Ei. 1). Citizens abroad must still pay. 5% sales tax on all but food and clothing.
Government Type: Barony under the jurisdiction of the Empire of Thyatis.
Industries: Trade and ship transportation.
Important Figures: Baroness Periandra Docerius (human, female, F12), Captain Jules Docerius (human, male, F12), Dresel Ratchethook (gnome, male, T6/M(il)5).
Flora and Fauna: Standard for its climate. Dangerous monsters include goblinoid hordes scattered throughout the Isle of Dawn as well as bandits.
Description: by Belzamith Fingertackles
Hello dear readers. At first we had asked Elidor Murtagh to describe the barony of West Portage for us since he often sailed by the area on the Callista. However, to put it nicely, Elidor refused to go anywhere near a port that would dare commit the sacrilege of bringing a ship onto dry land. It is therefore my pleasure to present the province to you myself, from my observations on our journey to Ionace to talk to Commander Broderick.
West Portage is a relatively small province in an area almost totally devoid of any great resource or advantage. The region is very hilly and not very useful for agriculture. Prospectors also claim that the area is devoid of any useful mineral deposits or mining possibilities.
The community of West Portage, the capital of the province with the same name, is a small town of barely 5,000 people, mostly human. West Portage is rather poor, and the look of the buildings shows it clearly. The only buildings that are in good condition are the palace and the Thyatian Legionnaire's garrison. The place doesn't even have a wall to help defend in case of an invasion, although the Baroness is currently saving up the money to build some.
West Portage does have one noteworthy advantage though; position. Located on the northern shores of calm Seawolf Bay, West Portage happens to lie on the shortest overland pass from one side to the other of the Isle of Dawn. Those merchants who prefer not to sail all the way around the huge Isle of Dawn can put in at West Portage and cart their cargoes across to East Portage. This overland transportation costs an arm and a leg, in my opinion anyway, but some merchants still prefer to pay the price since they believe they easily make it back with the time they save from avoiding a long detour. In fact, even whole ships have been lifted onto huge wagons and brought across the island.
The overland road is a winding one through the hills at the centre of the island, but is well used and easy to follow. Our guide claims that the road is exactly one hundred miles long, from city to city, but I'm sure it must be off by a little. Exactly one hundred miles... sure, and I'm a beardless dwarf.
This trail, known as the Crossdawn Road, however, is one of the most dangerous places on the Isle, besides, perhaps, the Thothian Escarpment which is still largely unexplored. With the constant warfare that has occurred in the area for the past decade, many people have been made homeless, desperate, and angry, which means that many have started the life of banditry. Raids on caravans between the towns have increased considerably in the past decades. And these bandits seem to be getting better and more organized as time goes on. Last month, a whole ship and its crew disappeared along the trail, never reaching its destination of East Portage. Officials have yet to find any trace of it in the wilderness.
The inhabitants of West Portage are simple people who just want to get on with their lives and be left alone.
Being a relatively poor place, thievery is very high in the city. In fact, up until AC 1009, when Docerius was crowned Baroness by Emperor Thincol I, the province of West Portage was unofficially known as the City of Thieves. Still, despite the rumours, West Portage had always had a very low crime rate. The former ruler, Lareth Kubek, was replaced by Docerius, then commander of the Thyatian garrison, because he was unable to deal with the invading Alphatians. At that point, it seems the thieves came out of their holes, and everyone became a victim to one rogue or another. It took the Baroness almost 2 years to get things back under control.
This would lead me to believe that Lareth Kubek was somehow involved with the thieves' guild of the city. However, Kubek disappeared shortly after being replaced as ruler, and his current whereabouts are still unknown.
Most people work either at the docks, or as guards and guides for the Crossdawn Road. The fact that the city often changes from Thyatian to Alphatian hands is rather irrelevant to them. Most can speak both languages, and think of themselves as West Portagers rather than Thyatians or Alphatians.
Of a peculiar note, which I deem worthy of mentioning, is Captain Jules Docerius, the Baroness's nephew. The man is known for his fighting prowess, but not for his personal integrity. He is overweight, and his large nose is permanently red from too much hard drinking. Also, the man constantly wears expensive and elegant clothing rather out of his salary range. Although I have no proof, I am almost positive that the Captain has his connections with the thieves' guild and is probably taking bribes. If you have problems with thieves while in West Portage, don't go and see him. [If you ask me, the gnome is delusional. DS.]
The only sight worth seeing in West Portage is by far the marvellous docks. Or more precisely, the mechanism at the docks which allows entire sailing ships to be raised onto large wagons. The device, which was constructed by Dresel Ratchethook, a fellow gnome I'm proud to say, is a large tower at least 10 floors in height. Dresel calls his machine a "krane."
The top floor of the krane has several solid beams extending out into the air for about 40 feet. Large counterweights and magic help make sure these beams don't fall. Attached to the beams are several pulleys and ropes, which are lowered down onto the ship and tied to the hull in various places. Over a hundred horses then pull on the ropes, lifting the ship out of the water and into the air. I must say, it is quite the sight to see a large sailing ship just swinging in the air over the water.
Then, the top of the krane turns around, thanks to steam-powered machineries, various cranks and wheels, as well as the power of over a hundred men pulling ropes along the shore, until the ship is resting over these large berth-like wagons, also made by Dresel. The horses then move back, lowering the ship onto the wagon. Most of the horses are then attached to the berth-wagons, and pull it across the Isle of Dawn. It is mainly because so many horses and men are involved that the cost for such a voyage is exorbitant. But I must say, it does indeed include a good show with the trip.