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West Portage (Barony of)
Location: Western half of the neck of the Isle of Dawn.
Area: 9,977 sq. mi. (25,840 sq. km.).
Population: 10,000, including 5,000 at the capital of West Portage.
Languages: Thyatian (Redstone dialect), Alphatian (Hillvale dialect).
Coinage: Emperor (5 gp), lucin (gp), asterius (sp), denarius (cp). Alphatian coins are also very common: crown (gp), mirror (sp), judge (cp).
Taxes: 25% income tax collected quarterly (Va. 1, Ya. 1, Fy. 3, and Ei. 1). Thyatians abroad must still pay their taxes. 5% imperial sales tax on all goods except food and clothing.
Government Type: Dominion under the jurisdiction of the Empire of Thyatis.
Industries: Agriculture, fishing, trade.
Important Figures: Jules Docerius (Captain of the Guard, human, male, F12), Periandra Docerius (Baroness, human, female, F12).
Flora and Fauna: This Thyatian provinces has the normal animals and plants found for lands of their climate and weather (which are too numerous to all list here).
Further Reading: M5 Talons of Night, Dawn of the Emperors boxed set, previous almanacs.
Description by Vivianna Romanones.
The community of West Portage, the capital of the province with the same name, is a small but bustling town of barely 5,000 people, mostly human. Though previous reports described West Portage as poor, this was mainly due to the results of the recent war and the sack of the town by the Alphatians. West Portage has largely recovered, and is prospering from the general increase in trade and prosperity in the region. Many new buildings are under construction, and old ones have been repaired. This year the baroness started construction on a series of fortifications intended to defend the port town.
West Portage thrives because of its position at the neck of the Isle of Dawn. Located on the northern shores of calm Seawolf Bay, West Portage exists because it lies on the shortest overland pass from this side to the eastern half of the Isle of Dawn. Those merchants who prefer not to sail all the way around the whole Isle of Dawn can put in at West Portage and cart their cargoes across to East Portage. Merchants using the overland route are charged a fee in exchange for the service, but it saves time for many traders, and time is money. Whole ships can be lifted onto huge wagons and brought across the island. Some wild-eyed dreamers propose the construction of a canal from time to time, ignoring the difficulty of carving one through the hills and linking two very different nations. Recently a dwarven visitor proposed that such a canal be constructed as a tunnel under the hills, rather than over them, but what do dwarves know of seamanship?
The portage route, known as the Crossdawn Road, was one of the most dangerous places on the isle in recent years. Increased patrols and the general post-war recovery have lessened this danger considerably, however. This was the first year in recent memory without a successful raid on a caravan [though there were still numerous unsuccessful attempts. Ed].
The inhabitants of West Portage are open, cosmopolitan people, busily employed in the resurgent trade. Right now there is almost no unemployment, and more hands are needed simply to keep up with the growing traffic.
Because of the presence of rich traders, thievery is high in the town, mainly confidence games. 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 previously had a very low crime rate. Docerius replaced the former ruler, Lareth Kubek, because he failed to deal with the invading Alphatians, having let the city's defences decay. At that point, the thieves came out of the woodwork. It took the baroness almost 2 years to get things back under control.
Kubek disappeared shortly after being replaced as ruler, and his current whereabouts are still unknown. Some say he's the hidden hand controlling the city's thieves.
Most people work either at the docks, or as guards and guides for the Crossdawn Road. Almost all are proud Thyatians, strongly loyal because of the rights of citizenship that the Alphatian occupiers deny them every time they invade. Most residents can speak both Thyatian and Alphatian, but are firmly devoted to the former empire. Captain Jules Docerius, the baroness's nephew, leads the town guard. Previous reports of his drinking and corruption seem to have been greatly exaggerated, for he has been in the forefront of recent efforts to clamp down on thievery.
The main sight worth seeing in West Portage is the marvellous docks. There is a mechanism at the docks that allows entire sailing ships to be raised onto large wagons. The device, constructed by the gnome Dresel Ratchethook, is a large tower at least 10 floors in height. Dresel calls his machine a krane.
The top floor of the krane consists of solid beams extending out into the air for about 40 feet. Large counterweights and magic help make sure these beams remain balanced. 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. It is quite a sight to see a large sailing ship swinging in the air over the water.
The top of the krane swivels around, powered by steam-driven mechanisms and various cranks and wheels, until the ship is resting over these large berth-like wagons, also designed 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.