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WEST PORTAGE (Barony of)

Location: Western half of the neck of the Isle of Dawn. SD

Area: 9,977 sq. mi. (25,840 sq. km.).

Population: 10,000, including 5,000 at the capital of West Portage.

Languages: Thyatian (Thyatian dialect official, Redstone dialect also common), Alphatian (Hillvale dialect), Thothian.

Coinage: Thyatian Standard: emperor (pp), lucin (gp), asterius (sp), denarius (cp). Alphatian coins are also very common: crown (gp), mirror (sp), judge (cp).

Taxes: 25% income tax collected quarterly on the aristocracy, nobility, and wealthy; 20% income tax collected quarterly on everyone else (Va. 1, Ya. 1, Fy. 3, and Ei. 1). Thyatians abroad must still pay their taxes. Expensive and magical items are also taxed 25% of their worth. 10% imperial commercia sales tax on all goods except food, clothing, and fixed assets; levied on imports, rebated on exports. Tax on slave owning equal to 50% of the slave's value annually. Property tax levied based on quality of land, roughly 6% of its value annually.

Government Type: Dominion, member of the Thyatian Empire.

Industries: Trade, especially portage of goods from West Portage to East Portage.

Important Figures: Jules Docerius (Captain of the Garrison, human, male, F12), Periandra Docerius (Baroness, human, female, F12).

Flora and Fauna: Due to its proximity to the Great Escarpment, all manner of creature types may be found wandering into the barony.

Further Reading: M5 Talons of Night, Dawn of the Emperors boxed set, previous almanacs.

Description by Stefania Torion.

The community of West Portage, 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, who thoroughly ravaged it during their occupation. West Portage is a trading town and 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.

The Land

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 is situated on the shortest overland pass 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. Those 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.].

Off the coast of the town itself is a long island running parallel to the shore in the shallows. A lighthouse known as O'Connor's Light is built at its northern end, guiding ships to the harbour of West Portage. This island helps protect the land from the worst effects of storms blowing in off Seawolf Bay.

The People

The inhabitants of West Portage are open, cosmopolitan people, busily employed in the resurgent trade. Right now there are few idle hands, and more people are needed simply to keep up with the growing traffic. Thus, West Portage welcomes new colonists.

Because of the presence of rich traders, thievery is high in the town, mainly confidence games. Up until AC 1009, when Emperor Thincol I made Docerius baroness of the region, the Province of West Portage was unofficially known as the city of thieves. Docerius replaced the former ruler, Lareth Kubek, when he was executed by Alphatian invaders during the Great War. At that point, the thieves came out of the woodwork. It took the baroness almost two years to get things back under control.

Most people work either at the docks, or as guards and caravan drovers along the Crossdawn Road. Most residents can speak both Thyatian and Alphatian, but are firmly devoted to the former empire. Recently Baroness Docerius was involved in the plot to join the rebel faction in the War of the Crown rebellion. The baroness was arrested in Redstone Castle. Loyalist forces moved into West Portage, and most tellingly no one raised a sword to defend their treasonous ruler. Captain Jules Docerius, the baroness's nephew, now administers the city as temporary ruler. Previous reports of his drinking and corruption seem to have been exaggerated, for he has governed ably in the short time he has been in charge, or so we are led to believe.

Don't Miss

The main sites worth seeing in West Portage are the marvellous docks. There is a mechanism at the docks which 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 stories high. 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 the 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 barge-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.