Skuld

Size: City

Population: 70,000 (Human – Mulan) plus 30,000 slaves (60% Human – Mulan, 40% Other – Various)

Ruler: Fakh-Ab Ceianre Calliant (Neutral, Human – Mulan, Magic User 5), Precept of Skuld.

 

Overview

The city of Skuld was the first settlement of Mulhorand to be established and was the personal demesne of the godking Ra. Over time more godkings made their homes in Skuld as the nation solidified into an empire, from this the City of the Gods came to exist. Around the City of the Gods an enormous city grew to become what is known today as Skuld.

Skuld occupies the entire mouth of the River of Shadows, straddling both sides of the river. The districts north of the river are the more opulent districts and tend to house only those of Mulhorandi origin or those with permits to travel into wider Mulhorand. The districts south of the river are open to foreigners via the port and so are not maintained to the same standards as those near the City of the Gods.

 

Life and Society

A walk through Skuld is like a tale of two different cities. To the north of the River of Shadows, the city of Skuld is filled with towering monuments, huge palatial temples, ordered streets, and ornate buildings. To the south are the rough and temple districts where foreign merchants ply their wares on busy dock, thieves plague back alleys, and a ramshackle sprawls spreads over the land like other Mulhorandi cities.

City of the Gods: This district has its own inner wall of solid marble that is thicker and taller than the outer wall of Skuld. Entry into the City of the Gods is only through a single gate (Speaker’s Gate) facing the River of Shadows and shaped like the solar circle of Horus-Re’s symbol which is heavily guarded by Chessentan mercenaries (as is the walls of the City of the Gods – although they are not allowed within the district itself), and through which priests of Horus-Re emerge to deliver proclamations.

Only the godkings and their mortal servants (priests of one of the state sponsored churches) are permitted to walk the streets of the City of the Gods, others must have express permission from the Vizier and are escorted through the streets by the Guardians of Skuld who regularly patrols here.

The City of the Gods is filled entirely with temples and the former demesnes (tall white towers) of the godkings of Mulhorand, there are no other buildings allowed within the district. The grandest structure is the Solarium, the centre of Mulhorand’s government, the high temple of Horus-Re, and the home of the Pharaoh. The tallest structure is the Tower of Ra which stands just inside Heaven’s Gate.

Central District: The Madawkarme (Central District) covers much of the city of Skuld, spanning both sides of the river (linked by numerous bridges), and almost completely surrounding all the other districts within the city. The Central District is almost completely open on its southern side, while the northern side is surrounded by a large granite bulwark with a single gate in the eastern wall.

The southern half of the Central District houses the vast majority of slaves and citizens of Skuld in a sprawl of decrepit slums and ramshackle hovels that are hastily erected and poorly maintained. The northern half contains the majority of dwellings for the nobility and their privileged slaves as well as newer dwellings for the growing merchant families of Mulhorand and mercenaries from Chessenta.

Life in the Central District is stifling and busy, with cramped conditions being common (even in the northern half). During the morning hours everyone heads off to their place of work and the district becomes largely empty during the day. Of an evening most people return to their homes and the district comes to life once more.

Despite foreigners being largely unable to venture into this district (unless they apply for a permit), there is a growing service industry in the Central District that is catering to the slow encroachment of foreign lifestyles into Skuld. Brothels, gambling dens, taverns, and festhalls are starting to appear in the Central District to attract the locals, Inns are expressly forbidden here however.

Merchant District: This walled compound; known as Sawekarme, is one of only two districts that are freely accessible to foreigners and has a bridge leading directly to the Sea District where traders regularly arrive from Inner Sea lands to sell their wares. The Merchant District is home to the vast majority of Skuld’s businesses, with craftsmen, merchant houses, inns, and other services all present in great number here.

The Merchant District is a bustle of activity during the day and night, with legitimate trading activities happening in daylight, and illicit gambling and “other” activities occur after dark. This district is heavily patrolled by the Pehtemi (militia) of Skuld who seek to keep law and order and prevent crime from impeding trade, while also ensuring the foreigners stay confined to the Merchant and Sea Districts, the gates leading out of the Merchant District are guarded by skilled and well armed mercenaries from Chessenta.

Sea District: Kaothkarme is the major harbour in Skuld (the other harbour houses the navy of Mulhorand and is strictly off limits to all but military personnel), ships out of Messemprar and Bezantur regularly dock here to buy and sell goods, although the volume of traffic is nowhere near the levels experienced by Sultim and this is due to the excessive tolls for using the harbour.

The Sea District is utter chaos during the day. Ships dock and gangs of slaves unload all their cargo and carry it to the Warehouse District, while the traders head to the Merchant District to buy more goods which are also held in the Warehouse District and then loaded by gangs of slaves onto the ship. Crime is common-place, with a percentage of every load simply vanishing en-route to the Warehouse District, muggings and murders occurring daily, and yet the Sea District has almost no Pehtemi presence (only the gates into the rest of Skuld are guarded – heavily so).

Warehouse District: Hiraltkarme is part of the large urban sprawl that comprises the southern half of the Central District. It is unwalled and largely undefended (except for the warehouses themselves), with only occasional Pehtemi patrols sent here to clean out the undesirable elements.

The vast majority of inhabitants in this region are slaves who work in the Sea District or for poorer merchants and other citizens. The buildings are for the most part, little more than sunken mud hovels spaced haphazardly in whatever arrangement the builders felt like at the time.

Poverty is endemic in this district and crime is relatively low as slaves have little of worth. Slaves work in gangs for their merchant masters, constantly loading and unloading ships whatever the time of day.

Soldiers District: Meshakarme is located in the far northwestern corner of Skuld adjacent to the Bay of Shadows. It is home to the barracks for the Pehtemi of Skuld and many of the temporary Chessentan mercenaries that supplement the defensive capability of Mulhorand’s militia and army.

The Soldier District is also home to the naval dockyards of Mulhorand, and 20 moldering ships which have not been seen outside the Bay of Shadows in a generation (and many whisper are no longer sea-worthy).

This district is highly ordered, with little or no crime, as only authorized personnel are permitted inside its walls.

Soul District: Kabahkarme is the graveyard of Skuld, although it is only open to the nobility of Mulhorand’s capital city. This tiny district sits adjacent to the Merchant District on the north side of the River of Shadows, and it runs alongside the river for almost a mile.

Ornate pyramid tombs are the primary building type in this district. There is one huge and ancient pyramid for each of the major houses of Mulhorand, and smaller pyramids of more recent construction for branch houses abut the larger pyramids or are built atop long extinct branch houses (giving some of the smaller pyramids an odd barbed arrow head appearance).

In a far off corner are ancient mud brick domes sunk into the ground that are tombs of the Turami who lived here before the Mulan (and the Mulan when they first founded Skuld – before discovering the Land of the Dead). These tombs lead into a warren of tunnels and chambers beneath the city where the ancient Turami buried their dead.

The Soul District is deserted most of the time except for those coming to visit the tombs, but most Mulan revere their ancestors in the homes rather than at the place of interment.

 

Law and Order

Skuld obeys all the laws as determined by the Code of Ra, actions that hinder the gods, their descendants, and their property are illegal and must be punished.

Skuld differs from most other places in Mulhorand in that it is especially harsh of punishments towards foreigners. A foreigner will find that almost every crime is punishable by death (although with sufficient coin one can appeal to one of the High Magistrates of Osiris and often find clemency in the form of permanent banishment).

Murder, theft, trespass, falsehoods, blasphemy, all carry the death penalty if made against the gods (a priest or the Church being the victim), or their descendants (any nobleman being the victim).

Among skuldians the crimes and punishments are much more in line with the Code of Ra; murder carries the death penalty, while other crimes against a person of higher station incur maiming and or slavery, crimes against a person of equal station incur fines (and slavery for non-payment of fines), and crimes against a person of equal station typically go unheard.

 

Politics

Skuld is the political centre of Mulhorand, all decisions of government policy are ultimately made here in Skuld, and other regional centres then attempt to implement that policy.

Fakh-Ab Ceianre Calliant (Neutral, Human – Mulan, Magic User 5) is the recently appointed Precept of Skuld (in return for his family’s support of Rezim’s more extreme policies. Ceianre has the responsibility to maintain law and order in Skuld, the power to appoint officials from the various local temples to collect the various tariffs of central government, and the power to increase tariffs above the level dictated by the Ministries of government.

Who Really Rules: Skuld is the capital city of Mulhorand and the Pharaoh resides in the Solarium in the City of the Gods. The Pharaoh has the ultimate power to override any decision made by any local or central government official (including the Precept of Skuld), thankfully interference such as this in the power of the Precept occurs very rarely (to do so would dishonour the official, his family, and his affiliated church if he has one).

In reality, Ceianre has little experience as Precept and always defers to the advice of his patron; Vizier Rezim Helcalliant. Rezim is far too busy to micromanage all aspects of Skuld’s regional government for Ceianre, and so the Precept is left to make most of the decisions for himself, however, when Rezim desires something he need only whisper to Ceianre who will ensure it is given without question.

 

Defence

The Mulhorandi boast that Skuld is one of the most well defended cities in Faerun, and that its walls have never been conquered by a foreign power (however pirates and other individuals have been known to bypass the walls to wreak havoc upon the city and it’s inhabitants). Skuld is protected by a stout wall over 15 feet high made of magically shaped granite (not individual blocks but a single formed piece of granite that surrounds much of the city). Each district inside the city is protected by a low stone granite wall 5 ft in height, while the City of the Gods has a wall which is a towering 30 feet high, made of a brilliant white stone of unknown origin.

Legion of Dawn: The city of Skuld most often has a full Legion of Dawn (792 strong) stationed in Skuld in the Soldier’s District when not on duty. These professional soldiers spend much of their time patrolling the surrounding lands for several days ride, but they are forbidden from entering the rest of the city while on duty, this is a punishment for their repeated failures over the past few centuries.

Pehtemi: Skuld has a part-time militia force some 3,000 strong. The armament of these citizens is rather haphazard (standard issue equipment is a wooden hammer and white tabard) as most militia supply their own armaments. Experience is also highly irregular, new recruits are required only to be able to stand upright, read and write, and swing a hammer, so combat skills vary between individuals.

The Pehtemi are assigned to districts (about 400 in each), with competition between the districts running high to ensure they have the highest detention rates for crimes (although they are careful not to wrongfully detain people and incur the wrath of the Magistrates of Osiris).

Individuals accused of a crime are detained (with force if necessary) until a Magistrate of Osiris arrives to determine the nature of the crime and the punishment required. Foreigners are always treated with more force than native Mulan, and are generally believed to be guilty of any crime they are accused of.

City Guard: Since the rebellion of Thay, the Church of Anhur has suffered much ignominy and dishonor as they failed to quell the initial rebellion, failed to retake Thay, and during Thay’s second invasion of Mulhorand they allowed the Thayvians to raid much of Murghom and nearly conquer Sultim.

In punishment for their failings, the defence of Skuld is left to foreign mercenaries; most of them from Chessenta. Rezim has been particularly vocal in his admonishment of the Church of Anhur and has not only prevented the church from defending Skuld, he has also banned the Order of Watchful Lions from walking the streets of the City of the Gods (they can still man the walls of that district though).

There are over 600 mercenaries manning the outer wall of Skuld. They spend much of their time in the Soldier’s District while on duty or in the Merchant District taking advantage of the services available. When off duty the mercenaries are forbidden from carrying arms (without a permit) or casting spells, but on duty they are exempt from many of the rules restricting most in Mulhorand (for instance, the mercenaries are allowed to cast spells without becoming acolytes of the Church of Thoth).

The City Guard is commanded by Teldartham (Neutral, Human – Chondathan, Warrior 5) who has been named Meshakir (Master of the Sword) of the city of Skuld. This title was formerly held by a priest of the Church of Anhur, but is now held by a mercenary captain from Chessenta in a direct slight against the Anhurites. All members of the city guard are armed in leather armour covered with bands of metal for added protection, a round metal shield, and a short stabbing short. As mercenaries, most members of the city guard also carry additional personal weapons that cater to their preferences such as short spears, axes, maces, etc (almost anything is possible).

The Order of Watchful Lions are housed in the Soldiers District with the mercenaries, but rather than antagonize one another, the two groups have a competitive rivalry between them. The skill and discipline of the members of the Order have impressed many of the mercenaries and more than a few have converted to the worship of Anhur over the last fifty years.

Guardians of Skuld: The Guardians of Skuld is an ancient brotherhood formed in honour of the godkings Anhur, Isis, and Osiris and their followers who supposedly defended Skuld from the armies of Set during the War of the Gods. There are 200 Guardians of Skuld on active duty at any one time, they are all experienced warriors and armed with the best weapons available to their churches (the highest ranking or most experienced even have minor enchantments on their equipment).

The churches of Anhur, Isis, and Osiris send their most faithful warriors to Skuld to guard the City of the God district (for only the most holy individuals are allowed within the former home of the godkings). The Watchful Lions of Anhur, the Sisters of Life of Isis, and the Order of the Risen Sceptre of Osiris are prestigious groups that have been chosen to represent their church in the defence of Skuld.

In previous centuries the Guardians of Skuld have patrolled the walkways of the City of the Gods, manned the walls, and defended the Solarium and the Pharaoh, today the Watchful Lions are forbidden from walking the streets of the City of the Gods and so must defend the walls or the Solarium. Vizier Rezim Helcalli has removed this honour from the Watchful Lions as punishment for the repeated failures of the Church of Anhur, he is attempting to break apart the fellowship of the Guardians of Skuld and has ensured that while the Watchful Lions man the walls, the majority of the Order of the Risen Sceptre patrols the streets and the Sisters of Life mostly protect the Solarium.

 

Trade

Skuld is the central hub of Mulhorand’s politics, but its economy is rather sluggish in comparison to other Mulhorandi cities, driven largely by the government administration’s desire for isolation from the rest of the world.

Foreigners are allowed only limited access to Mulhorand, requiring an expensive permit to leave the foreign districts of port cities. Foreign merchants most often arrive in Skuld via ship into the Sea District which charges expensive fees to dock and have cargo unloaded. These fees work as designed to reduce the numbers of foreign merchants so that only the richest, exclusive (and well behaved) are allowed in.

Land based trade comes in from the road to Maerlar and carries only Mulhorandi traders (including those from Murghom) or those licensed traders from Durpar, Semphar, and Unther. There are also a growing number of traders from Thay who have purchased a licence through intermediaries (at exhorbitant cost) and masquerade as Mulhorandi traders for safety

The best goods are still brought to Skuld to fetch the highest prices from decadent government officials and nobles, but Skuld produces very little of value itself as the common folk find it increasingly difficult to afford life in the capital. The official licenced markets in the Merchant District are grand theatres with a few wares on show and skilled buyers and sellers haggling over prices while slaves rush to the Warehouse District to get orders loaded onto ships.

 

Important NPCs

Ceianre Calliant (Neutral, Human – Mulan, Magic User 5): Ceianre Calliant is a minor scion of the noble House of Calli, founded by the godking Ra. Recently appointed to the position of Prefect of Skuld, Ceianre is keen to do well for his family honour, but he has no real interest in administration, nor does he have any skill at compromising or political intrigue.

Ceianre’s only real interest in life is women, particularly women from foreign lands. He regularly disguises himself and slips out of the City of the Gods so that he can visit the brothels and festhalls that have sprung up in the Merchant and Sea Districts in recent decades.

Ramasteth Ankhua (Neutral, Human – Mulan, Magic User 3): The second son of a merchant family who operates out of the Merchant District of Skuld.

Ramasteth learned the magical arts at the Arcanum of Magic in the Nelar Elhash (wizards) college and has just finished his studies and returned to his family who seek to use his skills to their advantage.

Ramasteth is already starting to chafe under the restrictions imposed by the Church of Thoth; he has to produce a magical potion or scroll that allows understanding of a foreign language by years end or suffer a fine from the Ministry of Wisdom.

Ramasteth’s exposure to foreigners in the Merchant District has given him the idea to pursue an adventuring career. His skill with linguistics is so advanced that he can read and write fluently in over 10 different languages (he even understands a smattering of Roushoum), he has had interest from several foreign parties who are looking for a local to help them explore ancient ruins (if they can get a permit to enter Mulhorand).

 

Important Sites

The Bay of Shadows: The Bay of Shadows is a 5 mile wide coastal inlet upon whose inner shore Skuld is built. It is surrounded by the Godswall which is an ancient (and now slightly eroded) wall built 3 miles out to sea at the mouth of the bay that protects Skuld from pirates, sahuagin, and other dangers.

The Bay of Shadows contains the entire fleet of Mulhorand (rumoured to number only 20 ships) that are sworn to protect Skuld and the Gods above all. Ship traffic into Skuld is limited by the Godswall as only licensed merchants are allowed within.

The waters of the Bay of Shadows are dark and murky, polluted by the waste from the City of Skuld, and from the hulks of pirate vessels that have sank inside the walls. Locals do not venture into the waters of the bay for fear of the drowned pirates that may come and drag them down into the waters with them.

The Godswall: The Godswall is the barrier that surrounds the Bay of Shadows. It is a low, convex, stone barrier that is over 20 feet wide, rises 10 feet above the water line, and extends across the length of the bay except for a 200 feet section in the middle known as the Seagate, where stone barriers are pushed (by slaves) to cover the opening. Originally great turnstiles were used to move both halves of the Seagate into place but these have long since broken and now slaves are used in its place.

The Godswall has protected Skuld from numerous tsunami and pirate raids, more importantly it allows the rulers of Skuld to control who is allowed to enter into the city from foreign lands and who is allowed to leave.

On the left arm of the wall is a tall tower, constructed from melded stone (melded by the magic of the godkings). Atop the tower is a beacon regularly tended by slaves to aid merchant vessels in the rough and dangerous waters of the Alamber Sea. The lighthouse used to be home to the Beacon of Light, but it was stolen by pirates in 1280 DR while Thay was invading the northern provinces of Mulhorand.

City of the Gods: Within the city of Skuld is another walled city, home to the palatial estates of all the Gods of Mulhorand. Almost every God of Mulhorand had a huge temple pyramid palace in this city with tall towers atop them to allow the gods to oversee their creation. The City of the Gods is now largely deserted save for the Pharaoh’s Palace, the only people allowed inside the city now are priests (and their attending slaves).

Speaker’s Gate: Known as Sebehk Shuer, this is the gate into the City of the Gods (shaped like the solar circle in Horus-Re’s symbol with a bronze gong hanging from the arch), and it is from here that government officials come to make announcements to the general population. Announcements are relatively rare (signaled by the large bronze gong hanging from the gate), but huge crowds assemble to hear the Pharaoh or Vizier (or more usually) a lesser government official declare an important event.

Speaker’s Gate is flanked on either side by the Tower of the Sun (Ra’s former palace), and the Tower of the Dawn (Horus-Re’s former palace). Neither tower has been used in years, but they are the largest structures in Skuld and dwarf all other buildings in the city scape.

The Solarium: The high temple of Horus-Re, and palace of the Pharaoh. This building resembles a magnificent pyramid with the entire top half made of a gleaming crystalline glass, surrounded by a ring of towers in alternating pink and white marble, with elevated walkways (unrailed) between the towers.

The Solarium is not inside the City of the Gods proper, and instead is in a walled compound adjacent to the district, with guarded tunnel access between the two. The Government District as it is informally known holds the Solarium, the private residences of the Vizier and the Pharaoh as well as the Lake of Shadows that sits just outside the Solarium.

The Solarium contains a huge number of chambers that deal with the central administration of Mulhorand; meeting rooms, archives, offices, etc. The main chamber is the Ustakhan (the Throne Room) where the Pharaoh sits atop the Sun Throne most days at court, light from the crystal cap of the Solarium is magnified and shines directly onto the Sun Throne, often blinding the courtiers. Arranged around the Ustakhan are the crystal cases (sealed by magic to prevent theft) that display many of the sacred treasures of Mulhorand.

Another important room is the Utunkhan (the Measuring Room), where the Pharaohs daily movements are weighed and measured to ensure his health and well being, it is also where the Solar Council meet to advise the Pharaoh on current events and matters of policy.

Tower of the Sun: The Tower of the Sun is the tallest and grandest palace in the City of the Gods, standing at a towering 600 feet tall at the spire of the tower atop the sloped pyramid. It was home to Ra, the founder of Mulhorand, and it is believed his corpse was interred here despite his wish to be buried in the Land of the Dead. It is possible a number of Ra’s possessions may still reside within the tower, but none except the Divine Pharaoh himself (Horus-Re), who has not been seen in a millennia, are permitted access

None have entered the tower since Mulhorand’s civil war, when Horus entered and emerged as Horus-Re. None know precisely what events took place that day, or precisely where Ra is buried, but it is believed Horus merged himself with Ra’s energy (and was thus allowed to sit upon the Sun Throne without suffering the same fate as Osiris).

There are rumours of tunnels linking the Tower of the Sun with Horus’ former palace (now the Solarium), and even more secret tunnels linking the Tower of the Sun and the Tower of the Dawn.

Tower of the Dawn: The temple palace of Horus-Re stands opposite the Tower of the Sun beside the gates of the City of the Gods. It is the second highest tower and grandest of all the palaces as befits the home of the Pharaoh of Mulhorand.

Records indicate that Horus once occupied a much smaller palace on the far side of the City of the Gods, the palace in question still remains but has long since been converted to the Solarium where the centre of Muhorand’s government now resides. Whispers say that the new palace of Horus-Re was built when he became Divine Pharaoh of Mulhorand and is constructed atop the ruins of the Tower of Set, furthermore, people say that there are undiscovered catacombs and tunnels beneath the Tower of the Dawn which were part of Set’s palace and that they lead to the Tower of the Sun and beyond, and may hold some of the ancient works of Set.

Library of the Gods: Shefalt Laren; known as the Old Library to the inhabitants of Skuld, is home to the gathered works of the Laren of Mulhorand. Here all the ancient musings, poems, rhymes, bedtime stories, and holy scriptures penned by all the Laren are stored. Most of the scrolls are so ancient they would crumble to dust if handled or moved from this ancient vault.

Hidden in the deepest vaults of this steppe pyramid are books written in Roushoum; the language of Imaskar, and in one archway is a long forgotten portal to the catacombs beneath the ruins of the former provincial palace in Delhumide.

The Imperial Portal: This portal is one of the few portals crafted by the Mulhorandi themselves (only Keoth Amsetis, Nezram, and a handful of others knew how), leading from the Old Library in Skuld to the Tower of the Guardian in Delhumide where the Guardian of the Land Where Dead Sleep watched over the place where Ra fell in battle and one of the greatest battlefield graveyards in Faerun.

Central District: The Madawkarme is the largest district in Skuld and occupies all other space in the city not already part of another district. It spans both sides of the River of Shadows and is linked by great stone arches that rise high above the wide river.

The majority of Mulhorand’s population dwells in the Central District. The northern half of the district is home to most of the regular citizens and nobility (and their slaves), with larger buildings and narrow streets (the buildings get smaller and the streets narrower the closer one gets to the river), and the patchwork repairs and mismatch of stonework that plagues all other districts of the city (except for the City of the Gods) is evident even here.

South of the city is the relatively (now over 1000 years old) portions of the city that have grown as a result of trade with other Inner Sea nations. This part of the city is surrounded only by a earthen bank wall about 3 feet in height, and is full of large communal houses for slaves and even larger warehouses.

Caravan Quarter: Situated next to the Great Gatehouse (the only road entrance into Skuld), this subsection of the Central District caters to the caravans that arrive from Maerlar. It is home to a large number of inns, wheelwrights, carpenters, etc, and provides everything a caravan master might need. Fees in this region of the city are much lower than the Merchant District (as it is mostly Mulhorandi, Murghom, or Durpari caravans arriving via this route) and the caravan masters and their crew tend to remain confined to this walled compound.

The Great Arena: Fadun Geshra, the Great Circle of Games is little more than a large dirt bowl ringed by stone steps, located by the River of Shadows in the far western edge of the city. It was once used for racing chariots in the days of the godkings, but that practice has long been on the decline. More recently, with the arrival of mercenaries from Chessenta, the arena has become home to athletic events and mock gladiatorial combats which the Mulhorandi watch for entertainment and even compete in (although they more often than not lose many of these competitions to the more athletically minded Chessentans).

Merchant District: The Merchant District is home to the great markets of Skuld, here it is said that a man can buy almost anything (even illegal items) if he has sufficient coin. The Merchant District is also home to the majority of Skuld’s service industry, with inns, taverns, shops (and hidden gambling dens, fighting pits, brothels, etc) spread all over the district to cater to the needs and tastes of foreign merchants.

Gods Market: In the very centre of the district is a great plateau filled with hundreds of stalls that contain goods from all over Mulhorand (and neighbouring lands). Only a small number of wares are on display, the bulk of goods are located in the Warehouse District, merchant buy and sell as they desire and slaves load and unload the goods from the warehouses onto ships.

Sea District: The Sea District occupies the far south western corner of the city, on the southern side of the River of Shadows. It is protected by its own district wall but is cut off from the rest of the city by a single gate (the Bridge Gate).

The Sea District is home to the merchant docks of Skuld, a diminishing harbor where a small but regular number of ships from Thay and Chessenta arrive to ply their wares. The Sea District is generally full of foreign merchants who stay in the few low quality inns, it is also filled with slaves from the nearby Warehouse District who load and unload cargo from the ships.

Bridge Gate: A single narrow bridge connects the Sea District to the Merchant District, at the far end of the bridge (on the north side of the River of Shadows) is a large reinforced bridge guarded by over 30 mercenaries from Chessenta.

The authorities in Skuld use the Bridge Gate to strictly control the presence of unlicensed foreigners within Mulhorand’s capital. Everyone attempting to access the Merchant District via the Bridge Gate is searched and made to account for their business within Skuld. Exit from the Merchant District via other gates is also strictly controlled and only those possessing a licence to access the rest of Mulhorand allowed through.

With the rise in foreign influence on Mulhorand’s culture and the increased rumours of Set’s followers within Skuld, the Vizier is considering whether to shut the Bridge Gate to all foreigners to further limit their access to Skuld’s native population. If the Bridge Gate were closed, it is unlikely that the current number of inns and housing within the Sea District would be sufficient to house their number, this could lead to unrest within that district or a decrease in seagoing trade arriving in Skuld.

Soldiers District: The Soldiers District is located in the far north western corner of the city. The Soldiers District houses the barracks and armouries where the armaments of the guard and the pehtemi are stored, it is also home to the mercenaries from Chessenta and the newer Guardians of Skuld (who have not settled in Skuld), and as a result has a number of inns, taverns, and shops that cater to these foreign soldiers.

Battlestorm Temple: The temple of Anhur located in Skuld, led by Mithresh Kaldieron (Good, Human – Mulan, Warrior 8), who has studied fighting techniques in far off places such as the Great Rift and Luiren. This temple of Anhur provides much instruction and training to the local population (for a nominal fee), as well as other services (weapon maintenance, bodyguard services, martial arts lessons) and the more regular religious services.

Battlestorm Temple is incredibly popular among the locals of Skuld because of Mithresh’s influence, he treats citizens and nobility equally, providing services with a fee that most can afford, he is widely respected for his combat skills and for his compassion towards everyone.

Guard Hill: This minor stone fortress is the central hub for all military and defensive activity within Skuld. From here Teldartham organizes the defence of the walls and meets with the captains of each district pehtemi to discuss current issues of defence.

Guard Hill is also home to one of the greatest stockpiles of weapons and armour in Mulhorand outside of the Blood Fortress of Sultim. The swords, shields and armour for nearly 2000 warriors is stored in the chambers beneath this small hillock, although many of them have not been particularly well maintained for several decades.

Pharaohs Harbour: This large and rotting dockyard is home to 20 ancient galleys of antiquated design (a single deck and bank of oars) that belong to Mulhorand’s navy known as the Sun Tridents, and have not left their moorings in over 30 years.

The Pharaohs Harbour is strictly off limits to non military personnel, and there is a unit of 100 mercenaries (with over 500 slaves to man the oars) assigned to the Sun Tridents that are picked for their seamanship experience.

Soul District: Kabahkarme houses the burial grounds of the city. Originally it was situated outside the city, but over time the Central District has spread further south and now surrounds it.

The Soul District is filled with pyramidal structures of a variety of sizes. The three largest pyramids are communal structures used to bury the dead of nobility, commoners, and slaves. The large noble families have long since taken to constructing their own family pyramids in the Land of the Dead (as have the richest merchants), and so the noble pyramid is used mostly by minor branch families – each purchasing a chamber and having their relatives interred within stone sarchophagi. Commoners and slaves are unceremoniously stacked in stone, wooden, or wicker sarcophagi. The pyramids were filled long ago and the Guardians of Osiris regularly clean out chambers whose inhabitants are nothing but dust, ready to be refilled.

The Soul District was built atop a far more ancient graveyard used by the Turami who once lived here before the Mulan and before the Imaskari. The catacombs are the preserved burial chambers of the Turami (and early Mulan settlers) which line the miles of tunnels that snake their way under the city of Skuld. It is forbidden to construct cellars within Skuld (without permission from the Precept) because there have been several collapses caused when a building was extended downwards and collapsed into the catacombs beneath it.

Catacombs: This ornate stone building was constructed atop the well that leads deep underground to the ancient burial chambers of the Turami. It is believed the Turami carved these tombs and tunnels into the sides of a fissure in the ground that has long since closed over.

Miles of tunnels travel under the city of Skuld, most of them following the northern bank of the river, but at times branching far out in random directions (presumably following the fissure before it closed). Chambers line the tunnels on both sides where small depressions into the rock hold the now rotted remains of people inside wicker baskets (forced into the foetal position) with their most treasured belonging alongside them.

The Guardians and Watchers of Osiris sporadically patrol the uppermost tunnels of the catacombs because of monsters and undead creatures that have occasionally emerged from the catacombs to wreak havoc upon Skuld. A few brave (and illegal) explorers say that there are nefarious organisations operating from within the catacombs and that the deepest tunnels are of an oddly inhuman design filled with the bones of serpents.

Lastly, there are rumours of a colossal, sail-less, oar-less ship buried at the bottom of the catacombs, presumably interred here when the ravine was opened. Reports of those madmen who claim to have encountered this ship is that it is full of early Mulhorandi architecture and symbology, made entirely of metal (which most theorise makes it unseaworthy), and hovers a clear foot above the chamber floor in which it rests.

Warehouse District: This “district” is little more than a sprawl of hovels and warehouses outside the city and unprotected by its high walls. The Warehouse District grew out of necessity when trade between nations of the Inner Sea began to grow and the Sea District grew too large for the walls around and the warehouses were moved outside among the urban sprawl growing south of the River of Shadows.

The Warehouse District is home to large gangs of slaves housed in warehouses that they are responsible for (thefts from a warehouse incurs punishment to all slaves living there), as well as those free citizens unable to buy a house (at exorbitant cost) within the safety of Skuld’s city walls.

The Warehouse District has no wall, and limited access to the rest of Skuld (the Central District) via secured bridges with barred gates known as the Bridges of Shadows. Only those who can prove they are Mulhorandi citizens are allowed through the gates (which have 10 mercenaries on guard), although tethered gangs of slaves are often let through without question, and mercenaries are occasionally open to bribes (although mercenaries in Skuld less so because of the excellent wages and the favoured position they occupy within society). The only other gate into the city is known as the Slave Gate into the Sea District, this gate is strictly for slaves only.

Bountiful Joy: The temple of Isis located in Skuld.

The Angry Coxswain Portal: This one-way keyed portal links the Angry Coxswain alehouse (D67) with a prison cell in a slave market in the Mulhorandi city of Skuld. This portal is employed by two slavers—the innkeeper Ramas Shehepset (NE male Mulan human expert 5) and the house brewmaster Orth Ironchisel (LE male duergar expert 2/fighter 6). They dispatch captives through it and employ Drejjd of the Unseen to make it seem like the victims are still around.

 

Local Lore

Menacing Clouds: In the last 70 years there have been an increased number of sightings of odd looking clouds that appear to be between 3 and 10 ft in size (although some sightings report much larger clouds). These clouds are seen floating through the streets and into and out of deserted buildings, they also appear to follow people, and some sightings speak of the clouds having a red hue and pulsing into odd shapes (some even speak of teeth and claw shapes in the cloud).

In recent decades, a number of government officials have disappeared in Skuld, all appear to have been carrying sacred (magical) relics of Mulhorand and been on official government business. Senior officials believe that Thayvian agents may have infiltrated Mulhorand and are eliminating key individuals and stealing Mulhorand’s magic, the Vizier has proposed that foreigners be banned from all but the Sea District (by closing the Bridge Gate) to prevent the agents gaining access to the north side of the city.

Claws in the Dark: The catacombs of Skuld have long been home to lurking menaces of one description or another but a persistent rumour is that of a horde of cats that swarm up out of every hole, crack, and recess, before eviscerating lone noblemen and vanishing into the night.

The targets of these cat swarms are always evil noblemen from the Helcalliant or Neshar family, and always those with a role in government, leading some sages to believe that it is the magical workings of someone with a grudge against the Mulhorandi government or the Church of Nephthys.

The truth is likely to shock many in that the swarm of murderous cats were formed over a millennia ago after -59 DR when tribes of foreign tribes living in northern Mulhorand fought against their new neighbours in response to the murder of many of their shaman and elders. The cause of this unrest and the murders were ultimately laid at the feet of the Church of Bast (although a motive could never be established and only circumstantial evidence was found), and the families of those warriors slain during the unrest demanded restitution.

The priests of Bast were exiled (Bast herself chose self imposed exile) and many of her temples closed due to lack of members (only a few novices remained in the church as they were deemed to be innocent of any involvement). Some historians believe that the entire investigation was influenced by the Church of Horus-Re, who wished to expand its power and remove an ally of the rival Church of Anhur. Regardless of the cause, the result was a huge number of cats (animals favoured by Bast) began roaming the streets of Skuld and after a number of plagues (falsely attributed to the cats, but indirectly caused by them chasing rats from their nests in the catacombs) the priests of Horus-Re organized gangs to bludgeon the pests to death (citizens of Skuld are not permitted weapons).

Following the slaughter of several hundred cats, the catacombs have become home to ethereal swarms of feline that gladly slay any priest of Horus-Re who wanders into their home, and also swarm up on days sacred to the Church of Bast to target isolated individuals.

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