Scene: Wayrest Harbor; this is the 18th of 2nd Seed, the year 4E 11. It is dusk, Magnus hangs low in the sky, narrowly dodging the steeples of the palace; out to sea, Secunda can already be seen to peek over the horizon though Masser is yet just a faint red glow. A Dreugh man-o’-war coasts into port, its dorsal sails collapsing and anchor paws seeking purchase in the muddy floor of the bay. A pair of Wayrest Navy cutters trail in its wake, their standards (a trio of cream-colored Elysanian Roses resplendent on azure field) flapping in the artificial breeze conjured by a coven of Navy weather-witches and their storm atronach thralls. As the leviathan comes to a stop at the docks, a dreugh merchant slides down from its carapace, its tentacles landing on the pier with an obscene squelching sound, and unfolds a packet of wax-sealed and waterproofed customs documents from a nook in its brother's armor. The stench of rotten fish guts and dreugh wax nearly threaten to overpower the Waterguard officer marching down the dock to inspect the goods stored within the man-o’-war’s gut, but he soldiers on dutifully, albeit with a somewhat martyred expression on his weathered face.
At a berth further along the dock, mercenaries from Hammerfell unload crates from a galleon; these are stamped with the slumbering moon of Sentinel and contain supplies and weaponry for the Orsinium campaign. Two of the mercenaries break into a heated argument with a guard in Wayrest livery; babbling furiously, they repeatedly point to their crates and then gesture in the direction of the castle while the guard impatiently shakes his head and points at a nearby storeroom, shouting at them in broken Yoku. One of the Raga fingers the hilt of his scimitar nervously; seeing this, the guard waves a hand in front of the pair and nods with satisfaction as their eyes become calm and blank, their bodies going curiously slack. The guard gestures again at the storehouse and repeats his order in his native tongue, and this time the mercenaries obediently begin to haul their cargo to the building indicated. The guard follows them a short way to ensure compliance, then resumes his patrol. A moment later, he is running toward a ramshackle tavern nearby, where a Knight of the Rose can be seen dueling with a member of the Lion Guard over some matter of honor while their comrades egg them on and cheerfully shout insults at one another.
Framing this scene is the city of Wayrest itself. An array of reed crannogs painted in the woad devices of the horse-people crowd the mudflats at the mouth of the Bjoulsae River; children laugh and splash in the shallows after crabs and gulls while their elders crouch in front of their huts, hawking bone jewelry, hides and bronze weapons to cityfolk and travelers alike. Tribesmen of the local river clan lazily swim between the posts of the crannogs and docks, their pallid flesh luminous in the fading light. Seizing upon an opportunity he has noticed, one climbs up into a nearby hut and snatches a brace of sea slugs from the wall there. The crannog's owner sees him and yells out in dismay, scattering his wares as he chases after the intruder. Laughing, the younger man stuffs a slug into his mouth and dives back into the water as his companions disappear beneath the waves. Further inland, squat earthen huts belonging to the local fisherfolk and dockhands huddle in the shadow of the city’s timbered walls, framing the city gate. The gate itself deserves special mention, a stone post-and-lintel construction in the native style dating back to the founding of Wayrest; the door is a newer addition, a monolithic bronze construction engraved with scenes of nature, hunting, and warfare. The centerpiece depicts a crowned knight surrounded by a halo of light, his boot on the throat of an antlered dragon. The knight’s shield is adorned by the three roses of Wayrest quartered with the harpy volant of the Earls of Cumberland.
You take in these sights and more as the vessel on which you have booked passage draws close to the harbor. Bypassing the paved stone commercial wharfs, the ship turns instead toward a rotten wooden passenger dock at the far end of the harbor. You tip a drake into the waiting hand of the ship’s Breton captain as you disembark; he winks and flashes an ebony tooth at you. Ahead of you, an Imperial scholar, his nose buried in a book, unexpectedly hits a patch of algae on the dock and yelps as he loses his footing and crashes headfirst into the waters of the Iliac. The ship’s crew laugh and loudly place wagers on whether he will be dredged out before the slaughterfish pick up his scent. The scholar wails and splashes about as a dockhand hastily extends a pole toward him. Taking care to watch your step, you approach a bored-looking census officer at the end of the pier. “The Pearl of the Iliac, eh? We’ve been expecting you lot for a few days now, but with these gods-damned corsairs everywhere, ‘tis no surprise you’ve been delayed.” He makes a tsking sound and spits a dark stream of hedgeleaf into the water, narrowly missing the head of the hapless Cyrodiil who is now struggling up a hemp-and-driftwood ladder which has been lowered down for him. The officer inserts a fresh plug into his cheek before resuming, “You’ve finally arrived, then, but our records don’t show from where…?”
An untidy line of exhausted passengers gathers in front of the census officer. One by one, he processes them: a caravan of Khajiit acrobats, the Senche-bodied among them pulling their luggage carts; a Raga knight returned from some distant campaign, the colors and sigil of his surcoat indistinguishable under layers of grime and blood; a scribe with the Direnni family, here to visit the markets to procure a rare red ink for his bookkeeping; and everywhere Bretons: swarthy farmers and fishermen, craftsmen and chefs with rugged hands, troubadours nervously picking at their instruments with pale fingers, magicians in court finery, druids in bark masks murmuring arcane formulae under their breath. One by one, they hand over their papers and are let off the dock, until just yourself and a handful of others, including a dreugh fishmonger, the sopping wet Imperial, and a Legion deserter trying and failing to blend in as a civilian, remain on the pier.
The officer looks warily over the ragged party before him, holding the witch-woman’s [ed: one of the players] leering gaze as long as he can before he finally looks at the ground, uncomfortable despite his training. Feigning a cough, the officer straightens his surcoat and bronze halfmask, and reassures himself that the hilt of his rapier is visibly jutting from his cream and azure plaid. Looking over the documents the captain had provided, “Captain didn’t report nearly this number of passengers on his manifest. Logged a few of you as cabbages and sacks of grain, did he? ‘Tis a fair bet your fine captain failed to present you with customs papers either, I suppose.” He looks over your shoulder at the already receding silhouette of the Pearl, and in exasperated tones, “Well, I suppose there’s no use in fussing about it here. Follow me to the Census House, please, my superior will get you lot straightened out. Come along now.” With military precision, he turns on his heel and marches toward the city gate.
As your party approaches, one of the watchmen signals your guide. “Hail, Sir Roland! When you’ve finished your errand, Master Bres has requested your assistance back in the harbor. Seems that a dreugh is trying to claim dipolomatic immunity in order to bring contraband into the city. Thrassian coral.” Behind his mask, the census officer rolls his eyes, but nods an affirmative and continues on. Standing before the gate, he raises a fist and raps three times between the roses of Emeric’s shield. After a brief pause, the shield splits in twain and swings inward, revealing a modest wicket gate. Roland beckons you inward: “Welcome to the city of Wayrest. This way please.”
The city gate opens onto the Grand Boulevard of Wayrest. Built on the coastal plains at the mouth of the Iliac, the city is sprawling and flat, built in a wide, horseshoe shape around the palace grounds. Lining the walls are more mud huts mirroring the ones along the outside, but the houses become larger and more lavish as they approach two points of interest: Wayrest Palace and Cumberland Square. The lower and middle class houses are half-timbered loam or brick infill with thatched or wooden roofs; further in, they make way for the bramble-manors of the lesser nobility, the wood frames replaced by a latticework of enchanted vines holding the earthen walls in place. In the wealthiest districts, loam walls are replaced by stucco and plaster and vines give way to still-living oak saplings, their branches guided by means both mundane and magical to support the walls and grow over the open roof, providing shelter to the house’s inhabitants. Moss and ivy grow in abundance in the damp climate, shooting up over the ground and between the cobblestones of the main road, and up the walls of the city’s buildings, and in many spots it can be difficult to see where the ground ends and a house begins. At the end of the boulevard, hundred-foot high hedgerows block your view of Castle Wayrest.
However, the census officer leads you not to one of these manor houses or to the castle, but instead to a squat stone roundhouse just within the gate, crested with a tattered Wayrest flag and a battered sign: County Wayrest Census and Excise Office. Once your party is inside, he briskly salutes the corpulent figure before him. “Sir! These travelers came into port this evening on the Pearl of the Iliac, but they were not listed on the ship’s passenger manifest and not one of them has travel papers. Nor did the captain pay the census tax before putting out to sea. What is your recommendation, sir?” At a rough-hewn oaken desk within the office, an elderly Breton glances up from his papers, his ruddy face catching the light from the hearth. The seams of his surcoat strain visibly under his girth as he stands up and slowly approaches the party. His gaze lingers on the mysterious knight in the sunburst helm [ed: another one of the players], and flickers to a Banish Daedra scroll on the far shelf before moving on to the next traveler.
After a long moment, he speaks in clipped military tones. “Very well. Here is the problem, as it stands. A captain of a passenger ship is expected to pay 50 drakes per head on every shipment he brings into harbor. Your captain failed to report you on the ship’s manifest, so that fee went unpaid in your case, a net loss of…” he quickly tallies you up, “350 septims for the Wayrest treasury. The easiest solution, as I see it, is for you all to simply pay the tax yourselves, along with a ten drake convenience fee, and I can supply you all with travel visas for the city. Otherwise, there is one more passenger ship leaving this evening, the Clementine. If you leave now, you might just catch it.” He returns to his desk and sinks into his chair with a groan, then leans forward onto his elbows. “I really don’t care either way, of course, the choice is yours.”
Any province related discussion not fitting into other categories
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Like the blurb I posted last night in the architecture thread, this was originally written for a High Rock is Cool themed RP I briefly ran back in the day. Posting it here for possible inspiration:
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