Independent City: Confederacy of Vestgate
Who Rules: Lady Elke von Dornhoff (N hf Ari4/Exp10), a retired, weathered old woman of rasping voice and great humor, who in her time was a merchant and trader.
Who Really Rules: The Lady Elke, supported by three Lord Masters, all retired caravan masters: Bernd Hauser (LN hm Exp12); Dirk Ubernacht (NE hm Rog9); and Petr Nedvoyanovich (LE hm F13). They strive to be fair and farsighted, and otherwise do whatever is most profitable for the city and its merchants, consulting with a council of merchants whose meetings they chair.
Population: Estimated (there has never been a census, or any taxes short of stabling and ferry surcharges) at a mere 7,700 in winter, the inhabitants of Elk Run, can swell to 12,500 at the height of a good summer season. In most years, the actual population for spring and summer is around 10,000.
Major Products: (Trade, moneylending,) wagon repairs, mounts and beasts of burden (trading, breaking, and doctoring), medicines, mushrooms, cattle, hides, grain
Armed Forces: A watch of 23 mounted, mailed men armed with horsemen’s maces, light crossbows, lances and daggers. The watch is reinforced by the Elk Horns mercenary company (primarily caravan guards), and, in times of danger, a mustered local militia of approximately 100 men.
For a plains city, Elk Run is seriously undermanned. However, the merchants and costers moving through the city often bring their own mercenary forces, which are used in times of immediate danger to defend the town. In addition, Elk Run has money and influence enough to call on military aid from other nearby cities in the case of a threatening orc tribe, fey menace, bandit, centaur raider, or goblin at-tack (occasionally the city hires one of the above to fight the others).
Notable Mages: Elk Run is a city of transients, where many folk keep their true names and powers hidden under dis-guises and aliases. Of the few who do make themselves known, the most powerful mages are:
• Bodyanoi Nedvoyanovich (LN hm CM15), a taciturn Magus Victim and caravan investor, who buys monster remains for his arcane research.
• Karl Aurbach (CG hm CM9), a sharp-tongued, gung ho Profanus always ready for a rescue or a fight, who often lends his magical aid to the watch.
• Nimrod the Sinister (CN hm CM12), a reclusive researcher into rare and unusual spells, who buys such spells by offering training or items he has crafted in return. He is said to have some awesome defenses around his ramshackle hut.
Notable Churches: • Elk Run has no permanent temples except the Church of St. Ruprecht (Orthodox); Prior Hlammel Dornmacht (LG hm Exp4), a kind man always ready to council the weary and feed the hungry of all faiths; 6 priests, 5,742 followers.
Notable Rogues’ and Thieves’: Many individual thieves and brigands operate for a night or two here and then (if they are wise) move on, but between the watch and the Elk Horns no organized ‘gray’ groups are permitted to operate in Elk Run.
Equipment Shops: Partial (poor in winter).
Inns & Taverns: Elk Run is largely a city of tents, warehouses, and paddocks; one need never pay for a night unless one wants a bed, stables, food, or all of the above. The available accomodations presently include:
• The Anchor inn, large and fairly new (good/moderate);
• Traveler’s Blanket Inn, old and large (good/cheap);
• The Dusty Tankard Tavern and Inn (good/moderate);
• The Raging Rottweiler Inn and Tavern (fair / moderate);
• The Fistch, & Schmulke Inn, known to all as “the Fishsmoke” (fair/cheap);
• The Randy Satyr Inn and Tavern (poor / cheap).
Important Characters: In a city of transients and eccentric adventurers, few individuals stay around, alive, and important for long. Two unlikely souls who have are:
• Henrik Obloss, (NG hm Exp7), a rotund, sweating, and ear-nest man dedicated to making his chosen home, Elk Run, a better place to live. He has busily worked on roads, outhouses, water-cisterns and landfills, and the like for eight seasons now, assisted by volunteers from the citizenry when they aren’t too busy keeping warm (in winter) or earning their keep (in summer).
Important Features in Town: Elk Run has no walls or city plan; its most important features are the ferries and ship docks, and Elk Run Moot Hall (which contains quarters for the local Council and visitors, the city’s deep wells and emergency granary, and meeting chambers which can be rented when the Council is not in session-and over which Elke von Dornhoff shamelessly eavesdrops). The city contains bases of the Thelonius, Benefico & Rutter Trading Coster (formerly TRS) and many other costers, and merchant companies.
Local Lore: Somewhere beneath one of the darker, racier nightclubs of the city lies the lost crypt of the Black Hand, a lost, long-ago society of sorcerers, perhaps from lost Eversil who explored the extremes of elven magic of their day.
Local lore holds that several of the Black Hand, now liches, guard the crypt, which is full of dancing ioun stones, wands, rods, and stranger treasures, including a huge crystal sphere containing an “eater of magic;’ a cloudlike creature that, if released, the legends whisper, will devour all the magic in the world, leaving Onland bereft of all spells and their effects.
Elk Run has always been home to some pretty racy nightclubs, dancehalls, and taverns, with wild entertainments of gypsies, exhibited monsters, acrobatics, and exotic dancing presented for the patrons. There are many tales of monsters that escaped, ate a few unfortunate revelers, and still lurk in the area. Darker legends whisper of monsters with mental or magical powers that came here control-ling their human handlers and left with considerably more mentally enslaved subjects, and treasure to boot.
There are also persistent rumors that among the costumed, painted dancers of both sexes who perform in Elk Run are outlaws on the run, sorcerers seeking to escape the vengeance of foes, nobles seeking to escape vendettas or parental control, heirs evading the blades of those who would forcefully disinherit them, and so on. Some of these tales are undoubtedly true. On more than one occasion, a tavern has erupted into fullscale battle when a seasoned mercenary in the audience has recognized a nearby performer as a witch, doppleganger, or other dangerous menace.
Whatever the present level of dangers and intrigue Elk Run, one thing is certain: it is never a dull place to visit.
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