Tales of the Red Way
Of all the towns that are dotted along the Red Way, Chateau certainly has one of the more flavorful histories. Located directly across from the city of Crooklake, on the western side of the lake of the same name, Chateau is currently home to the leisure estates of the nobles and upper classes, Further, it is home to the high end merchants and individuals in the industry that caters to and serves them. What began as a small town with sleepy beginnings has gradually evolved into an area of mystery and intrigue.
Initially settled by the upper class as a way of having ‘country homes’ away from the bustling lifestyle of Crooklake, Chateau benefitted from the Red Way passing to the north side of the town. Traders and caravans would pass by and the teamsters that maintained the docks along the lake needed a place to live. Under military protection, the area became quite safe for the wealthy to travel. The settlement has drawn in dock employees and military men behavior is strictly enforced so that the lower class employees do not cause trouble for elite merchants and nobles that make their homes in the area.
Currently, the majority of property is owned by the wealthy. However, the lower class lives in the area to make a living off catering to the upper class. Whereas most are overflow from Crooklake, there are enough merchants who come from as far as Dragonspire or Littleburg to spend part of the year here as Chateau has become a seat of power in the middle of the empire.
One of the most interesting and prevailing legends of Chateau involves the enigmatic , so-called ‘Statues of Prophecy’ that are littered throughout the town. Nobody knows where they ultimately came from or what their purpose is. According to ancient history, the statues were found by the original military expeditions that constructed the Red Way. Unearthed from the dirt, these fascinating statues were buried in the earth, only noticed when construction crews were digging plots and setting up areas for dwellings. A total of 22 were found.
The typical statute (as none could be called ‘average’) is the size of a full adult, (male or female) mostly human, and bestowed with such amazing detail as to look like a real person – save for the white stone from which they are carved. The slightest wrinkles can be found in the ‘skin,’ irises in the eyes and are precise in anatomically correct detail. More than one viewer has mistaken them for real people.
Currently, the statues are at different points in the town, revered as good luck charms by some and almost deific status by others. Then there is even another subset of individuals who have formed a cult-like organization, revering the statutes as if they contained magical powers.
The area of Chateau has several notable features. First and foremost is Chateau Victus, the majestic structure that sits in the middle of the town. Additionally, the massive Malreaux Lighthouse that looms over the southeast part of the town has been a landmark since the beginning. The hunting grounds to the southwest and the Red Way to the north round out the major landmarks.
When the original military force arrived to the area now known as Chateau, they were dispatched to oversee the construction of the docks on Crooklake, as well as to dissuade bandits and other nefarious forces that would use this as an opportunity to mount raids. Once it became safe, a scion of one of the noble families, Comte Henri Saint-Victus came to the area to establish control over the military operation. With more gold than sense, he had an elaborate castle built not far from the lake, naming it ‘Soltanstacia,’ after his first wife. While construction was underway, he lived in the Crooklake area. Reportedly, Soltanstacia took 25 years to build as the Comte had such specific ideas of what it should be. Gold trim, marble floors and 16 bedchambers, as well as two grand ballrooms were just some of the opulent features that he insisted upon. Shortly before Solstanstacia was finished, the Comte had gotten wind of a new piece of property ready for development and went back east to develop an even larger estate. The very piece of property that the Comte lavished so much attention upon was never inhabited by him.
In fact, very few people have ever actually lived in the chateau. Roughly 100 years after Comte Saint-Victus was dead and buried, Marquis Jean-Claude Malreaux arrived, the property having been bequeathed to him in a convoluted series of inheritances. When he and his entourage arrived, they made use of the chateau and immediately began construction of the lighthouse ( currently known as ‘Malreaux Lighthouse’). Whereas the Malreauxs had something of an unsavory reputation, aside from the construction of the lighthouse, they are best known for their decree that the mysterious ‘Statues of Prophecy’ would not be molested, moved from their current locations or ever come to harm. Initially, there were those who tested the Marquis’ enactment of the law but for those who tried, they were brutally tortured and publicly executed in Crooklake for their transgressions. This was how serious the Marquis took the statutes. It was never known why the Marquis had such reverence for the statutes or even why he was so particular about the statutes remaining in their current locations, but it is a tradition that the people of Chateau take seriously, even to this day. In fact, it is suggested that the Marquis developed secret rooms and chambers where histories of the statutes may currently reside.
Finally, it was not until close to 200 years ago that the Malreaux line abruptly left Chateau, returning to the East. Upon their departure, their final decree was that the town be run by an administrator of their choosing, to be relieved of his post as they saw fit. Their original Lord Chancellor was Nicolo di Aplines who oversaw Soltanstacia and the surrounding village until his death. Since the Malreauxs never sent any instructions on who the new Lord Chancellor would be, Nicolo’s son, Arturo, assumed the post. And this tradition has continued to this day. In fact, the Malreauxs have never weighed in on the new Lord Chancellor and even when passing through, they have never even set foot inside Soltanstacia.
It was Arturo’s son, Abrilion, who transformed the way in which Chateau operated. First, he lobbied for the area to become an actual town, suggesting the name Soltanstacia. However, when it was sent to the cartographer, a mistake was made and the name ‘Chateau’ was used but Solstanstacia was left off. All things considered, this was fine with Abrilion and the rest of the town. Next, Abrilion began selling pieces of property to the growing merchant and noble class across the lake in Crooklake. Positioning it as a place to build summer homes near the beauty and serenity of Chateau Soltanstacia (later Chateau Saint-Victus), the property-starved nobles and merchants gobbled up what they could. Enterprising individuals (with Abrilion secretly getting a per cent of each building and property permit) began setting up very unique businesses and shops, allowing the wealthy elite to have not only what their hearts’ desired but also every luxury – and mundane item – they would need. Many of them sold their property in Crooklake and never returned.
Currently, Chateau Saint-Victus dominates the middle of town, used as the administrative building for the Lord Chancellor (currently Macklen di Aplines) and his staff. The sheer opulence of the building is not just massive, but also beautiful, and an architectural marvel. Many come from far away to simply look upon the grandeur. Despite the fact that it is not inhabited by residents, the community does put the building to use. The grand ballrooms are used for events that the upper class hosts, such as seasonal dances, parties and debutante events. However, the Lord Chancellors have never revealed whatever secrets the Comte or the Malreauxs left behind.
When Marquis Jean-Claude Malreaux arrived in the town later known as Chateau, he brought with him his lovely young bride, Colette, as well as a retinue of attendants, including a surprising number of seductive and alluring ladies-in-waiting. His initial years were, purportedly, spent hosting lavish and decadent parties, orgiastic events and collecting some of the most sought-after artwork in the known lands. According to legend, the Marquis and his wife were also quite fascinated with the so-called ‘Statues of Prophecy’ that inhabited the town.
As his fascination grew, he insisted the statues be placed in specific areas of the town; his reasons unknown as some of the locations were rather unusual – specific basements, the second floor of people’s homes, etc. It was said that he began to see them as nodes of power, their location having some special significance.
As the lavish parties wound down over the next ten years, his fascination with the statues grew even stranger. It is said that he began spending more and more time with them, spent in deep mediation. Shortly after an entire weekend with one of the statues, the Marquis began having horrific nightmares, the details of which he kept private. Supposedly, he even began developing an obsessive fear of the dark. As a result, this is the genesis of having the massive lighthouse built. But as plans were underway, the Marquis initiated a side project.
A call went out to all the most learned scholars, wizards, sorcerers, holy men, and sooth-sayers throughout the lands. The Marquis wanted these men and women to come to Chateau and examine the statues. Anyone who could provide any information about them would be rewarded. This resulted in an influx of travelers, eventually causing many of them to mount expeditions to far-flung locations. Adventuring parties set out to raid ancient ruins, old caves and even numerous failed and doomed treks to find the lost Valeran City.
Meanwhile, back in Chateau, a few sites were selected as possible locations for the lighthouse, but none of them were acceptable. Eventually, a hill to the south of town was selected and as digging began, an extraordinary discovery was made – a red stone structure was unearthed, made from the exact material that the road of the Red Way was constructed from. This, the Marquis, pronounced, was perfect.
As construction on the lighthouse began, the Marquis rejected the initial design plans. He wanted the structure to be as tall as possible, reaching dizzying heights, butting up against what was a reasonably safe height. As construction toiled, several men fell to their deaths in its construction, but the Marquis was unfazed from his position. The Marquis wanted the structure to stand tall and burn bright enough to where he could see its light from wherever he was – including Crooklake.
Upon its completion – 2 years after it began – the Marquis threw a lavish celebration and soon installed a magical light at the top. Whereas many of the scholars who set forth to find secrets about the statues came back empty handed, one expedition did return with a magical light – supposedly of Valeran origin – and the Marquis had it installed. The Marquis was finally pleased, as his vision had become a reality.
However, adding to the Marquis’ already eccentric – and sinister – reputation, throughout the remaining ten years of his life, he never traveled far enough away from the lighthouse where he could not see its light. Upon his death, his specific orders were to be buried on the site of the lighthouse so that he would always be close. Further, the instructions he had provided his wife, Collette, were that all his notes, texts, letters and maps that he had compiled from research as well as the numerous quests to learn more about the statues were to be burned upon his death. However, according to legend, an archivist in the Marquis’ employ named Ducalard, could not stand to see this happen and the night before their fabled destruction in a bonfire in town square, the archivist slipped out in the night, taking as much as he could load into his cart, traveling for parts unknown. This, in turn, has given rise to a fabled Library of Ducalard, to the north, hidden away to all but the most dedicated and learned of scholars.
The Hunting Grounds
One of the first things that the nobles and wealthy merchant class established when they began using Chateau as their new home, were hunting loges to the southern outskirts of town. Currently, there are 6 major lodges and close to twenty smaller lodges dotted throughout the countryside in a 20 mile radius.
The six major lodges are owned by some of the more powerful families in the area and are stocked with wines, exquisite weapons, lavish beds and enough food to entertain the hunting parties for a week (should the hunt not go as well or should ‘hunting’ merely be a pretext for traveling there). Further, it is not unheard of for some of the locations to actually be used for trysts with young ladies rather than actual hunting.
The area is heavily patrolled by an order of rangers that not only act as security for the lodges from would-be bandits, but also monitor the wildlife population to ensure the numbers are healthy and that no unnatural predators enter the area. It is they who declare the best hunting season from year to year and predict the weather patterns for given months.
The Town of Chateau
Districts and Areas of Note
1: Malreaux Lighthouse
Located in the southwest corner of the town, the lighthouse is detailed much more in a previous section. The lighthouse stands a full 100 feet tall, the base of the building made from the mysterious stone that comprises the Red Way. Scholars suspect that the structure which comprises the base may have been around for thousands of years, serving some unknown purpose in eons past. The stairway leading up the spire, is a modern addition.
The top of the lighthouse contains 4 powerful chains suspending a ball of mystical energy that was installed by wizards hundreds of years ago. The light is some unknown form of magic, put in place by Marquis Jean-Claude Malreaux due to some unusual fear of the dark he harbored.
There is no need for any posted guards at the lighthouse as previous attempts to steal the magic beacon have resulted in the unfortunate – and messy – demise of the would-be thieves.
The Sun is the least seen of the statues as she is located so far away from the town, relatively speaking. She sits outside the lighthouse, greeting the few who come and go.
2: Everbloom Estate
The Everbloom Estate is, by far, the finest home in Chateau. Built over 300 years ago to house the reigning Duke of Crooklake, Everbloom is famous for its spacious living conditions as well as the varied and beautiful gardens on the premises, including varieties of flora not native to the lands.
The current regent, Francois, Duke of Crooklake, spends most of his time at Everbloom, traveling to Crooklake once every two weeks to attend to official business. Most of his ministers reside at Everbloom and the day to day functions of running the government are done from the estate.
His Grace, Francois, Duke of Crooklake, Senechal of the Western Lands, on Behalf and in Stead of His Majesty the Emperor.
Duke Francois is a smiling, a gentle man of upstanding disposition, who never has a cruel word for anyone. But this is not to be taken lightly. Just because he has no need for harsh words, this does not mean that he should be dismissed as “kindly.” He simply reserves cruelty and punishment and direct language for his subordinates who will often speak on his behalf even while the Duke is in the room, seemingly not even paying attention. Essentially when the Duke has something nice or kind to say, he will say it, himself. When he has something nasty to say, someone will say it on his behalf, providing for a somewhat disturbing and unsettling social situation.
The General stands outside of Everbloom, watching over those who come and go, positioned outside the estate in the front, central garden.
Strength sits near the entrance to this district.
3: Chateau Gardens
Chateau Gardens were originally an extension of Everbloom Estate. However, Duke Henri-Lucarch, celebrating the birth of his daughter, Petchal, had the property divided and opened for all, so that everyone in Chateau – including visitors to the town – could marvel at its splendor and witness the varied plants and greenery that makes a home there. Chateau Gardens is maintained by a massive assembly of gardeners and horticulture experts that makes it something to behold in this part of the empire.
The Lover stands in the center of the gardens, adding to the serenity and beauty of the area.
The Fool delightfully stands underneath a large oak tree, mirthfully watching all who pass.
4: Southern Walk
The neighborhood of Southern Walk is the most beautiful district in Chateau. Whereas there is little or no commerce in this area, one can view the lovely homes that have been constructed and maintained. Of course, anyone who wishes to purchase a home in this area must have the express permission of Duke Francois, who prefers to have control over his closest neighbors. Naturally, this is the most heavily patrolled area for the City Watch.
Sadua maintains an enormous estate in this district, by far the largest, giving his home the best view in town. His fortune was established and cultivated through funding a variety of expeditions for adventurers to find lost tombs, ancient caves and anywhere else where unusual treasures could be found. By allowing an equitable split with the adventurers, he was able to keep the finest and most equisite items, keeping some and selling others by private appointment. It is said he can find, buy or sell almost anything. He keeps Hela and Simone, the seductive yet eccentric sirens of Books & Balms, on retainer as experts with maps and identification of goods. Further, he often uses the pair to sell some of his more ‘mundane’ finds.
Sadua is not one to be crossed as he has a dark reputation which is both alluring and dark. He throws lavish parties, sparing no expense for his guests’ entertainment, yet it is said that unusual forms of entertainment happen in the late hours. Those who have cheated him or mistreated him have found themselves the victims of a variety of unfortunate accidents. Further, there is great speculation that his wife, Talicia, who reportedly ran off with a dashing adventurer, lies next to that same adventurer, buried in Sadua’s cellar.
The Gambler watches over all who come near, perhaps providing fortunes in their endeavors.
5: Flumph Way
The gentle area of Flumph Way is the primary residence of some of the seasonal homes for minor nobility and lesser merchants. The homes are very comfortable with fine amenities. For the most part, these homes are not full time residences, but rather are lived in for a few weeks at a time before the residents return to their primary home in Crooklake or elsewhere. There are typically homes for sale in this area at a very steep price. Inevitably, there is some merchant or noble who has fallen on hard times and would be interested in discreetly selling.
Alvara, the Soprano
The beautiful and exotic singer is in great demand in Crooklake as well as Chateau, performing at private venues and even larger public events. A year ago, one of several male paramours set her up with a fine home in Crooklake, as well as a small staff. Alvara is an arrogant, spoiled petulant brat who sees everyone as subjects beneath her. Her tantrums are legendary and if not for her lovely singing voice and stunning beauty, would have been ostracized years ago.
The Tower guards this location, his stern gaze watching all those who come to the end of the street where he stands.
6: Bard’s Tail End
Situated next to Flumph Way, this area has a combination of homes, apartments, inns and taverns. It is not uncommon for some wealthy pilgrims and visitors to stay here while they are in Chateau. The taverns in this section of the town cater to those with exquisite tastes.
The Wailing Willow
This tavern is unique among those situated in Bard’s Tail End. It was built around a large willow tree, with the willow spreading out throughout the tavern. The top of the tavern open so the tree can get light and air. Further, the patrons all treat the willow with respect as it is said that numerous spirits of the town’s deceased inhabit it.
Perhaps one of the most unique items in all of Crooklake and Chateau has to be Beholder’s Bluff. There is a mangy, bloated, and rather horrific example of taxidermy that is suspended from the ceiling. It is unknown how it came to be, who killed it or even if it is real. But people certainly make treks to look at it, and then stay and eat under its watchful gaze.
Few, if any, know this eccentric individual’s real name. He does not have a shop so much as he takes private clients into his home, repairing whatever it is they have – leather goods, armor, and locks. Many say he is a master thief, directing those who are deemed worthy to the location of the thieves’ guild.
The Martyr is located about 50 paces from The Wailing Willow.
7: Merchant Plaza
A combination of retail locations and apartments, the shops here tend to be high-end with comfortable locations above the shops where the shopkeepers live. The numerous amenities that the upper class requires to keep them in the lifestyle to which they are accustomed can be found here. In the middle of the Plaza is an open farmer’s market where fresh fruits and vegetables can be found daily. This location differs from Merchant Maze in that Merchant Plaza is organized and orderly.
Books & Balms
Books & Balms is a store catering to scholars and adventurers. The owners are a pair of ex-adventurers, Hela and Simone. Hela, the scholar, designs maps and catalogues different creatures encountered, magic items discovered and unusual places found, maintaining an archive of it all in the cellar. For a fee, Hela will provide access to whatever she can on the things requested. Simone, by contrast, concocts potions and other minor magic baubles, again, charging a fee.
Both women are a handful to say the least. Both are in their early twenties, quite attractive and very memorable with their strong personalities and imposing natures. Hela, with her long raven-black hair and shapely figure, wears impeccable, almost noble clothing and has a flare for the unusual, often expressing herself in melodramatic tones and speaking to every issue as if it is the worst, the best, the greatest, etc. Simone, by contrast is the less refined of the two, often spent drinking and partying until the wee hours of the night, and missing early morning appointments. But she is no less lovely. Her shoulder length auburn hair and ruddy features and bronzed skin, indicates that she spends more hours outdoors than she does inside her workshop. Further, her popularity with the town comes from throwing wild parties – when the authorities allow.
Many days (and nights) are spent with Hela screaming at Simone, accusing her of laziness and incompetence. Inexplicably the two business partners live together as roommates in an apartment above their shop and otherwise appear to be good friends.
Further, whereas many men have an interest in both women, arriving at their store for any excuse to see the pair, Hela has eyes for only one man – Jenner, the lieutenant of the town guard. Woe be it to any woman who expresses an interest in Jenner as Hela will surely go out of her way to make trouble for them.
Whereas it is said that both women are accomplished in their trade, rumors circulate that Hela traffics in necromancy, a school of magic while not outlawed, raises suspicions. The watch has investigated and whereas they have not released their findings, they have assured the population that there is nothing to be concerned about.
An established dedicated to high-end escorts and consorts, The Dreamhouse is located on the edge of Merchant Plaza and assures their clients that every whim will be catered to. The establishment is clean – and expensive – as a way of discouraging undesireables.
Hela and Simone (see above)
The Star stands right in front of Books & Balms, confusing travels into thinking that their shop and the statue are in some ways related. Hela and Simone are happy about this confusion as it brings in more business.
8: Unicorn Field
This neighborhood is comprised of mostly lounges, fine taverns entertainment for the upper class.
Lt. Jenner Carn
Jenner is the second-in-command of the City Watch. He is tall, broad shouldered and wears his flowing blond hair long. His muscular physique puts in him prime shape to chase down would-be criminals and troublemakers. His rugged good looks and gentle personality make him the subject of many ladies’ fantasies. However, he is currently involved with Hela, of Books & Balms in Merchant Plaza. Hela’s deranged jealousy is something Jenner does not see and barely even acknowledges, thinking that the woman is just ‘spirited.’ Any threats he overhears made from Hela to any other woman who has an interest in Jenner is laughed off as just ‘Hela being Hela.’ Despite all this, he has a sharp mind and a nose for trouble, with his girlfriend being his only blind spot.
The Mountebank stands proudly outside of Feldor’s Fine Foods, a bakery and confectionery store.
9: Civil Service District
Mostly civil service employees live here, as well as some buildings and structures set up to maintain the infrastructure of Chateau.
In order to maintain order and discipline in Chateau, the position of ‘Chancellor’ was created to ensure that public drunkenness and other antics were kept to a minimum. Chancellor Cromstock fills the role of social policeman. His office has the ability to levy citations for keeping a shop unsightly, public lewdness, and any other behavior he or his office finds repulsive. On one hand, the Chancellor’s job is appreciated as it keeps undesirables out Chateau, on the other hand, he tends to be one of the most unpopular individuals in the town. His personality is such that he abhors anything but the most civil, polite and decent and maintains an officious and surly attitude towards most people with whom he interacts. His chief enforcers (and spies) tend to be the sextons in Chateau. The Duke has even allowed the Chancellor’s influence to extend out to Crooklake as his sextons are beginning to enforce decency laws in certain neighborhoods there, as well.
Death is an odd – though perhaps strangely symbolic – statue for the Civil Service District. She patiently watches all who walk by the city’s financial repository where tax money is kept.
Temperance is located directly outside of Chancellor Cromstock’s office, perhaps reminding him of the need to uphold the morality of the town.
Much has already been written on the chateau that sits in the middle of town. Whereas it was once an opulent mansion estate for the noble ruling family that lived here, it is now used as the mean seat for the civil administration for the town as well as some of the seasonal offices for Crooklake.
Lord Chancellor Macklen di Aplines
The Lord Chancellor is the highest civil official in Chateau. It is his duty of running the day to day activities and ensuring that the lower positions (chancellors) perform their duties. When something is displeasing to the upper class, they take their grievances to Macklen to make sure he does something about it. As a result, he ensures the one big party for the nobility keeps on going. He is generally a very friendly man, concerning himself with the well-being of the upper class, making sure that social events are well publicized, and so on. He spend lazy days in his office at the chateau, seeing the wealthy citizens and reassuring them that whatever gripe they have is addressed – no matter how minor. With the merchant class, he has enacted numerous grafts and payoffs – as is customary yet unspoken – benefitting himself greatly, financially. The Lord Chancellor is well-liked among the citizens as he represents the luxury to which they have become accustomed. Of course, technically, the Lord Chancellor does serve at the pleasure of the Malreaux noble family, but as mentioned, the Malreauxs have not had any serious dealings with Chateau for centuries.
The Devil is kept in Chateau, on the uppermost floor, kept out of sight of most of the population. As one of the two ‘lewd’ statues in the pantheon, it was suggested that this statue be kept where most decent people cannot see it.
The Emperor stands majestically outside the chateau, greeting all who arrive.
11: Parchment District
Named for the small bookshops and the two schools here, the Parchment District also is the home to several private tutors and scholars who made their way to Chateau. Chateau has always felt a need to educate their youth and by emphasizing well rounded education, they ensure a bright future for Chateau as well as Crooklake.
The Iron Clasp
Arguably the best book store in all of Crooklake and Chateau, The Iron Clasp boasts that if it does not have it, they can find it (or its cursed and evil – and even then . . . ) . The owner, Septimus, a quiet and brooding man, given to researching his own studies and leaving the day to day operations to his employees, often stays on the second floor, not wishing to be disturbed unless a particular find is brought in or someone wishes to spend a small fortune. He has a working relationship with Hela and Simone at Books & Balms (though it is said that the pair fray his every last nerve). However, he has a much closer relationship with the merchant, Plexius Sadua, with whom he is the preferred buyer and seller. The Iron Clasp is open every day from sun up to sun down but since Septimus lives at the store, he will see anyone ‘by appointment.’ However, if they waste his time, it will be the only meeting ever granted by the unforgiving shopkeeper.
Headmaster Martis Windtamer
As the headmaster of the Academy of Gifts, Martis takes his role as an educator and warden of young minds very seriously. The school does not have a truly formalized education process but rather families enroll their children at the Academy to be tutored in a variety of different areas – business, military, bureaucracy, general education, etc. The amount of money the family wishes to spend will depend on how long the child stays. Martis is a generally pleasant man who looks out for the best interests of his wards but he is in constant need of instructors, tutors and so forth. It is also said that for those families who wish to pursue a route in arcane arts, Martis can get them into contact with the right people and names of wizards seeking apprentices.
Professor Emile Darklon
Professor Darklon is the city’s official archivist and scholar. Like most city employees, he works out of the chateau. Birth records and death records are extremely important, as are copies of land transactions and other contracts. He has recently found that the system the city uses is somewhat hectic and chaotic as he has possession of several of Crooklake’s documents and they have many of Chateau’s. He envisions a greater, more efficient system.
Nevertheless, Professor Darklon has a fascination for research. His personal interests are histories of arcane arts. Further, he is a noted expert on The Statues of Prophecy, or at least as much as anyone is. He would pay handsomely for anyone who can produce original and unique research or artifacts that pertain to the subject.
Professor Darklon has heard stories of a great, hidden archive/library, somewhere to the north. Ducalard, the former archivist with the town of Chateau, supposedly ran off with precious documents regarding the Statues, and with it formed the basis of a secret repository of knowledge. If Darklon could find its existence, he would pay handsomely for such knowledge.
The Hanged Man stands in the center of the Parchment district, often the location of scholarly debates.
12: Julian’s Ward
Home to many of the lower class workers who maintain the day to day operations of Chateau, there is still relatively little crime as the authorities in Chateau have minimal tolerance for such behavior. However, Julian’s Ward remains a hotbed of rumors and stories, as the servants to the upperclass live her and gather here to swap stories and gossip about their masters. The area is named for Julian Briarpatch, a simple and humble priest from Turnip Grove, far to the south who lived in this district. Centuries ago when disease spread through the land, it is said that his curing touch would stop the flesh rot that afflicted the population. Seen as a living saint among the people of Chateau, especially the lower classes, Julian’s image adorns many homes in the area. There was a desire to erect a statue of him, but due to the reverence of the Statues of Prophecy, erecting any other statues in Chateau has been outlawed.
The Mead Mug
Perhaps the most wild and rauckus location yet to be closed by Cancellor Cromstock, the Mead Mug has long serviced the lower class of Chateau for over 100 years. Wild drinking, brawling, crooked card games and topless dancers all can be found at this unorthodox (for Chateau) location. However, it seems to keep the lower classes entertained. Chancellor Cromstock despises this place with all his being and loathes those who frequent it. But he also realizes this is a necessary evil as it keeps undesirables located in one place. That said, he would love nothing more than to personally nail the ‘closed’ sign on the door as he knows that another such place would appear soon enough. He especially despises the new, feisty owner, Maddy Cinderspark, a lusty and bawdy owner who ensures the clients are well taken care of as well as personally adding to the ‘unsavory’ reputation of the establishment.
Maddy Cinderspark (see above)
The Hierophant was placed here, perhaps in an effort to calm some of the lower classes, intimidating them into good behavior. It has not truly worked.
If it could be said that Chateau has a ‘seedy’ part of town, it would be Dockside. However, some of Crooklake’s better neighborhoods are more suspicious than Dockside. Mostly homes and taverns for the lower classes, there is an excellent trader’s market here where quality home-made goods can be found, as well as breads, pastries and other simple – yet delicious – delights can be found.
The Everfull Purse
The owner, Florian, has long regretted this name as he constantly has to explain it to people. It is the fastest way to get him harried and upset, often spoiling negotiations before they even begin, mostly because he tires of providing the explanation, even though deep down inside he knows it is his own fault. When not explaining the symbolistic name of his store, he sells common goods as a type of general store.
The Empress is tucked away in the basement of one of the taverns, The Hearth. In some ways it is an embarrassment to the owner, but it does bring in curious travelers who stay for food and drink.
14: The Docks
For a town as relatively small as Chateau, there is a robust dock presence. The volume of people who come and go on a daily basis is surprisingly high, performing business for Crooklake and Chateau, as well as individuals seeking an audience with the Duke. Further, products being shipped in from Northport, Southport and Crooklake ranges from fine clothing to high-end furniture. Whereas products and goods tend to come in at the north side of town, people are brought in at the south side of town, and thus the docks at the south side are far more pristine and presentable.
Adamis Woolin opened his warehouse several years ago as a store of mysteries and unusual curios. He acted as an agent to keep shipped items safe until the owner came to pick them up or they departed on another ship or caravan. However, over the years his business has changed to where those in default of payment surrender their goods and he either sells them outside the warehouse or auctions off the lots of unseen crates once a month. Numerous treasures have been found among his goods and he has made himself quite wealthy in the past five years. People come looking for pieces of armor, swords, artwork and clothing that he has on display. But then there are others who enjoy the gamble of bidding on items, sight unseen. Tave Anteryuup, shop owner in Crooklake, is a common fixture, bidding on monthly auctions.
Haverly Undertoe, Harbormaster
Haverly is, in some ways, the hero to Halflings everywhere as he was not only to make something of himself, but he did so honestly in Man’s world. As Harbormaster, he ensures that everything that comes and goes through Chateau pays the proper tax, as well as the docks remaining safe and as injury-free as possible. Haverly does not necessarily approve of the high taxes to send things through the town but he enforces it fairly, would never accept a bribe in his official capacity, and as a result of his integrity and honesty, he commands the respect of everyone with whom he works.
The Moon is one of the first sights someone sees as they exit a boat from the northernmost dock.
Gloryfield contains some of the more well-kept estates for those nobles and merchants who can afford the expensive pieces of property. Towards the west are some fields and vineyards owned by the wealthy.
A beautiful and well-maintained estate to the west, Strongoak Manor is far and away one of the more impressive homes in the area. Made of stone and, of course, oak the impressive manor house has detailed carvings on the inside, depicting beautiful frescos and other impressive artistic scenes. What is most remarkable, however, is the home’s reputation of being cursed or haunted or both. Currently, the property sits empty after a century of various families meeting ruin after living here for a short time.
The Oracle is one of the first sights one sees as they enter from the northernmost side. People flock here to hope to get some glimpse of their own future.
The World-Tamer stands near Hollyfield, a large, well-kept estate.
The Monk stands very close to Strongoak Manor.
16: Merchant Maze
Merchant Maze is so named for the tightly packed bazaars and stores. Far and away the most hectic and chaotic area of the town, the close proximity to the Red Way causes it to be a dumping point for merchants wishing to sell wares quickly and move on. Commonly, some of the shop owners live above their stores in tight quarters. Rougher inns can be found for easy and quick access to the Red Way, often for just nightly stays. Therefore, it is an excellent place to meet a variety of people staying for just a short time. Further, this is the one area in the town where adventurers can ply their trade and engage in their sell-sword offerings. From 6 AM to 8 PM it is typically one hectic mess, winding down for only a few hours only to start all over again. In the wee hours of the night, it is also said that certain other treasures can be found by asking the right, shadowy merchants.
Harzan is a master craftsman, specializing in woodworking. His tightly packed store is filled with fine pieces of furniture, walking sticks, rods and other items that he crafts and sells for a healthy profit. Mostly, his business is done taking commissions on special projects. Often practitioners of magic will seek him out, providing some special wood in order for him to craft wands. Anyone seeking to imbue one of his items with magical ‘charges’ is typically refered to Hela and Simone and Books & Balms.
Pip, the Puppetmaster
This strange deformed man is a horrible sight to gaze upon. However, his gentle spirit and soft words endear him to many. His talent at creating puppets and dolls makes him a sought out treasure for families wanting something special for a child. He does not have a shop, per se, but more of a booth with a stage. From behind he entertains children and adults alike with his puppets. He often receives gratuities from those in the audience but the majority of his money comes from the other merchants, collectively, who pay him to keep the crowds entertained.
Justice stands in the center of Merchant Maze, perhaps offering a simple reminder to keep prices fair.
17: Hangman’s Point
In ages past, this was the grim location outside of town where the worst in society were taken to have justice dispensed. Mostly it was murderers, witches and those who practiced dark arts, but the gallows have long been torn down as any serious justice delivered takes place across the lake in Crooklake. Currently, it is home to a few higher end inns and taverns, just off the Red Way, catering to travelers who do not want the hassle of Merchant Maze. Further, there is a small detachment of soldiers and an armory on the north side of the Red Way, used to police the area and deter brigands.
The Gray Mare Inn
Long the established place for travelers along the Red Way, the Gray Mare is constantly brimming with merchants and other travelers. It offers an excellent point, far away enough from the docks, to allow the caravans and travels a good start, heading west first thing after their travels. It offers hearty meals and warm beds away from the bustle of Chateau.