Heralds Of Orcus
Kurn ( Map )is the capital city of Seawall. The city is characterised by the huge wall that stands as it most prominent feature- stories high and thick enough to have whole streets running through it, the Kurn Wall is as old as the Forian Wall that created the valley that Kurn lies in. As well as many routes through to the artificial harbour, the Kurn Wall holds countless interlinked warehouses and corridors as well as offices and buildings. Many of these lie unopened and unexplored and it is said some have lain this way for centuries- nobody truly knows the extent of the warren of passages within the wall and it rocky foundations.
The city itself is shaped roughly like a semi-circle extending backwards from the straight line of the wall. As the valley rises away from the sea, so Kurn climbs its walls in layers, so that as a whole the city appears basin-shaped, from the Upper City at the furthest edges from the sea holding the light, airy and wealthy districts down to its oldest, darkest parts crammed against the Seawall itself and lit by torches to penetrate the perpetual gloom of the great wall’s shadow. This area, known as Dockers’ Deeps, is a confusing and dangerous place. At its lowest point it is actually below sea level due to centuries of carving down into the bedrock to create more building space behind the wall.
Below the city lies more confusion for the unwary. Tunnels carve down into the bedrock, some acting as drains, others as passage ways and more as testament to forgotten schemes and plans for expansion. Although these tunnels can be vital for quick and secret passage around the city, they are wet, often flooded to the waist, and some of them fill completely at high tide only to empty and appear deceptively safe at other times- many unwary travellers have met a gruesome end when a tunnel has suddenly filled with freezing sea water…the knowledge of where and when it is safe to travel is highly prized and commands excellent fees.
Kurn society is chaotic and noisy. As the single entry point to Tolvane, save for a few smugglers' coves, it serves as the one place all traders and travellers will come. Because of this many races and customs can be found, and its own culture is a curious blend of differing homelands, ideals and prejudices which have in turn been shaped and altered by exposure to the city. From this melting pot, a determined mongrel pride has arisen and the city's people, whilst welcoming strangers, can be insular and oblique, thinking nothing of fleecing outsiders for all they can. The infighting and rivalries within the city vanish when confronting those from elsewhere- Kurn looks after its own.
As well as a unique culture, Kurn has a unique slang and dialect that draws on a hundred tongues. This is added to almost weekly by the many gangs that divide Kurn's streets and districts among themselves. Some of these gangs associate with guilds or social groups such as the Liners, all from fishing families, whilst others have less clear and salubrious foundations.
During the time of the Empire, Kurn was a jewel on the Imperial crown and as such closely controlled by a local Prestate and imperial council. Now, however, controlling the city falls to a council of traders who maintain control with a fearsome group of watch militia drawn from the various official guilds- dressed in reddish-brown leathers and more than happy to dispense wisdom and justice via a large club, the Kurn Guildmans' Watch is known locally as "The Knock" or "Knockers"- a source of much amusement until the first blow lands around the back of one's head.
The head of the council, known as the Master Guilder, is currently a Dwarf called Hundal Gronock. He has served for two years and has one more year of office remaining before a new Master Guilder is elected. How much power he wields is debatable, however, as the true power of the city is held by the various families and guild associations which oversee the trade that passes through.
As one might expect, pretty much every god, pleasant and not so, is represented within Kurn's walls, along with several Conciliums of wizardry and numerous schools of martialry, thievery and other adventurous arts. Most operate under licence from the council, although it is said that anything can be found- if you know where to look, and are happy to pay the price.