Monday, July 18, 2016

Rumor #2: Gauros is Poor and Half-Empty

<Lucindiya Szollos sighs and rolls her eyes before she quaffs from her stein.  The bartender, Reggia, just had to ask about where Luci came from in those warbly, perpetually drunken tones.  But Luci is far more annoyed by having to talk about her roots than by the bar wench to end all bar wenches.

Luci seems mostly out of place in the deliberately roughshod tavern called the Withered Rose, which is secretly owned by her patron, the tiefling noble Viktor Valgon, and openly run by his merry band of followers.  But as a mid-level commoner with special circumstances, Luci can risk being seen here with few consequences.  And some days, she shows up for a small reminder of where she grew up, not that she would ever admit it.

Better dressed than the main, it's the added delicacy of Luci's bone structure and the slight pointing of her ears that makes most others glance twice.  Her thick, wavy mane of dark hair and the dusky cast to her skin otherwise mark her as Rashemi.  Unlike most commoners she bears more than one piece of gold jewelry, and one bracelet which clearly marks her as a citizen rather than a slave.  (When those signs aren't enough, she has her full paperwork tattooed on her back in ink which resists removal by magic.  When you're from a race that's normally owned in Thay, you can't be too careful.)  

Her robes, however, are of an embroidered style which suggest wizardry, and while they are not red they keep most patrons from making the jibes which come to mind about little half-elven ladies.  At least while they're sober enough.  She's fully expecting to catch some jokes about whether she can enlarge certain body parts with magic eventually.  Elves are just too tiny for big Rashemi tastes - or at least big Rashemi talk.>

Look, nobody should be in Gauros if they have real taste, or if they need high society, or if they like big cities, but it's not exactly what you've heard.  And believe me, I'm the last person who would defend the place.  It was bad enough to be a child there, but once I showed arcane skill it was unbearable.  I couldn't wait to get out.  But we should leave the lies for the foreigners, right?  And I'm sure you won't spread the word from our little girl chat, not if I buy you a drink of your own while I'm having mine.

<Coin is placed on the bartop with slim fingers, and Reggia's gently wobbling "Well, thank you, don't mind if I do," assures Luci that the bard will in fact spread some of the more interesting parts of their conversation.  The woman has a stein in hand with hardly a pause but her eyes are eager for the tale.>

Gauros is poor compared to Eltabbar, but then so is most of Faerun.  It's not destitute.  There aren't people starving in the streets.  They might be dirtier, but that's because they have to be.  Some of them even like to be.  They have dirtier professions and they take pride in how hard they work.  They also live closer to the land than the Mulan like to, as they always have.  The Mulan didn't intermarry as much in those woods, so the stock is still mostly Rashemi.  They only give a shit about manners when it keeps them alive.  But the tharch isn't a ghost town.

Map from the 3rd Edition Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting

The area doesn't have cities because the land's been left more wild than other tharchs.  Nobody cared enough to cast big spells to whip it into shape, and why should they have?  It's in the far reaches of the country, not close to any of the hustle and bustle.  Major commerce isn't going to go there; resources are going to be sent out.  They keep the towns small and scattered because that's how they need to be.  I also think a zulkir or tharchion figured that leaving it dangerous would provide more defenses.  Slaves who try to escape usually get mauled by some creature before they can get far.  And the woods are good at keeping their own secrets.  

The tharchion and her underlings spread rumors to keep prying fingers out of their business, and to make it look like there's hardly any business worth speaking of.  Nothing worth relocating for.  Nothing worth trying to take out of their control.  Some of her lackeys were assigned to their posts from elsewhere and can't stand it, so they don't make things up; they just bitch about everything they despise.  It works just as well.

Yes, there are plenty of trees and goats, but those ugly, barren hills you've heard of?  There's mines hidden in some of them, decent ones.  The forests go all the way up to the Sunrise Mountains with all the timber you could ask for - more, because Gauros is one of the best tharchs to be in if you're a ranger or a druid.  They grow and breed what they want.  The ancient ruins that've been already been looted?  Some of them just have new loot from the treasure hunters who've died there.  The keeps that are supposedly empty?  Why would the tharchion leave them that way?  Would you?

No, you couldn't pay me enough to move back to that sty, not after I've lived in Eltabbar.  I'll return to visit my father, perhaps, because he's too stubborn to live anywhere else.  He won his freedom in those woods in a High Hunt of Malar and then married a local woman when he should have wanted to get back to his own people.  He'll be buried there someday, and when he is, his bones will be the best part of Gauros for me.

Now if you don't mind - it seems like that man is about to challenge me to a drinking contest.  It's not his fault.  He doesn't know where I was born or whose daughter I am.

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