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6th of July, 2006, 23:58
Corinport

Population: 8,561

Trade
Imports: Lumber, weapons, metal, stone
Exports: Fish, seafood, some more fish, and slaves

Appearance: A hodge podge of different architectural styles without any real plan or even a sense of a plan. There is a definite docks district, but other than that it is advised that people unfamiliar with the city hire a local to lead them through the maze of cities. This layout changes on a fairly regular basis as old houses get torn (or burned) down and new houses go up. Those with money often go in for walled estates outside of the city proper.

Also, it rains in Corinport. A lot. The actual reason is because it is situated between the ocean and the largest lake in Valeria (bordering on in-land sea), but there are rumors that Corinport was cursed back in the dark days of pre-history, right around the Founding, to suffer rainfall excessive to that experienced elsewhere in Valeria.
The people tend to dress in comfortable clothes, preferring loose-fitting garb. The women of Corinport are notoriously lascivious, and the city in general is (in)famous for is brothels.

Power Groups

(a small selection of the largest gangs and powers in Corinport, there are literally hundreds of factions and gangs and chronicling them all seems rather foolish)

Red River Brotherhood: The Brotherhood is exclusively made up of escaped prisoners from other cities. They’ve managed to come together in Corinport, forming into one of the largest gangs of river pirates. They’ve been known to charge exorbitant rates for “protection,” though to be fair, once paid they do defend their charges from the other bands. Their leader goes by the sobriquet Cutlass. They can be identified by the red bandanas that they wear. Rumor has it that they stain them red with the blood of their enemies.

Silver Mantas: Another large group of river pirates is known as the Silver Mantas, whose members can be identified by the tattoo of a manta that they sport on the back of their right hands. They number fewer than the Red River Brotherhood, but while the Brotherhood works the river leading to the ocean, the Mantas work the lake area around Corinport. As a result, they have more interactions (usually fights) with ships out of Praegmathia. They are also involved in smuggling and slave trading. It is rumored that a renegade wizard from Cantabrus is among their number. The Mantas are governed by a group known as the Crescent, but as they always wear masks during their meetings, who they are remains a mystery.

The Mantas and Brotherhood do not directly compete against each other, but make a point not to tread on each other’s toes. About twenty years ago, that wasn’t the case and both groups were nearly destroyed as a result. Cooler heads managed to finally prevail, and Corinport is all the more dangerous as a result.

Laughing Damsels: Despite the name, the Damsels are not entirely comprised of women, though the majority of them are. The Damsels make their living conning passing merchants and seducing visting dignitaries. They’ve also been know to act as highwaymen on the road to Victoris and they have a reputation as adepts of the blade. The Damsels prefer light thin blades, and are rumored to have adopted the rapier as their weapon of choice. It is unknown who the leader is, or if there is even a single leader.

Coils of Karn: The coils are a fully functioning band of assassins that operates out of Corinport. Their rates are exorbitant, but they have a well-deserved reputation as being worth all of it. What is perhaps less well-known is that the Coils do not always kill the target, instead kidnapping them and selling them to the Mantas. Their leader is a tall, handsome man named Jakka who does not hide his allegiance in anyway. It is unknown as to what Karn is a reference to, but some whisper that it is some dark god or demon to whom the murders committed by the assassins are dedicated to.


Petro Baran’s Trade House: One of the few legitimate trade houses in Corinport, Petro Baran’s dates back to the founding, or near enough to it so as not to make a difference. Petro Baran refers to the name of the founder, and the head of the trade house, whether male or female, takes the name Petro Baran to reflect that tradition. They have managed to stay in power as long as they have due to the fact that they are the single largest employer of mercenaries in the area. It’s even rumored that they keep a few Iscathan weapon masters on the payroll, but that is mere conjecture.

The Church of Kharwan: The religious fervor that is spreading throughout Valeria has managed to gain quite a foothold in Corinport. It has adopted methods similar to those of the other groups in the city, though, and regularly relies on muscle to enforce conversion and to protect its more worldly assets.

Despite the Church’s presence in Corinport, including an elaborate-if-heavily-fortified cathedral, a plethora of older gods, goddesses, demigods, demons and devils are worshipped by the populace. The Church has tried to counter this by adopting some of the more benign and popular ones into its own dogma, but this has resulted in the more mainstream Church in Tyrenos to issue warnings saying that the Church in Corinport is dangerously close to heresy. It may be a matter of time before there is a major split in the Church and Holy War declared.

Allies and Enemies

Corinport’s greatest enemy is itself. Unless a strong coalition or single force takes power, Corinport will be looking at a fairly major intra-city war. As it is, sides are being formed among the larger power groups, though who is currently aligned with who is often subject to speculation. The major factions typically function through the smaller gangs and factions without getting their hands dirty themselves. All of this creates ripe opportunities for mercenaries to find work. Getting to spend their pay may be a different matter however, given the current state of affairs.

Merchants, especially those that deal in arms and armor, are also making a proverbial killing as the different groups, and the mercenaries they hire, stockpile. Currently, it costs more in Corinport to buy a loaf of bread than it does to arrange to kill a person, so transporting food into the city could quickly lead to a small fortune. Of course, there are the competing bands of highwaymen and pirates to get past first.

Corinport’s greatest external enemy is Praegmathia. There has been bad blood between the two cities at least as far back as their respective Foundings. There is a bit of oral mythology that the cities were founded by siblings who had a falling out even before the ships landed in Valeria. There are other stories where each side also claims that King Jomren was on their ship, and this has led to violence between the two cities as well.
The reason why the more organized Praegmathia has not launched another attack is because Corinport, despite its lack of organization, is still united against Praegmathia. Corinport can also send forth more ships and boats than Praegmathia can, and historically has better fighters.

Corinport’s greatest ally is Victoris. That Victoris is also allied to Praegmathia is something that both cities are keenly aware of, but the city receives too much in the form of trade from Victoris that they cannot afford to cut off relations. Victoris has been able to opportunistically set the different parties against each other, but it has also been careful to maintain the delicate balance of power. Victoris can see the violence on the horizon, but its merchants and aristocracy are going to squeeze as much out of the chaos as they can. There is also the matter of Victoris being run in truth by the orthodox Church of Kharwan; considering the church of Corinport's purportedly heretical practices of late, one would think that there might be other underlying tensions between the two cities. However, the heads of Church in Victoris are currently more concerned with the consolidation of power in Tyrenos' government (and away from the Church as a consequence) than the eccentric beliefs that Corinport's citizens hold close to their hearts. Time could change this, but for the moment, it has not.

Corinport does not have strong ties with any of the other cities and is generally viewed as the poor cousin among the other cities, though not near so reviled as Cantabrus.

History

To call Corinport an anarchic state is to slight anarchic states. To be more precise, Corinport is composed of a series of gangs, some of which have fancy names like Brotherhood of the Red Wave or Goreki’s Benevolent Order of Mercy, but are gangs nevertheless. If someone were to take the time and effort to actually catalogue all of the gangs, factions and power groups in Corinport it would probably total upwards of 250, give or take 25 what with mergers, splits, groups springing from nothing, and groups utterly destroyed.

All this leads to the fact that there is no central authority in Corinport at all. In fact, there is very little that two Corinporters will ever agree on… save one. Every single person living in Corinport hates, to the very core of their being, Praegmathia.

The anarchic state translates into the formation of the city as well. There is no plan to Corinport, there is no civic government and the only reason the wooden community doesn’t burn to the ground is because neighborhoods put out their own fires.

Not all of the groups are created equal, however, and certain factions are allied with other factions and can bring more influence and brute force to bear on a problem. The fact that there are competing factions is one of the reasons that Corinport has not tried to attack other cities (and why Praegmathia is still around).

Corinport wasn’t always like this. In fact, up until about fifty years ago, Corinport was nearly a poster child for benevolent despotism, having been ruled by a dynastic family (the Castellans) who traced their history back to the founding of the city (though such claims were always viewed as suspect, especially by other cities).

Fifty years ago saw the last Castellan pass away without an heir, and as he died suddenly in a hunting accident, no heir had ever been named.
The former ruler had led with an iron fist in a velvet glove, and as such had delegated very little responsibility. He was the one who had all of the contacts, all of the resources at his disposal to make the city work.

What resulted was that all of the different power groups that he had previously kept a lid on exploded into a frenzy of fighting that continues to this day.

[Once again, all writing credits go to Darius]