Grimm Tidings

Chapter 19

The Lord Baltrog had returned to his study to look over his map of Seatorn. He had memorized the map many years ago, but whenever he was perturbed he would pull it out again and let his eye wander over it. The ritual soothed him. Let Grimestoke chase down that ridiculous dwarf and the half-elf. It was his fault they were in the building. He would study his map.

Seatorn was at the end of the Finger of Torn, the finger tip as the locals liked to say. The Finger narrowed to a peninsula about a mile across just where Seatorn began. That mile was divided from the rest of the peninsula by the Wall of Seatorn, a huge structure that ran from the shore on the north to the shore on the south, bending at two points so that the wall curved inward, towards the ocean. The Wall was a defensive structure, but it was also a huge building. It was filled with municipal offices, courtrooms, guildhalls, and even apartments. All these dwellings faced the city side of the wall. Arriving from the Finger, the Wall appeared to be just that: a blank wall some four stories high. But from inside the city, the wall looked like a rookery that seabirds made on cliffs. It was adorned with elaborate doors, crystal windows, tapestries, flags, and pendants.

There was only one gate through the Wall, and it was so heavily guarded that no one in the city’s history had every tried to assault it.

Inside the Wall, the city filled the peninsula. Immediately under the shadow of the wall was an upscale area of fine houses. Members of the civil service and especially successful merchants lived there to be close to the municipal affairs being conducted in the Wall. The local population called the area “The Shade.” To live in the Shade of the Wall was the dream of every upwardly mobile citizen.

Spreading west from the Wall were a series of neighborhoods, some good, some indifferent, a few bad. Shop Street contained the majority of the merchant activity. The artisans lived in a few blocks near the north shore called the Narrows. South of the Narrows was the public square which housed a weekly market.

Baltrog had grown up where Shop Street met the square. His father had had a fine house on the corner of Shop Street and North Corner Lane. Baltrog wondered if the building was still standing. He had heard that Seatorn was so prosperous these days that any building more than fifty years old was torn down and replaced with something taller.

Finally the city ended at the harbor, the glory of Seatorn. Thanks to a small archipelago of rocky islands – “The Necklace” -- that stretched in a curve from the southern edge of the harbor out into the sea and curved northward, the harbor was protected from the worst ocean storms. As a result Seatorn was the busiest port on the coast. And the harbor was lined with docks, warehouses, and ship builders. It bustled with activity every hour of the day and most hours of the night.

Baltrog’s survey of the map was almost complete, but he had saved one area for last. Hard against the Wall, at the south end of the Shade, was a strange anomaly in the street grid. The Wall had two wings that each extended into the city about two blocks. The wings were angled so that they approached each other forming a triangle with the Wall. In that strange space was Seatorn’s cemetery. Because it was bound in by the walls of the city, its space was severely limited and highly prized. The best families of the city bought and traded the few prime plots in the cemetery as though they were venture stocks in the spice trade. Baltrog’s father’s family had owned one of the prime lots in that space. On it sat a beautiful marble mausoleum. But when his father was murdered, the city had thrown his mutilated body into the city garbage heap. The city fathers, in their wisdom, declared that a monster such as Baltrog’s father could never lie within the city walls. Baltrog heard, before he left the city, that his family’s plot had been confiscated by the city and auctioned off to a family of rich cloth traders.

Baltrog toyed with the idea of visiting that family. Or perhaps having some fun with their departed loved ones that now lay in his family’s mausoleum.

His reverie was cut short by a sound, the bellow of someone in pain, or perhaps great anger, coming from somewhere near the main hall.

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