Marcogg is the capital of the Santharian province of Manthria on the continent of Sarvonia with currently about 40.000 inhabitants. It was an important historical town as the capitol of ancient Avennoria, and is now the trade city of the region, controlling the flow of goods and products from above Tyr Donion down to Klinsor. It is a human city but has excellent trade relations with the Mitharim Clan of dwarves who reside in the area to the northeast. Marcogg has been inhabited almost continuously since its founding in 10.350 b.S., and is known for its huge markets and its seven spectacular falls.
Picture description. View on the Avennorian houses of Roubins Plaza in the center of the Manthrian capital Marcogg. Image by Bard Judith.
spectacular city of Marcogg is centred around the famous seven falls of the
Mashdai River, also known as the Vildegg Bend.
Vast basaltic ridges fan out from the massive Achare Peak which dominates the
horizon, forming the ledges over which the falls tumble, and the steps upon
which the city proudly rises.
Many of the stone buildings are constructed from the dark local basalt, or from white clay brick imported from the Gryphon's Marl area. The contrast of black and white, with the sparkle of the river cutting through it, is quite effective from a distance. Elsewhere, the walls are formed from whitish plaster and dark timber, again providing a striking contrast. Here and there the old city walls may still be seen, although almost destroyed by urban expansion, overbuilding, and the thrifty Marcoggian habit of recycling handy bits of cut stone that seem to have no immediate purpose. Luckily the cobbled streets are in almost constant use, so there is little risk of their surfaces being ripped up for building supplies!
The city is shaped by its geographic surroundings, which are certainly worthy of note; a series of seven cascading falls follow seven Steps, or basaltic ridges, for a total of a hundred-and-fifty-ped drop over a length of almost seven hundred peds. The entire series of falls is commonly referred to as “Vildegg Bend”, but each fall has its own name and character.
The first drop is the largest and is given the unimaginative name, "First Fall", and drops about 50 peds. The next four all drop between 9-12 peds and cover about 300 peds. Respectively, they are known as “Sherrine’s Leap” (see the story of that name in Bard Judith’s compendium), “Trili Fall”, “Fresh Ale”, and “Nishe Fall”. The sixth fall is something of a rocky bottleneck, and the water leaps out almost six or seven peds away from the Step before curving downwards into the river again. Although its formal name is “Perryn Fall”, it is locally referred to as “The Widdler”, for obvious reasons. Between the sixth and the last the river flows wide and shallow, over a scattered collection of basalt boulders which create treacherous rapids. The last fall is about 80 peds downstream from the others and splits over a central huge boulder. It drops about 17 peds and is given the name "Foot Falls", probably after some long-forgotten jest.
Buildings and Places of the City can be summarized as follows:
Image description. The High Bridge of Marcogg as seen from one of the northwestern balconies of the Great Nehtorian Temple. Picture by Quellion.
Bridges & Roads
Most horse, wagon, and other major commercial traffic is routed above the Mashdai Reservoir, crossing the river on the plains just above the city, or goes down on one of the two main roads that circle through the city and crosses at the Low Bridge. On the west side of Marcogg the main circle road is named “Nish-Fare” – an abbreviation of the formal name “Nisheton Thoroughfare” -, while the eastern side is called “Archare Route”. A smaller but still main square is located just off Nish-Fare, in the southwest corner of the city, composed of Lawfish Road to the south, Weavers Lane on the west, and Rune Street, a short section in the north which runs into the curve of Nish-Fare.
To the north of the city, running up into the plains, is the Mithrun Trail, also called the Mithrun Route - the major north-south trade road that eventually splits to head east across the Mithral Mountains at Crazy Woman Pass and west to Chrondra, the next largest city in the area. The Mithrun Trail continues south of the city, on the western side of the river, going past the docks and south through the Marcoggian suburbs and farmlands until it curves southwest between the Caeytharin Mountains and the Auturian Woods, towards Klinsor. There is also a smaller trade route known as River Road leading off the Southern Mithrun Trail, just below the city, which runs eastwards along the river valley towards Parthanul on the coast.
On the lowest Step, the Low Bridge, formally known as the Sunset Bridge, connects the east and west sides of the city. It seems to be only an extension of the flat, wide roadbed, with little grace or delicacy, but its sturdy slab shape bears much of the mercantile traffic of the city. For further details see the entry on the Sunset Bridge.
Between the High and Low Bridges are many lesser spans – some professionally built of granite piers and pilings, some mere stacks of mossy timbers. In one place between the sixth and seventh falls, where the Mashdai River widens into shallow rapids, the ‘bridge’ is only a series of wide stepping stones, some just a handspan above the swirling water. Marketwomen and fishwives cross with unthinking grace, having done it daily for most of their lives, and porters step deftly over the gaps even with the heaviest bundles on their shoulders. Most of the bridges have names, and all have histories behind their names, though some of the stories are lost in the mists of the past.
On the highest Step of the city the Great Temple and the Thane's Palace stand like guardians on either side of the First Falls, all of Marcogg spread below them. The High Bridge (see picture), an arched walkway poised above the leap of white water, with the great reservoir of the Mashdai behind it, connects the two huge guardians. This is not a major span and is only used for foot or single horse passage.
Temple of Nehtor/Hospice of
This lovely all-white edifice was designed by dwarf architects and much of the original work carried out by dwarf masons in the 920s (b.S.) to the 930s. It seems to rise like a swan’s breast directly from the foaming water to its east and comes gracefully up onto the green sward which fronts the Nishton Thoroughfare to the left. The general shape is oval, topped with a curving dome, while dainty arches in a smooth white stone mark the passageways to the interior. Lacy balconies of the same white stone ring the curving sides on the second and third floors, while the fourth is a simple terrace that supports the dome.
Recently the Great Temple has been expanded, mostly by human masons and craftsmen working under the supervision of specially-hired Mitharim stoneworkers from Kor Mithrid. An entire extra ‘ring’ of rooms was added to encircle the first floor to create a light-filled, sunny area with facilities for the clerics of Nehtor to provide healing, while the cellars have been extensively dug out to provide both storage space and recuperation rooms for the new ‘hospice’, as the Head Priest refers to it.
It is suspected that there may be a dwarf-built passage from the Thane's Palace under the first falls of the Mashdai leading to the Nehtorian Temple. It is also rumoured that such a passage exists due to the influence of Lady Swanhild (see below) and the White Nehtorians, and that in the recent expansion of the Great Temple a specific subterranean chapel was created for the benefit of the Dalorin sect. However that may be, the recently constructed hospice within the Temple is of benefit to all, whether noble or poor, and we may thank the Thane Swanhild for her generous financial support of the building.
This sturdy building lies to the east of Sherrine’s Leap, its high balconies and heavy terraces overlooking the lovely view of the High Bridge (see picture) and the First Falls to the northwest. Directly across the river are the graceful white lines of the Great Temple, while behind the palace are the best-preserved areas of the old city walls, elsewhere marked only by crumbling granite blocks or ancient foundations. Greenery spills down from the dark stone terraces of the palace, a counterpoint to the arching water below, while the steep slate tiles of its roofs are damply emerald with the ever-present moss. The building contains a great central courtyard, stables, servants’ quarters for forty, a barracks for the Ducal Guard, a small chapel, an orrery tower, a mews with ten to twelve hawks in residence, a grand ballroom, a private well, and assorted halls, bedrooms, studies, privy chambers, kitchens, sculleries, and cellars. The over-all feel is more suited to a lone castle than an urban palace, and the place looks as if it would be easily defensible in case of a siege.
Between the ‘Widdler’ and the Foot Falls, in the center of the rapids, a gigantic black boulder lies, shaped with one flat side, tilted slightly upwards towards Injèrá’s rays and oriented southwest. Ancient runic carvings on its face tell the story of Liemolf Marcogg and his Avennorian explorers, and give the town its original name of Nisheton-on-Vildegg-Bend. It is commonly believed to date back to the time of Liemolf, but currently scholars suspect that it may be an artifact from the Reconstruction of barek Swanhild, in the mid-1600s. A replica of the rock is located on the Northern Mithrun Route, at the intersection of Merchant’s Road where the first commercial traffic bridge across the Mashdai is located just above the reservoir.
Temple of Baveras
The spectacular Temple of Baveras is located on the river as well, just above Trili Fall, the third drop of water. And ‘on’ is indeed the correct expression, as the cunning dwarven stonesmiths who built the edifice were asked to locate it so that water would flow both through and around the temple, which they did with creativity and genius.
Most Baverian temples are constructed in a round or circular shape, while those which are not exactly circular have three, six, or twelve corners to represent Baveras’ other symbol, the triangle. The shape of this building is made up of several adjacent triangles which form a span running from one side of the river to the other. This elongated span is intersected by a wide pierced trough carved from the riverbed and set with dolfolk-shaped arches in such a way that the diverted water flows down the trough and leaps up over the stone fish in spectacular curves and fountains, to emerge finally from the front face of the temple in a glorious rainbow-scattering spray. Slim pillars support the marble dome, their capitals and bases resembling two outward-curving waves. Here and there inside the wet tile floor of the temple are set tiny pools, with intricately carved drains from top to bottom so that fresh water constantly flows through them, and the little river fish which dart around in them can be purchased and released as a live offering which the priests say pleases Baveras. Silver-hued fish are said to carry your wishes and petitions to the goddess, while herne-shaded fish represent thanks and gratitude for fulfilled prayer. There are deep alcoves set into the back of the temple with two-ped high purification waterfalls running down their sloping backs, where worshipers may come and wash their hands, faces, or bodies; they are especially popular in the sultry days of summer!
A carving of the Water Mistress herself is cunningly placed at the very back of the temple, just above where the central trough starts, with water flowing down over its curves and enigmatic smile so that the stone features appear to move and ripple in response to the gaze of the faithful. Along either side the tall arches that face the river banks and the slender footbridges are draped with cloth; light blues and greens and whites in the summer are moistened with sprays of water near the edge of the arches, cooling the temple as the breezes blow through them. They are left up in the winter but pulled back into graceful wet drapings which eventually freeze into softly tinted ripples of ice, like crystal carvings around the entrance, while heavy felt hangings are added just inside the openings to keep out the drafts.
Three large markets which run on alternating days of the week serve Marcogg's needs: the Produce Market, where the fresh goods from the southern farmlands of Twynor are brought, the marvelously odoriferous Fish Market near the docks, and the Central Market, where almost anything else may be bought, sold, bartered, traded, or acquired for a price.
Here also goods come in from all over the province and go out to all areas: items from Kolbruk, fish from Parthanul, beef down from the Huiscen Plains, flowers from the edge of the Auturian Woods, vegetables and fruit from the southern farmlands, bricks from the Gryphon’s Marl to the southwest, pearls from Ciosa… one can find almost anything in the Marcoggian markets if one takes the time to look!
We would be remiss if we did not mention some of the smaller but still well-known places in Marcogg such as the famous Vine & Psittae, the best tavern in the city boasting ‘over forty types of drinks, liquors, ales, spirits, and other potations’, and its competitor, the White Deer, or the Apothecary’s Flask, which sells all sorts of medicinal, chemical, and herbal concoctions.
A traveler will have his or her choice of numerous inns and bedplaces; on the cheaper end of the scale are such places as Tarhand’s Cothouse down by the Fish Market (mostly frequented by the dockyard sorts and the poorer merchants) while those with a few silverbards to jingle would probably continue to Herne’s Hostel on Weaver’s Lane.
If that same traveler then needed to replace a few items or completely replenish his supplies, the popular and broadly-stocked Orrin Chandler’s would have much of what he required. If seeking swords, daggers, or basic armour, one cannot do better than the dwarven-owned and operated Dwarven Arms (an unimaginative but accurate name for the huge weaponsmithy!). For soft goods, the long-established weaving firm of Sergetha & Daughters has a great deal of made-up stock and can weave-to-order most individual requests.
Eating establishments are on every street of the city, and range from the tiny fish-fry stalls and temporary ale-tents to the elegant frescoed rooms of Seven Falls Fine Food, overlooking the cascade of Sherrine’s Leap on Vildegg Bend. Taverns, beer-halls, pubs, and other drinking holes may also be found throughout the city.
If seeking entertainment in the evening, the East Side of the city, just off Achare Route, is an area a visibly-armed man may choose to wander with sufficient coin to purchase more exotic drinks, emotion-altering substances, or paid companionship. However, the second-lowest Step of the city (along which runs Lawfish Road) is somewhat safer and has the more discreet establishments such as the simply-named ‘Jenny’s’ to recommend it.
And finally, if the adventurous traveler should run short of money during his stay, he always has the option of risking his future at Fribben the Human’s shop, where the ample-bodied money-lender will gladly discuss terms with him.
Location. The city of Marcogg is located in eastern Manthria, within the kingdom of Santharia, on the Vildegg Bend of the great Mashdai River which flows down from the coastal Mithral Mountains. To its west are the lovely Auturian Woods, home of the Tethinrhim elves. To the southwest are the fertile grasslands of the Twynor region, while still further on lie the clay wastes of the Tolonian Heath. Marcogg is always in view of mountains; the stark Mithrals to the northeast and east, and the softer blue curves of the Caeytharins to the south and east.
|Picture description. The location of the Marcogg, capital of the Santharian province of Manthria, located close to the Adanian Sea and the Mithral Mountains. Maps by Artimidor.|
People. Now that peace
has settled upon the United Kingdom, Marcogg’s
current population runs to almost 40.000 inhabitants, according to Thane
Swanhild’s most recent census.
The city is quite cosmopolitan for its size, but its population is mostly represented by humans. The humans of Marcogg are proud of their Avennorian roots and traditions, including their seafaring heritage, but most especially the accumulation of wealth as a mark of cultural status. As one historian notes: “…the King was chosen by wealth, not bloodline. ... Since most kings increased their wealth usually they could pass on that wealth to their son or daughter. There had been some instances where a stranger had come up with more wealth than the King and the King had been deposed." Certainly in Marcoggian society one’s monetary achievements are as well-known as one’s bloodline and pedigree might be in the Santhalan court!
A number of dwarves from the Mithrals have settled in the city (as evidenced by the Dwarven Arms and other Thergerim-run shops) but mostly the Mitharim prefer to do their trading to the north at Grensa Post. Some gnomes and hobbits have homes on the East Side or along the Southern Mithral Trail between the city proper and the Twynor Farmsteadings. The occasional Brownie can be seen, and once in a while an elven ranger will pass through on the outskirts of town. Merfolk have been known to accompany ships up the river as far as the Docks from time to time, although they claim the freshwater makes their skins itch and they cannot ‘breathe’ it for long.
The Tethinrhim elves keep to their settlements in the Auturian Woods to the west of Marcogg, while the Mitharim dwarves range the Mithral Mountains to the east. Northward on the Huiscen Plains, near the paired foothills called the Sentinels, is said to be the mogliar region, where the reclusive mole-like semi-sentients dwell in deep burrows. Reports of mogliar sightings are few and far between, usually told by the cattleherders and drovers who tend their herds on the plains.
In the region of Marcogg are also the small settlements, mostly human, of Nathembly, Chrondra, and Simsy, running from south to north along the Upper Mashdai. They tend to depend on the river and the trade route along it and are mostly composed of small farmers, fresh-fishers, and cattleherders. Generally raw goods go downriver and products come back from Marcogg. Southward the Twynor Farmsteadings stretch for league upon league along the Southern Mithral Trail, with here and there the round doors of hobbitholes or the quaint shapes of gnomedwellings breaking the expanse of golden grainfields and lush orchards.
Coat of Arms/Sign. Marcogg’s coat of arms shows a silver shield which is divided from top left to bottom right by a waving blue band, representing the Vildegg Bend portion of the Mashdai River. On the top right area is a purple mountain overlaid with a golden coin, standing for Achare Peak and the debt of gratitude owed to the Mitharim in the construction of the city, while on the lower left is a green evoor fish crossed with a red spray of vegetation, showing the city’s source of income and origins as a trade town. Simple but easily identified, this coat of arms is used on banners throughout the town and stamped on produce bags, fish casks, and other trade items from butterpats to local wineries’ labels. Thane Swanhild uses a variation of this coat of arms in the palace which merges the river image with his own crest, the Swan Guarding.
Government. Marcogg is governed by a city council under the leadership of the current Thane (ruler of the Manthrian province), Herrgan Johl Swanhild, a descendant of the famous Barek Swanhild. The councilors are drawn equally from the leading nobility of the city and the prosperous burghers/merchant lords, six of each. Their term of service is three years at a time, and near the end of that term they are individually expected to propose several replacements, whom Thane Swanhild can either approve or reject. From this pool of peer candidates, twelve are chosen by vote of the old council.
Picture description. A document signed with the Thane's seal of the province of Manthria. Image drawn by Bard Judith.
This system does not allow for a great deal of representation of the less
well-to-do in Marcoggian society, but it keeps trade flowing, the nobles
prosperous, and jobs for almost everyone. The law codes of Marcogg have been in
place for centuries, but new proposals are always being laid before the council
and the Thane by new members eager to have their name attached to a fresh piece
of legislation, from issues as serious as the death penalty to as simple as the
width of new laneways. In the last few years some of the most well-known motions
that were accepted have been “Julya’s Fountained Intersection Proposal”,
“Merovin the Senior’s Proportional Taxation Appeal”, “Lerous Pratilly’s Appendix
to the City Guard Codex of Halodin Swanhild” (another descendant of the famous
Barek), and “Gerontious’s Horse Dung Removal System”.
Thane Swanhild has held the governorship of Marcogg for the last twenty years, generally to popular acclaim. He is perceived as being inflexible but just, and while not open to innovation or emotional appeal, is more easily swayed by impeccably presented logic and carefully worked-out engineering plans. Physically he bears out this perception, being a tall dark man with a hawkish profile and deepset, unreadable eyes, invariably well-dressed but with only the Marcogg gold chain of office and the Thane's ring to indicate his rank. He has been wed to Jassitha Erphana Karyestran, an Erpheronian noblewoman from Voldar, in Vardýnn. Her father rose high in the ranks of the White Knights, while her mother, a devotee of the healing deities, was active in charities and helped to set up a hospice for the poor in Voldar. Jassitha herself - or Lady Swanhild as we should call her - despite being active in her children’s upbringing as well-educated and accomplished nobility, has also found time to continue developing trade relations with the Mitharim dwarves and is known as a supporter of the White Nehtorians or Dalorins. It is under her energetic influence that the formerly somewhat dilapidated Thane's Palace is being restored and decorated, and that the Great Temple of Nehtor has found the wherewithal to expand its environs, including the recently-constructed Hospice which serves the medical needs of noble and pauper alike without question of payment other than in kind.
Climate. The spray from the river, and the location of the city in the rainshadow of the Mithral Mountains, gives Marcogg a moist climate which is said to be beneficial to the skin. Whether or not this is true, it certainly is good for the local mosses, lichens, and vegetation; the parts of Marcogg that are not black and white are a rich green!
One can expect a light mist about half the time, and actual rain three or four days out of ten, depending on the season of the year. Further away from the city, to the south and west, it is often sunnier, so the major farmlands of Twynor upon which Marcogg depends are located in that area.
Flora. Marcogg is green where it is not black and white; mosses and vines thrive in the moist climate, and the mountains to the northeast create a miniature subclimate of warmth which ensures that a number of cultivated flowers and bushes also do well. Yealm reed has been planted and is spreading well in the Mashdai River, helping to filter some of the wastes of the city, and various waterweeds are practically a nuisance, growing so well that they hinder boats’ passage upriver from the coast.
River birch and wolf willow grow long and slender close to the water’s edge, and in the city are kept pollarded so that they create thick globes of green leaves in the spring and summer. During the fall the cobble streets are full of their golden sheddings, and in winter their cut-back silhouettes stand out beautifully against the grey skies. The pruned branches are always much in demand as inexpensive strappings and ties, and can be woven into sturdy baskets and other wicker products.
Tievine, ivy, morningglory and purplebean are all vines that grow luxuriantly with plenty of water, and many of the city walls are covered with their variously herne-hued, grey, green, and pale lavender leaves, softening the contrast of the black basalt and white brick.
Dochnuts, kies, and arv may all be found in the lightly forested flatlands west of Marcogg, before the thicker stands of the Auturian Woods begin. Nathembly farmers are beginning to consider cultivating them rather than merely gathering them wild as they are currently somewhat limited by the distance they must travel and the area to be covered.
Fauna. In the city of Marcogg itself the animal population is somewhat limited to the usual urban rats, pigeons, and a small stray dog problem for which one of the City Councilors is currently formulating a motion tentatively entitled “Brunsavan’s Unhomed Canine & Canine Product Removal Proposal”. This does not, of course, take into consideration the many pets safely ensconced in homes throughout the city, such as the popular avenor cats and the clever mimsy. Psittae and other cagebirds have a small following, and can be seen hung out under the eaves of many buildings in the evening to take the air and sing.
Bonehead and evoor are thick in the river north of the city, and can be caught in the Mashdai Reservoir with some patience. Baneg cattle are bred and herded on the Huiscen Plains, in competition with the wild Sarvonian deer that still roam the area freely.
For details on other wild animals of the area, see the Mithral Mountains entry.
Resources. Twynor, to the southwest, supplies most of Marcogg’s fresh fruits and vegetables, while beef comes in from Chrondra and Simsy on the northwestern plains, and salt-fish from Parthanul on the coast. Nathembly, a small village to the northwest, sends down freshwater fish and plains deer. Archare Mountain, part of the Mithrals, is technically a dwarven realm but long-standing negotiations with Kor Mithrid allow humans to do surface prospecting and hunting. It is rumoured that Lady Swanhild is currently in discussions with the Mitharim Clan chief to allow for surface mining on Archare as well, but this is as yet unconfirmed.
Myth/Lore. Vildegg Bend is the name given to a curve in the Mashdai River where a series of cascading falls are located. The early Avennorians discovered this bend as they were exploring the Mashdai on one of their perpetual quests for wealth. They set up a city at the foot of these falls and named it Nisheton-on-Vildegg-Bend, or Nisheton for short. Later (see History) the city was renamed Marcogg after the Avennorian explorer and leader Liemolf Marcogg.
Some scholars state that ‘Nishe’ was the old word for ‘nixie’ or ‘river nymph’ and have found scraps of Avennorian folktales and accounts that relate Liemolf Marcogg’s encounter with such a nymph. One old song even claims that Liemolf had a child by the Nishe of the river, and this song has come down to us, in debased form, as a chanty still sung by ‘bollies’, or barge workers, on the Mashdai. A few sample verses are given below, for which we disclaim all responsibility if the reader is offended:
“Oh Lymouth met the nixie there,
Information provided by Bard Judith