Kithtakharos Village Life
Founding of Kith’takharos
Seventy-five years ago, Duke Ven ir’Kesslan led many idealistic nobles to Q’barra in the hope of founding a new Galifar. Those who survived the journey settled into familiar class roles in the new land. One of these nobles was Lady Therese ir’Salmissra.
Lady ir’Salmissra settled in the Whitecliff River swamps. She chose a large and intriguing island that contained a cluster of ancient ruins. The ruins fronted an expanse of open water and included a nearly intact keep. Repairing the keep was the first community project. During the renovation, workers discovered an old library and a handful of writings that had survived the moisture and mold. These discussed many local plants and animals, as well as useful products derived from them.
Scholars deciphered eroded inscriptions and learned the keep had once been called “Kith’takharos” in Draconic, which means “Home of the Guardians.” The original village was constructed thousands of years ago by a semi-aquatic reptilian race called Harlass Orn. Lady ir’Salmissra was enthralled with the idea of occupying the remains of an ancient civilization, and so she kept many of the old names, including those of the swamp plants that would become the core of the village economy.
Kith’takharos has grown to a population of nearly one thousand. A few hundred more people live in the nearby swamp. While many of the inhabitants are directly descended from the original settlers, the bloodlines have been diluted by a steady influx of new arrivals. A majority of the recent immigrants were originally workers hired by merchants to transfer goods between Kith’takharos and the Whitecliff River. A few are suspicious men or women fleeing dubious pasts. Most found that a promise of personal freedom and a tight knit community offset the inconvenience of an inhospitable environment.
Within a generation of the founding of Kith’takharos, the harvesting and trading of swamp plants dominated the economy. Outsiders disparagingly called the people “Swamp Harvesters” or just “Harvesters,” but the locals grew proud of the moniker, and have stubbornly adopted this name as a symbol of honor.
The commerce associated with swamp plants dominates the Kith’takharos economy. Since the most valuable plants are only found near Kith’takharos, the resources, intrigue, and ruthlessness of the swamp plant trade are focused on Kith’takharos. Led by House Tharashk, the outside interests wielding these economic weapons eventually became too powerful to confront without organized opposition. The Order of the Jade Leaf was created to exploit and protect the swamp plant trade.
Meryl Dunestal manages the House Tharashk business in Kith’takharos. His offices boast elaborate magical conveniences, such as chilled air, that somewhat assuage his hatred of the swamp. Meryl schemes to eliminate the Kith’takharos middlemen by procuring an independent source of swamp plants for his House. The Order of the Jade Leaf must publicly tolerate this because of the vast power wielded by House Tharashk. The interplay between Dunestal and the Order provides an undercurrent of tension in Kith’takharos.
Meryl periodically hires adventurers to explore the swamp, but none have found the plants he seeks. Some of the adventurers merely return empty handed, some are lost in the swamp, and he suspects others are killed by the Order.
Mundane life also exists alongside the swamp plant trade. A thousand men and women live and work around Kith’takharos, and most of them are at best tangentially connected to the valuable swamp plants. They are either craftsmen or harvesters of another kind, collecting the edible plants, fungi, and fish so abundantly available from the surroundings.
Scores of fish pens and leech hatcheries line the shores of nearby ponds and inlets, and provide the bulk of Kith’takharos’ food. The newborn leeches are prized as a local delicacy. A typical fish pens is fashioned of scavenged Harlass Orn building stones. The walls contain holes small enough for young fish to enter the pen, but too small for adult fish to escape. The fish enter the pen seeking succulent morsels inside, and grow to become dinner.
Hands behind his back, Dorian Orsova walked a slow circuit around the man bound to the chair. “Look, son. I’m not going to hit you. I will not torture or threaten. Whatever punishment you face will be the justice of Lady Salmissra.”
Chios Sartar swiveled his head from Dorian to Xanthus Bome, who guarded the room’s only exit. He licked his lips and stammered in confusion, “I, uh, I…”
Dorian held up a hand. Chios fell silent. “Before you speak, know that telling me the truth is your best hope. Prove to the Lady that you have a repentant heart, and perhaps she will show you mercy. Now, tell me what you know of Huygens Tierney.”
—Dorian Orsova, interrogating a prisoner.
Many Swamp Harvesters would like to partake of the mind- and body-altering affects of the swamp plants, but costs are high even for locals. For some of those who can afford it, the drugs become companions in their lives and join them in many pursuits. As a warrior sharpens his blade before entering battle, such a person ingests P’keri to sharpen his senses before sexual encounters.
Crime is rare in Kith’takharos. Outsiders commit most crimes that do occur, and Lady ir’Salmissra judges all cases. Of course, Lady ir’Salmissra would rather avoid the need for punishment. She expects merchants to explain the laws of Kith’takharos to their workers. Dorian Orsova makes a point of greeting adventurers when they arrive at the docks and explaining the following laws.
1. Theft is illegal and punishable by fines or reparations, forced community service, or banishment from Kith’takharos.
2. Murder or attempted murder without fair cause is illegal. Punishment can range from forced community service and banishment to execution by F’lunin.
3. Swamp plants are illegal to harvest, process, or transport without the written permission of Lady ir’Salmissra. Punishment ranges from fines or reparations and forced community service to banishment from Kith’takharos.
4. Treason carries the harshest punishment, and is considered any activity that would undermine the security or government of Kith’takharos, such as damaging or disrupting the swamp plant trade. This type of crime strikes at the heart of Kith’takharos’ existence and independence. Treason has only one punishment: execution by F’lunin.
Lady ir’Salmissra always renders judgments and sentences without delay, and Kith’takharos has acquired a reputation for swift justice. If a fine cannot be paid, the criminal undergoes forced community service of a duration determined by Lady ir’Salmissra or Dorian Orsova. Community service ranges from repairing docks and public buildings to loading and unloading cargo from swamp boats.
Executions take place at dawn, and are administered by one of the leaders of the Order of the Jade Leaf. The official leads the criminal to a F’lunin outside Kith’takharos; if necessary, the malefactor will be subdued and carried. The criminal is then paralyzed by a dose of Vas Flumok and placed beneath the plant. The F’lunin acts according to its nature, and slowly digests the criminal over the next few days.