Part 7: Leaving the Farrgaunlar
If we'd been entering the Iron
City in the normal manner, along the Traders' Way, the gate guards on
duty would have levied an entry tax on us right away, even before leveling
their queries as to our business and what goods we were carrying or seeking.
(Most of them accept personal payments from local merchants to recommend
certain establishments where such-and-such can be had, and this practice
is not unlawful.)
One of the reasons a guard detail
during daylight hours is some 20 strong is to make sure all of this taxation
doesn't slow the flow of traffic overmuch. Near dusk, the strength of
the guard is often raised to thirty-odd to make sure no one slips in or
out uninspected, no tax thefts occur, and no one's left waiting to enter
or exit as darkness comes.
But back to the entry tax itself
-- forgive me; I do go on. Well, then -- entry on foot or on a
single ridden beast, even if openly carrying goods, is free. Entry with
a handcart, mule, or other single beast of burden (packframes are permitted
for this rate, but not beast-hauled carts or sledges) is 5 copper pieces.
Additional mules or pack animals are 2 coppers each, and this rate also
applies to animals pulling wagons or coaches, even if they're also ridden
by a person or carry no goods. Each wagon is 2 silver pieces, empty or
full, and regardless of size.
Those who can't pay or refuse
to pay are typically denied entry. If they're citizens, they suffer forfeit
of goods to the amount of double the denied tax. Beggars aren't welcome
in Khôltar, but someone who arrives coinless and claims to have been robbed
will typically be given a bowl of soup and detainment with some searching
questions at a duty house before being expelled from the city or personally
escorted by garthraun to wherever within Khôltar's walls they claim to
have business waiting.
Before we leave this busy spot,
let's wheel around and look at the inside of the gate itself. See the
carvings of wild desert nomads mounted on rearing horses dying with Iron
City spears through them? All of Khôltar's gates sport different carvings,
so this none-too-tasteful display tells us we're at the Farrgaunlar.
Let's head up the North Way
to Handrornlar. Our route is one of the most visually interesting streets
in the Iron City, because after initial ramparts of greatfists north of
Pauntraal on the east side, and north of the two competing Onsruur mansions
of Anthormbrur and Baharrokhbrur on the west side, the North Way becomes
a welter of older, smaller buildings -- forges and foundries scarred and
soot-blackened with age and daily hard use. Most of them have the fragments
of collapsed stairs and balconies, and projecting beams (much enjoyed
by the local plumphaers, a sort of pigeon that poorer citizens often fell
with slung stones to make nasty-tasting pies) fitted with block-and-tackle
winches for the raising and lowering of goods into storage lofts. These
are the most run-down and cheapest of Khôltan buildings, and they change
hands often -- so often that the North Way sports the greatest abundance
of shop signs in the city.
Here the visitor can expect
to find the largest number of second-hand goods shops, curio and failed
or salvaged cargo vendors, repairers and fixers and crafter who claim
to refinish as good -- and of course many of the most desperate low local
thieves and swindlers (as opposed to those grander thieves and swindlers
whose business runs to shoddy goods and short shipments among hundreds
of wagonloads, or misappropriations of very large amounts of coin in dealings
with large businesses elsewhere).
Here, too, many costers (such
as Saravho's and the Torch and Shield) and independent caravan masters
(such as Thalmuth Hulden and Undro "Old Master" Mhalanklar)
have offices where they sign on lone travelers and small-wagon merchants
into whelming caravans.
Dozens of small alleys and largely
residential streets open off the North Way, but only two routes cross
it directly (that is, have mouths facing each other across the Way): Erethorn's
Ride and Suldroon Street. I mention them because we'll explore them later
Well, well -- my nonstop blather
has brought us to another little crisis for me (Mourngrym's at my door
now, with a long face and someone's blood dripping from his gauntlets),
and the waymoot hard by Handrornlar for ye. So, see thee next time.
the previous Elminster Speaks
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