Khôltar, Part 12: A Tour of Dubrinlar
And so we meet again, hovering as foolishly sightseeing archmages do if they want to look about or attract arrows, above the last waymoot of the Iron City: Dubrinlar, where the road surrounding Khôltar pierces the west face of the city walls. The inner face of this gate has carved images of human smiths and crafters, all holding their hammers or other tools in one hand and holding out their other hands to receive coins. Each of them has a small pile of accumulated coins already (mock discs of stone, of course, not real ones), and I can't help but think as many a visitor has: a more apt image of a Kholtan couldn't be found -- workers who always have their hands out for money, as if that's all that matters to them.
Ahem. Well, there are worse things to do in life, and most of them involve sharp-bladed weapons and the spilling of the blood of others. But let me not topple over into another digression; I'll instead plunge forthwith into my customary swift tour of what buildings of interest fall within thy sight at this waymoot. Of the three entrances into Khôltar, this one certainly presents the Iron City's most formal and forbidding face to visitors.
Hard by the northern side of the gate is a tall, grim tower bristling with ballistae decks. This is Darrusktraal, the local garthraun duty-house. It's named for a long-dead local hero of the garthraun. (Elgrol Darrusk was a much-loved lummox of a man who apparently held the gate alone for some hours against scores of orcs before succumbing to his wounds; if his statue just inside the doors of the place is any judge, he was large and fat enough to fill most normal doorways without any need for armor.) Darrusktraal's function and interior is apparently very much like that of Pauntraal at Farrgaunlar, except that it tries to make up for being singular (there's no matching garrison point on the other side of the gate) by being twice as large as it need be -- and thrice as menacing. A lone triple-bow points east along Hael Way, and another points northeast up Orntathtar Way; three more are trained down on the waymoot, and the rest -- sixteen, I believe -- are aimed to fire into the gate's mouth. Clearly Kholtans see the people of Shaareach as much fiercer folk than I do.
Next to the duty house is the mouth of the alley, where a reinforcement detail of garthraun usually stands awaiting peak periods of inspection and tax collection. The next building along, on the west side of Orntathtar Way, is a fist whose stone walls have been worked into relief carvings of a random selection of wagon wheels, anvils, and hammers -- surrounded by hundreds of falling coins. This is Halamor's Tower. The wise Halamor died rich as a result of renting out the floors of his fist to scores of "finecrafters" (mostly the polishers and assemblers and repairers of hinges, hasps, locks, and other small items), who have their offices and workshops here. So popular was the concept that the older, smaller buildings next to it (as one heads north along Orntathtar), Hindror House and Nolvur's Manyworks, have also been given over to finecrafters' offices. Beyond them, Orntathtar becomes a mixture of clothing shops and cloth merchant warehouses, backed by streets of greatfists galore. So let us turn in the air and survey the other side of the gate.
The mouth of the alley meets our gaze first, and beyond it rises a brown stone building adorned with a row of very tall, narrow, arch-topped windows, and above them scores of tiny "stand and stare" balconies with wraparound wrought-iron railings, which are entered via glass-paned doors. The balconies got their curious nickname because they're so small that a person entering them has room to do little else but stand motionless and look down (though falling is also an option).
This is the Maerador House of Welcome, which is a fairly clean, reasonably-priced, new inn that puts three floors of small, rather spartan rooms over a ground floor with a lofty ceiling. The ground floor is given over to common baths (male guests, female guests, with a raucous mixed bath chamber between) and to an echoing lobby set with open internal balconies at varying heights. Here guests are free to sit and chat with other guests, or meet Kholtans to do business or for social purposes. (Several beautiful persons of both genders and all four of the Iron City's predominant races reputedly operate as professional providers of "social purposes" in this room.) It's the sort of place I dislike, but many a weary traveler may seize upon it gratefully as "low on worries."
Next door to the inn is Vandanamer's, a very noisy and popular luthdren. It can be described best as a great echoing barn of a place where thin soups and hearty slabs of meat are cut in front of diners' eyes from the many sizzling carcasses of rothé and oxen that turn endlessly on spits. It charges a fair coin for the provender and feeds many Kholtans swiftly every night.
Beyond it is the mouth of Galaglavur Street, and beyond that the ever-roaring din of Krostur's Forge. Let's turn and look upon the prow of this waymoot and view the two huge civic buildings that greet the traveler's eye upon entry through Dubrinlar.
The one on the left (north) with several spires is Malgart House, a courthouse where judges administer the laws, some serving as "guides" to present a case by questioning accused (like thy lawyers do, but I'll say more of that in a later column). The large, pompous-looking box on the right (south) is Manycoins Hall. Primarily a city-run bank and money exchange, it's also where official Iron City representatives will (for nominal fees) witness contracts and trade agreements. Ye also can hire copyists to duplicate such writings and, in the lobby, view a large, detailed (but unlabeled, except for cryptic tax codes) building-by-building map of the city.
And there ye have all of interest to be seen at this waymoot. Next time we'll look at the city's grandest civic building: the central fortress of the ruling Belarkh. Gah, I'm trembling already.
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