The Slaves of House Hezzrat
Located at the head of the Big Fork of the Forked Tongue Estuary, Altaruk is a client village of the merchant houses of Wavir, Rees, and Tomblador (based in Balic). Recently, however, Balic supremacy has been challenged by the upstart house Hezzrat, some of the local positions being usurped by Hezzrat family members, including the influential position of Vice-Governor.
As villages go, Altaruk is heavily fortified; it is surrounded by a fifteen-foot wall and
defended by five hundred free mercenaries armed with signature mekillot-hide shields, wooden lances, and daggers of sharpened bone.
Despite its formidable defenses, Altaruk is destroyed on a regular basis by giants from the islands of the Forked Tongue Estuary. The sponsors always rebuild the village promptly, for its garrison is a key deterrent to the raiders that would otherwise prey on the heavy caravan traffic at this critical junction. This protection is extended to caravans of other houses in return for payment of a heavy toll as they pass through Altaruk.
-From The Wanderers Journal, with adaptations.
1. Fortress Walls. The 10 foot thick, 15 foot high fortress walls are made of solid granite. The walls are capped with parapets to enable the guards to have some cover during battle. A six foot wide catwalk enables the guards to walk a complete circuit around the fort, simply staying on the walls. Guards constantly patrol the walls, keeping watch in every direction. Pyracantha thorn bushes grow at the base of the walls.
These are used to test wizards who wish entry. See Area 3: Main Gates, for details.
2. Towers. The two-story towers are 25 feet high. There is a ballista mounted on each roof. Each tower roof is watched over by a pair of sentries.
3. Main Gates. These 20 foot wide gates are fashioned of granite and metal. They open at dawn, and close when darkness falls. People who wish access during the closed hours better have influence with the leader of Altaruk, or at the very least, connections with the guards. When any obvious-looking spellcasters seek entry into
the fortress, they are tested. Wizards are asked to cast a cantrip or other small spell. If the bushes wilt, the mage is a defiler, and is consequently refused entry. Two guards man each gate around the clock.
4. Keep. This inner building is the home of Arisphistaneles, the leader of Altaruk.
Also known as the Captain, Arisphistaneles is a human male in his mid-50s. He is paunchy and completely
hairless. He is an outspoken curmudgeon, but also has the capacity to be charming and humorous. He
considers anyone who seeks knowledge a kindred spirit.
5. Barracks. This long structure quarters the mercenary guard force. The small structure attached to the barracks is the quarters of Zul Akfrenar, the mul who commands the mercenaries.
The guards are mercenaries of all races, though predominantly human and mul. They carry distinctive
mekillot hide shields, each decorated with the symbol of Altaruk.
Zul Akframar, Mercenary Leader
Zul is a law and order, by the book commander. A wanderer for the longest time, he finally found a place to
belong: Altaruk. As a result, he is fanatically loyal to Arisphistaneles.
6. Water Source. A narrow but deep well ringed with stones stands in the middle of the courtyard. It is always
watched by three guards.
7. Homes. Built into the walls of the fortress and as stand-alone buildings, these are the quarters of the 1,200
people who dwell permanently in Altaruk.
8. Stables. 100 kanks are stored here. These are the mounts for the fortress cavalry. In addition, visitors may
stable their mounts here and expect them to be tended and cared for. The cost is two ceramic pieces per mount per night. There are always two guards on duty here.
9. Black Poppy. A stone tablet fastened next to the door shows a rendition of an ornate flower. The two-story inn is run by Gelrade Osnabryk, a female human. Due to the plentiful city guard, no bouncers are needed.
Accommodations are five ceramic pieces per night, which includes two meals and six drinks. Separate meals
cost one ceramic piece, and most drinks cost four bits. Gelrade knows her prices are high, but she doesn’t
care; she has the only inn in Altaruk, and she knows it. Besides, her inn is of the finest quality; the customer definitely gets what he or she pays for. The upstairs rooms have secure locks on the doors. Each room has two real beds made of wood, a lamp and oil, a basin and a gallon pottery pitcher filled with fresh water, and a dresser to store clothes and gear. The dressers all have mirrors.The drinking room/common area is always bustling with off-duty guards, visiting caravan members, or citizens of Altaruk.
Gelrade Osnabryk (
Gelrade is an female with a quick wit and a winning smile. She’s a shrewd businesswoman, who,
though she sometimes flirts with the customers, never gets involved with them.
10. Warehouse. This large storage building takes care of the needs of the caravans. PCs can have items stored here for one silver piece per day per 10 square feet of space. The warehouse is always watched by two guards.
11. Traders. Row. This is the name given to the avenue of booths and small shops run by the natives of
Altaruk. Due to the frequency of caravans from all over Athas, the selection and quality of goods is impressive
and worth the money. Items purchased here are at a 20% markup.
a. melee weapons
h. books, paper, scrolls, ink
c. leather goods
j. wine and spirits
e. arrows, bolt
12. Courtyard. This is a large smooth stretch of ground where the people of Altaruk often gath