Way of the Wicked
Matharyn, also known as the City of Lights, is a large city and capital of Talingarde. It is situated the southern most portion of the island, at the Cambrian Bay.
In distant pre-history, Matharyn was the location of a dwarven fortification but this fell into disrepair and was abandoned by the time the ancestors of the Iraen people appeared. Centuries later, the Talirean people arrived and conquered the location, naming it Matharyn (a poor pronunciation of the Iraen title). It grew into a small city over the generations but only became the center of religion and government when House Darius took the throne. The city became a metropolis very quickly after that, as House Darius removed the isolationist policies of the former Barcan rulers and encouraged trade with the mainland.
Although not as wealthy or as popular as Ghastenhall, Matharyn still gets its fair share of trade due to its prime location. Trade with the mainland is encouraged and this has brought tremendous wealth to the city.
Of course, farming and fishing plays its part, but the city also has an impressive industrial base. More relevant though, is that it is the headquarters for the Mitran faith. Tithes are collected here and pilgrims also spend gold here.
The city of Matharyn consists geographically of seven hills that surround a single river, The river Danyth is small and runs a few miles up the peninsula before it breaks into a hundred little streams and largely disappears. Still, it brings gentle fresh water that rinses the inevitable filth of the city out into the endless ocean. Farmers also use the Danyth to barge in tons of grain and produce to the green markets of Carsburn. Around that gentle sustaining river rise seven hills, each covered with the city itself.
This is the only one of the seven hills that touches the sea and drops off suddenly into steep grey cliffs. Arnsill is also dominated by artisans and craftsmen. Once a great dwarven bridge connected Haldynsill to Arynsill but it collapsed long ago. The great stone blocks have since been hollowed out and a line of heavy stone buildings traces the route of the bridge.
Long ago, Arynsill was the site of the old Iraen capital and so residents are forever digging up small bits of pottery and stone arrow-heads in their gardens. Every once in a while someone will find something of tremendous value or genuinely magical. Such magical items can be quite dangerous as they have been buried for so long that the original magic has degraded.
This borough includes almost all the docks and warehouses of the city. Though Matharyn sits upon the sea, it is not a typical port city. Most of the foreign trade goes past this port to Ghastenhall. Instead, this port sees primarily domestic travel via local boats. Farmers and artisans from across Talingarde ship their produce and wares via barges across the Cambrian Bay to sell in mighty Matharyn.
It is a very cosmopolitan part of town and sights unusual to anywhere else in Talingarde are commonplace here. It is probably the best place for unusual races and folk to go unnoticed in all the city.
This westermost borough, Carsburn takes its name from the endless lines of farmer’s carts that traverse the roads loaded with food into the markets of the borough. Carsburn is not a fancy place to live. It is a place in the city where one must best be ready to work hard and dirty their hands. The residents of this borough (the Carsters) are famous for their down-to-earth attitudes and their stubbornness.
This seaward rise is where the great Cathedral of the Shining Lord was built by Markadian IV so that every ship entering the Bay of Cambria could know that Mitra reigned in this city. The hill is covered with religious buildings of every sort and is truly the center of the Mitran church in Talingarde. In addition to the Cathedral, the palace of the High Cardinal is here. High Cardinal Vitallian of Estyllis lives in a magnificent three-story estate that is said to contain more than a hundred rooms. It is said that only the Adarium is grander. From his palace, the High Cardinal conducts the business of the church.
Cathsill has one other prominent landmark. The great lighthouse built by the Barcan king Accarius dominates the horizon. It is the second highest place in the city, overshadowed only by the Angel Height of the Castle Darian. This great lighthouse is truly a wonder of both magic and engineering. Hundreds of everburning lights shine through a great crystal producing a directed beam that shines across the water for miles.
Usually just called Haldyn, this hill is dominated by artisans and their homes. The endless noise of industry in Haldynsill has led to its perhaps more famous nickname of Hammerhill.
Virtually all of the six thousand dwarves of Matharyn make this district their home. The dwarves call their section of the hill Hamara. Hamara is an affectionate nickname in old dwarven for the smallest and most delicate of the forge-hammers that dwarves use in blacksmithing.
The tallest of the seven hills by far, this is where the Castle Darian and the old palace are located. This is also the only part of the city that is still walled. One surrounds Barsyndale, the oldest district in the city, and the other surrounds the castle and the old palace. Two gates lead to this hill – Victorsgate (on the east) and Ferrygate (west). To get to Ferrygate, you must (unsurprisingly) take a ferry.
Kingsill is place of old wealth and ancient traditions. Not everyone who lives in this part of town is well off. In fact, some of the old neighborhoods are quite poor. Still there is a feeling among the people living here that they share in the city’s history more than most and that they are the heart of Matharyn, and indeed the whole kingdom.
Originally, this borough took its names from the mills that lined the river Danyth, but there hasn’t been an actual mill in Millburn in living memory. This ward is the poorest part of the city, and if you can’t get work in Carsburn or on any of the hills, you end up here. Millburn is not a place of misery and squalor, though. Instead, it is a great expanse of quaint little neighborhoods where the local peasantry go about their simple business as best they can. It is a tribute to the charity of the church of Mitra and the wisdom of King Markadian how little suffering there is here, even amongst this city’s poorest.
The northernmost hill, this small broad rise is completely covered by houses and shops, traders and artisans. Norsill (along with nearby Carsburn) is where the city-life of the metropolis begins to fade and the endless rural townships of the upper peninsula and Heartland begins. The houses here much more resemble the quaint country cottages of the farmlands than the tight row houses of the city. This is because a large number of retired farmers live here. Carsburn and Norsill’s mutual business feeds the rest of Matharyn. Produce comes from all over the peninsula and ends up here, where it is sold to small green grocers throughout the entire city.
The southernmost hill of the city, this is where the military might is concentrated (except for what is permanently stationed at the Castle and the Adarium). Weaponsmiths and armorers toil endlessly here to see that Matharyn is well defended. Talingarde maintains little in the way of a permanent army, instead relying upon knightly orders, city watches,
town sheriffs and conscripts in times of war. This makes mass mobilization a slow affair.
Still, what permanent military there is, is based out of Sorsill. The Knights of the Alerion have their grand chapterhall here where all the great deeds of previous members are chronicled and honored. This is where the ceremonies of induction are held for squires and knights of the order.
The southernmost borough of the city, it is also amongst the most miserable, and not because the people here are poor. Indeed, there is plenty of work to go around. It just happens that the work done here is universally unpleasant and foul. Industries, such as the tanneries, the butchers and the slaughterhouses are, by royal decree, clustered in Southburn. Here the great winds that sweep from the west can blow the stench east and out to sea. Still, every so often the wind shifts and comes in from the south. Then they
can smell the funk all the way to Kingsill.
The Golden Bow
This is not so much a district as a line of manors that cover the western edge of the broadest and deepest part of the River Danyth (aka: The Lake). The fine houses comprise the richest single district in the entire city. To own a part of the Golden Bow is to be part of city’s elite. There are only forty four seperate lots along this part of the river and so the owners are often called the Forty Four Finest or simply the Forty Four.
This is the smallest of the seven hills and is center of culture and learning. Theaters, colleges and pubs dominate this small ward. While there is nothing here to rival the great library of Ghastenhall, it is still an impressive center of education and scholarship.
Though small, Varsill is tall and steep.
Varsill is also the location of another quiet revolution. Varsill is the only place in Talingarde that has working printing presses. The technology was not developed here but there are now three working presses in Varsill. One of them does nothing but print copies of Mitran holy texts, while the other two are for hire. Printed books and pamphlets have started to appear throughout the city.
The northernmost borough, this is the traveler’s quarter. Visitors from all across Talingarde coming to visit the capital either on business or on a pilgrimage to see the great Cathedral can find ample inns and accommodations of all sorts. If any part of Matharyn can be said to have a crime problem, it is Wayburn. The pickpockets here are the best and busiest in the city.