The World Of Khoras - Civilization - Cities

Stovikar - Capital City of Ormek

"Never bring anything you value into Stovikar that you can't carry on your back at a dead run."
-Arland Burke, Rukemian Freetrader

Stovikar

Ruler His Most Magnificent and Majestic Personage, Champion of the Empire and Wielder of the Sacred Blade Black Talon, King Frederick Douni the Pure
Population 485,800
Demographics Human 48%, Orc 20%, Ogre 13%, Saurian 8%, Grum 5%, Elven 3%, Dwarven 2%, Baenite 1%
Adjectival/Demonym Stovikarian/Stovikari
Languages Rukemian 80%, Southern 20%
Nationality Ormek
National Colors Red and black
Year Founded 1758
Currency Rukemian
Natural Resources and Manufactured Goods Clay, sandstone, cattle, barley, cotton, fish, oranges, sugar cane, molasses, rum
Wealth Very Poor
Government Type Monarchy
Government Stability Very unstable - martial law
Allies Rukemia, War Vale, Mercia
Enemies Coalition
Walled Partial city wall
Crime Level Very High
Technology Level Ancient
Primary Religion Imarus
Other Religions Barrinor, Vorkayne, Semorjon, Sarreth, Kael, Glavyris, Daramis, Drenmoragin
Climate Semitropical
Terrain Coastal grassland

Description

Ithria is blessed with several shining cities – Aridorn, Vogue, Strathon, Arcanum, Orrojek...  Stovikar isn’t one of them. From the blood stained outer city walls, to the grim faced warriors standing guard at the main gate; from the burning rubbish in the streets to the absolute poverty of the peasants begging for bread in the outer city, it is apparent that this city has problems. Stovikar is a huge city, crowded, dirty, stagnant and filled with the stench of death and desperation.

For centuries, this city has built up, torn down and built up again various facets of itself, building right on top of the rubble and bodies of the past. Many buildings have been damaged, repaired and added to so many times that they are a patchwork of differing architecture. The endless cycle of creation and destruction has resulted in a dense maze of buildings, narrow streets, dark alleys, tight corners and crowded structures leaning precariously close to each other. Everywhere are unfinished walls, jagged shards of masonry, hollow husks of former buildings, rubble and abandoned structures. This creates a dizzying maze of nooks and crannies that inevitable fill with life - the homeless, the criminals, the diseased and the orphans.

The grim daily life of this city is apparent in the day to day events found here. It is not uncommon to see city guards casually run a criminal through right there in the street rather than go to the trouble of dragging him to the city prison to await trial. Nameless bodies are found in darkened alleys with alarming frequency. Rats are everywhere feeding on the daily corpses.

The sheer number of thieves and beggars in the city is enough to give even a hardened adventurer pause. There are several major gangs here that claim sections of the city and gang wars are common. The city guards will often let gangs simply battle it out and then arrest the survivors. Hungry citizens will occasionally storm the palace gates and riot for food, but these social outbursts are quickly quelled by force. The entire city is under martial law and anyone can be arrested for any reason. Fear keeps the local population in line for the most part. In Stovikar, justice belongs only to those who can afford it. For the rest, it is best not to cause trouble. Travelers are warned to watch their step in this city and not to become entangled with the local authorities.

Stovikar is an old city. It has stood for a thousand years and it is built upon the bones of an even older city. Over the long years, this city has outgrown the city walls on more than one occassion and built a new city wall. These old city walls form concentric rings, seven in all, dividing the city into a maze of districts and quarters. For this reason, Stovikar is sometimes called the "City of Seven Walls".

City Districts

The Labyrinth

Deep in the heart of Stovikar is a winding maze of muddy streets, ancient crumbling stone buildings, twisting dark alleys and buried tunnels. This dizzying maze of architectural growth is known simply as the Labyrinth. It's a destitute and dangerous section of town home to many thieves, street gangs and homeless.

City Infrastructure

The Sewers of Stovikar

Beneath the streets of the bustling city is a labyrinth of lightless tunnels and chambers through which churns a river of filth and muck. The sewer system of Stovikar is a vast network of stench filled waterways that span kilometers and connect every section of the city.

The sewers are infested with huge rats, slimy centipedes, blood roaches, bore worms, dung flies and many other vermin. But there is far worse than vermin here. There are those who tell tales of monstrous creatures that hunt the shadowy realm beneath our feet. Perhaps this is why the city guard does not bother to patrol the sewers. It may also explain why the city engineers who are forced to go down there to clear a blockage from time to time do so in well-armed groups. While thieves and bandits will often take advantage of the absence of guards and use the sewer systems as a quick escape route, there are others who refuse to venture into the dark below. Many young thieves with too much bravado have vanished in these sewers. 

There is a rumor that a sorcerer in town is creating the monsters that now prowl the tunnels. There are some that say he is breeding them intentionally although none can guess to what ends. If you choose to venture below, for whatever reason, keep your torch held high and your blade at the ready. You will very likely need it.

Government and Major Organizations

Kragenmyr Castle

The royal residence and main governmental building at the center of the city is known as Kragenmyr Castle. This huge keep is built of a particularly dark ash colored limestone local to the region. Brannart Ralin is the King's castellan and responsible for the castle and its many attendants. His family has served the Ormek royal family for generations. His sense of obligation and duty is what keeps him from leaving. His job is to endure frequent abuse and humiliation from a vain, obsessive, and delusional King. Ralin is literally the glue that holds the castle together.

Redstone Keep

This is Ormek's powerful military headquarters, where most of the power of the police state is concentrated.

The Harbor Tower

Known more simply as Grestin's Tower. This building houses the dock master and a large nautical equipment store. It also sells and rents small boats. Grestin Beyor, the owner/operator, has some connections in smuggling circles. He can hide illegal cargo, even criminals in his warehouses. For a price...

The Well of Blood

Stovikar's sprawling arena was recently built by special order of King Frederick the Pure. It's in use every day. Political prisoners are tortured and executed here, sometimes with King Frederick doing the honors himself. And not only do violent contests and sponsored bloodsports take place on a regular basis, but even the lowliest citizen can challenge another to a duel and have it happen in the public arena for free. The city will even furnish the combatants with all manner of bladed weaponry to increase the entertainment value. Admission is cheap...only one copper piece for an entire day. The beer sold here is equally cheap and watered down. Many citizens will drop a guard a few silvers and simply never leave. In such a filthy and crime-ridden hole of a city, this is as good as life gets for the easily entertained. This large arena is run by Edrica Tikhon.

The Berthing

The name of the local shipyards. Includes a built in tavern where all of the shipwrights hang out.

Stormwall and the Whaling Guild

The Whaling Guild is one of the largest and most powerful organizations in Ormek. Based in Stovikar, this is the only organization legally allowed to hunt, kill and process whales. The guild maintains a small fleet of whaling ships - stout bodied vessels that venture out into the deep sea for months at a time. The guild's keep is a fortress of stone named Stormwall that sits on an island within sight of Stovikar.

The Sea Guild

The Sea Guild is primarily a fishermen's guild. It licenses fishermen, taxes them, helps establish maritime laws that pertain to fishing and the like. This large guild has connections to many other groups and is woven into Stovikar society. Within its ranks, the guild has many hundreds of fishermen, net menders, boat builders and the like.

The City Guard of Stovikar

The City Guard of Stovikar is little more than government paid thugs who enjoy privileges about the city. These men are often recruited from ships and mercenary companies with the promise of easy wealth and lax discipline. And this much is true. The City Guard runs rampant and keeps the commoners cowering under martial law. This motley collection of ruffians wears a wide variety of armor and weapons, but the typical guardsman wears old, rusty chain, a dirty tunic bearing the heraldry of Ormek, carries a small iron shield and wields a cracked and pitted blade. Equipment is shoddy and training is minimal. Guardsmen roam the city streets in packs looking for troublemakers or just someone to pick on. They can arrest citizens with impunity and in some cases, street justice will involve running the suspect through and robbing the body.

The Underworld

The Dragons

A street gang rumored to be number over 200 street thugs that prowl the streets at night. Most members are between 14 and 19 years of age. The Dragons tend to prowl the night streets in groups of 5 to 10.

The Velveted Blade

There are several thieves' guilds in the city, all warring for greater influence and control. The Velveted Blade is currently the most powerful, and their influence extends throughout the city. They have a significant number of important people on their payroll: business owners, politicians, city officials and members of the militia. They even own churches. Although many smaller hideouts are rumored to exist, the location of their main headquarters is known only to members of high esteem. This tavern which bears their name is the front. Their mysterious leader, Montressor, is a man of great charm and poise. He leads with a cool confidence that implies great power. Legends built around this dangerous man are many. All members are fiercely loyal to Montressor and would die for him on command, even though no one has ever seen his face.

The Order of the Crimson Claw

The second most powerful thieves guild in the city of Stovikar. They run the Inn of the Red Hand (see below).

Temples and Shrines

Stovikar has a number of grand temples to the darker deities of the realm. Major temples to all the Dark Lords can be found here. There are also churches to Daramis, Kolo, Drenmoragin and the Three Fates. The largest temple is the Church of the Blooded Cestus (temple to Kael, ogre war god). It is named so because all priests at this temple specialize in the use of a particularly nasty form of bladed gauntlet.

Important People of Stovikar

King Frederick Douni, King of Ormek

Frederick Douni is a painfully thin man with pale skin, black greasy hair, a carefully trimmed goatee and steel grey eyes. King Douni is a cruel and petty man who cares nothing for the commoners beneath him nor the nation that grants him his position. He is arrogant, wasteful, prejudiced against non-humans and generally cares only for himself. He is far too engrossed in pursuing his own pleasures to be bothered with running his kingdom. He leaves that to his castellan and advisor, Brannart Ralin. King Douni has a tendency of referring to himself as "we".

Ambassador Klyne, Imperial Representative of Rukemia

A tall man with a wild frock of greying hair, watery grey eyes and a thick goatee. Ambassador Klyne has an air of self-importance about him. He is as corrupt as the kingdom to whom he plays Ambassador. Douni ensures that Klyne enjoys every conceivable luxury. In fact, the two are almost inseparable in their debauchery. Meanwhile, Klyne makes sure that his reports back to the Empire paint a glowing picture of Ormek in which Imperial law is respected and upheld. (Far from the truth).

Brannart Ralin, the King’s Castellan and Personal Advisor

Ralin is an assuming blonde man of slight build with curious, intelligent eyes. Publicly, Ralin is the personal advisor to the King. In reality, he is so much more. Ralin is a scheming devil with a clever mind and a penchant for control. It is Ralin who is the real power behind the throne, although Douni is unaware of this. This situation is not known to the general public and Douni still struts about the kingdom as a celebrity. While Douni occupies himself with women, wine and spectacles at the Well of Blood, Ralin quietly conducts the real work of running the kingdom from behind the scenes. Ralin is not evil, but has no need to see the kingdom change. His carefully layered plans depend upon a certain amount of conflict and strife within the kingdom.

Tyldon Gimol, Supreme Military Commander of Ormek

The commander of Ormek’s armies is a towering man of muscle and scars with shaggy dark hair and a full beard. His name is Tyldon Gimol and he is the master of thousands. Ormek’s armies are composed mainly of slaves, prisoners and indentured servants pressed into service to pay off debts. They are given no training, primitive weapons and crude armor. They overcome their enemies on the battlefield by sheer numbers. Being a soldier in the Ormekian military is a harsh existence with a very short life expectancy. Some are assigned to patrol the realm and beat back the occasional orcish raid that comes from the Mercian forest while others serve aboard ship. Currently, no serious threats stand against Ormek or the Rukemian Empire. However, if ever the day comes when all out war is declared against the Coalition, General Gimol will send thousands to their death.

Edrica Tikhon, Operator of the Well of Blood arena

This tall, raven haired beauty is known as the "Queen of the Pit" and the "Princess of Blood". She is the owner and operator of the Well of Blood, a government funded combat arena where spectacles of blood play out before cheering crowds. The Lady Tikhon oversees the most important events personally, drawing the audience in with her charisma and seductive voice. She wears black always and often sports jewelry made from the bones of those who have fallen in combat in her arena. In the arena, she carries a tall staff tipped with a human skull. The staff is rumored to be enchanted and she herself is said to have some form of witchcraft. Edrica and Tyldon will sometimes trade prisoners back and forth depending on the relative talents and fighting skill of the individual.

Aegilf, the Rat - Fence and Bandit

There are many brotherhoods of thieves and assassins in the city of Stovikar and most of them deal with Aegulf who is called "the Rat". He is a small man with a large nose, beady eyes, short hair and pointed ears. It is said that he was once changed into a rat by a wizard's spell and that, after the spell wore off, the transformation had some lingering effects. Of course, this is just a rumor. Aegilf is well known in the underworld circles of Stovikar. He has a reputation of being able to find anything or anyone for a price. He knows just about every thief in the city and has a knack for sensing trouble before he gets in too deep (and for saving his own neck).

Targrum Ortuss

An Ormekian nobleman that lives on an estate on the edge of Stovikar. He is fascinated by death, the body and undead. He is a practicing necromancer. He frequently robs graveyards, and has a collection of over 70,000 bones, body parts and full skeletons in the dungeons beneath his estate. He lives with a small staff and no family. He is careful to keep his hobby a secret lest the serfs rebel. Over the years his appetite for the macabre has increased and he has recently taking to murdering his own serfs at night and taking their bodies back to his laboratory. On occasion he will purchase a slave for experimentation.

The Lords of the Hunt

A small hunting club of six wealthy Ormekian nobles who frequently come to Stovikar looking for new exotic animals or healthy slaves from distant lands.

Shops and Guilds

Name and Proprietor Description
The Velveted Blade
Valdorin
Tavern - An average tavern with a small common room and several smaller, private rooms for meetings. On the second floor above, there are six rooms for rent. This establishment is the cover for the Velveted Blade thieves guild and a secret entrance in the cellar leads to the main headquarters of the guild. This establishment is run by Valdorin, a surly old man with a bad limp. Once a cocky young thief, his thieving days were ended by a springblade trap. He now tends bar and keeps a watchful eye over both the business and the guild members.
Kerynn's Keg
Kallyk Kerynn
Tavern - The Keg is one of the largest taverns in Stovikar, and brings in a fair amount of money for its owner. Kerynn has the soul of a master brewer, but with only a modest amount of talent. The seven different ales offered here are all crafted by him personally, and range in quality from almost drinkable to torturously bad. Still, his regulars seem to swear by the stuff. He takes a great deal of pride in his work.
Inn of the
Sideways Glance

Fenster Daunte
Social Club - This is an exclusive social club, and only members know of its secret location. The members make up one of the more powerful thieves' guilds in the city, and this is their haven and hideout. The inn itself is quite upscale, as the guild fancies themselves the only center of true culture in the area. Foppish dilettantes engage in frequent political backstabbing and gossip here, and network with other guildsmen while sipping Normidian Mead and Emerald Wine. The Sideways Glancers are known for their slyness, snobbery, and fake smiles.  
Grand Golden Inn
Ariana Kemble
Inn - This is the most expensive inn in Stovikar, where foreign ambassadors and other honored guests of the government stay. During the height of Ormek's glory, this was once a beautiful and ornate building. Sadly, it is now a worn-down shadow of its former self... New leaks spring through the ceiling on a daily basis, and there's several odd smells coming from beneath the floorboards that nobody can seem to figure out. The present owner would have had it fixed up and restored by now if not for his ever-increasing gambling debts. Ariana is seriously thinking of selling the place. He considers running it to be far too much trouble. The inn is still very good by Stovikar's current standards, although compared to some of the nicer places in Aridorn or Freeport, it's like an old dog waiting to be put out of its misery.
Shattered Skull Alehouse
Elvid Vyor
Tavern - The Shattered Skull is a large tavern in the center of town, and is very aptly named. Some of the city militia used to stop in every so often to drink and use their status to bully the patrons. One night, one of the regulars finally stood up and asked the guards to leave, and was answered by a club to the face. A bar brawl of legendary proportions started, which claimed the lives of twelve customers and two members of the city militia. The next day, by order of King Frederick, the remaining tavern patrons and employees were tracked down and arrested as "Enemies of the State". They were not heard from again. It is still unclear how the owner/bartender Elvid managed to escape this fate. It is also unclear why his establishment was not seized by the government and sold by auction. As it happened, he was freed from detainment and back in business six weeks later. Rumor has it that The Velveted Blade may have stepped in and made Elvid an offer he couldn't refuse...       
Vasil's Forge
Vasil Golyad
Smithy - The tenacious Vasil's Forge, located across the street from The Ivory Duck, was recently burned down by a neighborhood gang. Undaunted, Vasil set up shop right in front of his shop's charred carcass. Mysteriously, the head thugs of his neighborhood turned up dead within a week after his re-opening. No one bothers him anymore. His business in certain circles is greatly improving.
Ivory Duck
Dakro Halchart
Trading Post - This trading post is several hundred years old, passed down from father to son. It has been heavily involved with the city underworld for the same amount of time. Dakro himself is a semi-retired member of the assassin's guild, and is looked to by fellow members for the most recent rumors in this shady business. The most recent city contracts are to be found posted in the back room of his store, behind a bookcase. For his assistance, the guild offers him a small cut from the accepted contracts. Dakro has been known to complete a contract himself from time to time, "just to stay in practice". He has a way of making friends very quickly.
Winking Eye
Jarren Grenier
Gambling Hall - Jarren Grenier runs this gambling house, but it's owned by the city. This is one of the very few government operations in Ormek that is actually bringing in considerable cash. City officials are slightly confused by this fluke of a success.
House of Satin
Elmora Strachan
Brothel - This popular brothel is located by the docks, and is frequented by a wide variety of clients, from the city militia to common dockhands to thieves. Elmora has become a very wealthy and well known town celebrity. She fancies herself the "Queen of Ormek".
Inn of the Red Hand
Rolf Maglan
Inn - This large inn has relatively clean rooms, sturdy doors, excellent locks and very low prices. The clientele is mostly foreigners and travelers. The Inn of the Red Hand, however, is not all it seems. The inn is owned and operated by one of the city thieves' guilds, the Order of the Crimson Claw. They use this inn has a training ground where young thieves in training are able to practice on "live targets". Rumors abound about this inn that circulate the city and most natives know better than to stay here. This is why it tends to cater to foreigners, travelers and pilgrims. although the excellent quarters, good food and low prices entice even those who know better and are willing to risk it. The guild does not run this inn as a source of profit and do not overly tax their guests with robbery. Rather, they are interested in training their recruits. To this end, all doors have locks and are in excellent condition. The locks are changed frequently as well. On occasion, other groups in the city will send their men here for "anti-thief" training.
Prolo's Precious
Prolo Maygar
Money Lender/Money Changer - Prolo Maygar is an immensely fat man, bald, hairless and sweaty. He runs a small business lending money, exchanging currencies, buying and selling jewelry and storing precious items for wealthy clients. To those he lends money to, he charges outrageous interest.
Great Red Troll Tavern
Sora Dvitra
Tavern - A small tavern at the water's edge with a good view of the harbor. According to the weathered sign that hangs above the door, this establishment has "the best chowder in the Empire". And this may well be true. Sora makes a rich, thick spicy broth of shrimp and crab with a tomato base. This thick red stew has helped her tiny tavern become one of the most popular places in the city. She also bakes and serves bread with the chowder. Beyond fresh baked bread and chowder, there are various seafood dishes and decent ale, but little else on the menu.

Sora herself is a short woman with plump curves and a mane of fiery red hair. Her husband died long ago and she now runs the business by herself. She does everything - cooks, cleans, serves. She is fiercely independent and will accept help from no one. She is known for an explosive temper and a loud, raspy voice. The clientele often jokes that the name of the tavern refers to her and this is something she doesn't deny. However, some believe it refers to the chowder and others believe it refers to her dead husband.

The Filthy Strumpet
Tanosh
Tavern - The Filthy Strumpet lives up to its name. This dark and dingy tavern is filthy with a dirt floor and crude wooden benches and tables. A palpable scent of grease and ale permeate the air. Five serving women tend to customers and any of these women can be taken into the back for a few extra gold. Gambling is common here and there is almost always at least one or two games of dice or cards. Tanosh has a fighting ring in a large room in the back. He buys a pair of fresh slaves every other month week and has them fight to the death for the entertainment of those who pay an extra charge for the privilege.

This web site last updated Thursday, June 30, 2016 . Copyright 1990-2011 David M. Roomes.

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