Result 13 – Part 1

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You’ve had a bit of a wander around the local area, and have seen a few sights and discovered a few interesting places but, there’s still a lot more to see. Time for a bit more sightseeing.

You rest for a while longer before sauntering over to Ameronis and mentioning your intention to go exploring.

“Ah, the wind calling you for a bit more wandering, eh? That’s fair. There are some pretty neat places around here. Have you seen the fortress yet?”

Fortress? No. You didn’t even know there was one, and you don’t remember seeing it on your map. It must’ve been beyond the cutoff point.

“I heard about it during my own wandering. I’d be interested in taking a look. Mind if I tag along?”

You see no reason to refuse, so the two of you start your little excursion by taking a scenic walk across the park and exiting via a new gate. Ameronis mentions that the fortress is supposedly quite far away, so would take a while to reach on foot. Instead, taking a carriage would be quicker and a good way to see the sights. You agree.

You leave the gardens and travel down an austere street lined with tall buildings and the occasional businessman until you come to a large, main thoroughfare. It does not take you and Ameronis long to find a cab, and Ameronis requests the driver to take you to the fortress via the scenic route. The driver informs you that the trip will take a while, and you’ll have to pay a toll at one point, but if that’s OK, he won’t mind letting you take a tour of the city. You both agree, and Ameronis agrees to share the fare. Soon, you’re in the cab and on your way as the tan mare trots along.

This is one of the wider roads in the area, with plenty of space for pedestrians and vehicles to go about their business. Here, mature trees are dotted along the roadside, with many an elaborate wrought-iron fence and decorative lamppost along the way. The road splits two districts; Neddwick, the historic craftsman quarter, and Corville, a high society neighbourhood. In both places, the buildings were not roughly and hastily built like those around Slaryn house, but instead are neat and deliberate, with polished and slightly decorative architecture. You pass businesses and offices to your left, and rows of tall townhouses occasionally broken up by a detached urban manor to your right.

Soon, the buildings fall away, replaced by a spacious promenade running alongside a wide, blue-brown river. With the promenade being diverted below the road via a short, wide tunnel, the road continues across the river, by way of a large drawbridge, currently closed. It is here where the toll must be paid.

After waiting in line to pay the fee, the driver is questioned about his passengers and your business across the bridge; he informs the guard that you’re tourists wanting to see Siterion, the fortress. After giving you all a hard glare, he asks for the toll payment, which is not an insignificant fee. After this, he seems to soften a little and waves the cab on through. The horse starts up again, and you trundle across the bridge.

Trotting along the promenade

(Ai-generated image produced using Stable Diffusion)

Many boats move up and down the waterway, and behind you, the buildings continue in both directions until they are obscured by the curve of the river to the North, and seem to be eventually replaced by greenery to the South. Speaking of greenery, the first thing you notice about the Western shore is the presence of considerably more trees.

Setting foot on solid ground again, the driver takes you through this new area; Kerborough. He mentions that he won’t be able to drive through some parts of certain districts, but he’ll do his best to give you some good coverage.

The last area was quite grand, but this one… The building style is very different to what you’ve seen so far and is much, much newer, with pale brickwork and facades. There are no terraces here; all the buildings are free-standing, two, three or even four storeys high, and wide enough to comfortably fit several other buildings from around Slaryn House inside. The buildings are separated from the neatly cobbled streets with decorative walls and fences, which also contain perfectly manicured lawns, hedges and gardens, and the buildings themselves have more ornate architecture.

Most carriages that you pass are a lot fancier than the cab you’re travelling in, and you see no dark alleys or soot-covered slum-dwellers here.

You and Ameronis take in the variety of buildings on display; the houses, the mansions, the banks, the offices and guild halls, the warehouses (hardly recognisable as such), an orderly marketplace, and a glimpse of a very fancy entertainment district which houses an enormous stadium. However, you don’t get to see much of that as the carriage turns at a junction and goes the opposite way. Here, at the edge of a new district Entford, the buildings ahead abruptly change, appearing similar to those on the Eastern bank; somewhat smaller and closer together and a lot older. However, these ones are also light in colour, and are lavish compared to those across the river.

No longer on a perfectly cobbled road, you travel through a district that’s more akin to a park or woodland. It’s a challenge to see the building sometimes, dotted around and hidden behind high hedges, mortar-free stone walls, and large trees, or out of sight down long driveways. Here or there, a larger, newer building is present, but quite often, buildings significantly older than all the rest can be spotted. Wonky and sturdy and made from large stones and now-twisted lumber instead of neat bricks, they are definitely survivors from a much older version of the settlement. They are all well maintained, though there are occasional spots that feature nothing more than a part of an old wall or pathway.

Exiting the dappled shade of the canopy, the road shows itself to be at the top of a large hill. Here, you look over the tree and rooftops ahead of you, set within a sprawling city wall, and in the distance, on another hilltop, overlooking the land as well, you see the old fortress; grand and imposing, with a double-row of tiered walls, and several defensive stone watchtowers. From here, you can see a couple of damaged sections, most notably a partially collapsed tower and damaged outer wall, but like the other ruins here, it is well preserved despite that.

Continuing through an archway in the ancient wall, you enter “Old Town”, which is officially called “Congottridon”, but nobody calls it that, according to the driver. You catch glimpses of several notable locations, including Derna’s prison, a very large theatre, and a building which turns out to be the town hall. If this is the actual town hall, then what was the building you saw before near Slaryn House? According to the driver, that was the magistrates court, situated in Windston. The town hall, on the other hand, is unmistakable, a huge building complex situated in a large plaza and surrounded by statues, pillars and walls, grass verges and fountains. A place designed to impress.

You draw as close as you can to the fortress, travelling along a road along the base of the hill below the outer wall. From here, any ancient attackers would’ve had their work cut out for them; the wall itself is at least 8 meters high, and the hill on which Siterion sits is steep. Following it around further, you eventually catch sight of the gatehouse, accessible only via a narrow bridge across a deep, empty moat.

There is some traffic coming and going from there, with a small handful of pedestrians and vehicles waiting to get in. The driver mentions that the public is allowed to enter and tour the fortress and its grounds at certain times, but unfortunately, it’s too late to gain entry for that now. Ameronis seems curious and considers coming back another day.

Continuing on this main road, you pass through Wanminton, a civic hub for the privileged, and home of the Crown Court, North Whint, another high society neighbourhood, and skirt around the edge of the illustrious Eastmere, arguably the richest area in the whole city. It certainly looks that way. However, you only travel a short way through here before you come to a second promenade where yet another river cuts across the land. It’s at least a third wider than the previous one. As if to highlight that point, a fairly large merchant ship is currently cruising down the waterway towards the sea.

Ameronis wonders aloud if the two rivers join up nearby before reaching the sea, but instead, the driver says that the two rivers actually split off the main river, the Grand Aveseran not too far from here. The branch before you is the Major Aveseran, and the one you crossed first is the Minor. A fourth and final branch, the Little Aveseran splits off the Minor not too far from the bridge you crossed. To that end, he casually dismisses the grandeur of the merchant ship and suggests that if you want to see some real fancy ships, he can take you to the Grand Aveseran to see if you can spot any.

After a brief deliberation with you, Ameronis declares “yeah, go on then!”, and off you trot once more. It takes a while to get there, but you get to enjoy the scenery of the river to your right and opulent Eastmere to your left as you travel on the road parallel to the promenade. Eventually, you reach the Grand Aveseran at the point where the Major splits off from it, and at this point, the river is easily more than a quarter mile wide. Many vessels come and go, with small working boats, large transport ships, and a variety of pleasure boats dotted along its length. There are a few other large merchant ships, but nothing to write home about, based on the driver’s metric.

Ameronis is disappointed by this, looking up and down the river in the hopes that a massive galleon is hiding behind one of the rowboats, apparently. The driver offers to let you wait for a while to see if any show up; he can let the horse rest and give her a bite to eat in the meantime. Ameronis agrees for you both before you can say anything, and the driver brings the cab to a stop at the nearest rank.
Having taken more than an hour to get to this point, an opportunity to get out and stretch your legs is a welcome one. You lean against the wall of the promenade, overlooking the water and enjoying the breeze. The river air has a distinct smell, though fortunately, it’s not that bad and it’s partly mixed with the sea air.

Ameronis chats with the driver, whose name turns out to be Kludd, and whose horse is named Nulda. As before, Ameronis sets a goal of being able to pet nearby animals, and fortunately for her, Nulda is friendly and has a good temperament, and happily allows this. Ameronis insists you come and feel how soft Nulda is.

Sturdy and muscular, with short, soft hair, Nulda nickers softly, lightly nudging you with her feed-bag-covered muzzle. You pet her for a while, but your attention is soon drawn by Kludd, who whistles and points down the curve the Grand Aveseran way over yonder. It’s still a fair distance away, but you can see the sails of the enormous ship that steadily makes its way up the river. Your group’s timing was lucky, Kludd declares.

Over the next several minutes, you watch the ship as it draws closer, dwarfing all the other vessels it passes, both with its massive hull, and its array of huge sails, which catch the wind fully and allow it to glide effortlessly upriver. Kludd was right; it is extremely fancy, with elaborately carved woodwork, blue and white paintwork, and gold-coloured trimmings. It shifts into a shipping lane quite close to the promenade, allowing you to see the name carved and painted on the side as it glides past; “Her Eminence”. It continues on its way, smooth and graceful, like a large swan, and you watch it until it begins to fade from view.

Her Eminence

(Ai-generated image produced using Stable Diffusion)

Ameronis considers the sighting to be a victory, though wonders what adventures those on board are currently involved in. How far up the river will it go?

But, leaving that mystery unsolved, the two of you decide to hop back in the cab and continue on your way. It’s getting a little late now, so you opt not to cross the Grand to go explore the Western shore of the city and decide to head back to the Eastern side via a different route through the Old Town. With everyone back on board, Nulda leads the way home.

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