On the Shoulders of Heroes
Koti, also called the First City, was man’s first attempt at a village. Although it has gone through many changes through the ages it remains the center of power of Kesma and home to its jarls. Koti is a city of moderate size, surrounded by a well-maintained Dragonwood wall which was build late during the great war. It has a handful of stone buildings, which stand out against the dozens of wooden huts. The town is divided by the powerful currents of the Slither river. Western Koti extends well beyond the walls, although protective palisades have been placed at intervals, the road up to it is dotted by family farms. Eastern Koti is more heavily protected, and contains all its stone structures. This part of town is home to many rich merchants, successful adventurers and the jarl and his family.
Koti was founded at the dawn of the time of modern man. Its accessible location, rich fishing waters and direct access to almost infinite lumber made it a very popular town. Right from the start it had a strong relation with Nyphvile and many of its inhabitants sought refuge there during the great war.
During the war it became home to all races, most of whom returned to their more secluded homes after it, although they left their impressions on it. The Slither has always played an important role in the lives of Koti inhabitants and they fondly call it “their river”. After the founding of the town, Lake Atho turned into the trade-hub which it is today, reaching throughout Kesma and into Merma.
The jarl, Adatram, keeps a lion’s share of his personal guard garrisoned in the town. They keep a close eye on anyone who might break the law. In the past, Adatram won the hearts and minds of his people by achieving great successes in battle. His first battle was won at the town of Harmajoki, south of lake Atho. The town had become of victim of a band of orc raiders, lead by the toothless orc warlord Grath. The orcs had mercilessly pillaged farms, looted the local chapel and had put half of the population to the sword. A bloody battle followed, as Adatram and his brother Orlam arrived at the town. The battle was won and the town was saved by the young jarl. The villages were so grateful to their leader they even renamed their town and it would henceforth be known as Port Adatram. His greatest deed however, was yet to come.
Many years later, the persistent threat from the dragons in the east began to work on Adatrams nerves, and he decided to ride through the dragon’s woods to the spire of The Searing Rock, to slay the mother of dragons, Greentooth. The forests were dense and dangerous and the jarl lost many loyal men during their marches. The mission ended up lasting for months, and the citizens of Koti began to doubt their jarl. But then came the day when he did return, with a treasure carried by over forty mules. His campaign against dragonkind had changed their beloved jarl, however, Adatram had become a different man.
Now the wealthiest man on the continent of Bellög, the jarl became fat, lazy and arrogant. While enjoying his life of decadence, he declared that his rule over Kesma was for sale, and that every man who could amass a faster wealth, would be named jarl. Today, he spends his days inside his fort, where lions on gold leashes guard his bed. When Adatram is away on visits or out hunting, which is rare, his younger brother Orlam rules the town in his stead. Orlam otherwise does not leave his brother’s side, the two seem to be very fond of each other.
What only few people know is that another hand rules Koti from the shadows: a ghoul rogue known only as Rakeclaw. The largest inn of the city, The Drenched Wench, is also home to one of the biggest thieves guild on the continent: The Drowned. Rakeclaw makes sure to never reveal his true identity, using a network of agents to do his bidding. Most employees of the tavern know nothing of illegal activities. He keeps close taps on all member of the guild to make sure they stay out of trouble or disappear as quickly and painfully as possible. These former agents are often animated into undead minions and used to attack ships. Most of their income comes from the theft of mercantile wares and extortion, although it is not exceptional they take on low-level hits as a supplement to their income.
Koti is somewhat larger than most cities. It’s center, which is home to a bustling merchant district bordering the harbor, attracts buyers and sellers from all over Kesma. Although most of the towns inhabitants are either humans, dwarves, elves or half-blood, members of other races can earn a handsome payday selling specialist foods or crafts.
The center of the town is cobbled and closely build together but the further one walks away from it, the broader and more spacious the town gets. Koti attracts many travelers, whether they be merchants or on passerby’s to Nyphvile, so the city has numerous inns and alehouses. Prostitution and gambling are not practiced as openly as in some other towns, as the jarl believes it attracts crime.
Most inhabitants of Koti are either human or dwarf. A number of elves also calls the town home and other races are uncommon, but generally well-accepted once they’ve proven to be assets to the community.
Places of Importance
The Drowned Wench
The Drowned Wench, or “The Wench” as most citizens call it, was build by a group of dwarven entrepreneurs not too long after the town was founded. The dwarves felt that most of their kind would be more comfortable sleeping and staying in a stone structure than a wooden one. The Wench is the largest tavern in town, and it has known many different owners. At one point it even served as a fortification during the war. It has four uppers floors, three of which are commons and serving rooms, the top one is an office, as well as a number of lower floors. It was build to last and inside it stays warm even during the harshest winters. The inn has a massive waterwheel attached to its side which pumps water into a heating system, as well as grinds oats for the indoor bakery.
What most people do not know is that the Wench serves as a cover-up for the thieves guild. Hidden in the lower floors, connected by a network of tunnels, are many hidden rooms and areas which the thieves use to escape detection. Rakeclaw and his undead inner circle all call these tunnels home. It is not uncommon that a curious customer is lost in the tunnels forever.
The Drowned Wench is now run by Jovan Nevermore, an old morbidly obese dwarf that rarely leaves his office. Although Jovan appears pleasant at first glance, he actually has very little patience for neither his customers nor employees. He often has a host speak on his behalf. He is one of the only people aware of Rakeclaw and he is terrified the ghoul will turn on him of the secret gets out. Keeping the secret of the guild hidden is his top priority, making money his second highest, as the guild charges a steep “protection fee”.
This pleasant structure lies on the eastern border of the city, close to the palisade which surrounds it. A stone keep with a stubby tower is surrounded by a large stable and two barracks. Within the walls of Hammerstone live jarl Adatram and his relatives, as well as all of the jarls Hammers currently in town, typically about seven, his three most trusted advisers and their families, and a hand full of servants.
Koti’s largest square is situated not far from the Slither, so merchants can haul there wares from the docks onto the market quickly. The square is decorated by a ten foot high statue of Ukko and Ilmatar holding each other.
The Temple to Father and Mother
The Temple’s doors open right into the square. If the walls weren’t five feet thick, and the Dragonwood doors almost three, it would be hard to hear each other in the inner sanctum. The church is a popular visiting place for travelers. It has a fair number of resident priests, shrines to all gods of the pantheon and a ward for the sick.
Situated on the western hills, on the edge of town, The Vault was build by priests of Ilmarinen to safeguard and study dangerous magical items. The domed building has reinforced stone walls, as well as numerous wards. Today priests of the entire pantheon have taken upon them the job of keeping the artifacts out of evil hands. As study plays an important role, a fair number of clerics of Untamo are also drawn to The Vault. Only a hand full of the clerics are allowed to stay overnight. Many of them are ferried back and forth to town by an armored coach.
They say Katla was the greatest smith that ever lived. His creativity seemed limitless, his items original, weapons deadly and armors impenetrable. According to legends he learned to fold metal from Ilmarinen himself. Long after his death his armory has become an important school for smith’s throughout Kesma. They charge a steep tuition, but those able to pay master some of the incredible skills Katla himself had.
Katla designed the armory to be a reflection of the restlessness of the human mind, which resulted in alien architecture. It has many different wings, connected by adorned arches, folded around a square cobbled with all kinds of metal, centered by a statue of Ilmarinen. Some of the catapults and strange war machines Katla, and his apprentices, designed still decorate the armory grounds.
Katla himself has not ruled the armory for over a thousand years. The grandson of one of his apprentices, Ori Flamebeard, is the current head smith of the school, a prestigious position indeed. Ori has the gentle soul of an artist, but a famous dwarven temper. He enjoys teaching others, but does not like to be overruled or contradicted. Stories go that the jarl himself visits the Armory regularly, meeting with Ori about the status of newly invented weapons.