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Warhammer Talagraad

The harbor-city of Talagraad

Taalagad is perhaps the largest and most important settlement claimed by the city of Talabheim. It is, in effect, Talabheim’s port, and all river trade to the city-state passes through Taalagad’s docks. A wide variety of traffic passes through Taalagad, and this includes commodities passing up and down the Talabec on boat and barge, as well as merchants and goods that seek to utilize the city’s ferries to cross the river’s breadth as they travel along the Old Forest Road.[1a]

Given its position on the River, Taalagad has a long history filled with refugees and shanty towns. During times of war, plague, and famine, unfortunates from as far as Kislev and Ostermark have sought shelter in Taalagad’s muddy, rat-infested streets. As a result, a semi-permanent shanty town has sprung up along Taalagad’s northern border, and the city’s struggling labour market is flooded with immigrants willing to work for much lower wages. These events have done nothing but frustrate the largely Kislevite labour force that existed in Taalagad up until that time, and tensions between the two ethnic groups are as high as the wages are low.[1a]

Harbour DistrictEdit

Taalagad’s docks are one of the city’s busiest quarters. All river trade, from Altdorf in the south or Kislev in the north, requires loading or unloading upon the rotting wooden platforms and quays that jut out from both banks of the Talabec. Most of the docks are protected from the powerful current by a series of breakwaters that barely hold the river’s flow back when the winter snows melt. Construction and renovation of the docks is a constant process, and it is a rare day when some manner of repair is not being performed. Because of the poor or nonexistent training of the labourers that the city employs for these tasks, casualties are a daily occurrence. The docks line both sides of the Talabec.[1a]

Those on the southern bank of the river are in high demand, as they are closer to the Wizard’s Way and entry into Talabheim. Captains who are forced to tie up on the northern bank of the Talabec must still transport their goods across the river either via ferry or by Wizard’s Crossing. Either method is costly. Taalagad’s ferrymen are purported to be some of the most crooked businessmen in the city, and the toll to use the Wizard’s Crossing depends in large part on the size and value of the cargo that crosses it. Since much of the city’s labour force shows up at the docks in a vain search for work each morning, the atmosphere is as taut as a drawn bowstring. Brawling and the occasional stabbing are common events on the already treacherous waterfront. Riots are common along the Worker’s Wall, a section of town where labourers gather in the hopes of earning an honest Schilling. Crime is also widespread along the docks, as smugglers tie up their boats at night and use the pandemonium of the daylight hours to their advantage.[1a]

Blackened ToothEdit

The Blackened Tooth is a barbershop situated across from Taalagad’s docks. Frequented by travellers in need of haircuts, shaves, and minor medical attention, “the Tooth,” as locals call it, is also renowned for the number of tooth extractions its proprietor attends to each week. Helmut Heftung, the Tooth’s owner, is a Middenlander who prides himself on his ability to quickly remove rotten or damaged teeth with any one of a number of specialized tools of his own design. Given the state of oral hygiene in Taalagad, as well as the Empire in general, it’s a safe bet that Helmut will have an abundance of business for the remainder of his career. Aside from Helmut’s affinity for dentistry, The Blackened Tooth is also a place for shaves and haircuts. While Helmut is far more adept with pliers, he keeps several pairs of razor-sharp shears on hand so he can attend to the tresses and beards of his regular customers. A small contingent of ailing and unemployed dock workers have begun to haunt the stoop in front of the Tooth, content to pay a Penny for a shave before settling down to an afternoon’s worth of gossip and rumour. Helmut is happy for the business, but he does grow visibly annoyed when the gossipers overstay their tenuous welcome.[1a]

The Worker's WallEdit

Taalagad’s main thoroughfare, referred to by residents as the Wizard’s Road, winds through the city’s centre before joining with  the Wizard’s Way as it zigzags up the crater wall. The Wizard’s Crossing, an old stone bridge spanning the Talabec along the road’s course, offers a quick way for merchants and residents to traverse the river—so long as they can afford the toll. On the southern bank of the river, extending out and away from the bridge is a low, crumbling stone wall. It was once a part of the city’s defensive breastworks, but the wall has since become overgrown with ivy and fallen into disrepair. Called the Worker’s Wall, it now acts as a meeting place for folk seeking work on the docks and quays of Taalagad.[1b] 

The Fish MarketEdit

Several small fishing villages line the shores of the Talabec, and many of these are claimed to be a part of the city-state of Talabheim. A small fish market has sprung up in Taalagad to accommodate the fisher-folk and their families, who seek to turn their hard-caught fish into money. Prior to the recent struggles, fish were plentiful and business was good.[1b] 

The EelEdit

The Eel is a two-story tavern that crouches at the southern edge of the Talabec, two blocks south of the Wizard’s Road. The bar’s wooden edifice has been bleached to a dingy grey by years of exposure to the elements. A single shoddy sign depicting a winding, snake-like creature dangles from a pair of rusty hooks above the door. Bits of maritime flotsam are stacked haphazardly along the building’s sides, covered by random patches of fraying fish net. A single copper bell, the words “Der Aal” cast into its side, hangs near the tavern’s door, a prize from the ship that gave the Eel its name. Business during daylight hours is scant, as most of the Eel’s regular clientele are either hard at work on the docks or laying low away from the prying eyes of the city guard.[1b]

When the sun goes down, the Eel’s doors open wide, admitting all manner of river folk into its dingy and ill-lit interior. Sailors, boatmen, fisher-folk, and dockworkers enjoy the Eel’s cheap ale, and fried potatoes accompanied by strong local vinegar are a house specialty. The Eel’s favourite customers, however, are the many smugglers who ply the Talabec River in search of illicit profit. Anything can be bought or sold in the Eel, so long as the buyer or seller isn’t too straight-laced. The Eel’s reputation as a haven for smugglers is well known in Taalagad. In a city that is known for its rough and degenerate qualities, such a place is even valued by the powers that be. The local authorities choose to ignore the Eel much of the time, though they will occasionally raid the tavern in an attempt to keep the proprietor on his toes. Arrests are rarely made during these raids, unless the patrons are incited to violence by an unhealthy combination of rebelliousness and malt liquor.[1b] 

Skully'sEdit

Skully’s is a gambling den and beer hall that caters to the less distinguishing members of Taalagad’s lower classes. Card and dice games dominate in the bar’s smoky interior, whilst the back yard is reserved for pit fights of such violent intensity that Skully’s has nearly been shut down by the local authorities more times than most common folk can count. An eight-foot stone wall, topped with jagged glass shards, has recently been erected around the rear of the building at great expense. The wall is ostensibly to keep non-paying spectators from freeloading, but it also serves to keep recalcitrant gamblers from escaping their incurred debts. The proprietor, a lecherous Halfling known only as Skully, takes an active role in the administration of his establishment. Most days, he spends his time lounging about, with any one of a dozen bored young women with haunted eyes feeding him boiled mice and millet with their filthy fingers. When not indulging his strange habits, he makes his rounds, seeing to the guests.[1b]

He also acts as master of ceremonies for particularly high profile fights, personally awarding the prizes to victorious gladiators. He keeps several capable brutes on his staff, and many of which are ex-Pit Fighters with formidable reputations as effective as their swords when it comes to keeping the clientele in line. Skully’s gladiatorial events have become more exotic in nature. The public’s thirst for ever more violent distractions from the humdrum of their despicable lives has driven Skully to find new and interesting ways to entertain his guests. There are rumours that the Halfling will pay good coin for Chaos creatures, including Mutants and Beastmen, though it is unclear if he intends to pit these monsters against one another or against his sizeable stable of Pit Fighters. Skully is reasonably well respected in Taalagad, at least amongst the folk who frequent his gambling den. Considering the local feelings on Halflings, and the Moot in general, this is especially remarkable. While his taste for Human women is considered to be deviant behaviour by most respectable citizens, and despite his wealth being built on the blood of fallen Pit Fighters, Skully has proven to be a generous benefactor. He often gives freely to charities and sends shipments of food and ale to the poorer citizens of Taalagad, which has done much to improve his standing with the common folk.[1b]

Depot DistrictEdit

Beyond the docks, on the southern side of the Talabec, lies Taalagad’s depot district. Home to a series of large warehouses and merchant shops, the Depot District is where much of the port’s money changes hands. Most business occurs during daylight hours, though a good number of shady deals take place after dark, despite the conspicuous presence of guard patrols throughout the district.[1b]

Hammer and Tongs Edit

The Hammer and Tongs is a shop that sells locally manufactured and imported arms and armour. The owner, a merchant blacksmith named Tomas Gussel, prides himself on the stock he carries. He prefers to cater to the city’s legitimate authorities but will sell to anyone with enough coin to afford his wares. Much of his stock consists of light armour and hand weapons, though he can procure anything if offered enough time and gold. For the most part, his sales are modest, but he lives well enough considering the high price of the merchandise he sells. While Gussel rarely takes up the hammer and tongs these days, he does accept commissions for special items. Foremost amongst these are expertly crafted zweihanders, constructed by Gussel in the Imperial style. Rumours abound as to Gussel’s past prior to his coming to Taalagad. The most common tale casts him in the role of an Imperial soldier in the ranks of one of the famed Greatsword regiments. Gussel will neither confirm nor deny these claims, preferring to use his ambiguous past as a selling point for his goods.[1c]

Griswold and SonEdit

Gregor Griswold came to Taalagad with a dream: to make his fortune selling a selection of fine garments imported from the galleries of Reikland, Wissenland, and Averland. Though his initial advances in Talabheim bore fruit, the fortune he hoped to achieve was far from assured. After losing much of his wealth to a series of particularly damaging bandit raids, Gregor decided to settle in Taalagad. Stark necessity, rather than personal choice, drove him to make such a decision, and he has regretted it ever since. With the failure of his clothing imports, Gregor took stock in a dry goods shop in Taalagad’s Depot District. While his clothing was marketed towards Talabheim’s elite, the dry goods business serves to offer goods to folk of all social standings.[1c]

He found a modicum of success in this line, though the growth of his business only spiked after the Storm of Chaos. In times of war, even the most mundane items become prohibitively expensive. Gregor, not above a little profiteering, put his worst foot forward and earned sacks of coin as a result. Griswold and Son offers a wide variety of tools, dry goods, and necessary items for sale, as well as luxury imports from lands as far away as Araby and Estalia. The prices are noticeably inflated, but Gregor explains that the reliability of the Empire’s trade routes is not what it used to be. Though his estimation is correct, his prices are still well above the norm. Since he is the largest purveyor of goods in Taalagad, however, he can charge whatever price he wishes to.[1c]

Market SquareEdit

Taalagad is possessed of a single open-air market where farmers and merchants from near and far come to sell their goods. The market is held three times each week in the town’s market square, which is centrally located in the Depot District. Those who can afford to erect stalls and tents do so, but the majority of business is carried out from carts or wheel barrows. Nearly anything can be purchased in Market Square. Unlike the fish market, Market Square is almost always busy on market days. Throngs of citizens flock to the square to see what new things are up for sale and to scrounge and haggle for the best deals they can find. Crime is also rampant, theft being the most common of the lot. Pickpockets are as common as cockroaches on market days, despite the visible presence of the city guard. Brawls occasionally break out between overzealous hagglers, too, causing distractions that cutpurses and shoplifters use to their advantage.[1c]

Ten-Tailed CatEdit

Warhammer Taalagrad Ten-Tailed Cat

The Ten-Tailed Cat

Perhaps the most famous of Taalagad’s venues is the Ten-Tailed Cat, a tavern run by an ex-Pit Fighter named Sluro. The Ten-Tailed Cat is known far and wide for its policy of providing patrons with free ale in exchange for a tale or two. Some stories are humorous, some are disturbing, and others are downright bizarre. Regardless of the yarn’s outcome, the crowd’s reaction judges its worth. If the crowd voices its approval, free ale is awarded immediately, and Cup Duty does not apply. All manner of characters patronize the Ten-Tailed Cat. Of all the taverns in Taalagad, it is perhaps the most cosmopolitan. Local customers rub elbows with patrons from all over the Empire, as well as those folk who hail from strange nations far beyond the Empire’s borders. For a modest fee, access to private rooms is available. These facilities are popular and allow groups to converse amongst themselves without exposing potentially sensitive information to the gossips that frequent the common room. Additionally, games of chance spring up on a nightly basis, and fortunes are won and lost on the flip of a card or the tumble of the dice.[1c]

Little KislevEdit

One of Taalagad’s oldest districts is known only as Little Kislev. The Kislevite population of Taalagad has made the district their own, and the sights, sounds, and smells of the place are largely reminiscent of Praag and Erengrad. Though small, only encompassing a central avenue and a half-dozen connected alleys, the district is always bustling and full of energy. Lively Kislevite music, often accompanied by improvised singing, adds to the district’s exotic feel. With the coming of refugees from Hochland, the mood of Little Kislev has become subdued and troubled. Prior to the Storm of Chaos, Kislevite immigrants performed much of the lower-class labour in town. The Hochlanders, desperate as they are, are willing to perform the same sorts of jobs for far less money. Unscrupulous merchants and burghers have taken advantage of the situation, pitting the Kislevites against the Hochlanders in a constant struggle for economic survival. The fact that the Hochland refugees outnumber the town’s Kislevite population six to one makes the future even more uncertain in these troubled times.[1c]

The BalalaikaEdit

Named after a popular musical instrument, the Balalaika is the favoured drinking spot of hard-working Kislevite men. The menu features a dozen hearty ethnic foods, as well as vodka, which is brought down the Talabec River from the Kislevite motherland. As indicated by the tavern’s name, music is one of the Balalaika’s main attractions. Though lively, the tone of the songs has become increasingly sombre in recent months, given the current situation involving the refugees from Hochland. Drinking has always been a popular pastime amongst the folk of Kislev, and the Balalaika has always been the favoured place to gather for both Kislevite and Talabeclander alike. Though the prices at the Balalaika have remained consistent, the lack of available jobs in town has made it difficult for the locals to afford the amounts of vodka that they were once accustomed to drinking. People still show up regularly to gossip and grumble about the state of affairs, however.[1c]

Madame YagaEdit

The tiny home of Madame Yaga is nestled between two rows of dingy housing at the east end of Little Kislev. Yaga is a fortuneteller of some skill, and she continues to amaze folk with her uncanny insight and ageless wisdom. She takes customers by appointment only. Because she rarely leaves the confines of her home, a young boy known only as Yuri sits upon her front steps and maintains her schedule. No one knows how Yuri is related to Yaga or if the two are even kin.[1c]

The JakesEdit

The area of Taalagad known as the Jakes, named after the filth and scum found here, displays the abject poverty of the city’s transients and refugees. Originally dominating the north-western section of town, the quarter has since expanded into a huge sprawling camp filled with shanties, huts, and tents. Walking the streets of the Jakes reveals the desperation and despair of the folk who call it their temporary home. Crimes such as theft and murder occur here everyday. Despite the Cup Duty, alcohol is common. When they aren’t working (which is most of the time), its inhabitants drink cheap rotgut as they commiserate with one another around low-burning fire pits. Several people have already been found dead because they ventured to the wrong side of the Talabec River.[1c]

Street of ThievesEdit

When compared to its parent city, Taalagad is practically lawless. While the average city guardsman in the port town is relatively honest, most are inclined to look out for their own skins when patrolling the unruly streets. This is not to say that law has no place in Taalagad, nor does it mean that it is never enforced. On the contrary, arrests are made every day in the town for a variety of crimes, from minor infractions (such as evading the toll on the Wizard’s Crossing) to major offences (such as murder or heresy). Trials are swift and largely decided by public opinion, especially in the cases of high-profile or politically inflammatory crimes. Assuming that the accused is not lynched outright, he will stand trial in Taalagad’s open-air court on the stretch of road known as the Street of Thieves. This road lies on the border of the town’s northern docks and its impoverished Jakes.[1c]

The avenue is paved with black cobblestones, each one engraved with the names of one or more criminals and whatever crime (or crimes) they were convicted of. As new criminals are charged and sentenced, their names are chiselled into random cobblestones. Central to the avenue is an elevated dais where criminals are tried and sentenced. Trials occur at least once a week and are heavily attended events, featuring vendors, food, and a carnival-like atmosphere. Lining the Street of Thieves are platforms, each equipped with one or more devices of contrition. The most common of these devices are stocks, constructed of thick wood and bound in heavy iron bands. Criminals who are convicted of minor crimes are shackled into place, their hands, heads, and/or feet confined to the stocks. The term of this punishment ranges from several hours to several days. While on display, law-breakers are subject to the derision and abuse of their fellow citizens, as well as the elements.[1c]

The law is blind to the season, and prisoners that are convicted in the winter have been known to freeze to death before their sentences are complete. Other platforms are equipped with posts, where convicts are whipped or beaten for their crimes. In addition to relatively minor punishments, like restriction to the stocks or flogging, executions are also performed here. Two platforms along the road are furnished with gibbets, and folk who are hung dangle from them for days or weeks at a time, depending on the severity of their crimes. The most visible of the execution platforms, however, is known simply as the Block, where the most heinous crimes are punished by one, two, or, sometimes, even three blows from an executioner’s axe. Prisoners who somehow survive three blows from the executioner’s cleaver are pardoned for their crimes, though such a thing has never happened in recent memory.[1c]

SourceEdit

  • 1: Terror in Talabheim (2nd Edition Fantasy Roleplay)
    • 1a: pg. 29
    • 1b: pg. 30
    • 1c: pg. 31

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