THE CITY OF FANG
To learn a little more about Fang and its surrounds I have taken you outside of the shop and up Prakan Hill. Feel free to go back to the shop by pointing (and clicking) down the Hill, through the stone archway directly in front.
Laid out before you is the city of Fang. Behind us are the northeastern gates to the city, leading to the overland trading route to Zengis. These gates are hardly ever used, given that most people find there way here along the river or come across it from the south.
Before us we are looking down Prakan Hill towards the River Kok, running from east to west. Beyond the buildings below is the river and beyond that are the Pagan Plains. Over to the left is the Merchants Guild, of which I am a member. To the right is the Guild of Sages and Scholars, from whom I am still awaiting an invitation to join!
Fang began life hundreds of years of ago as a small town within the realm of mighty Goldoran. After the collapse of that great nation, during the War of the Wizards, some of the old provinces began to re-establish themselves as autonomous regions. One of those was Chiang-Mai, with Fang as its capital. Chiang-Mai's southern border is the River Kok itself, with what people term Old Allansia starting on the other side of the river. To the north, the province is limited by the mighty Icefinger mountains, whose inhospitability holds little attraction for the Baron.
Fang has grown steadily from the trade that runs along the river. When I was young, Fang was still considered by most as a town rather than a city. It has always made a convenient stopover for river traders and passengers throughout most of the year. The river has always brought a steady source of trade income to Fang, with ships and barges passing up and down the River Kok from Zengis, twenty days upstream to the east, all the way to the Ocean and its coastal cities in the west. Also, the horses bred in the surrounding province of Chiang-Mai have long been highly sought after, thus the bi-annual horse markets attracted people from all over northern Allansia.
The Trial of Champions
However, a number of years ago things began to change when the present Baron succeeded his father. His yearning for wealth, reputation and power was too great to be content with the steady nature of Fang's trading economy. Thus, the idea for a great spectacle came to him. One that would attract people from all over northern Allansia to either partake in, or to watch. Deathtrap Dungeon was built to service this idea and the Trial of Champions was born. This Trial would involve contestants entering the labyrinthine dungeon, built in the hill behind Fang, with the aim being to come out alive via the only exit. This dungeon was filled with all manner of traps and monsters, designed to test to the limit the wits and weapon skill of those competing. The options for contestants were either to win or to die. To balance this ultimate risk was the glorious reward of 10,000 gold pieces and the freedom of Chiang-Mai forever. Suffice it to say that the interest generated by the Trial attracted attention from all over Allansia. The wealth and reputation that the Baron had sought soon followed, and surpassed even his expectations.
Once a year the river is crammed with boats as people arrive from hundreds of miles around hoping to see a victor in the Trial of Champions. Preparation for the Trial Festival begins months in advance as the town is decorated and tents and dining halls are erected. The last week of Sowing (April) finds the people of Fang in wild celebration. The city is alive with music, dancing, acrobats and merriment of all varieties. Mighty warriors and heroes, who will be competing in 'The Walk' as we affectionately call the Trial, wander the streets of Fang, wearing the famed violet scarf which silently proclaims their status. They are treated like demi-gods by the people of the city. Those that falsely wear the violet scarf are liable to be stoned to death. The contestants are also housed in special luxurious guesthouses with wonderful food and four-poster beds, not realising that they are more akin to farm animals being fed up prior to their slaughter than members of the Celestial Court. The air is filled with the smell of feasts being prepared, and copious amounts of drink are consumed. This intoxicating mixture of song, drink, dance and laughter continues unabated until the trumpets sound at Glantanka's awakening on the first day of Winds (1st May). The crowds then throng to the mighty pillars of the Dungeon labyrinth to see the brave challengers enter.
During the last two weeks prior to 'The Walk' the Baron's court sorcerer works in tandem with the priests of Aqualis, the god of rivers, and Pangara, the god of winds, to work enchantment upon the River Kok and upon the wind from the Ocean. Their aim is to slow down the flow of the river from Fang downstream to the Ocean. The reason for this is simply to allow as many people to get to the Festival as possible. The journey to the Ocean is normally around twenty days. However, with the mixture of the increased wind speed from the Ocean, and the slowing down of the river's flow, passage only takes four days upstream from the Ocean.
For the rest of the year life is quieter, and trade returns to normal along the river, although a significant proportion of our income has been made in those two short weeks. Much of the Baron's wealth, outside of that generated by the Trial, comes from the river taxes imposed on the traders. I will admit that the effect of the Trial has been quite phenomenal, and despite the gruesome nature of the event it has served the people of Fang well. The Baron's tax toll keeps the wealth of the population in check, but we live well by Allansian standards. For my part, I would not have half the things I have in my emporium without the city's attraction of foreign merchants.
In recent years the Dungeon has been defeated. But this has not dimmed its popularity, as each time it has been beaten the Baron has reinvented it, and now it is more lethal than ever.
Fang itself thrives, but the population of the city has increased as the promise of easy-to-come-by wealth seeps into the surrounding lands. Unfortunately, for those who come here they find the rumours are somewhat exaggerated, and Fang has now got a significant population of beggars.
For work the best place to visit is the Dockside. Places such as Dwight's wharf may offer employment that can be found in the warehouses, or on passing ships and barges. Hubba Thangfane is among the best people to speak to for prospects of employment.
For those wanting to travel from here, the best way is via the River Kok, although there are routes across the land to Zengis and also to the west. Alternatively, the more adventurous can cross the river via the ferry to the northern boundaries of the Pagan Plains, but I would not recommend this to the inexperienced travellers among you.
Although the overland trade route from Zengis to Fang is only open between Sowing (April) and Hiding (October) the River can still be used for the rest of the year, although between Close (November) and Unlocking (March) it is at its most treacherous. Generally, merchant caravans and barges will avoid the route completely until after the Trial of Champions and will stop once the harsh northern winter begins to take a hold in Close.
The Zengis to Salamonis trade route comes through Fang and continues in merchant caravans via Anvil, Stonebridge and Chalice and finally to Salamonis. If any of these destinations are your goal then getting a job with a merchant caravan may be a good option for you, for although such caravans attract unwanted attention, they are also normally very well guarded.
The Horse Market
Also, as I have said before, Chiang-Mai is famed for its horses and there is a whole district set aside for the Horse Market in Fang. Visit here for the chance to invest in a fine steed to speed your journeys across the more inhospitable parts of Allansia.
Accommodation in Fang is plentiful, due to the demands of the Trial Festival, and although the best guesthouses are booked out months in advance for the Festival, there should be room during most of the rest of the year. However, their prices are extortionate. Other than that, there is many an inn in Fang to accommodate your needs.
Inns and Taverns
If inns and taverns are what you would like to know about then I can point you in the direction of some establishments.
The Staggering Foal Tavern can be found down in the Dwight's Wharf district of the city. It is frequented by a clientele which is interesting in its mixture to say the least. It stills operates a system of calling someone over to your table to order drinks. Strangers will not attract attention in the Foal due to its busy nature. However, if information is what you are after then there is no better place. Hubba Thangfane frequents this establishment as well, and you would do well to meet with him if work is your goal.
The Swordsmaster's Arms is an Inn in the slightly better area of the Horse Market District. It boasts a number of artefacts from the Dungeon itself, from skulls of former contestants contained in glass cabinets, to weapons recovered from the dungeon by the palace faithful (each year the Baron orders the Dungeon to be cleared of such trinkets lest they aid the next group of contestants). The Arms are a favourite haunt of adventurers, looking to tell their stories to a like minded crowd, and also minstrels who recount tales of legend, myth and, of course, the Dungeon itself. Go here for an evening of entertainment, and also if you want to stay abreast of adventuring news from across the continent.
The Laurel Wreath is a tavern on the corner of Champion's Plaza in the Palace District of the city and you will find that those members of the Palace Guard who enjoy a drink choose this tavern as their favourite haunt.
The Imperial Gar-Goldoran Inn is perhaps the least aptly named establishment in the city, so don't be fooled. It does nothing to inspire in you any notion of the past grandeur of Goldoran. In fact it is lice ridden pit. It was once shut down for serving customers with the wrong ale (when they asked for the local ale they were served Guursh (Orc ale) instead, which although cheaper to the landlord, managed to kill eight unsuspecting revellers during the Trial Festival five years ago). Somehow the landlord, Lazzarick Sloven, managed to get his licence back but, apart from not serving Guursh, he has done little to clean up the establishment. Be careful about staying here, because although very cheap, it may cost your health dearly if you leave with a lice infection.
enough about the city. Come back into the Emporium
and have a look around, before you make your way to an Inn.
The above picture of the City is by Stephen Tappin, and is from Games Workshop's 'Talisman: City expansion'.