Journey to Incaras
Journey to Incaras
I have traveled up the highway road from the city of Kwikuzuld (Quikuzuld) these past few days. We camped the last night with a glow in the sky from the city's torch and lantern lights. The caravan master and team had pulled to a grassy field. We rested with the scent of juniper and sage and the cut and tramped down grass. This close the city guard patrols the road and surrounds, so there is less risk of bandits or robbers. In the morning we continued to the great city. The day was cool and overcast with low clouds drifting north and westward. Soon, rising from the rough dry scrub lands and scattered orchards or small farms we beheld the plateau of Incaras rising before us. The city is built atop a large isolated plateau with small streams running and falling down it's sides. The river emerges from several springs and flows down to Kwikzuld. Many variety of good fish may be caught from the river, though great wagons will pull loads of ocean water with ocean fish to the Mercenary City. By the early afternoon we had joined a mix of peoples on the winding road that criss cross up to the top and the entry to the city. The cliff sides are in places worn and smooth with views of battlements or towers above. In other places the living stone, a red brown granite, has been carved out into shelters, an Inn, or a fantastic lattice at the Mansion of Screens. Many small homes or shops fill wider areas of the road and hawkers offer sweat meats, pies, wine, water and ale to wash away the dust of the road and stink of some of the sewer drains falling in ravines. The road is sometimes narrow, crossing a ravine on a bridge with a Group of City Guard at watch. Above you may spot the Necropolis and tombs of great generals, warriors and others - as well as the black tower of the Necromancer of Incaras, a being said to be centuries old and commanding a battalion of undead servants - as well as offering some for sale. In other places the road passes under fortifications of Mercenary orders and Watch Towers and guard posts of this or that order or the City Guard.
It is a weary few hours through the fray, heat and dust. Travelers and loads departing and climbing upwards, goods offered and sold, adventurers and occasional lines of ordered mercenary units passing down before one finally comes to the great wall and city gate. Here there is an ingenious passage for wains and wagons to pass under the city along old passages to warehouses, guilds and yards of fighting orders without battling the crowds within the near part of the city. The guard inspects all who enter, asking after origin and alliance. It is a marvel to see the crowd - a mix of chariots, rickshaw or wagons drawn by horse, ox or Centaur, litters bearing wealthy persons held aloft by servants, slaves or in one case a fearful group of walking skeletons ( some are rumored to be the remains of prisoners working off their bail) , the armored adventurer and hunters afoot, all manner of men and women, garish to lofty - glowing elves, stocky dwarf and gnomes, heavily built and burly trolls porting or standing as guards beside a goblin Adelae ( a city official) collecting the tax on entrants to the city, a cluster of the lizard folk, Octnon, here and there lionine Bahku with their braids and golden trinkets and stranger things too! In Incaras it is said one can find almost anything and even savage monsters are seen in broad day! There one can spy a tall canibal Ghenid wide canine muzzled and mane tied with colored ribbons or died in red, trained to civilization and dressed in the uniform of the watch! Crafty, nasty Kobolds might be seen and in the city itself still more wonders.
Once past the gate and poll tax, you come to the great market. To the right are stockyards and slave pens which mirror ones seen on the climbing road. To the left Guild offices and good houses for food and drink or rooms for rent. The buildings are many types - some of wood but many of the redbrick or the granite stone or the grey sandstone and limestone of the scrublands and rough lands surrounding the city. Here in the great market are kiosks and shops and the press of the many species - their scents of musk, perfumes, and sweat mixed with the pies, meats and fruits and flowers at sale. A gala of linen, wools, silks, leather in all colors imaginable. The air has a bit of dust, the smoke of cooking stoves and home fires, spoiled urine of beasts and Namer races, mixed with the cries of sellers, and beasts. Children dash through the crowds while white cloaked city constables watch or wander keeping eyes out for the cut purses and pickpockets, checking badges and marquee permits. In the shade of a tenement ally, a peg-legged beggar on a worn blanket holds out his cup.
The buildings are frequently 2, 3 or even 4 floors tall. Many are built around a courtyard with some trees or a garden. The streets are stone paved with a cunning rise in the center so that water and waste moves to the sides and may be pushed into sewer holes. In many parts of the city raised curbs on either side of the streets give walkways away from carts or those in the street. Frequently there are white stones in the street that may stand out at night or blocks spaced apart for wagon wheels, were the population may pass without walking in the muck. There are fountains, common cisterns and a wonderful supply of water fed by clever aqueducts that fan out across the city. Passing out and farther in off the right side of the market are wealthy homes and villas with walls, guards and larger compounds. Fancy public houses with the best comforts and rare morsels are found along these streets. Smaller wine shops and ale may also be found. There is a Public Bath where persons of human or fairy types might refresh and bathe in pools of cooled or heated water. Contrary to some tales - the people of Incaras do not all jumble together - human, Goblin, Centaur, Octnon and Bahku sharing baths and men and women, and male and female of the other types all bathing undressed and naked in common. No, the baths are decently separated male and female and different for the different kinds. The furred and monstrous may need to travel to more distant parts of the city for their bath - the Eastern University on far east side, or the part called Monster Town where many nonhumans can be found, which overlooks a drop to the Thieves Quarter, which is also called the Old Fort on the north and nearest the Necropolis where the tombs and crypts of the dead can be found along with the most wretched of the city.
The South side houses a great many of the elves, trolls, goblins, dwarfs and gnomes. Performers at some squares are of these peoples performing cunning magics for entertainment and joy, or betting on battles between fantastical models of beasts animated by Faerie magics. True Mages may be seen, as well as shops selling talismans and mystic ingredients. The air is rich with strange smells of spice, the scent of peculiar flowers in pots or of a blooming tree, and incense, breads and meats roasting along with the rotten efflux of the gutter and sewer drains. And the smell peculiar to the many types, their perfumes and powders - the earthy smell of Centaur, the sour scent of Octnon or the bitter musk of Bahku or Gehenid. Or the mass of sweaty laboring humans.