Shorewall

Written by Sam Pearson.

Common Knowledge

More a large keep than a village, Shorewall is tasked with watching the Blacksea for intruders from the north. Despite the vast distance between them, Shorewall is actually sworn to Seawatch rather than Ravenpeak or Graystone.

General Information

Since the Fall, the settlement is valued for its naval capabilities. Primarily a naval military settlement that has tasked itself with keeping waterways, shorelines, and to the best of their ability, oceans clear of Unfallen. Their main skill in this duty is their ability to dispatch the undead whales that plague the northern shores of Haven, although successfully slaying one is still a monumental task. All natives to Shorewall are conscribed into the navy at the age of sixteen, regardless of gender, and serve a six-year enlistment at minimum, with freedom to pursue personal desires after that time. Many choose to continue to serve after that point, finding a sense of honor or service and turning it into a lifetime career. Some return to work for their families’ trades, and a fair number embark to Graystone to become Gravehunters.

Its most notable feature is the large stone fortification that overlooks the ocean. It serves as the primary base for its navy. It houses the barracks and training areas, a small residential district, and a large stone keep that overlooks the walls. Most of the citizens live outside the walls to the west. Also notable are the docks and dry docks on the southern shore, housing the Shorewall fleet and its fishing boats.

Seaspray Island in total is about 475 square miles in land area, with the developed areas of Shorewall covering about forty-five acres. The population of the town is just shy of 2700, with half of those being military personnel and a good number of the remaining being fishermen and dockworkers. A few households tend to a patch of crop fields to the northwest, though their annual yields are sparse due to the climate on the island and rocky soil conditions. The town doesn’t boast much in the way of commercial businesses, as most trade in the town is involved with the navy. Some goods bartering does happen between townsfolk for luxuries and amenities from the mainland, though in terms of work done, a lot is either traded for or done pro-bono with an understanding that everyone in Shorewall does their part to keep things going. Coin is accepted but not commonly traded between natives.

Culture of Shorewall

Safety in Seclusion

Shorewall faces significantly less threat from the Unfallen compared to the rest of Haven due to its geographical seclusion, although this doesn’t mean the settlement is safe by any means. Within the past 80 years, the settlement adapted through mistakes and learned an understanding of the affliction that befell all which die, and created measures that developed into standard day to day procedure for dealing with the recently passed. This was helped along by the settlement’s rigid militaristic mindset, making the transition into the new state of the world rather smooth, although not without incident. Given this safe harbor, the poor weather, general demeanor of the native population, and lack of willingness to give up their homes doesn’t sway many to move to Shorewall. Most of the resident population have familial bloodlines that run back to before the Fall. The population is diverse enough that incest is very rare, though genetically natives to Shorewall would be marrying their distant cousins.

The "Blessings" of Shadiym

Many of the hurricanes and storms are thought to be caused by the influence of Shadiym, God of the Blacksea, by sailors. Superstitions are abound within Shorewall, though currently not to the extent of full-blown religions, regarding the Leviathan god and his effect on the seas surrounding the island. It is believed the deity has some hand in or is the direct cause of the summer hurricanes that batters the islands, and for appeasement to stay away. Some make private offerings to the entity: for good weather, for the safe return of their loved ones at sea, or for it to lend the military but a shred of his wrath or favor in their campaign against the Unfallen.

From Brine to Shorewall

The town has little to do in the way of interaction with the neighboring settlement of Brine.

Soon after its founding, many townsfolk from Brine emigrated to Shorewall due to its outside backing of food and materials, and acculturated into the militaristic state. Once every few months, a group of about two dozen from the decrepit village travel through the forest to purchase staple food and materials from town’s marketplace, never staying longer than the day they arrived. Their presence is always noteworthy given their antisocial tendencies outside of the bare necessities of interaction to conduct trade, bordering on hostility to some townsfolk, their worn, mottled and often bloodstained shrouds, and their movement through the town as an undividing unit. The Brinesfolk will occasionally incur the wrath of jeering from a few soon-to-be reprimanded street urchins, though for the most part the people of Shorewall leave them to their own devices. To the people of Shorewall, it’s unknown how these outsiders traverse the isle’s dangerous woods, though they seem to be unfettered by journey.

Government

Peace through Trade

Shorewall’s governing body maintains trade with Shardholm and tenuous agreements with the City of Marble for resources in agreement to keep the waters around their settlements clear. Shorewall also has an outpost in Shardholm that it keeps maintained, using it primarily as a recruitment center for anyone that wishes to join the navy.

Industry

Bounty of the Sea

Fish makes up the core of the diet of Shorewall citizens, since there is little production of grains and crops on Seaspray Island itself. People can purchase these goods, though often only more wealthy families can afford them due to the cost of shipping them across the channel. Bakeries however do often a cheaper outlet to the necessary staple to the populace, with business connections allowing bakers to purchase grain cheaper than normal to offset the cost of shipping. Most civilian households make regular use of these businesses. A seasonal harvest of Seaspray currants are also an annual treat to the palate of Shorewall, which are gathered in mass from growths of bushes on the edge of the forest. They are found within the forest as well, though people gathering them tend to steer clear of its interior due to danger. The berries are tangy at first taste, but have pleasant afternotes of sweet and salty, and are regularly processed into jams or used in fish pies for additional flavor. They have a deep orange or red color to them when ripe, and are usually gathered in the spring and summer months. Harvesters rarely have any in excess past autumn, since availability of their bushes is small. Some cultivation of these plants has occurred for private residents, though nowhere near the quantities that are reaped during its harvest season.

The fishing industry of Shorewall is a delicate matter given the Fall. By decree to keep non-corporeal entities from manifesting into massive swarms of wrathful spirit fish, all catches are cooked as soon as possible. On their own an individual fish caught doesn’t manifest a entity when filetted. But soon after the Fall, many boats became attacked by their hauls since the mass death of hundreds of fish would cause them to manifest a blanket of spirits, assailing the crew aboard and haunting the derelict vessel. Since then, all fishing boats are outfitted with large coal or wood burning wrought iron grill pits to sear catches, keeping them alive as long as possible before cleaning them to be cooked. Uncommonly, news will come of a fishing vessel that is damaged by accidental fire due to spilling coals from their pits, especially due to weather and ocean conditions, or rarely never being heard from again. Merchants of the Sea The owners of fishing boats are the most wealthy non-military individuals in town, since their efforts fuel Shorewall’s primary material export of fish. The military does take a good part of these entrepreneurs income in tithe to keep the military funded, though there is little pushback from the individuals given their upbringing as part of the navy. Much of the fish caught that doesn’t stay on the island is sold to The City of Marble and Shardholm, of the latter, disseminating the product to other towns within the Verdant and Solemn Expanses via trading caravans.

Infrastructure

The Docks

Constructed mainly of a series of permanent piers, are able to house a number of boats, notably the five large caravels and three smaller ones which make up the naval force of the town. Other privately owned fishing vessels are also moored at the Docks, and outnumber the naval fleet by almost three-to-one. A few small warehouses and tradehouses line the shore of the docks. Although not located within the area of the docks, on the opposite end of the quay to the west is another small pier, a drydock yard, and a storehouse, controlled by the navy and mainly used for repairing the boats of the town and housing construction materials.

The Lighthouse

Maintained by the Shorewall military a day’s travel from the town, on the eastern peninsula. Though it still fulfills its intended purpose, often the light must be quickly extinguished for fear of attracting the undead within the waters below and provoking an attack upon Seaspray Island.

Guilds and Factions

Fishmonger's Guild

A small group of fishermen and fishing boat owners, who at the time were competitors, formed the Fishmonger’s Guild in 35AF, to prevent their selling practices from allowing buyers scam the system to purchase wholesale fish cheaper than its worth. Through this union, they manage sale prices of Shorewall-caught fish to the navy and abroad, while looking after their own in the way of helping for boat maintenance and hiring new crew. The guild also has strong ties to the navy, overseeing their initial formation, and in return giving them good prices on fish for feeding their personnel, as well as connections for discharged and retired sailors to continue working. Outside of economic influence, the organization actual has little in the way standing on the mainland, and thus directly competes with Shardholm’s small fishing industry.

History

Before the Fall

Founded in 972BF under Seawatch, currently, Shorewall is the only notable seafaring settlement. For using and expanding upon the naval technology initially developed in Seawatch, Shorewall pays taxes and tribute to their capital, rather than to the geographically closer Shardholm or Graystone. Initially, Shorewall was founded as an effort to keep the City of Marble’s naval pursuits quelled, though, given the event of the Fall of Lady Death, Shorewall’s focus was realigned more on the defense of the coast than as a counter-aggression tactic.

Since the Fall, some that finish their tour of service in the navy embark to Graystone to become Gravehunters, either through a personal feeling of service and the glory executing on that service can bring, or to an inherited expectation to follow in their precursors’ footsteps, some of which carry a blood-legacy back to the first Grave March. The Gravehunter’s Guild welcomes these individuals, especially given their hardened demeanor and pre-taught disposition to dispatching Unfallen. Though given the almost random nature to pact assignments, some have trouble fully integrating with others that come from other varied walks of life. They often cite their pact members’ lack of experience, or tendency to mentally or emotionally break down in stressful or traumatic situations as a cause of inability to work cohesively. To circumvent this, discharged sailors will sometimes join with their fellow brothers-in-arms, though their inexperience of living and working on the mainland can be a hindrance that a more diverse pact would be able to impart.

Geography

Overview

The local geography on which Shorewall is situated is a large bluff, which slopes down towards the steeply towards the west, into shoreline and the town’s namesake quay. The stone keep the town is so well known for sits atop this bluff. To the east, the bluff extends into the sea, descending as a craggy hill toward the ocean. At the base of the crag, a natural basalt jetty wraps back around towards the west, serving as a breakwater and creating a small bay and which Shorewall uses as its harbor. The area around the harbor, called the Docks, is a distinct district, where much of the daily activity for those enlisted occur. West of the Docks is a major marketplace area, where many of the unloaded imports to Shorewall are traded and bartered for. A massive quay runs for two miles down the shore where the jetty doesn’t extend to, which is one of the oldest features in Shorewall. It was originally carved from the naturally occurring basalt on the coast prior to Shorewall’s founding, but no record was kept as to by whom or for what reason. Inland and uphill to the north are the majority of the residential dwellings. Given the terrain, most of the houses are built onto flat terraces or elevated with stone supports, while some closer to the bluff are carefully carved into the basalt with basic stone and mortar retaining walls. A wide cobble path cuts a birth up the hillside, dividing the marketplace and trailing through the residential district, connecting the fort to the Docks. The fort also has a rather sophisticated elevator, supplied and constructed by those from Seawatch, which is primarily used for hauling supplies and cargo, rather than transporting them up and down the steep road.
Alternative Name(s)
Seaspray Keep (Archaic, only in Seawatch)
Type
Village
Population
Around 2,700.
Inhabitant Demonym
Waller
Location under
Seaspray Island

On the Kushtaka

The denizens of Shorewall have a violent relationship with the Kushtaka; since their stranding on Haven, the military vessels and fishing boats of Shorewall that stray too far east have been regularly attacked by the otterfolk, and the military responded with might in defense. Often slain Kushtaka were skinned for their pelts, which were a rare and somewhat taboo trade commodity. Since the Fall, relations have only escalated for the worse. Although now their hunting is outlawed for inhabitants on the island, some sailors still take the pelts of Kushtaka, though the process of doing so is far more dangerous.

Quick Notes

  • The town is laid out in a U-shape and situated on a hill, with the commonfolk homes and marketplace between the Docks below and the keep on the bluff above.
    Expanded
    The marketplace and public areas are on the lower part of the hill, so the larger buildings can be built on relatively flat ground. The residential area is built farther up the hill, with most of the homes being built on terraced earth or partially on stilts. None of the homes are taller than two stories and majoritively have shallow-sloped roofs as to not catch the strong seasonal winds. The homes themselves aren’t shanty-like, though none exude opulence or excess; they are functional first, mostly being constructed of wood. A long and wide cobbled road cuts through the village, leading to the top of the bluff and the naval keep.

  • The Shorewall Navy makes up the town’s guards, and sailors on shore leave can be seen regularly in the public areas intermingling pleasantly with civilians.
    Expanded
    Naval influence is almost omnipresent throughout the town. To outsiders, the significance of their presence in the village can seem almost overbearing or oppressive, though it doesn’t seem to bother the townsfolk in the slightest. Most anyone you would ask on the street, male or female, are either grateful for the stability the navy provides, or are retired sailors themselves and their pride while speaking does more to communicate this than their words do.

  • Apart from the the Docks and the keep, the general feel of the town is a sleepy one.
    Expanded
    Unless prompted by necessity: an incoming storm, increased naval activity, or true threat of Unfallen, the village seems to move at its own pace. Townsfolk don’t seem to be in a rush to get somewhere, though this doesn’t mean they aren’t a productive and industrious people. Most being raised in a military household and having served themselves, townsfolk seemingly snap to action when needed. This is seen most regularly during monsoon season, when signal bells in the keep above toll to announce an incoming squall.

  • A few crop fields separate the haunted forest from the town; it doesn’t butt right up to the edge of the woods.
    Expanded
    To the townsfolk, everyone has been raised or taught to know that the woods are dangerous and you don’t go blindly exploring into them. Threat of Unfallen woodland animals is constant while the underbrush makes trying to traverse the forest most hassle than it’s worth. Occasionally a missing child is attributed to them running into the forest and getting lost; search parties are rarely sent within, as there’s obviously something ominous in the forest, and Shorewall has taken the stance of “It doesn’t bother us, so best to leave it alone.” The fields were intentionally set as a buffer zone, so people working their crops can see if children are straying too close and to dissuade them from crossing the evergreen threshold. This entrance is also the way the seasonal visitors from Brine enter and leave the town.

  • Staple foods such as bread and vegetables are mostly imported. The only food Shorewall has regular access to is the Blacksea’s bounty of fish.
    Expanded
    The fields often don’t yield much in the way food, especially to feed the mouths of the navy. Because of this, Shorewall subsides mostly on salted or smoked fish and preserves of Seaspray currants, while grains and vegetables are traded with Shardholm, and are only readily available to everyone at a premium due to shipping costs.

  • Although being a Solmite settlement, the town has little prejudice against other races save the Kushtaka.
    Expanded
    This uncharacteristic tolerance is borne from the influence of the navy, as a significant portion of sailors are conscripted from Shardholm. Although rare to see a Firbolg, Loxodon or Tabaxi walking the streets, they aren’t treated as a novelty and instead are left alone to do as they will. The naval-influenced racism against Kushtaka keeps the stray otterfolk adventurers from coming to the island, as their blatant murder in the streets would go completely unpunished and unnoted. The only beastfolk that are truly unseen in Shorewall are Centaurs, since getting one to make the crossing would be more trouble than it’s worth, and their presence in town would definitely be noticed.
 

Further Reading

Seaspray Island
Geographic Location | Dec 23, 2018

A large island off of Haven's Western shores.


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