City of Scoundrels
The City of Mellanford Key
The City of Mellanford Key is so old, so steeped in glory and conquest, so varnished with past triumphs and gilded with fortunes, her history so rich and complex and endowed with noble rulers, invincible generals, astounding thinkers and brazen merchant-adventurers that no-one can remember it all. Her days of imperial conquest, vast overseas holdings and rivers of golden tribute are behind her however, and her marble facades and historied columns are beginning to look a little more mildewed with each passing year.
What began as a collection of fishing villages and farming estates huddled around a river estuary, sandwiched in the disputed territory between two warring peoples, eventually grew to become one of the most influential city-states of the age. But that age has now passed, and the Key now struggles to adapt its ancient traditions and noble privileges to meet the modern day.
Whilst her fortunes may have sunk and her ports are no longer the trading centre of this hemisphere, Mellanford Key is still the largest and busiest city for a thousand miles. Her packed tenements heave with thousands of imperial refugees and displaced farmers. The cooling climate reduces more productive farmland to swamp every year, and every year more desperate hordes are driven into the urban slums
The cities old sources of wealth may be dying, but there is always profit to be made from crisis. New industries are appearing, the huge supply of peasant labour now fill out the ranks of new factories and mills. Harbours that haven’t seen a silk-merchant or spice-galley in fifty years are now moving again with mass-produced iron bolts, bricks and pigflesh. It’s not pretty, but it works.
Not everyone is willing to accept the new way, of course. Those who ruled the old order fight against renewal with every weapon they have. The stale, perfumed aristocracy tighten their grip on their privileges, despite their worthless lands, ruinous expenses and heavy debts. The church struggles against the influence of strange foreign cults and local heresies. Crime lords fight their endless battle for dominance with acts of cruelty and meaningless violence. And outside the city other powers, growing in strength, consider the Key an easy prize.
Not an easy place to make your fortune. But chaos, as a schemer once said, is a ladder.