The Wine-Dark Sea
Zazesspur: Port Metropolis of Tethyr; Population 100,000
Zazesspur is the thriving port city of Tethyr, once its capital city. Today it retains a character of sophistication and worldliness that, coupled with its large population, mark it as one of the most important cities in Tethyr and, in fact, in the southwestern part of Faerûn. Economically, it is an important trading and resupply port between ports as distant as Almraiven in the South and Waterdeep in the North. As such, it represents a significant cultural melting pot, a place where the somber drafted gray limestone masonry of the Tethryian court style of architecture is set in strong contrast to the airy towers and minarets of Calishite architecture. Over the years the presence of competing architectural modes has given rise to a unique fusion of the two throughout the official architecture of the city, and particularly in the palazzi of the dukes and the richest merchants. Recently the ancient fortress and royal palace have been extensively remodeled to fit the changing face of city as it becomes ever more multicultural.
The city is administered by a Lord Mayor who is chosen biennially by the queen from among the numerous noble families who make their home in Zazesspur. While the heads of these families are all nominally Dukes, unlike the Dukes of the rest of the realm, this title and its status do not devolve from the possession of land and the levying of troops for the queen. These families are, for the most part, the descendants of the powerful merchant families who centuries before were honored for their work in turning the city into a nexus of important foreign trade, trade which at once swelled the coffers of Tethyr and acted as an inroads into the domain of foreign diplomacy. A long enough time has passed since this initial honor that there is little internecine conflict between landed nobles and the Zazessuprian elite. Each group receives like consideration in the eyes of the queen and both seem to acknowledge the importance of the other without wishing to change places. This solid status does not come without a downside though. The Merchant Dukes, as they are called, have been among the noble long enough to lose their mercantile edge in some cases and in all cases to be deeply paranoid about the rising power of a middle class of merchant entrepreneurs.
This middle class of entrepreneurs has more to worry about than the paranoia of their rulers. While they are often frustrated by internal tariffs and taxes set in place to control what the Dukes see as undue profits, merchants both indigenous and immigrant are more worried about the total loss of profit margin that piracy engenders. While merchants are willing to be taxed, they would like to see more money spent on increasing and improving the Queen’s Navy, based in Zazesspur.
The problem of piracy is, indeed, a knotty one, and one which the nobles actually are taking quite seriously. If it does not seem so, it is because the Admiral of the Fleet and the current Lord Mayor, an ex-naval officer himself, are playing a long game with the pirates. For these pirates are different from any who have sailed these seas for sometime. Not showing the normal piratical non-conformist streak, anti-establishment spirit, and aversion to organization and hierarchy, these pirates have for some reason decided to unite under one banner to harry the merchant, and sometimes even navel, fleet with surgical precision. This implied to Navel Intelligence that the Pirates have at least a base of operations in Zazesspur if not agents in the merchant guild and the Navy itself.
Therefore, rather than merely pursuing individual pirate cruisers, the Lord Mayor and the Admiral decided to gather as much information on the pirates as possible, the better to stamp out their presence in Zazesspur and gain vital tactical information on the Pirate’s organization and overarching plans. It falls then to the men of the Docklands district to locate and infiltrate the Pirate’s Zazesspur hideout. The guard is commanded by Captain Aureus Dunnell. In view of the fairly sensitive nature of the work, Keen-watcher Martin Cruikshank, a senior member of the Queen’s Eyes, has been attached to the operation. Theirs is a tense working relationship, as Dunnell has little respect for the skulking tactics of the Eyes and Cruikshank finds Dunnell’s ideas of investigation based on confrontation simplistic bordering on childish. Fearing that the local guard may already be infiltrated by the pirates, Cruikshank has persuaded the reluctant Dunnell to keep the operation very close. The main reconnaissance work will be done by the Eyes and by one of the groups of mercenary heroes who can be proven based on thorough research to have no connection to the Pirates. One such group has already rendered the guard a good deal of assistance in maintaining law and order in the rough and tumble world of the Docklands.
In perhaps the only area of the investigation with which Dunnell is pleased, your group of adventurers has been singled out as the best equipped to discreetly follow and fight, should the need arise, pirate agents in the cramped alleys of the Dockland. It remains only for you to accept this, your first quest as agents of the Queens Eyes
Important areas of Zazesspur:
- The Docklands
- Docklands Precinct HQ/The Siren’s Song
- The Palace
- The Mercantile Quarter
- The Grand Bazaar