Tour Guide Tuesday: Puglia Fountain

Enrico Puglia, 19th Conte di Apuglio, commissioned this spectacular fountain nearly four centuries ago to commemorate a war between Brightwater and neighboring Lightsbridge. The truce he wanted to celebrate was broken while the fountain remained in construction, but it’s still an amazing piece of public art. None of the mechanisms involved in the fountain are magical; it’s all run by simple physics.

The fountain is located in the center of a square, and depicts the gods in Naheel’s throne hall in marble and semiprecious materials. Before, it was magically preserved, but since the death of magic no effort has thus far been made to restore Puglia Fountain. Many of the stones and much of the brass fitting out the model of the Queen’s Garden has been carried away by enterprising thieves.

However, as the fountain isn’t, of itself, magical, it continues to run unless it’s blocked (or the custodian forgets to pedal). Tours run also, but the fountain is low on the government’s priority list even now, so it’s a far cry from what it was, a confection of marble and brass, falls and streams, fine tile and semiprecious stones. Of particular note was the foaming barrel of Vard, which always bubbled and spat, and the figure of Oda skulking with his back turned to the rest, since the moon god isn’t often included in depictions of the pantheon.


Tour Guide Tuesday: The Bleeding Wall

This plain stretch of crumbling coquina wall is near city center on Brightwater’s mainland. It’s the last weathered remnant of the wall that once protected the Semoul dwelling of Brightwater from the land, thousands of years ago, and the same wall that, once repaired, protected the human city after the Semoul were conquered.

As the settlement changed hands again and again, the wall remained, first maintained, then piecemeal, until all that was left was this fifty-three-foot span. Before the death of magic, the wall had seen so much blood and pain that after being the subject of a hotly-contested sorcerous duel, it began to spontaneously bleed.

In legend, the wall bled whenever there was a serious threat to Brightwater. It’s difficult to ascertain whether this is truth or merely legend, but some reported blood on the wall the night Before magic died. Whatever the fact of the matter may be, there are certainly some strange rusty stains on the Bleeding Wall and the cobbles since added around it, and these will not be scrubbed off. In addition, the wall sits in the center of a busy crossroads and has never yet been struck.

Tour Guide Tuesday: Broadriver

The town of Broadriver lies deep in the swamps to the east of Brightwater, in the ruin of Tangletree Palace. Most of the outbuildings have fallen into disrepair, and the building of carefully-coaxed trees is growing out of shape. The tree-sap windows have mostly broken, and the floors sprout roots, but that hasn’t stopped Angus Xavier, aka Angus the Red.

The self-styled King of Bandits came to the swamps about fifteen years ago and found the Palace abandoned. Undeterred, Angus the Red made himself and his band at home, and soon turned the derelict building into a haven of vice.

The Bandit King has his limits, and enforces them with an iron fist, but most of what you’re looking for can be found in Broadriver. It’s become a popular vacation spot with those in the know, and a popular business destination for those in deeper. Most of Broadriver’s revenue comes from gambling, with different games held in the various family chambers, but Angus himself occupies the royal suite. He has twenty-two children by nine different women, but only one son.

Broadriver also maintains a museum of magical treasures for the curious and drunk in what was once the stable. The museum is surprisingly well-curated and its collections well-researched. Don’t miss the Orb of Palentar or the Foundation Stone of Tangletree itself.

Tour Guide Tuesday: Commoduce Island

This unassuming island in Semoulian Bay hosts the largest, most notorious prison in Rothganar, from which visitors are always turned away and most prisoners never return. Today I’ll take you there, if you’d like to go. Lucky you — you’ll get to come back.

On the south side of the island, as far from the city as possible, is a great firepit kept constantly burning, to consume the bodies of the dead. Some surviving prisoners make soap from the fat and ash, and this is sold on the mainland as a curative, as well as (in different packaging) a tchotchke for the morbid tourist. If the wind is wrong, the choking smoke from the prison’s permanent pyre floats over the city.

The prison itself is a square building with a central courtyard in which executions take place, though the executions often prove unnecessary. Square windows in the thick walls, too high to exit from safely, enable prisoners to see the gallows and the headsman’s block, though some choose to fling themselves out of one. The prison contains seven floors and maintains a guard station for each. Most guards have no other home, and are often disgraced watchmen. Tents or blankets hanging from the low ceilings provide the only privacy.

If a family’s sole support is imprisoned, often they all simply move to Commoduce Island. Forgotten children make up a large portion of the population.

Survivors of the prison include Lucky Max Bradley, Wynn, and Ripper Jones.

Tour Guide Tuesday: Tangletree Palace

Tangletree Palace lies deep in the swamp to the east of Brightwater. This great palace of the People is home to Rhuach Lieseassar (King Brother Wolf) and Cuiladh (Bright Moon), and their eight sons.

Many of the outbuildings and other surrounding structures are on stilts, but the Palace proper was once a stand of banyans, trained by magic into a single, living edifice and carefully enchanted to keep its shape as it grows larger. The throne itself grows and leafs in the Great Hall sprouting from the side of the complex, a room composed of woven branches and lit by shafts of sunshine.

The windows are all of clarified tree sap, except in the family chapel at the highest point of the Palace, in which gleaming pews are made to grow from the parquet floor and the floor-to-ceiling windows are swirled with fabulous color. In the structure’s deepest chamber, touched by a single shaft of sun once a day, lies the hunk of native limestone inscribed with the spell that caused Tangletree to grow, and supports and maintains the Palace even now. The attached stables house gigantic riding dragonflies.

The interior of the Palace drips with moss, leaves, and vines; it blooms and grows constantly. Visitors must beware of roots causing humps in the floors, though these are repaired as soon as they’re noticed, and of hanging plants. Most of the furniture, like the throne, is composed of trained roots. Each mushroom that fruits in the darker chambers is of a carefully chosen, edible species, and stacks of luminescent shelf fungi light the Palace at night or during storms.

Though it is a lovely place to visit, most of Tangletree Palace is devoted to private quarters. The Wolfs value their family time above all else, and visitors are rare despite the Palace’s beauty.