The City of Breylak
Completely non-canonical, just some musings I had for my own game.
Breylak is a major port city in Albion, straddling the watermill-choked River Abus before it turns into marsh and mud, and laying south-east of The Noden Moors.
The Moors are a wind-blasted, bleak landscape of gorse and heather. Their windswept expanse is dotted with stone tors, burial mounds and the occasional copse of twisted trees. The land is virtually useless for anything beyond grazing sheep, and often plagued by monsters.
Breylak is a city that suits its location, grey stone walls against grey skies, full of no-nonsense, hardy men and women. Even the Breylak cathedral is a simple, minimalistic slab of a building and its clergy grey-faced and humourless.
Most of the folk, rich or poor, are involved with the wool, linen and rope businesses that dominate the city. Other businesses buy and sell material from across Albion and trade it for goods from the continent.
The water mills were supposedly engineered by the dwarves, originally, who dwell in the cave systems beneath the moors. Whether this is true or not is unknown, though some claim to hear the beautiful sound of the dwarven battle-choirs echoing out of the ground.
Very occasionally a few dwarven traders do appear, to exchange coal, tar, bitchimen, copper, lead and crystals of fluorite for food and cloth. Despite the distance these dwarves observer, the stubborn and wilful nature of the people of Breylak leads many to speculate that there’s more than a little dwarvish blood in their human stock.
Breylak is split between it’s eastern and western sides, with a Duchy on the Eastern half of the city – and its surrounding moorland – and a much older Earldom on the western half, which lays claim to the more arable land, south-west of the river.
While the city is a single entity, the split nobility has people from different parts of the city in fierce competition with one another, even coming to sectarian blows over whether they serve the poor, but plucky, ‘newcomers’ to the North-East (Osterlak) or the more established and traditional ‘old timers’ to the South-East (Vesterlak).
Duke Eadva Osterlak rules over the newer, watermill and grazing part of the city, supported by two barons. Baron Langley whose lands encompass the estuary, and Baron Bran whose lands, technically, spread north onto the moors. Baron Bran styles himself ‘of Breylak’, refusing to take part in the petty squabbles of times past. For this moderate and measured attitude, he is treated poorly by the rest of the local gentry.
On the other side of the river Earl Cynnamar Vesterlak’s claim takes in the wealthier and older parts of the city, as well as the more fertile farmland. His subordinates are the young dowager-Baroness Alethia of Vesterlak, and Baron Chauncey of Vesterlak, each with equal subdivisions of the city and its farmland.
A rising power in the city is The Syndic of the Draper’s guild, the anonymous council of the most powerful guild in the city, to which all other guilds are subordinate. Their wealth is distorting the traditional power dynamic of the city’s feudalism, but the Osterlaks and Vesterlaks are too consumed by their rivalry to pay attention.
While they squabble The Syndic begins to bring in mercenaries from the continent, to provide security to their shipments, sheep herds and mills. A private army in all but name.
A series of murders in the city were blamed on a minority group, The Ibram, a monotheistic precursor to The True Faith, which existed in small numbers in the city, primarily as assayers and crafters. This mass murder is now a guilty, open secret that has riven the city even more.