Breaking The Chains
Highport was once the centre of a bustling shipping and trade industry that moved goods up and down the Wild Coast and to and from the southwestern and southeastern portions of the Flanaess. For a time the population had a seasonal high of nearly 10,000, with additional numbers coming from the many sailors, marines, and merchants who made Highport their temporary home.
This all changed in 513 CY. Having been driven from the Lortmils in the Hateful Wars just a few years before by the combined armies of the Ulek states, Veluna, and the demihumans of the Kron Hills, many of the humanoids fled southward into the Pomarj. On the 11th of Planting that year, the humanoids attacked Highport. While the other towns in the Pomarj were full of men gone soft, the people of Highport were hard workers and supported by sailors with years of experience fighting pirates, savages, and strange monsters from the deep. Five times the orcish armies were repulsed from the city, but on the sixth assault the gates were sundered as the hour approached midnight and the invaders entered the city. Large portions were set afire, and any defend ers who were caught were slaughtered, their bodies impaled on any sharp objects available and left on the city wall. Those who escaped dubbed it the Night of the Bloody Spear, and the tale they tell has remained a testimonial to the savagery and determination of the humanoids of the Pomarj.
Much of Highport was left in ruins. The orcs rebuilt enough to make it liveable and eventually reopened the city for trade. At first every one avoided the port, but some of the bravest pirates finally decided to try a stay and found the new owners reasonably tolerant. The word spread, and in a few years the shattered city of Highport was again a common stopping place for naval trade, although those captains who chose to put to port here kept their hands on their swords and several deck hands awake at all times. Evil men of many nations began to settle in the city, accepting the orcs as ugly brothers with the same black hearts as their own. Half-breeds of all sorts became common. Evil temples of the vilest sort sprang up everywhere and waged subtle and gruesome wars with each other. The town was ruled by a coalition of tribes, split by factional disagreements and blood feuds, with fighting breaking out between rival groups at least once a month. Justice was unknown, as right was determined by whoever had the faster sword arm. Pirates based here harried shipping all along Woolly Bay and even into the Azure Sea. This corrupt condition lasted for over 50 years, with different tribes gaining ascendancy at different points and at least two human- and half-orc-controlled governments taking control during this time.
With the rise of Turrosh Mak, some semblance of order returned to Highport. Differences between rival tribes were crushed by the Despot, using his own troops, transfer of members between tribes, and the power of his wizard and priest allies. A government loyal to Turrosh Mak was put in place and established a reasonable (if harsh) system oflaws to pre vent the most grievous offenses and punish troublemakers. A temple of the Earth Dragon was consecrated to foster religious unity, and other temples (especially ones of the more destructive gods) were warned that any mass slayings, plagues, or other great ills that befell the city would be blamed on them. Ship from the Scarlet Brotherhood occasionally stop here, although they fly other countries’ flags or no flag at all. Ships from the Lordship of the Isles can also be found here, although they prefer to maintain a more legitimate appearance and usually stick to the ports north of the Orcish Empire.
Now Highport is a dark, dirty city firmly in the grip of evil, but safe for those that don’t appear weak. The humanoid districts within the city reek of filth, unwashed bodies, and rotting meat, with the human districts being in a somewhat more tolerable state. Many of the buildings still show burns and damage from the Night of the Bloody Spear, but most
that were present at that time have fallen down or been renovated by the new inhabitants. Some parts of town are little more than open fields with large and small tents, where drunken sailors, poor mercenaries, and out casts of many races grab a few hours of sleep at any hour of the day. A large area devoted to warehouses covers part of the shoreline, and the damaged city walls have been rebuilt. Large sections of the city are unused and are likely to hold squatters, vermin, wizards, or monsters seeking some privacy or secrecy, and even some rogue undead (either animated by one of the evil temples and abandoned or long-dead citizens clinging to unlife through sheer force of will and looking to avenge their deaths at the hands of humanoids).
The temple of the Earth Dragon is a renovated temple of Xerbo that was looted and damaged during the sacking of the city. Other dark deities with temples here include Beltar, Erythnul (hate, slaughter), Incabulos (plagues, famine, disasters), Hextor (war, discord, tyranny), Iuz, Mictlantecuhtli (an Olman death god), Nerull (death, murder), Pyremius (poison, murder), the cult of Vecna (destructive and evil secrets), and various humanoid gods.
Of course, not everyone in Highport is a monomaniacal cutthroat; many are merchants and other people (not necessarily humans) just looking to do business, and are just less concerned with the sort of person who pays them for their goods. A wide variety of shops, inns, and taverns exist in Highport, serving the rough-and-tumble clientele and providing the basic services that are necessary to all: equipment, food, clothing, and so on.