Your ship arrives with a groan as it is tied to the docks. The ropes that would have been comforting tethers have become bonds of imprisonment. The ship settles in the morning ebb, and the planks are lowered to the pier.
The port of Backwater is as mud-caked as its namesake. The water that licks the pillars beneath the docks is deep and can welcome several medium sized seafaring ships at a time. This has been the only saving grace of an economy that would otherwise sink beneath the muck. The rare products of the perilous region are traded in earnest by the civilized seafarers that make a stop here.
For the tired middle ship known as the Dawnchaser, this would be no ordinary layover. The ship’s captain was battle worthy and seasoned, but had a rebellious edge that landed him in a modest position in passenger and cargo shipment. “Captain Prinnce,” his porter called, “they’re here to meet the ship.” Early in the morning the docks crowded with officials from Backwater and the captain was informed that his ship would have to be searched thoroughly, and all of its passengers detained in town until further investigation had been completed. The standoff was grim in its quiet simplicity but no heated words were exchanged.
The ship’s military contingent was organizing their thoughts and their goods for inspection. The rest of the ship’s crew and passengers lined up for the inspection required to leave the boat. Near the front of the line were the crew that would tend to the ship in port, the ship’s crafty task mage, and a sharp-eyed hunter come to seek dangerous game in this unexplored land. Further back in line walked a quiet confident monk and a still-dizzy human fighter that had stayed up far too late the night before.
Waiting on the dock was the port authority, Aldwulff, calling himself the castellan of Backwater. His tunic depicted the colors of the port town, a dark grey dead tree on a poorly dyed dark blue background. His sparsely pieced together plate armor and wooden shield told a story he was too proud to speak. His manner was level-headed and civilized as he questioned the passengers to allow their passage. “What is your name, profession, your business in Backwater, any items to claim on entry, any strange elements on your person, and any magic items to claim?” He checked the papers from their prior port, a festive city known as Starren. “Come and see us at the barracks if you need us,” the castellan echoed to each passenger that cleared his post.
Just beyond the castellan sat the high priest, Georj. He was a stately older gentleman with an air of quiet authority and organization. He too asked questions of the passengers before they could pass. “What is your family’s background, any heir’s status, economic class, faction affiliations, allegiance to any nation, and valuables on your person?” Most churches are tied to the wealth of the land they support, but seemingly this sect even more than most. He took notes about some with a hawk’s quill, inkwell and fine paper. Some he simply dismissed haughtily as he motioned the next passenger to come forward. His robe was lightly stained red from his waist to his head, and blue from his belt to his shoes. He wore a necklace of polished white beads, all but completely tucked into the neck of his robes.
Sarggin the clerk had come down to the docks to see what commerce the sea had brought but now scurried back to his office to validate travel papers. Each civilized person in the realms carried stamped papers with them for travel, and each set of papers were stamped with wax or resin, flecked or marbled with rare local elements for additional security. The stamps were intricate and unique to their township and carried a unified threat of all of the civilized lands should they be defrauded. Backwater has its own stamp held by the clerk, a short thin man that was as secretive as he was suspicious. The clerk felt that his official stamps on traveler’s papers were Backwater’s first steps toward becoming a port city in its own right. most of the Dawnchaser’s passengers would not be leaving town unless the ship was released, for they feared the wilds beyond Backwater’s rickety wooden walls.
The line dispersed a bit as some took in the dingy damp landscape or bargained for food and trinkets in the square. As the sun rose to scorch the sky, many took refuge in the local inn, “The Bull and Bear.” The inn is a single story timber framed building with a sign that depicts a bull and bear dancing around a harp. The interior is relatively clean, with more than enough space for local clients and some to spare. A fake dragon’s skull hangs over the hearth. Accommodations consist of several wooden cots in the cellar for those that value their sleep, and straw mats near the hearth for the night owls. The innkeeper is a heavyset male human named Elmaert. They serve a good selection of preserved food, including smoked catfish. The waitress is a simple minded, plain-looking young woman named Alis. She brought the new arrivals food and drink, but she couldn’t bring them much comfort. The stranded shipmates would likely be staying in Backwater longer than they would like.