Bridgetown is a crumbling edifice to the pride of one man, and only a scarce few ever manage to claim profit from venturing into the town limits. Once inside it’s nearly impossible to escape, and there’s a high chance that you will spend your lives begging on the street, or else, doing something far more foolish below the surface of the town. So, you might ask yourself, why the heck do people go there, why do they risk life and limb, and how could such a horrible place prove so profitable. That answer lies in the town’s geography.
The first huge advantage the town has for its profits is the river. The continent they find themselves on is relatively narrow, like a vampiric canine jutting down from the northern continent above into the ocean. The river pierces almost straight down through this continent, with a few tributaries breaking off here and there to form lakes and estuaries. This has the bonus of isolating two of the largest towns on the continent from each other, and leaving very few places to cross, one of which is Bridgetown.
Smelton and Ashton are the two towns most isolated from each other who, in an ironic twist of fate, have exactly what the other needs. Ashton has the richest mines you will ever come across in all the lands, diamonds, coal, and other valuables flow freely through the town, but the one thing they are lacking is metal. Smelton has the richest iron ore seems in all the land, but often need coal for their forges, and so the two rely on each other. Having to sail all the way down the coast and up the other side would take months each time, and slow production down to a snails pace, but luckily for both sides, The Mayor built Bridgetown and it’s bridges directly in the middle, so it’s a day’s journey at most. Thanks to this symbiotic trade relationship Bridgetown is rarely quiet as a constant stream of wagons flow through the town, the tolls bringing in a wealth of gold.
Portston lies on the very tip of the fang of the continent, straddling the massive estuary formed by the river. Any trade entering from far off lands must come through Portston, they have a bad habit of sinking ships that try and cheat them of their hard earned trade. The town has built up on either side of the river, and truth be told it’s more city than a town. It has one massive bridge spanning the river, and over time, the bridge itself has been used to help unload cargo that comes in from the sea. And where money enters the town, people cluster until the bridge was a combination or residential area, market and pub that left the timbers straining in protest on a busy day. It’s from here that most of Bridgetown’s fresh goods flow, up the river and, thanks to the entrepreneurs that live there, straight into waiting nets. The leaders of Portston once considered starving Bridgetown of food, taking it hostage in exchange for gold. The mayor showed them plans to damn up the river and redirect it away from Portston. They never tried again.
It wouldn’t be a fantasy novel without a frozen north somewhere in the world (reads sentence, slaps self). There is a constant blizzard at the very height of the world, temperatures cold enough to kill. Yet, on a sliver of land between the blizzard and the ocean, the hardy northerners cling on. They stay, partly out of stubbornness, but mostly out of a sense of religious devotion. Many believe that the crown of the world, the top of the world beyond the blizzard, is home to the gods, and they build as close to the blizzard as they dare to try and move closer to their gods. They are fairly self-sufficient, and what they can’t produce for themselves flows up the river to their capital in tribute. The reason for this tribute is foreign invasion. There has only been one invasion of the continent, a brief and unfortunate one. Upon hearing of this invasion every warrior in the north marched south, it was said that the ground shook with their passage. They didn’t make it halfway down before the invaders learned of their march and ran away, very quickly. There hasn’t been an invasion since but Portston likes to keep the north happy just in case.
That’s it for this week, I really enjoyed writing this article, and the last one will be along next week. I have to be honest when I say I don’t think I will release in time to coincide with the end of these articles, which is a shame, but I would rather take my time and get the book out in the best shape it could be instead of rushing it. My last article will focus on the mystical aspects of the town and the world at large.