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Sibikhas--Arena 37

The mist-wrapped city of Sibikhas rises on the eastern shore of the Lake of Shadows, surrounded by the giant, moss-bearded trees of the Syrinwald, which some call the Shadowed Forest. Over the generations, the lake has risen into the city, and the city has grown into the lake, so that many blocks of buildings rise out of the water, connected to adjacent blocks by narrow stone bridges. This is not as unsafe as it might seem. Though the Lake of Shadows is infested with firesnakes, dire nagas, a skrag or two, and the bindleghast, not to mention the occasional discard from the experiments of the region's wizards, the Sibikhan Marines keep the population of such vermin down, and regularly drive the survivors to the far end of the lake.

The main industry of Sibikhas is making things out of the excellent hardwoods of the Syrinwald. The city also exports spider silk, dried fish, and several varieties of naga venom. The strip of excellent farmland between the forest and the Rirorni Plain makes the city self-sufficient in terms of food, though it does not grow enough to export. The Great Eastern Route, the southern branch of the caravan trail that crosses Alastari, is extremely important to the city of Sibikhas. The small Sibikhan cavalry patrols a portion of this route, keeping it as safe as possible from Rocani (and other) raiders, as well as from trollish attacks where the route skirts the southern edge of the Daggerspines.

The city is ruled by Gryzash the Golden, who is considered a good king. Few people have seen him. He is said to be a regal man, golden of hair and eye, with a deep, hypnotic voice, and seemingly eternal youth (it is rumored that he is part-elven). Actually, he is secretly a dragon, shapechanged to human form. Gryzash appears to be a tall, handsome man in his late twenties or early thirties, with golden eyes, blond hair, and rather sharp, aquiline features. He can be quite charming and witty when he desires, although the wittiness can quickly turn to biting sarcasm. He has ruled Sibikhas for several hundred years, rising to power after the unexplained disappearance of the former Overlord. Under his rule the city has prospered, and most people are reasonably content. Very few things are illegal in Sibikhas, and the prison is not used. Thieves who are arrested by the constables are either released with a warning, or sent to see the Overlord (in which case they are never seen again). A killer is more likely to be caught by one of the guild patrols, subjected to an informal hearing, and forced to pay wergild (financial compensation to the family of the deceased), and/or exiled from the city.

Gryzash leaves most of the day-to-day governance of the city to the Merchant's Council, but has been known to step in personally on occasions in the past. As long as the taxes arrive on schedule he is willing to govern from a distance. Gryzash is intelligent, devious and ruthless. Crime in Sibikhas is low and the trains (if there were any) would run on time. Criminals considered beyond the jurisdiction of the Council are taken for a private interview with Gryzash and never heard from again. Gryzash regards the people of Sibikhas as a valuable resource and has an interest in seeing that they are content with their lot, and though he is certainly not a wildly popular and well-loved lord, save for those who feel his taxes are too high, he is accounted a good ruler. (The taxes are used mainly for training and supporting the Sibikhan army, which is one of the finest in the Federation, but a significant fraction is channeled into Gryzash's private horde.)

The masters of the Cabinetmakers' Guild, the Woodcutters' Guild, the Teamsters' Guild, and the Moneylenders' Association had, at one time, banded together in the Whitewood Alliance (named after the Whitewood Inn, where they meet) and were plotting to depose the Overlord. By their reckoning, over the past sixty years Gryzash has taken in some eighty-five thousand astrums' worth of taxes and tariffs which are not accounted for by his expenditures. They had many ideas on how to spend that money. They are looking for support from other power bases in the city, including the Guild Arcane, the merchants, the Marines, and the arena. This plan was disrupted by the war with the Rirorni, and it is not known if the Whitewood Alliance still exists.

Gryzash has recently been confirmed by the Crown Council as the ruler of Rodeki as well as Sibikhas. Before the war, Rodeki went through several rulers in quick succession and Gryzash was appointed interim governor. Having no better candidate at hand, and being occupied with more important matters, the Crown Council decided to make the post permanent in the winter of 505, despite the reservations of some of the Council members.

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Published on: 2002-07-14 (1353 reads)

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