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Riztab--Arena 12

Riztab stands at the junction of what used to be two major trade routes, one going east and west, the other north and south. The site is sandwiched between the Sarriz Forest (a branch of the Shewish Forest) and Kessel Dhan Urt Lake. (The name `Mighty Bunny Lake' was given to this sheet of dark water by a drunken gladiator in the early days of Riztab's arena and is not an official name...partly because the cartographers flatly refuse to place such a name on the map.) The east-west route follows the Urt River and the north shore of the lake from Zukal and the coast of the Storm Sea in the east to the Isle of the Eye and Khalhums Pass through the Daggerspines into the west. It is locally known as the River Road. The north-south route comes up through the forest from Khalani and points south, continuing to Murska and points north. In Riztab it is referred to as the Forest Road.

The original settlement was built by Shewish Giants, and it is rumored that the name of the town is the ancient Shewish word for adventure. (This has given rise to more than a few `Giant' jokes as to what a giant considers adventurous. Life in Riztab can be hard and rough, but it doesn't seem to meet the common definition of `adventurous'.) The massive stone buildings of the Giants, their dark walls pitted with age, occupy the highest hill in the area. This oldest walled quarter of the town is called the Citadel and is occupied by the merchant families of Riztab. In the last century or so, when business was at its best and the traffic along the two roads heavy, the town expanded into a more spacious quarter between the Citadel and the lake, which is now called the Old Town. It had no formal wall, although many buildings were located so that they could form a defensive perimeter by barring passageways between them. When the arena opened, a third area, the New Town, grew up to the east of the Old Town. It is surrounded by a simple wooden palisade.

Some years ago (the reported dates conflict), an earthquake of serious magnitude struck the area. The original arena (an elaborate stone structure which was not yet completely paid for) was badly damaged, as were many of the buildings in the Old Town. The New Town, being built mostly of wood (it still is mostly wooden), suffered extensively from fires. Only the cyclopean architecture of the Citadel was unaffected. Either the shoreline subsided, or the lake rose, and Old Town and the first arena have been partly flooded to a depth of up to six feet; they have been abandoned. A new arena was built outside the palisade of the New town, to the east along the road toward Zukal. New Town itself was rebuilt rapidly (and I fear that some of the buildings are flimsy, besides being flammable). Attempts to reclaim the unflooded portion of Old Town have so far been unsuccessful, and rumors says that it is haunted.

At the time, the earthquake was attributed to hostile magic, probably initiated by rival merchants in Zukal. This has never been proven or disproven. At about the same time, there began an increase in banditry in the area, and more and more of the traders' caravans that were the life-blood of Riztab are taking alternate routes.

Now most of the population of Riztab (and it isn't large) lives directly or indirectly off the forest around them. Lumbering is the main industry, and the life of Riztab is centered in the New Town, an informal place with a frontier feel to it and no real government. The merchants who hang onto their fading fortunes in the Citadel would like to see the trade routes bustling once again, and so they may--if the bandits can be defeated. The town is loosely run by the leading merchants, who finance the Bounders and a seven-man constabulary. (The constables, by the way, are tough men, not necessarily totally honest, but brave and reasonably intelligent.)

The town's spokesman is generally considered to be Tokken Macrock. Although he is not from one of the `Old Families' of Riztab, he is a resident of fairly long standing, and because he is the richest man in town, owns half the buildings in the New Town (including part of the arena), is the man to go to if you need to borrow money, and is proprietor of Macrock's Pre-Owned Equestrian Emporium. A very sharp businessman, Macrock is opposed to the formation of any official government in Riztab (doesn't want to pay taxes and tariffs and doesn't want an independent police force looking too closely into where he gets his "pre-owned" horses), and will pull in favors and use his influence to keep one from being established. He is rumored to have contacts with the infamous caravan robber, Gjorril the Grim, whose hideout is in the Shewish Forest, perhaps not too far from Riztab. He also sponsors many of the concessions at gladiatorial tournaments, since the tourney grounds are relatively close to Riztab.

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Published on: 2002-07-15 (1344 reads)

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