Blackgate Outpost Guideby T.A. Saunders ©2012 v1.0
With its recent reclamation by the Blackgate Vanguard, much has changed at the once ruined Blackgate Outpost. Now serving as a base of operations for the Vanguard, the organization has strove to repair the streets, buildings and other facilities as swiftly as possible (especially given the less than pleasant weather the area commonly experiences). While the events of 350 years ago that resulted in a massive demonic incursion are heeded, the very fact that the outpost is being reoccupied at all is a bold move by Commander Geriah Langsford and the rest of the Vanguard, to address the looming threat of Arisyeema the Deceiver and her current schemes in Miroa. The Blackgate Outpost is through and through a military installation that, while civilians are welcome within for work and shelter purposes, should not be considered under any circumstances a place to lounge, have a drink and be merry, save by those committed to the cause of the Vanguard.
Because the outpost is not under the jurisdiction of one nation, but rather is supported by donations of many nations, the Vanguard flies her own standard above the Hold and is respected as its own sovereign territory. While nowhere near the size of the other freeholds of Zoda, the Blackgate Outpost is essentially treated like one. All governmental decisions are made by Commander Langsford, with a group of advisers comprised of his second in command Lady Nancet D'Cint, Head Researcher Tyrian uth Braegon and the captains of the Vanguard's four divisions. Langsford is also known to seek council from the contingent of Knights of the Shining Order as well, but this is less in an official capacity and more of a spiritual one. Since the outpost is relatively small and not meant for exclusive civilian habitation, there is no need for an elected government or other cabinet positions.
The outpost itself is split up into six areas: The Square, the North Gate, The Western Gate, the Eastern Gate, the Southern Gate and Blackgate Harbor. Most of these areas were decimated during the demonic incursion 350 years ago, leaving few usable structures. However, with the arrival of the Vanguard, those buildings that could be saved, were along with much-needed repairs to its fortifications. The Blackgate Outpost of present houses a very unique opportunity for traders and craftsmen to start a business with a very reliable and well-playing clientele, as these areas in the city offer a great deal of space for those enterprising enough to add to the outpost. Blackgate Outpost also serves as an excellent point in which an adventuring sort could push further into the frozen lands of the north.
Ahnhurn's Trading Post
With the growing opportunity for entrepreneurs to start businesses in the outpost, a fast-talking Tashrani businessman named Ahnhurn “The Gold” Milanis and his Zissah partner, named Zhanke made the trek to Blackgate. Neither appreciate the weather much but both bring to Blackgate a much needed point of which to get both exotic and mundane items that simply cannot be found anywhere in the north. Anything from Witchfire Crossbows, to orashoo fruits to Minu tea can be found and purchased here, with the possibility of more illegal things obtained for a simple finders fee that can go into the hundreds of platinum, depending on the item in question. This side of his business is not well advertised and is possible thanks to connections in the Tashrani black market. His merchant airship, the ‘Drunken Gypsy' is a common sight in the harbor. Zhanke captains this ship and doubles as Ahnhurn's enforcer, in the case of would-be thieves.
The structure itself looked as though it had once been a state house of some sort, with what looked to be the remains of an actual lawn and garden out front. Ahnhurn is in the process of re-beautifying the establishment, but given the harsh weather of the area, the work in that regard is at best, challenging. The building also serves as Ahnhurn's home; he occupies the top levels, while the floor level serves as a store front. A common sight around the shop is Ahnhurn's wife, Kashina and their seven lively children.
The docks are the only part of the outpost, besides the Blackgate itself that pre-date the outpost, which led scholars to believe that this whole area might have once been an Asyndi city of some sort. The original team of scholars and Windsong Republic troops that founded the outpost had even found wreckage of ancient Shar`Vaire sea-faring ships and a old airship left abandoned. These of course were secured and moved to Windsong to be studied, but whatever information was gleaned from that ancient and primitive example of an airship has never been revealed to the public.
In present day, the docks serve as a place for various vessels to dock. There is a nominal five silver a day docking fee for non-Blackgate Vanguard ships to dock, though this is waived for vessels of visiting rulers and their dignitaries. The docks have a capacity to hold either thirty sea-faring ships, twenty airships, or some combination thereof. They are also defended by six massive Sunstrike Cannons that were gifts from the Kingdom of Farwind, granting the outpost to defend against both sea and air attacks.
With its recent reclamation by the Blackgate Vanguard, the Hold itself was the first thing that was restored. Having been in the hands of Masoq for so long, the entire structure was a dirty, bug-infested ruin that had to be scrubbed, mopped and cleaned floor by floor before any serious repair work could be done to address the damage caused both 130 years ago and more recently. Months of hard work paid off, giving the Blackgate Vanguard a sturdy, well-made fortress in which to base their operations. With three above ground levels and one sub-level, there is plenty of room to both house a garrison along with feeding and entertaining them, while still having a place to plan military strikes at the Vanguard's growing list of enemies. The recent discovery of aforementioned sub-level has left many to wonder if there aren't more secret passages and sealed off areas to investigate, but as of yet none have been revealed.
It should be worth noting that non-Blackgate Vanguard personnel are not allowed in the Hold, unless they are either accompanied by somebody from the Vanguard, have been given waiver to visit the Hold (for purposes of enlisting or gaining mercenary status for example), have family that's in the Vanguard or are of some official diplomatic status, such as visiting dignitaries and rulers. The latter stipulation also applies to Nahara, who are officially recognized by the Vanguard as a neutral body. Generally speaking, this rule is lax in the enforcement though and so long as non-personnel are not causing trouble, visits to the commissary and other non-secure places within the Hold are allowed.
Perhaps the most critical structure in the outpost, the Blackgate Infirmary serves the Vanguard as a place to heal soldiers non-military personnel alike from whatever ails them. Nothing more than a two story brick building, with a basement that serves as a morgue, this particular structure was originally made when the Windsong Republic occupied this territory 130 years ago. Since that time, the Blackgate Vanguard has restored the infirmary and added some more modern amenities to address its many needs.
Unlike the Hold, any and all people visiting Blackgate are welcome to come here, to see to injuries and the like. It is the policy of both the Vanguard and the Director of the Infirmary, Skye Edmiston, that no person is turned away, whether for treatment of a case of crotch crickets or a grievous wound. As such, the infirmary is one of the busiest places on the outpost, with soldiers often coming back from patrols, with anything from frostbite, to bullet wounds, to animal bites to contend with.
The very thing for which this outpost is named, the Blackgate is a wonder of the ancient Asyndi world crafted from what is believed to be a black dimensionally phased Vocorium/Boromandite alloy ring, that stands at 100′ in diameter and hovers roughly six feet above what scholars have called a Control Bunker. This structure is covered in enchantment runes that seem to both reinforce the bunker itself to astounding proportions and shield it from any sort of scrying attempts. This structure is roughly thirty feet tall and has a sloped back, by which it seems personnel and transport could be shuttled up to the Blackgate itself. The recent activation of the Blackgate revealed that this ramp moved up to meet the floating black ring supports this believe to its function.
Within this bunker, is a long staircase leading downward, that leads into a single, large room. In this room is a pedestal, where the Key of Worlds (the device that operates the Blackgate) is placed. This allows the user to turn the key towards a particular point on Imarel, Ishaela, another dimension or possibly to any such predesignated point in Time. This latter power has not been used in several thousand years and no records remain on what exactly happens when the Blackgate is used to move through Time, but it could very well explain why the Shar`Vaire abandoned it themselves. Beyond this room, is a tunnel that leads to a set of catacombs currently being explored by the Vanguard, in hopes to find more answers to its origins.
Eli's Boarding House
In what was thought to be a wood mill once, during the time of the Windsong Republic's occupancy has been converted into a boarding house, in an effort by Sergeant Eli McKnight, a member of the Vanguard who recently lost his left leg at the knee in the battle to retake the outpost from the Masoq. Forced to retire from active service, Eli was given the opportunity to restore and run the boarding house, so that non-Vanguard personnel could stay at the outpost, without over-crowding the quarters for the soldiers and officers. Having had a family tavern as a boy, before it was destroyed by the Xannti Dragons during the War of Shadows, Eli had a good understanding how to run such an operation and the no-guff mentality to keep civilians under control while visiting.
The boarding House's accommodations are modest, but clean and modern, with running elemental plumbing in all rooms, which have a bed, small table, chairs and a small, adjoining bath. Meals are served in a large dining area downstairs, though there is no open bar or the like; meals are free and prepared by Eli's wife, Betty and his two daughters, Camilla and Janette. At least a few members of the McKnight family will eat and socialize with visitors, giving it a very homey atmosphere. Those who don't favor Human home-cooked fair, or seeking alcohol will likely have to meander to the commissary or search elsewhere.
One of the newer structures on the outpost, Rindell Kronandar of the Hammerspark clan is probably the only Kaal`Kor in existence that breeds and trains horses, ponies and Tundra Drakes for people to ride. Physically not tall enough to actually ride horses or Tundra Drakes, Rindell has accomplished this by a scaled down version of Kaal`Kor War Hulk armor his engineer brother, Burmus built, called the ‘Humanizer.' Essentially, Rindell climbs into this contraption and it makes him as tall as a human and for all intents and purposes, has enough control over the metal limbs that he doesn't manage to spook or anger the creatures he trains to be ridable. This of course has led to many mishaps in the learning curve that Rindell and Burmus often banter back and forth on, in front of likely concerned customers, but their success cannot be argued.
In typical Dwarvish tradition, the building is essentially a very large square made from granite, reinforced with six inch thick Kaalcite beams with a Kaalcite-plated angled roof. So strudy is this otherwise somewhat bland structure, it is believed that it could survive prolonged cannon-fire and at least one Witchfire Cannon barrage before showing signs of damage. Rindell, it seems takes his investment seriously. The stables also have a sub-level that acts as Burmus' workshop and is known to field engineering requests from time to time.
Blackgate Books & Scrolls
A necessary place for the consummate researcher and avid reader, Blackgate Books & Scrolls is one of the new structures built as part of the reclamation effort by the Blackgate Vanguard. Stocked with both the light reader and scholar in mind, there is a wide selection of readable material from across Imarel, with a possibility of locating some hard-to-find items. Ran by the Tashrani gypsy Jerome Kivamora, many of his own writings can be found there as well, being that he's something of a chronicler of Imarel's events. Copies of the Blackgate Bulletin news scroll can be purchased here as well.
The building is two stories and has a thatched roof and generous windows on both floors. The front is paved in brick and there is a small enclosed porch with chairs that allows the buyer to take their new purchase and begin reading right in front of the shop, if they so choose. The first floor is dedicated to the business, while the second floor is dedicated to the manager's living space.
Treasures of the North
While Ahnhurn's Trading Post serves the needs for more mundane (if hard to find) trinkets and baubles, the shop, Treasures of the North addresses a need for magic items and relics found across Imarel and beyond. One of the new structures built as part of the reclamation effort and managed by Tyrian uth Braegon this shop is often well-stocked due to his personal forays across Imarel.
This shop, like many of the other new structures that have been built in recent months, is two stories and has a thatched roof and large windows on both floors. The front is paved in brick, to make the brick face in the street and there is a small porch in front of the building where buyers can gather and appraise their purchases. The first floor is where business is conducted and the top floor is fairly spacious living space that Tyrian uses in lieu of keeping officer quarters in the Hold. There is also a basement that acts as storage and is kept by a warded door.
Blackgate Silver & Fine Metals
Serving a need for both mundane metal components and more exotic items such as rings, amulets and specialized silver ammunition, Blackgate Silver & Fine Metals is one of the many new shops added to the outpost as part of the reclamation effort. Run by the outlander Elf, Sabolin of the Deepsinger clan, anything from nice silverware, to an iron tow ring, to copper bonings can be found here.
Much like many of the other new structures that have been built in recent months, the shop is two stories and has a thatched roof and large windows on both floors. The front is paved in brick, to make the brick face in the street and there is a small porch in front of the building where buyers can gather and appraise their purchases. The first floor is where business is conducted and the top floor is a living space for the Deepsinger family.
Blackgate Gentleman's Club
The most surprising addition to the outpost, the Blackgate Gentleman's Club serves the rapidly growing population of Blackgate and the need to keep that population entertained. With many of the members of the Vanguard being mercenaries and soldiers with no family to speak of, the Gentleman's Club was a perfect addition, despite some initial protests from the Shining Order. Madame Cressida n`Daliys runs this operation and had been running a rather clandestine ‘service' out of Eli's Boarding House, until this structure was built. Catering to the needs of both genders, this upscale establishment has been an immediate hit with the outpost.
The Gentleman's Club is a lavish-looking villa, with a small, paved walkway, framed by golden lamp posts with lanterns hung off of them. Weapons are checked at the door by the resident guard , giving entry to a home fit for the royalty of Anthalas. The floor, supports and stairwells are all done in marble of various colors and the rooms are all furnished with lush, comfortable beds and washrooms, to add to the night's experience. For those waiting for a favorite lover, the downstairs area has gambling tables and a fully stocked bar.