Through the Forgotten Realms
Melvaunt, the City of Swords… Melvaunt squats on the Moonsea’s northern coast, lit by a thousand forges. It is a city of metalsmiths and merchants, where slaves are traded on the open market but laws are made behind closed doors. Smoke from the workshops hangs like a black curtain over the city, warning away would-be conquerors from Zhentil Keep as well as the savage inhabitants of Thar.
Those who live in Melvaunt either ally themselves with one of the three ruling families or keep their heads low as they go about their daily business. Much of that business revolves around industries that service the craftsmen and sailors that make Melvaunt their home. The city does a bustling trade in a wide variety of goods, most coming in by ship from Mulmaster or other towns across the Moonsea.
Melvaunt is cold and clammy, with a persistent mist that defines the city in the eyes of many foreigners. This moisture mixes with the smoke and ash to kill most traces of vegetation, and it leaves an oily residue on buildings, ships, and people.
Marketplace – This open area in the middle of the city is the heart of Melvaunt’s bustling trade. A wide variety of goods from all over Faerûn can be found here, traded in open stalls, covered tents, and the livestock pen. The smoke and ash of the smithies seems far away here, and it is the one place in the city where the tension of rival families isn’t overtly felt. City guardsmen patrol here at all times.
Leiyraghon Manor – The most ostentatious dwelling within the city, this sprawling castle occupies a large plot of land abutting the southeastern wall.
Nanther Keep – North of Leiyraghon Manor near Melvaunt’s northeastern wall sits Nanther Keep. The small castle is draped in black tapestries to mourn the loss of its patriarch, Dundeld Nanther. Nanther Keep is well known for its exotic garden that features specimens from all across Faerûn. The gardener uses magic to mimic the atmospheric conditions of environments as diverse as the jungles of Chult and the Calim Desert.
Bruilhaven – This ivy-covered mansion is home to the Bruil family. Of modest design and built of brick, the building’s exterior reflects the outwardly austere ethic of the clan that calls it home.
Asberyth – This plain, square building holds the offices of all government employees as well as the chambers of the Council of Lords. The council meets here once a month to decide the city’s business, and these meetings usually last anywhere from one to five days, depending on the importance of the issues and the political maneuvering taking place between the three families. A lot of armed guards stand watch here during council sessions, with a few less at all other times.
Shipyards – The Brotherhood of Carpenters and Shipwrights builds all of Melvaunt’s ships here, both warships and trading vessels. It is the most heavily guarded area of the city, with no fewer than thirty city guardsmen patrolling day and night. Several of the city’s tax assessors are based here, as are the ship inspectors who check all incoming vessels.
Melvaunt Docks – The Melvaunt docks are not the largest on the Moonsea but are probably the most organized and tightly controlled. No ship enters the docks without being examined and taxed, although the three major families all have ways around the system if needed. Inspectors can be found here day and night, and a special retinue of soldiers is under the direct control of the chief inspector. As the primary loading and unloading point for all seagoing mercantile activity, the docks are lined with warehouses and sleeping quarters for sailors. Most of the bunkhouses are seedy places, but one new inn, the Floating Fighter, caters specifically to captains and other more respectable clientele.
Ships find their way into the docks with the help of the Finger of the Gods, a 120-foot-tall (approximately 3660 meters), cast iron lighthouse that stands at one end of the docks. A magical light shining through its lens guides ships to port. Jered Wavetamer watches the lighthouse and makes sure no one tampers with its magic. The old sea dog is filled with stories from the city’s history, and he somehow picks up a fair amount of current news. He enjoys company and will happily share his stories, especially if his visitors give him new tales to store away.
Temple of Gond – The Wonderbringer’s temple in Melvaunt is a hub of activity. Known as the Purple Portals, it attracts pilgrims (mostly gnomes) who come here to see and utilize the impressive lab and workshop facilities within its walls. Initiates of Gond witness the creation and modification of a diverse array of specialized machinery, and can even take part in classes on techniques developed by the High Artificer and his acolytes. Some priests serve him full time, and a number of worshipers acting as helpers and apprentices rotate through regularly.
Temple of Lliira – Lady Joyworker Shandar Lyrintar established this temple, nicknamed the Laughing Halls, after she moved to Melvaunt. She now oversees a number of priests in spreading joy through what is known widely as a humorless town of smiths and politicians. Shandar is a comely woman with a pitch-perfect voice, which she shares during the legendary parties thrown by the temple every fortnight or so.
The Temple of Loviatar – Followers of the Maiden of Pain worship their dark mistress at the Resting Place of the Whip. High Whipmistress Suzildara Sharranen, a slender, stunning beauty with dark eyes and hair, presides over the temple, personally oversees the church’s Candle Rites as well as the seasonal Rite of Pain and Purity. Some lesser priests serve under her, each with a degree of autonomy to pursue the church’s interests.
The Resting Place is not a particularly popular temple, nor has worship of Loviatar spread much in a city that values hard work and success over the narcissistic pursuit of pleasure.
The Breakwater – The Breakwater used to be where ship captains, adventurers, and men and women of taste stayed when they came to Melvaunt by sea. The recent opening of the Floating Fighter has taken away much of that business – whether or not it will be a permanent thorn or just a flavor of the day remains to be seen.
The Breakwater still does its fair share of business, though, thanks to its large, well-appointed rooms and excellent concierge service. The houseservant, Tavis, is available 24 hours a day to arrange livery and laundry services, weapon and armor repair, entertainment, or just about anything else a guest could want.
The Livestock Pens – Despite its name, this area is not for animals at all – it is where slaves are brought as they are groomed for the trading block. Though it sits at one end of the Center Market, a separate force of some city guards protects the merchants’ property that is found within.
Hermuk’s Allgoods – Known throughout Melvaunt as an excellent merchant shop, Hermuk’s is better known to adventurers and rogues as a good place to fence “acquired” property. He can obtain a wide variety of exotic items, including poisons and drugs, sometimes with startling speed.
Blackalbuck’s Swap Shop – Blackalbuck’s is as much a trading post as it is a shop. It has a large outdoor area with benches for people to lay out goods for trade. The proprietor, Ulblyn Blackalbuck, is always up for trading for equipment and information from adventurers.
The Floating Fighter – Established by a disgruntled former barkeep from The Breakwater, this inn is aiming to take much of that inn’s respectable dockside business… And it’s doing a pretty good job. In addition to serving above-average fare and offering well-appointed rooms, the Floating Fighter has a steam room and hot bath in its basement.