A Light in Darkness
Liara could almost be counted as two cities, so dramatically does it change as day fades into night. During daytime hours, Liara is the safest and calmest of Nova Vaasas cities, no doubt thanks to the intervention of Sir Tristen Hiregaard. The mayor of Liara, Ulf Tryggaar, is a distant cousin of Tristens and by all evidence is firmly under his influence. Through Tristens intercession, the Liara city watch has been well trained, well equipped, and as cleansed of corruption as could reasonably be expected. Thanks to their dutiful patrolling and integrity, the incidence of open crime on the streets of Liara is significantly lower than that of Bergovitsa… during the day.
After dark, the mood of the city changes. For decades the Liarans have been living in anxious fear of the Signature Killer that stalks their nighttime streets. In defiance of that fear, many Liarans have become aggressively exuberant, almost manic, in their pursuit of the nights illicit diversions. The fear still crouches within them, though, and can be heard in the hard edge of their laughter and seen in eyes that stay cold while their faces leer. Inevitably, the fear breaks free in some of them, in a flurry of anger and violence. The powerful Liaran underworld, controlled by the mysterious Malken, adds kindling to the fire. It is unwise to walk the nighttime streets of Liara unless one intends to find trouble, or be found by it.
It is perhaps fitting that each of Liaras two most significant structures embodies one side of the dichotomy. The Passeslot, a strong, squat fortress of stone, is the barracks and training grounds of the city watch, complete with an armory and stable. By day it rings with the sound of wood and steel as those watchmen not on patrol run through practice drills. By night, it is much quieter, though it never sleeps entirely. Watchmen walk the walls at all hours, hoping that all those who left on patrol at sunset will return at sunrise.
The dark twin of the Passeslot is the Staggering Stallion, the center of nighttime activity in Liara. A large brick building with a deceptively plain exterior, the Staggering Stallion offers its patrons the opportunity to quench thirsts of all kinds. Other than the obligatory spirits, most of which are brought in from Barovia and Borca, the Staggering Stallion provides opiates, prostitutes, gaming and beast baiting. None of these distasteful activities is actually illegal in Nova Vaasa, but the delights offered by the Staggering Stallion do much to increase the violence and danger of Liara. The Staggering Stallion is owned and operated by Canute Dorisz, an insincerely jolly fat man of questionable hygienic competence. It is widely believed that Dorisz is merely the public face of the Staggering Stallion and that most of its profits find their way into Malkens pockets.
Settlement Modifier Summary
This information is based on the Settlement Rules
|Category||Check||DC (day)||DC (night)|
|Corruption||Bluff checks made agains city officials or guards||+2||+5|
|Corruption||Stealth checks made outside||+2||+5|
|Crime||Sense Motive checks made to oppose bluff||-2||+5|
|Crime||Sleight of Hand checks made to pick pockets||-2||+5|
|Economy||Craft, Perform, and Profession checks made to generate income||+3||+1|
|Law||Intimidate checks made to force an opponent to act friendly||+5||-8|
|Law||Diplomacy checks against government officials||+5||-8|
|Law||Diplomacy checks made to call the city guard||+5||-8|
|Lore||Diplomacy checks made to gather information||+3||+2|
|Lore||Knowledge checks made using the city’s resources to research||+3||+2|
|Society||Diplomacy checks to alter attitude of non-government officials||+4||-2|
The City of Liara
The City of Liara is a body, so the nobles like to say. At the top is the brain, where the Noble Estates are located and the Lord’s Keep sits all but unoccupied. South of that is the heart, the Iron Cathedral, the Slave Markets and the Passeslot from which the strength and fortitude of the city flows. Further south still, just north of the wall that bisects the city, are the guts where the government buildings and major markets are located. Just south of the wall is The Iron Ward, infamous prison of debtors and murderers. Some snidely call that the bladder of the city, where its waste is stored until it can be disposed of. The rest of the city, where the huge majority of its population resides, is nothing but bowels leading down to its nadir. The Staggering Stallion is the southern most structure in the city proper. It sits along the befouled South Dnar River spewing piss, shit, blood, vomit and corpses into the river to be carried away.
The City of Liara is a city of filth. All along the city’s waterfront tanneries reeking of urin soaked hides spill their waste products, colorful blooms of toxic chemicals from the dyers rush out into the water, bookbinders and glue makers and chemysts and countless other manufacturers of goods reside in the lower wards as well. The stench is all but unbearable—until you get used to it. The plumes of oily black smoke that rise from the city can be seen for miles around. With wood being so scarce in the open planes coal is burned in preference. Most of the city, especially the lower wards where coal is cheap and industry must produce, is covered in a layer of gray ash that clings to everything like foul snow. Racking brutal coughs into blood flecked handkerchiefs are common. Diseases of the skin cause tumorous lumps and boils and the lifespan of a commoner is short. Only the occasional rains do anything to wash away the piles of human waste and accumulated toxins in the street, always sending it down and down to accumulate in great clogs in the streets south of the wall that must be broken up and forced on into the river.
Liara is a city under pressure. Prince Othmar, who technically controls the city, puts pressure on Mayor Ulf Tryggaar to keep the city functioning and the taxes flowing. Sir Tristen Hiregaard, head of the ruling family that controls the surrounding area, puts pressure on the mayor and the watch to keep the city safe. The aerkbiskop Fraanse Olaf, who controls the Church of the Lawgiver for all of North Western Nova Vaasa from the Iron Cathedral in Liara, pressures the people of all ranks to understand their role in society and avoid heresy. The nobles put huge pressure on the overburdened peasants for taxes and subservience. The powerful Liaran underworld weighs on the minds and hearts of the people, especially in the districts south of the wall. The people themselves strain the physical space of their city overflowing the crowded two or three story wobbling brick buildings that many of the peasants occupy. Throughout the day the pressure builds, by night it releases explosively. The people have Liara have a ravenous thirst for violence and mind altering substances of all varieties. Beast baiting, cage fights and barroom brawls are the most innocent ways this manifests. Assault, rape, murder, robbery and more are just as common.
Approach from Tepest
From Kellee, the nearest Tepestani settlement, Liara is a little over 13 miles by road. About a mile before the city the road forks with the southern branch heading south to Castle Faerhaaven, home of Sir Tristen Hiregaard. There are several notable points of description along the 3-4 hour journey on horseback.
Crossing the border from Tepest…
|A few miles east of Kellee the road turns south and crosses over the South Dnar River yet again at an ancient arching stone bridge with solid columns and massive embankments. The river here is a clear sparkling white as at cascades beneath you over boulders and falls heading ever seaward. Your path takes you south along the road and you quickly lose sight and eventually sound of the great river. The trees here in Tepest’s Wormwood are thinner, taller, somehow stretched. The knotty boles are still twisted and pained but the reach higher in their arthritic climb. Dense foliage and thick underbrush crowds the road on either side for many more miles of travel.|
|Eventually, you start to notice a change. The wispy clouds that always seem to filter the Tepestani sun break up leaking clear bright warm light shining down on the open road. The forest begins to change as well. You start to notice more open space, more sunlight breaking through. You can see further into the forest as the road continues mostly south. It takes a while to realize the reason, however. The trees are falling. Sagging and groaning under their own weight the largest of the trees seem to have simply given up and collapsed where they grew into great piles that leave open spaces. You can almost hear the agonized moaning of wood gone soft yet still growing, growing beyond its strength. The animals of the forest seem unaware. Birds chirp, squirrels chatter and occasionally a cotton tailed rabbit jumps through the underbrush.|
|More time passes and the change continues. The trees in this part of the forest never grow more than ten feet high before they collapse. There are clumps of bushes and saplings thriving amongst the mushroom covered corpses of older trees but there’s something new as well. Grass. Knee high golden grass has grown in the clear spaces of the forest. The road itself is trampled down and churned over from heavy use. As the forest grows thinner, the trees shorter and less common, the grasses take over. The transition is gradual but before long you realize you are in grasslands dotted with trees rather than a forest with grass on the road. The grass itself continues to grow taller and thrive. Soon all around you is nothing but the waist high rippling waves of plains grass under the shining Vaasi sun.|
Perception Check: Highest result that beats DC 10 first notices the Koshka Bluffs to the South East
Knowledge Geography check DC 15 to recognize this as Elendighedmark, or Plains of Misery. Meaning less than an hour’s ride to Liara.
|Off to the south east you can’t help but see some huge brownish rocky cliff face looming up above the plains. It’s hard to tell from the distance but it has to be over 1000 feet high and stretching for miles. To the east there is evidence of trees and grain silos along the river but the road continues south for now.|
Knowledge Geography DC 18 to know the Koshka Bluffs on sight. Higher results could know that the bluffs are quarried for much of the building materials that supply this part of Nova Vaasa
Knowledge History DC 20 to know that mining of the Bluffs was suspended some 10 years ago by Sir Tristen Hiregaard.
Perception Check DC 25 to notice the gray-black streaks against the brown bluffs to the far east and what looks like a wispy cloud
As the party journeys on it should be obvious that the army passed through here only a few days ago.
|You travel on along the churned up muddy road through rippling yellow waist high grasses as far as you can see. There are occasional patches of bright purple flowers and the hum of bees is near constant. Despite the chill in Tepest it’s clear that Nova Vaasa’s eternal summer is in full effect. As you travel further south you frequently catch sight of the eastern edge of the Wormwood forest on your right across the grass. On the left the river is lined with large farms tended by drab men and women in simple homespun. Squat stone houses with thatched roofs dug partly into the ground are common but you also catch sight in the further distance of huge manors and outbuildings, obviously the homes of nobility. Though small roads leading to the farms are common the main road is hard packed earth and quite clear. The road is wide enough for two carts to pass easily enough, and a good thing too as the traffic increases markedly across the border. Passing farmers in wide low hats with long drooping mustaches bring wagons of produce towards the city. They give a quick nod and keep their eyes down.|
Eventually the group will reach the fork where the road heads south or east.
|You nearing four hours of travel along the dusty road when you begin to see the first signs of a massive encampment. The road has been well turned by the passage of so many footmen, horses and carriages but here abouts the fields between the road and the river are trampled flat for some distance. Scraps of wood, broken wagon wheels, heaps of rubbish, long latrine pits and many other signs indicate that a large group of armed men was camped here quite recently.|
|Also in the same area, the main road forks. The East Timori Road is marked by a sign pointing East, which bears the names of the cities Liara and Mel Fira. The smaller, yet equally well travelled, road to the south bears a sign saying, “Castle Faerhaaven.”|
|From here you can look east and see the city plainly, just about a mile distant with the wide slow South Dnar River passing midway between. The road heading into the city gets wider and is paved with crushed stone as it approaches the dull gray walls. The walls stand forty feet high and are broken by square towers rising higher still leading right to the river’s edge. inside the walls you can see several buildings which rise higher still. In the northern part of the city tall towers topped with onion shaped domes are common, sometimes spanned by long arched bridges. In the south, approaching the river, buildings that break the height of the walls are less common until just about even with the river where a wide squat unornamented building crouches like a gray toad by the river’s edge.|
|Though the sight of woodsmoke rising above a city is common and can be seen for miles around, the quality of the smoke rising above Liara is quite different. Thick, greasy black plumes seems to grimly rise—especially from the southern city. The walls and towers are stained with this charred black ash and in drifts lazily in a cloud with the wind.|
|As you pass over the long flat stone bridge you can’t help but notice the drastically different character of the South Dnar River here. In Tepest it was raging white and bouncing between rocks full of fury and spray. Here it has grow wide, slow and deep—but equally powerful. The murky waters ripple and roll along beneath heading mostly east now to form the southern border of the city.|
|Along the river to your right are docks and long wide merchants boats unloading goods near large warehouses. To the left, headed north along the river there are pleasure craft docked at huge stone manors in manicured estates. The road itself is sixty feet wide as it approaches the city’s western gate. Drawing into the shadows of the walls the two towers flanking the gate itself loom up over you. There is a wide arched opening in the wall with no hint of a gate. A small group of guards stands by the gate way directing wagons to pull to the side where men with ledgers and charcoal take notes as scruffy porters unload and sort through the contents.|
|Beyond the arched gateway you can start to see into the city proper for the first time. The huge main road heading right through the middle of the city is eighty feet wide and paved with huge granite slabs. There are countless carts, wagons, horses and people milling about the main street.|
The western gate into Liara sees for less traffic than the East or North. There are no roads leading around the city. Long wharves and warehouses sit along the riverside but most of the land is just empty grasses. To the north farms and estates line the river leading away from the city; those on the west bank reachable from the East Timori and those on the east from the northern road.
The city gate itself is kept open during the daylight hours. An arched stone passage, thirty feet tall at the center and fifty feet across, the space between the towers can be blocked by two separate iron portcullises that can be rolled in from the sides where the slide into the walls. Each night they are closed, though small sally doors in the towers and in the gates could allow entry.
The gate is manned by tax collectors and guards. All those seeking entry with wares must pay a 15% entry fee. This means pulling wagons aside to be thoroughly inventoried and having either a cash value or portion of the goods seized for the state. There are several large warehouses outside the city for this purpose. Those making frequent visits, such as local farmers, keep a running tally and pay at regular intervals.
A standard bribe of 1-10 bridles can get a small parcel or personal item ignored by the tax collectors.
Knowledge Local check DC 15 to know that bribes are taken, DC 18 to know an appropriate amount.
All weapons carried on a visitor’s person must be Peacebonded
East Timori Road
The huge main road bisects the city north-south. Though the road itself is near eighty feet wide the sides are lined with carts, stalls, hawkers and beggars. Great trains of wagons move through the city’s larger streets bringing precious lumber, quarried stone and crops from West of the city either East along the road, south to the great warehouses and barges by the docks or to the caravan stalls on the Eastern end of the road.
The looming presence of the Passeslot and the Iron Cathedral keep the majority of the street very safe. The markets and shops south of mid occasionally experience pick pockets, even by day. All types of people from across the Core mingle in the bustling Market district and every variety of legal product can be found in the stalls and storefronts. Though trade in magic items is forbidden many substances can be found in the chemist shops and dispensaries that would be illegal elsewhere in the Core.
After dark all the stalls are stripped down and shuttered, the storefronts barred and the streets emptied of all but stray dogs and restless people. The city’s central artery still pulses pumping blood down to the lower reaches of the city where it froths and rages and spills.
|Entering through the massive sixty foot wide arched opening in the thick stone walls you see the huge central artery of the city of Liara stretching before you. On the north side of the road, to your left, a blocky multi storied structure squats beyond a strip of cobble stones about 100 feet deep that runs along the road. The building itself is four stories at its highest and over 1000 ft. long. Further along, also on the north side, sprawls what can only be a huge cathedral. It’s barely in sight to the east but you can see towering onion domed spires, ornate stonework and long bridges arcing between the towers. On the south side of the street is a district full of open spaces and simple but well maintained stone structures. Many of the open areas feature grassy areas and ornamental statues in stone or bronze.|
|The road itself is at least eighty feed wide but for much of its length it is lined with hawkers, stalls and desultory street performers. Inside of that there is a stretch that seems reserved for the large numbers of people on foot heading to different parts of the city. Inside the foot traffic there are lanes used by wagons and carriages heading into, out of or through the city and finally the center of the road seems to be used almost exclusively by mounted men and women dressed in brightly colored finery. In this way the one wide road is more like four roads nested together and traffic flows.|
|One thing that’s abundantly clear is that the city itself is filthy. Horse dung and trash is strewn about the main road and accumulates in piles along the sides. The foot traffic seems mostly unwashed and unhappy. Plumes of ashy black smoke rise from all over the city and fall in a soft gray snow that coats everything. From the southern side of the road a couple of young urchins with small leather satchels cry out to the crowd, “Maps, directions, your guides to the city! Anything you need to know about our great and glorious city for only a couple shoes! Five spurs for an escort! A single bridle buys you an up-to-date map of the great city! Don’t risk losing your way in the warrens when you can have the best of directions!”|
Perception DC 12: To the north the skyline shows many tall buildings and graceful spires, to the south there is a long wall just beyond the open buildings. With but one exception none of the structures south of the wall stand high enough to be seen from the city center.
Heal DC 15: You can immediately see the ravages of a disturbing variety of diseases, primarily among the foot traffic pressing along the sides of the street. Cancerous growths, wracking coughs and discolored skin are immediately obvious.
|As you look south from the East Timori road you can see a large sprawling district of imposing stone structures. Wide cobbled or grassy parks separate the buildings with benches and walkways. As crowded as the street is there are few people lounging in the sun enjoying the open spaces, the presence of armed and armored guards at the entrances to side streets or foot paths could certainly be related.|
|Most of the multi story structures are carved with harsh armored figures in bas relief or feature fearsome gargoyles crouching on the roof lines. Graven letters in the stone describe the functions of each of the buildings: tax assessor, property arbiter, licenses, building overseer, etc. All appear related to the functions of government.|
This district houses spacious government buildings. Loitering by commoners is not permitted and nobles rarely bother. Most of those who work here are from the upper classes or the outer edges of the southern slums.
|North of the road you see a huge long low stone structure with military towers and open fields where guards are actively drilling. From the large numbers of armed and armored men leaving and entering, both mounted and on foot, it’s clear this is the barracks for the city guard.|
|The overwhelming Iron Cathedral towers high above the city. It’s thick heavy stone walls are all over covered in scenes of stoic servitude, helmeted armored figures of cold authority, horrible growling demons and large scale wars. One could easily spend days examining the statues and carvings without seeing all there is to see.|
|As your eyes track up the walls you can see higher areas on the inside but, most impressive, massive towers topped in domes shaped like inverted onions. From small openings in these giant domes long bridges span between the towers. All of this would be even more impressive if it weren’t caked with a thick layer of soot smeared and running where rain has washed it clear.|
The Iron Cathedral is the center of worship in Liara and one of the lagest cathedrals to the Lawgiver in the Core. From here the aerkbiskop Fraanse Olaf oversees the church in all of North Western Nova Vaasa.
|The cries of hawkers and shopkeepers echo up the street as you approach a complex network of shabby stalls, converted wagons, small structures and canopied tables. You see piles of fresh produce and hanging cuts of meat wrapped in canvas and buzzing with flier, jewelers, basket weavers, coopers, cobblers, leather workers and on an on make a noisy crowded tangle of filthy pressing bodies all grabbing and scrabbling. A surprising number of scrawny cats seem wind between the legs of shoppers and climb the stalls to try and swipe scraps.|
The Liara Market District is open only by day, as the sun sets the shopkeepers pack up whatever they haven’t sold and cart it off to a warehouse or back home or just lock it up on the spot. During the day the area is surprisingly safe, occasionally experiencing a pickpocket or fight but rarely anything more serious. Most shopkeepers arrive well before dawn to catch employees of noble houses who must gather the days produce before their masters awaken.
|The tall gray stone walls surrounding the slave district are topped with jagged rusty spikes of iron. Inside there are several squat unornamented stone structures around a huge central courtyard. You can see a raised platform with several posts to which merchandise can be chained while on display.|
The gates to the courtyard are closed except on weekly market days when available slaves are offered for sale to the highest bidder. The weekly sales are conducted on Saturdays and are noisy affairs in which large numbers of wealthy and noble people gather to bid on commodity slaves.
Slaves of unusual talent or beauty are often sold privately through invitation only showings. The structures constitute dormitories for male and female slaves as well as offices and showrooms.
|Huge dusty trains of dozens or scores of heavily laden wagons roll into the city through the busy East Gate leading out to the rest of Nova Vaasa and, indirectly, all the world. Directly adjacent to the gate there are huge stockade fenced areas packed tightly with wagons, horses, tents and wandering men loading and unloading goods. You see several official looking men with ledgers wandering from place to place taking tally or shouting numbers to men with counters. The presence of the guard is strong here.|
These large fenced in areas can be rented by caravan masters needing a place to keep their wagons and goods in relative safety. To ensure a speedy transition tax collectors will allow caravans to enter their paddocks before inventorying their goods, a process that can take days. These areas are generally guarded round the clock by hired mercenaries and guard patrols move through the area by day. By night the drunken guards become and armed and menacing threat to any wandering by and citizens are well advised to stay out of sight if they don’t want trouble.
South of the Wall
|You head south down Anglisky through the crowded market toward the large gates in the wall that divides the city. You can feel the presence of the massive Iron Cathedral at your back and see the heavily guarded city gate hundreds of feet ahead. The press of unknown flithy people funneling away from the open spaces and large structures of the north city is unpleasant and the closer you get to the gates the worse it becomes. The iron portcullis that could seal the gateway stands open and the guards in the adjacent towers keep a watchful eye on the throngs of people.|
|As soon as move through the fifty foot wide gates on the cities primary north-south road the change is palpable, you might as well be in a different city. On your right rises a grim unornamented stretch of high stone walls topped with battlements and ringed by a cleared area: a veritable fortress within the city.|
|On your left, in contrast is a pile of buildings that are barely recognizable as such. Most are crumbling brick, between two and four stories tall. For most a couple stone steps lead up to an open doorway, wood being too scarce to build doors with. Only narrow unshuttered slits pass for windows. The buildings appear to have been arranged in no particular order and are often crammed right up agains each other and odd angles. Some are literally falling down and rubble chokes the narrow allys between them, in other cases you can see tall structures leaning into each other like drunks turning the pathways between into darkened caverns.|
|Everything here is covered in layers of grimy soot. The sides of the street and the narrow passages between the crumbling buildings are piled with trash, excrement and the occasional dead animal. Slinking cats, all rib cage and yowl, hunt for the rats which must surely thrive here. The number of people you see climbing through rubble or tromping over piles of midden heading into the packed warren like structures is staggering. Here disease and malnutrition seem to be the norm. Many people are smoking heavy bowled clay pipes or chewing idly with stained and yellowed teeth.|
|You continue south on the wide Anglisky road for about a quarter of a mile. On either side of you for most of that distance rise the dense decrepit masses of structures known as Warrens. Only rarely does anything resembling a road head into these regions. Narrow allies navigable by foot or small cart or the only way in and people seem to scramble and climb, quickly becoming lost in the twisting paths. Loud noises, screams and hollering, yowling of cats and barking of starving dogs echo around you. Mixed in the din you hear an occasional call from a man or group of men by the roadside, “Madak, Tabak, Inhalant, Opium — you need it and I’ve got the best. Quick fuck from a willing bitch, 1 bridle. Prices negotiable!” Occasionally a small group of armed men dressed much better than those on foot rides down the main street at a quick cantor leaving pedestrians to scramble out of the way if they can.|
The warrens are a filthy, over crowded, disease ridden hell. The people who live here have nowhere else to go and most have long since abandoned hope. Crime and violence are the norm and it is almost unheard of for guards to venture off the main roads into the interior of one of the warren blocks. Since none here can afford doors individual apartments are separated only by leather or cloth curtains offering little privacy and no protection. Robbery, rape, murder and every other crime thrive.
It is also common for armed gangs to control small sections of warren blocks staging raids and counter-raids for territory.
Red Light District
|Finally you emerge into a proper town square. A semi-circle park opens up where well marked Zadnaya street crosses Anglisky. The square is ringed a low stone wall and dotted with dirty stone benches and tables. A few people seem to sleep in piles of human refuse around the edges of the open space. Several large covered wells with multiple buckets and ropes are spaced out here and furtive looking women in shapeless drab dresses draw water before darting off.|
|Here you see more women wearing little more than tight bodices and slitted skirts standing by the street making eyes or calling out to passing men. Many of the women have unnatural glassy stairs and seem to have trouble focusing. You also note large men armed with clubs or wearing knives standing nearby keeping an eye on things.|
|After passing through the large open intersection the buildings on either side of you are suddenly spaced out, larger with balconies and large windows. Each building seems a unique piece, some have slanting red tiled roofs others ornamental metal domes or stone statues out front. Most show signs of wear and layers of soot regardless. The women who hang from many of the balconies cry down to the passers by offering services of every sort in lurid detail. There are brothels, taverns, gambling houses, inns, stables, bath houses, opium dens and a wide variety of other ‘personal services’ available here.|
|The air begins to take on an electric charge. The people in the part of the city, at this time of day, have a strange energy about them. An eagerness. Men move quickly toward their evening’s debauchery and whores stare with hungry eyes. Ahead of you two large structures stand out from the far smaller ones around you. The first is on the right side of the road dead ahead and appears from the outside to be a large arena with an open paved stone area for parking carriages or stabling horses along side — protected by a high stone wall topped with iron spikes. From the lack of activity around the arena you’d guess there’s nothing going on their tonight, though a fair number of people seem to be hitching horses or parking carriages in the adjacent lot.|
|At the very end of Anglisky, as far south as you can get in the city of Liara, squats the Staggering Stallion. The building is perhaps eighty feet tall and several hundred feet wide. The front of the building is notably lacking in windows or balconies at the lower levels. The upper floors have a smaller footprint than the ground floors leaving a low roof around. Atop the higher roof there are several short round towers. The large, wide front wall is interrupted by wide double doors near the center and a huge carving set into the stone that depicts a noble stallion down on one knee in the grass as savage plains cats leap onto its back.|
|Even at this hour you can see people of every sore gathering around and filing in the front door. There is a wide sidewalk of stone pavers raised from the level of the street in front of the building. Well dressed people or small parties of large men stride arrogantly to the front and push their way in. The queue seems to be moving fairly quickly.|