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Elminster Speaks - Part 36
By Ed Greenwood
The Satraps of Delzimmer, Part 1
As aforementioned, four wealthy, well-established local families unofficially rule the trading city of Delzimmer. They can be very dangerous if crossed (for instance, although none of them officially keep slaves, they employ drugs to enslave certain individuals -- slayers, thieves, and personal bodyservants -- to their wills). Wise visitors learn all they can about these folk, and as with all self-styled nobles, their feuds and intrigues are long, involved, and as ye might say, "Byzantine."
Here I provide a more cursory "know thy potential foes" guide, taking two families in this missive, and the remaining pair in the next.
This traditionally haughty, aggressive, and thankfully small in number family runs to black hair, hooked noses set in ugly ("strong," as flattering bards say) faces, and fat, squat, long-armed and bandy-legged physiques. However, 'tis the failing of far too many "outlanders" (as Delzemaer call all visitors) to consider them stupid brutes. They tend to shrewdly act such parts so as to learn more about strangers.
The Belarks dwell in Belarkhuruin (from an old local word "haroon" or "grand house"), a many-spired dark stone mansion set in walled gardens between the Wide Way (Delzimmer's main street) and Gaunthan Street. They breed and sell many stout horses, collect sculptures, and own companies of stonemasons based in several cities of the Tashalar. They also partake of the banking, warehousing, and caravan outfitting trade shared by all four Delzemaer "satrap" families.
The Belarks like gold, have much ready coin on hand, and maintain a strong standing army of well-armed and -trained guards armed with blades of all sorts and hand crossbows equipped with poisoned darts. (Most of the poisons cause sleep or paralysis, but some are more deadly.) Belark livery is crimson, so family members (save for funeral and wedding robes) seldom wears the color. The Belark Hawk badge appears on all family documents, contracts, gates, and servants.
The family is led by their grossly fat patriarch, Oldyle (NE male human Ftr8/Rog5). His heir is Hlonsker (LE male human Ari3/Ftr6), who has two maliciously sadistic younger brothers, Corauth (CE male human Rog6) and Aslyn (CE male human Rog5) who delight in causing trouble for all in Delzimmer. There are also half a dozen wastrel uncles, but no blood-offspring Belark females in the current generation.
This clan tends to be tall, thin, sophisticated and handsome, with large, dark eyes, cheekbones that would not look out of place on a pureblood elf of elder heritage on Evermeet -- and a cold, calculating, "take the long view" manner. Unlike the brutish Belark, they eschew aggression and proudly wear their family colors just as their servants do.
More than any other wealthy Delzemaer family, the Harlhaun reward and train their senior servants, giving them power to act as trade agents for the family, and paying them well. Years of such treatment have resulted in a large, fiercely loyal, dedicated and shrewd staff of servants who are proud to wear the Harlhaungreat sea green (the house color) and the Harlhaun sword of honor badge. All of the servants are trained in arms, although only somewhat under half customarily serve as guards.
The Harlhaun dwell in their walled mansion of High House, which stands amid wooden gardens that feature a sequence of pools that drain into each other (the water being endlessly pumped around in a cycle) in a long, narrow triangle on the western side of Delzimmer that is bounded by Alonthan, Baerkezel, and Taloth Streets. They engage in the commercial activities common to all the satrap families, and also trade in gems, perfumes, and herbal and alchemical products. (Some folk whisper that poisons are also important Harlhaun-made products.)
The family cloaks their true feelings behind elaborate manners, even in their private dealings, and are adroitly steered by their patriarch Maraunt (LN male human Ari16/Exp4), whose hobby is perfecting new scents and subtle drugs (often both in the same draft). His daughter Arleithe (CN female human Ari4/Wiz2/Exp1) is a bitter, sensual dark beauty who considers herself thrice as brilliant as her two louder younger brothers, but sees herself being steadily relegated to the mother of the house role since the death of her mother Maulauke, as her brothers try to assert their fitness to take up the family reins soon. Her brothers are a scheming pair who devote much of their time to working subtle evil on each other's ambitions, family standing, and private pursuits: Lariond (LE male human Ari3/Ftr9) and Narthel (LE male human Ari2/Ftr6).
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