Blackfen - An Overview

Article by Keith Robinson
Posted March 1 2013 in Zinedoms Vol 2

Blackfen is a small city of around 9000 souls located in Badathur right on the border with The Fallen Lands - in fact, technically it is actually located inside of The Fallen Lands as it is on the eastern shores of Black Lake, into which flows the Othos River, and where it exits as the River Kirn as it makes it journey to Southport and eventually into The Great Sea. In the greater scheme of things, Blackfen has been of little consequence on the world stage, but now finds itself playing a crucial role in the war between Karnish and Zykerathox.

The natural geographical features around Blackfen have made it naturally well-defended and although orcs and goblins make regular raids, only rarely have they threatened to make it as far as the city itself. Being based right at the eastern tip of The Silver Hills, surrounded by swamps and bogs, as well as being built against the shores of Black Lake, Blackfen has survived the tide of Zykerathox and now sits in a prime location to both defend the border and launch attacks against the enemy.

The city itself was originally built on a small peninsula surrounded on nearly all sides by the waters of the lake, giving it excellent natural defenses against attacks. A palisade was added to complete the defenses and has remained in place ever since, regularly maintained and with stone towers since added. The city, however, has long since expanded beyond the small amount of space available on the peninsula and has spilled over onto the mainland, outside of the defenses the palisade affords. Even before the coming of Zykerathox and his Black Undeath there was constant tensions between those in Old Palisade Town (as the original part of the city is now called) and those in North Ada, who are not so well defended. Those in North Ada have constantly called for a new wall to be built encompassing the whole city, rather than just those lucky enough to live inside the existing palisade. Nothing was done, however, and since the coming of the war with Zykerathox there is neither the time nor money to undertake such a large building program, much to the chagrin of those whose homes remain unprotected.

As a compromise between the two sides, it was agreed that a mechanical golem would be constructed by the local Apothecaries, Alchemist’s and Arcanist's Guild, which was done so at great expense - almost, some argued, as expensive as constructing a new wall itself. Nonetheless, the project was completed and the amazing construction added to the city's defenses. It's main role, however, seems to have become defending the palisade gate and walls, leading to accusations of favoritism towards those inside the already well-defended Old Palisade Town. Those inside the palisade, however, argue that the golem is always outside of the walls and constantly ready to defend North Blackfen.

The city is highly militarized, with a flow of troops constantly making their way to and from the frontline. Usually these arrive or leave on ferries and ships that carry them across the lake or up the Kirn River to and from Southport. Blackfen has also become an essential waypoint on the route to the besieged city of Ghendenbur, with vital supplies travelling down the Olson River to help keep that city from being overrun by the orc armies of Zykerathox. The majority of the Karnish soldiers based here are in fact located west of the city in well defended zones amongst The Silver Hills, creating a deliberate buffer zone between the frontline and the strategically vital Blackfen.

The fear of the Black Undeath of Zykerathox is constant and the plague has swept through the city on more than one occasion. The city guard are on constant high alert for signs of the plague, or any victims who return as foul zombies, and the Quarantine Law introduced by the King of Karnish to help stem the spread of the deadly disease is strictly adhered to, with affected houses being marked with crosses and the bodies of the dead cremated and their ashes buried in the old cemetery located a short distance away from the city itself. Those who break the Quarantine Law are dealt with harshly and executions are not unheard of, with hangings taking place north of the city on The Hanging Hill. Although this has caused some disquiet amongst the general public, it has nonetheless helped to keep the plague mostly under control.

Despite everything, the people of Blackfen try to go about their daily business as best they can. Farmers still tend their crops and their animals, smiths' smithy, carpenters' join, and bakers' bake and the city is filled with the bustle of everyday life. For most people, the war is a constant threat, but one which there is little they can do about. They realize their perilous situation, but also take pride in their freedom and their importance to the war effort. As the saying goes in Blackfen, it is better to die with fists clenched, than to live with wrists shackled.

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