Forgive my absence. In Guerdon, a businessman like myself cannot afford to hesitate. Some things must be attended to immediately, day or night. A trifling matter, I assure you. Think nothing of it. Although, if you happen to see a very large man dressed in sealed armour, or hear anyone mention the name ‘Fever Knight’, please bring it to my attention. It’s not that I’m expecting trouble – it’s a trifling matter, as I said- but… miscommunications, mistaken identities, these things cause problems. And in this city, one cannot always choose the most honourable or… kindly business parters.
Let’s walk. Briskly now. Don’t dawdle. Walk, damn you.
Newtown, you’ll note, is far more orderly than the lower parts of Guerdon. The streets are laid out on a grid, the houses all alike. This hillside was, I’m told, too rocky and uneven to build on when the city was young, but the new alchemical weapons solved that problem. Lots of blasting powders and phlogiston charges carved out neat terraces on which they built the Newtown. Queen’s Point was raised at the same time. Queen’s Point is very proper, very quiet – so much so that the parts of the Wash bordering it are becoming almost safe. There are streets around Lamb’s Square that are respectable by day, if not by night.
Down there, by the harbour – that church spire is St. Storm’s. The patron of sailors and soldiers. It’s not as fancy as the Victory Cathedrals, but it’s the most beloved church in the city, I’d wager. And if you want to hire mercenaries, the square outside is the place to go, especially on a feast-day.
But that’s not for us. Too close to the Wash. Let’s keep climbing up the western slope of Castle Hill, and I’ll tell you more about the city’s history.
The city was found, abandoned and empty, by explorers from Varinth. No-one knows what happened to the folk of the first city – probably froze to death. The whole north was frozen for a few centuries, but as the land thawed, tribes crossed over from Varinth and settled here. They brought their own gods with them, but their deities sickened in the new city, so they found other powers to worship. And they chose a king to rule over them. Skip over a few hundred years of invasions, usurpations, plagues and other unpleasantness, until a fisherman draws up his nets and dredges an idol of black iron up off the seabed.
Worship of the Black Iron Gods took root in the city. The gods were very hungry, and demanded more sacrifices, and more. The kings grew dependent on the blessings of the god, until they could tolerate it no more and fled; the cult took over the city, and now there were no checks on their hunger. A dark time, darker than any other in Guerdon’s history. But you’ve passed through the Godswar, haven’t you? You’ve seen what happens when gods go mad, or sour, or become drunk on their own divinity? We had that, here, four hundred years ago.
The city had its monstrous gods, but the countryside had gods too. They rose up, and their saints besieged Guerdon. They fought their way up this very hill with flaming swords, and then rode down the riverbank – present-day Mercy Street – to tear down the temple of the Black Iron Gods down by the docks.
We’re not being followed, are we? You’d keep an eye out, right?
Now after the Black Iron Gods were thrown d own, the Church of the Keepers took over. They ran everything for three hundred years. You see that big drum-shaped building up there on the brow of the hill – that’s Parliament. And for three hundred years, it didn’t matter – the church ran the city, and they ruined it.
But enough of the past – let us look to the future, you and I!