Humans in Kalerre
Humans are newcomers in Kalerre -- aside from the degraded cannibals of the north, there are only a few scattered settlements in Kalerre. Here is some info designed to offer an idea of the possibilities:
This frontier town is a rough-and-tumble place. It serves as a haven for pirates, who pay high fees to the Lord High Captain for safe harbor. A few pirates have become more or less legitimate merchants, seeking high profits from trade with wemics and cannibals. These merchants also benefit from the Lord High Captainís protection from other pirates, at least within and near Cove.
Cove is on a barrier island, that is, a very long and skinny island that lies parallel to the continent. One side faces inward, towards the continent, which is just barely visible on a clear day across the calm waters of the inlet between the island and the mainland. The other side faces outwards, towards the open ocean.
Fishers dock on the inward side of the island, which offers handy access to the inlet. In addition to fish, local sailors take lobsters, crabs, and oysters from the wide waters between Cove Isle and the mainland. There is a small trade in native pearls. Artisans and other permanent residents also tend to live on the inward side. Trade ships plying the routes to the swamp, Freetown, and Merx sometimes dock here because it is safer than among the pirates.
Ocean-going ships dock on the outward side. There the wharves are longer, the warehouses are bigger, and the taverns are rowdier. On the west side is the very well guarded wharf of the powerful merchants protected by the Lord High Captain. Walking east, the next two rancid-smelling docks serve a small but thriving whale trade. Then five long wharves serve as docks for any visitor -- in practice, this means pirates and privateers. The eastern-most wharf is the Lord High Captainís personal wharf, and it too is heavily guarded.
At any given moment, there may be 5 to 30 or more ships at Cove, sometimes doubling the permanent population of 2,000.
Catering to pirates and other passers-through, most folk who live in Cove year-round work hard to separate sailors from their loot. There are taverns, inns, gambling houses, and brothels -- most such establishments are all four in one! There are fences and thieves, merchants and coin changers, entertainers and courtesans, brewers, bakers, seamsters, carpenters, ropemakers, coopers, smiths, leatherworkers, and glassblowers -- not to mention some of the best shipwrights in the world. And there are others harder to classify: mercenaries, explorers, wanderers, thrill-seekers, treasure-seekers, eccentrics, mystics, artists, slaves, run-aways, wastrels, mages, beggars, and more.
A village behind a wooden palisade, Freetown was founded by people who escaped or ran away from Cove about 40 years ago. They established a farming community by clearing fields in the rain forest, surviving cannibal attacks and disease. But despite their efforts to hide, a traveller discovered them. This traveller was a mage, one who had been exiled because of his dabbling in forbidden arts. The mage made a deal with the Freetown farmers -- if they allowed him to dwell among them, he would help protect them. So when explorers and troops from Cove found Freetown 25 years ago, they had no choice but to accept Freetown as an independent city. Since then, thriving commerce has sprung up between Freetown and Cove, trading lumber, red meat, and crops from the mainland for finished goods and luxuries. The mage has accepted a few apprentices, so Freetown will be guarded by magic in years to come.
Freetown itself is small -- about five hundred farmers live there, and the bulk of the population are children. The farmers live in houses inside the town, going outside to work their fields by day. There are a few artisans: a smith, several carpenters, a potter. There is also a small tavern that serves locals and lets rooms to travellers. But unlike those who live in Cove, the folk of Freetown are not as wild and debauched -- there is no open prostitution or drug market, no slavery, no anarchy.
Freetown is governed by a New England-style town meeting system, which elects a mayor annually. The mayor trains and leads the militia, deal with emergencies between town meetings, and appoints a sherriff to cope with local malfeasance. The mayor also acts as judge. A lot of power is vested in the mayor, but since the town meeting sits once a week and can recall the mayor at any meeting if any other candidate can muster a majority vote, it works out fairly well. All men and women above 15 years of age who have lived in Freetown for at least a year are members of the town meeting and serve in the militia. However, all mages are non-voting advisors to the town meeting, and are exempt from the militia, although they are bound to protect Freetown in other ways.
The town gains some revenue from fees it charges travellers and merchants to enter the town. These are not onerous, however, and can be paid in kind.
The trading post at Merx is run by a merchant captain named by the Lord High Captain of Cove, who keeps a strong garrison of 50 soldiers on the site. There are also 10 to 15 civilians -- money changers, tax collectors, and the staffs of the tavern and the general mercantile. And several dozen merchants, fur traders, wemics, and wanderers may be present at any given moment. The Wandering Wemic is the only inn and tavern in the world with beds sized for wemics -- since in their own land, wemics have neither taverns nor beds!
A large number of human trappers have found their way into the forest along the Kalerre coast. They are getting rich trading in fur, since western coastal forest is empty of both humans and wemics. The wildlife is not tame, however, and many just disappear.
And Merx is the place where human merchants petition to enter the wemic lands. Each merchant is interviewed, and only some are allowed to enter. Those who are denied entry often choose to trade with wemics at Merx, or with human traders who pass the interview.
And passing through Merx, one may find wanderers, adventurers, hermits, or others with the urge to see new sights.
Cannibals in Human Lands
Outside the great swamp in the north, the only place one will see cannibals is in Cove -- and even there, these aboriginal folk always seem eager to return to their wetlands. There are rumors of cannibals living in Freetown, but these are usually dismissed because it is well known that cannibals have often attacked Freetown (although they have done so less frequently since the mage settled there).
Cannibals are unmistakable because they use ritual scarification in their secret rites. This results in extensive marks appearing all over their bodies -- and these are easily seen because cannibals seldom wear much more than loincloths. They also always walk around armed, usually with spears.
Wemics in Human Lands
There are always Wemics around Merx, and it is not unknown to see a wemic in Freetown or Cove. It is known that they attack cannibals on sight, but usually their motives and actions are mysterious. Some wemics have recently taken to asking many questions of any human they meet. These curious wemics say they want to know more about humans because they have a sacred duty. But that is all they will say.