Saturday 24 June 2023

Hex Crawl 23 #175: The City of Izuz

 Fifteen hexes north of Alakran.

If its ancient rival across the water, Giligillu, lies dreaming and subjugated, Izuz is a city whose old bricks pulse with life. The politics of its council are simple: everyone submits to the sage Mumulanti, a round old treasure of a woman who keeps her skin waxed, owns no property, and decides absolutely, according to the law and in keeping with natural justice. Knowing that matters are well-handled, the Izuzzi go about their business, free to dream.

Always a center of poetry, music, street philosophy, and the declamation and disputation of heroic epics, Izuz has become even more packed with patrons and practitioners of the arts. Many princes and their retinues have fled from the overrun and dangerous central lands of Dulsharna to the relative safety of remote Izuz. Religion is submerged; it is fashionable here to claim that one has not even heard of Aish Mashuila. Magic is little prized compared to the worlds that a bard or declaimer can conjure up. 

The principal wizards are two puffed-up, sneering, gatekeeping men of no great talent named Asduwiya and Kapurti, who make the rounds of pleasure-gardens and jug-houses. They loudly commiserate with each other on the near-total disrespect for their craft. But this does not mean they will welcome fellow wizards. Quite the contrary, they disdain anything that challenges their own petty supremacy here.

Otherwise, the city hums with a variety of trades and crafts, and is a commercial hub. With the receding of the lake's shoreline, the few fisherfolk have found other work or moved to Giligillu. The new piers, built down on the stinking mud with a wooden walkway connecting them to the former docks, are exclusively for vessels of trade and transport, which go up and down the water and even into the newly shallow reaches of the southern river.

The talk of the city at the moment is a series of daring burglaries, gems and glittering ornaments gone missing from rooms thought secure and impassable. The crimes, however, are compensated with papyrus slips left at the scene, each containing four verses of an unfolding parodic epic that has already captivated the interest of the cultural scene. Great cachet attaches to being able to release the next papyrus, so much so that a couple of frauds have staged their own burglary and made up their own stanzas. For this they've been roundly scolded on the obverse of the true papyri. The author of these crimes is a trained monkey owned by a once-renowned bard reduced to beggary by a combination of libel suits and gambling debt.

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