Rascals of Elturel
This city is the farming centre of the Fields of the Dead, and its Hellriders guard and police not only Elturel, but much of the farmed and settled portions of the Fields along the Skuldask Road, the Dusk Road, and both banks of the River Chionthar. The long patrols of the Hellriders, 30 riders strong, pass along the roads every four hours, night and day. The upkeep of the patrols was aided by lodges (stockaded outposts) placed strategically within their patrol area, where food, water, flammables, weapons, and fresh mounts were kept for them. These lodges were protected against arson and casual theft by strong wards.
Elturel has been a city on decline. For many years it stood as the pinnacle of beauty, order and safety in these parts of Faerun. But, a series of catastrophic events have drawn it down.
About a hundred years ago, Elturel was ruled wisely and well by High Rider Lord Dhelt, a paladin of Helm who was ever-vigilant when it came to the defense of his city and to lawless elements who might skulk in to do business in it. A just, no-nonsense ruler who lead patrols on the road as often as any of his war captains, Dhelt keeps the city a clean, law-abiding place, a firm member of the Lords Alliance. His 2,000 Hellriders were superbly equipped and trained as a fearsome fighting force equaled by few realms in Faerûn, Hellriders must be skilled at the use of horse bow, lance, and saber before they are allowed to ride the roads.
Travellers could rejoice in the safety of Elturel’s reach, which extended as far as Triel along the Dusk Road, as far as the intersection with Thundar’s Ride along the Skuldask Road to the north, as far as Scornubel along the Chionthar upstream, as far south toward Berdusk as Windstream Lodge (one of the Hellrider lodges), and as far downstream along the Chionthar as Stone Eagle Lodge (another Hellrider lodge). It was easy to tell these boundaries. Sheep and cattle wandered on all sides when you’re inside them, and brush is cut back, with hedged and stone-walled farms here and there. Outside Elturel’s sway, farms and livestock were gone, and scrub trees and shrubs were everywhere. Now-a-days, due to the events described below, there are large sections, especially to north east of the city that are shrubs as far as one can see.
Lord Dhelt passed on, due to natural causes at the ripe age of 70. This paved the way for his son High Rider Lord Wallace, a pale comparison to his father. He was arrogant and lax in his duties. He attempted to keep things as they were, but he paid less attention to the thieves of the city, the training of the Riders and the general security of the city.
Then, many say because of Wallace’s lazy eyes, Elturel was caught offguard when, in 1403 DR, the murderous orc King Arboult brought a huge army of orcs and trolls down from the Storm Mountains and attacked the city, aiming to take back a land that was once theirs. It was a well played attack and during this ten-day long pitched battle many lost their lives. Over 1,000 Hellriders lost their lives, and three times that in citizenry. But the battle was won and Arboult’s army was driven back after they lost almost 10,000 men. While Arboult’s army was gone, the damage to Eltural was catastrophic.
Confidence in Wallace was lost and he was ousted for more vigilant, thought to be fairer Lord Walt Brembar. Lord Brembar helped bring the city back somewhat, but the city is complete disrepair. He was a vicious ruler, doing what he felt needed to be done to rebuild. The lower class revolted twice. Trade, which was Eltural’s lifeblood, all but ceased, shifting to the trade giant Baulder’s Gate further up river.The economy was devastated and the Dock District went from the nicest area to the most destitute area of Eltural. The poor and homeless there were nicknamed the Walt Folk, as they blamed Lord Walt Brembar for their woes.
For the next 70 years, every 10 years or so a new ruler would take over the mantle, trying desperately to pull Eltural back from the brink and restore her to her former glory. Recently, in a desperate bid to do just that, they elected Lord Dhelt’s great grandson to office. So far, he is popular and many people compare him to his pedigree. He even rides at the head of the latest batch of Hellriders, who number about 1,000 these days. But the city has a long way to go and the new Lord Dhelt has much to do to bring back Eltural’s status as the most secure city in western Faerun.
Elturel thrived on trade. Typically it’s a city of folk passing through. Barge trade on the Chionthar meets overland trade in the city where a six-wagon ferry crosses the river. The heart of the city is a cliff-sided tor, a natural stronghold that was held by trolls and then orcs before humans drove them out and first settled here. Its south or river end is capped by the soaring turrets of High Hall, the castle from which the High Rider rules. A long, wooded park runs along the ridgetop of the heights, watered by a spring that rises in the cellars of High Hall and runs down the Winter Garden to cascade off the tor at the northern end in a spectacular series of falls known as Maidens Leap. This park was once a flawless gem, but now has many homeless that sleep there often. A small patrol of Hellriders often have the sole task to keep them away. The waters were turned off for almost 50 years, it wasn’t until the current Lord Dhelt that he insisted the park was restored.
On the slopes around are tall, narrow, many-balconied tenement housing. They were once single homes of the nobles, but were converted to apartments years ago. Below this High District are the flatlands of the city, known as the Dock District or Waltfolk. To the east, warehouses and hovels crowd together around the docks and the crammed stalls of Shiarra’s Market.
The more prosperous and orderly homes and shops west of the heights are still part of Dock District, but are increasingly referred to as Westerly, a separation used to imply cleanliness and prosperous success or, to look at it from the other view, laziness, soft living, and pretentious arrogance.
The traveler could once wander about anywhere in Elturel in perfect safety. Times changed. Pickpockers, thieves, con artists and worse run rampant. But times are changing again. Lord Dhelt has redeployed many Hellriders to this area. Lately, the chief danger is from pickpockets, not knife-wielding thugs. Thieves are not to be tolerated in this city any longer and the best way to attract some hard questioning from a lot of eager-looking Riders with drawn swords is to whisper that so-and-so is a member of such-and-such guild or an incident is the work of a thieves band.
The inns and taverns of the city are all fairly good with a few exceptions, especially near the docks. One that comes to mind is the poor but cheap Oar and Wagon Wheel Inn which is always crowded with noisy patrons. The establishments described as the most interesting ’that is, shady and rough in the city.
Elturel is home to a shrine to Tempus and three important temples. All three of the temples give temporary shelter and aid to the devout. Helm’s Shieldhall is a large holy fortress ruled over by High Watcher Berelduin Shondar, also known as Bereld the Just, a stern priest who leads as many Rider patrols as Lord Dhelt. The High Harvest Home, a temple to Chauntea, is presided over by High Harvestmaster Baulauvin Oregh one of the most goddess-favored servants of Chauntea in all Faerûn. The Workshop of Gond, which is a temple in west of the city overseen by High Tinkerer Maurice Louvre. Each of these temples have much smaller shrines, and places of worship throughout the city.