Ma Cab

Founded on the alluvial plain formed by the confluence of the Arlis River and its tributary, the WhinCharnen, Ma Cab is the last true remaining city state in the Crescent Lands. Controlling and allied with most of the small cities, towns and hamlets north of the Aereolus border and continuing north up into the lower reaches of Boreala, Ma Cab is a classic frontier city with its general lawlessness, mixing of different cultures and races, and free and easy access to much of the barbarous hinterlands. It is a bustling hive of 30,000 souls.

It is located on the GreyMarsh Plain and rests at the lowest point on this expanse of land surrounded and gathered in the embrace of the Heath Chain Hills. Its site is damp and the climate could not be referred to as medicinal.

As seen from the Heath Chain hills (traveling along the Aereolus Ma Cab road), this city has a unique skyline and profile which is immediately recognizable to anyone who has visited this city, even once. Even if one were to disregard such obvious clues to its identity as a generalized pall of smoke lacing the air above charred buildings, the merry scattering of fires, or the streets laid out in a pattern mimicking the wanderings of an inebriated spider, the wide, sewage filled moat with blooming algal covering and the great curtain wall whose length gapes leprous with holes delved by Ma Cab's inhabitants in search of a convenient source of building materials would be a sure indication. Further, if one were lucky enough to be downwind of the city, one could experience the bouillabaisse of smells riding (or more accurately, being) the winds. The smell of Ma Cab on a good day can be likened to the odor of a large farmhand after a meal of garlic soup, curried goat cheese, and pickled cabbage. Sages point to the hereditary lack of olfactory discernment in its citizens as proof of evolution.

Ma Cab rests within its curtain wall in the same fashion an insomniac can be said to lie quietly in her pallet. It could be said that Ma Cab is divided into four quarters by major arteries radiating from the Great Market Square in city center (it also could be said that arsenic is palliative for indigestion). Rather, it might be more accurate to say that once, on a piece of parchment, clutched in the hands of a young and naive city planner, Ma Cab had four great roads quartering the city like some ludicrous minced meat pie; now, however, one would be more accurate in saying that there is one major street which runs from the main gate to the Great Market Square.

Lining the road (Cause Way Street) leading to the Great Market Square are shops, inns, provisioners, ale houses, curio dealers, weapons and armor shops, clothiers, mining supply stores etc. Cause Way Street, more than the Great Market, is the trade center of Ma Cab. Here most of the necessities of life can be purchased.

The Great Market Square is a large, irregular shaped open area of packed dirt in the heart of the city. On humid summer days, with dried sewage streaking the plain and the amiable company of flies and mosquitoes, even the hardiest merchant or buyer is forced to retreat indoors for the noon siesta. Surrounding the square are the large banking houses and mining companies which are creating the economic revival of Ma Cab through gold mining expeditions to Boreala; also, too, the Thieves' Guild is here. In the Square, a great open air market runs throughout most of the year selling foodstuffs and miscellany scrounged by expeditions into the Barbarous Hinterlands surrounding Ma Cab.

West of the Square is the area called M'At S Quarters which (with the citizens' larcenous bent) is colloquially referred to as the Target, since it is the home of the wealthy of Ma Cab. Here reside the merchant princes who reap the profits from the great gold mines in Boreala by selling equipment to miners or funding the expeditions. Because of Ma Cab's decidedly larcenous bent, small armies of private guards protect the area.

North of the Target is the Gods' Way, the religious heart of Ma Cab. Packed along the streets of this ten block area are all the religions of the Crescent Lands plus scores of shops selling religious "relics", icons, statuettes and any other imaginable item which can shake loose coinage burning a whole in the pouch of the devote. In this district, the sellers of religion even out number the more conventional thieves . During the war against the Maddings, much of the Gods' Way (most specifically the temples of LAW) were sacked and burned by these empty human shells. Much rebuilding is still taking place. The temple of Crimson is not located in the city but a days trip north.

East of the Great Market Square is the Red Lantern District, where both sexes practice the most gentle thievery in Ma Cab. Any kind of pleasure can be purchased in this area and the largest bawdy house in the Crescent Lands, the (in)famous Slipper, resides here. In this same district, gambling houses commonly practice arts of teleportation–money disappears from a patron's pockets and reappears in a gambling house coffer. A major theft from a gambling casino, a year ago, is still the talk of the district.

The poorest section of Ma Cab is an area South and East of the Great Market Square referred to as the Fallen Wall District. This broken area of the city is partly surrounded by an ancient, collapsed curtain wall which the inhabitants use for building materials; and where blocks of buildings have not been razed to the ground by fire, flooding, vandalism, or the patient workings of time some of the oldest buildings (even founding buildings) can be found. While late night walks through Ma Cab streets could not be recommended as an aid in the digestion of a heavy meal, such a stroll in the Fallen Wall could be considered positively unhealthy. Even members of the Thieves Guild avoid this desperate area at night. Any sight of human misery can be found in this destitute area, and many citizens believe that a curse must reign over this area, for the district never benefits from the good fortunes of Ma Cab, but it always feels the effects of its ills. The Ma Cab guard is frequently the only way one born to the Fallen Wall may escape this misery.

South and west of the Market Square live most of the citizens of Ma Cab in an area called the Sprawl. In many ways, the Sprawl is the heart of Ma Cab.

Until recent years, Ma Cab was ruled in an anarchic fashion by two rival Thieves' Guilds referred to (from the colored arm bands their supporters wore) as the Reds and Blues. This governance began to disintegrate as rivalry between the two Guilds caused rampant attacks of thievery, mayhem, poaching in each others territory, and generally began to cut into the profit margins of local merchants and merchant princes (who previously considered most thieveries as a form of roulette taxation). At this point an alliance of merchants mandated that only one Guild be allowed in Ma Cab and the other be destroyed. With suitable agreement, a month later the war came to a conclusion with the Blue Guild having triumphed and the Red Guild members dead or fled. For the first time in recent Ma Cab history, the city has a single Thieves' Guild. Ma Cab is now loosely governed by a council of merchants.

Ma Cab because of its generally isolated location, large percentage of non-humans and non-elves, and good fortune was only modestly effected by the Plague. In fact, as the initial point of "infection" by the Maddings, it suffered more from their depredation. As the Madding Plague has spread throughout the human communities in the Crescent Lands, the problem has alleviated in the Ma Cab.

The gold rush in Boreala has shifted the traditional sources of revenue in this city-state. Service industries which have sprouted to supply the miners passing through the city are challenging the historical monetary profitability of thievery. Besides supplying miners, the city-state exports gold, glow stones, Borealan jewelry and weapons, animal hides, dyes collected from the nearby K'n Yan Swamp, Hinterland goods brought by barbarians, and wine. While Ma Cab wines are not of the quality they reached at their acme, some three hundred years ago, in the recent years the red wines have been improving in quality.


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