We spend a lot of time in Four Feasts till Darkness getting to know the many denizens of the world, but there are places on Geadhain that are just as rich in personality as the people who live there. One such place is Carthac, the City of Waves. We’ve heard it mentioned through the backstories of Magnus and Erik. You may remember that Elissandra’s husband was there–doing business–when the storm caused by the battle of the Kings rocked the world.
Historically, it was to that once humble fishing village that a splinter-faction of the rulers of Old Menos fled to build a new empire. An empire, in time, raised from obscurity to greatness, then to infamy as it became bloated by the Menosian proclivity toward obscene wealth and despotic rule. These leaders, or Lordkings, as they were called–being never quite the Immortal Kings or Lords of Menos whom they envied–were eventually, violently, deposed by the populace they had subjugated. For the people of Carthac, while simple, are not simpletons, and they possess they spirit of the ocean and seas within them: an elemental temperament that cannot be tamed, even back in the dark ages of Geadhain and when ruled by Iron Masters.
This week’s excerpt will take you to that region of Geadhain, and finally acquaint you with this unique city. Perhaps you can guess which of our tale’s dark heroes have made that barnacled, blustery place their new home. A city so remote would be the perfect hideaway for war-criminals on the run…
[spoiler title=’An Introduction to Carthac, City of Waves (click to expand)’ style=’default’ collapse_link=’true’]
Carthac’s winds were said to be the sweetest, saltiest, and most invigorating of any in Geadhain. A true kiss of the sea, said the men of boat and sail, these Jacks who often waxed romantic over the blue mistress. Kericot himself had once swooned over the beauty of Carthac, and had stayed in the city for a season to compose countless tunes, many still sung by the Jacks who toiled on boats in the thrashing sea. However, Kericot’s original finesse was often lacking in the simpler, modern renditions of his works they sung: limericks and ditties that portrayed a mistress far crueler than the one found in the great poet’s honeyed lyrics. For the Blue Mother possessed a streak of murder in her blood. She stormed often and without reason. She drowned men and made widows. Even when not wreaking havoc, the Blue Mother possessed a threatening temperament that could never be forgotten. The crashing, wailing Straits of Wrath that assaulted Carthac’s western bank served as a constant reminder. Most fishermen chose to trawl the colder, safer waters to the north. Even there, though, and even if men were cautious, accidents and deaths were not uncommon.
For over a thousand years, the grand watchtowers of Carthac, battlements left over from a forgotten war against the world, had stood under the assault of the Blue Mother’s catastrophic waves. The Lordkings, migrant Menosians, even more corrupt than their maleficent countrymen of the era, had built these towers when once Carthac’s people bowed to their will. The Lordkings were all dead now—neither Lords nor Kings as they’d wished, and ruling only the earth cast over their burned remains. Gazing from afar upon Carthac, its bastion of salted stone, its sky-scraping pillars driven like pikes into a sheer plummet of rock, brought any observer to humbled awe. Many outsiders wondered how even so sturdy-seeming a wall could endure in the face of the wrathful elements, how it could protect a city of brick houses, which were as delicate as little gingerbread creations. Such speculations, though, were bandied about only by those who were not Carthacians.
Indeed, as far as the people of Carthac were concerned, there existed no livelier a place than the City of Waves. Anywhere less clamorous or dangerous, they thought, must be a sad place to live. To the Carthacians—men and women white with salt, pale of hair, blue of stare, and as tempestuous as their climate—a nearness to death defined life, making laughter bolder, music and wine sweeter, and lovemaking a bliss fit for kings. In Carthac, where drowning and doom were the order of the day, mere survival had a special reverence worthy of celebration. Come nightfall, the city became a carnival of lights and sounds that rivaled even the festivals of Willowholme—and its bravado hushed the pummeling of the sea.
All my love,