The Witchfire Trilogy
"Ah, Corvis. “City of Ghosts,” they call it. Merchants who plied the Black River and Dragon’s Tongue founded the city over twelve hundred years ago in the middle of the Orgoth Occupation right at the edge of a natural harbor where the rivers meet. They thought trade from the rivers could drive the growth of a city, and they were right. They had a rough time of it at first, but soon the city was growing faster than a swamp rat pup. Didn’t take the Orgoth long to notice and put their imperial boot down, demanding their tribute. Some say there’s an old tomb that used to be an Orgoth barracks somewhere in the Widower’s Wood, but that may just be talk. They didn’t leave much behind that wasn’t cursed, so I don’t advise poking around.
Today about 100,000 souls call Corvis their home, and more arrive every day.Corvis is an island of civilization in the roughest part of northern Cygnar. The next closest major town is Point Bourne about eighty leagues down the Serpent’s Tongue River to the west. You can follow the river all the way to the end, past Tarna and finally arriving at Five Fingers. Don’t go there unless you’re looking for a rough time, need to do some gambling, or like the company of scoundrels. There’s also Bainsmarket on the other side of the Dragonspine Peaks; it’s actually closer to us than Point Bourne but only if you’re a bird. They just finished the train line there up from Fharin last year, but with the mountains in the way, it doesn’t do us any good. In Corvis, trade is all about the rivers. With the swamp the way it is, they’ll never get a train in this city.
Most of the folk in Corvis are human, but there are some Rhulfolk dwarves living here, and you might spot the rare elf from Ios if you look close enough. If you need a smith’s services there’ll be some fine shops in the armorer’s bourg. If you need to find some muscle, there’ll be thugs for hire at the waterfront. There’ll be trouble there for you too if you aren’t careful—the river folk are a tough lot. Keep to the merchant’s bourg at night where the watch is always close at hand. Corvis has seen folk tougher than you floating in the harbor come sunup.
Being built in a swamp and such, space is precious, and the folks of Corvis tend to build up rather than across. Down at street level lost in the mists are the rough stone structures of Old Corvis. Built on top of them are the elegant spires of New Corvis—home to the merchant elite. In between are shops and homes of the regular folk, and it’s all connected by a maze of ramps, bridges, canals and tunnels that would drive a dwarven engineer mad!
The wonders of Corvis, like so much else in the Iron Kingdoms, wouldn’t have been possible without the advent of the steamjacks. The first of the metal giants were brought to the city about 300 years ago, where they helped with laying foundations on stone shipped from quarries as far away as Fharin and even Rhul. Fighting against the swamp has been an ongoing battle, and the ‘jacks have helped keep us on top. They cut stone for new buildings, help with roads, and have become a mainstay at the docks. If you’re curious to see one of the famous steamjacks in action, you need only visit the docks—there are always some there hauling cargo about.
You may wish to hire a guide, friend, for you’ll soon find yourself lost without one. Corvis is a maze, and that’s just what you’ll find above ground. The swamp has long since swallowed the original city. It’s now a maze of catacombs and is home to naught but hooligans and worse, I hear. If you have a brain in that knobby head of yours, stay out of the Undercity.
So, are you wondering why they call Corvis the “City of Ghosts?” There are as many stories about that as tavern keepers and old gossip mongers. They say the dead don’t rest well in Corvis, maybe since the shifting soil makes it hard to sanctify graves. A lot of people died in bad ways in the early days of Old Corvis, and those ghosts linger on. Many folk believe anyone who drowns in the canals or the harbor is doomed to walk the city for eternity. The dead are also said to walk about openly in the Undercity—one more reason to stay out, if you ask me. Any way you look at it, there’s nary a soul in Corvis who hasn’t seen a shade at one time or another—or so they claim. Stay here long enough and I wager you’ll see one too.
In fact, the Longest Night is fast approaching, lad. As you know, once every three years there’s an extra day at the end of winter to bring the calendar back into line, and most places throw a big party. Here in Corvis it’s our largest festival, a grand all-night party the likes of which you’ve never seen. The streets will be full of revelers and spirits too—not just the kind you drink.
There it is, lad, a bit of Corvis lore for you. I hope it serves you well. Keep your wits about you, and stay away from the waterfront at night if you want to avoid seeing your own guts!"
Points of Interest
The political landscape of Corvis is said to be almost as intricate as that of the kingdom’s capital city Caspia. Part and parcel of these intrigues are the city’s guilds. Though almost every group of tradesmen has a Guild, there are only a few powerful enough to make an impact citywide.