Bellport is a walled town on the point of explosion. The city ruler is Patriarch Halldrem, whose response to any problems here is to impose curfews, execute a few people in public, and crack down with ever more repressive dictates and laws. The 8,500 people of Bellport are close to rising up and rebelling, but they face overwhelming military strength.
In addition to 2,000 Rakersmen, Bellport has 1,200 orc troops who are officially stationed here to make sure that no banditry occurs along the northwestern Electrum Trail to Horgren’s Mine and Pyre, the two mines in the uppermost Blemu Hills. They also play a role in defending the town against naval raids by the Frost Barbarians and (to a lesser extent) the Snow Barbarians, although the orcish militias are of little value in naval warfare. The Bellport navy now comprises a mere two war galleys, with the shell of a third being desperately repaired in the naval dockyard.
The town is wide open to another barbarian attack, and since the Rakersmen are needed to defend against such a possibility, Halldrem increasingly allows the orcs here to maintain day-to-day public order, acing as a town guard. Since there are probably another 2,000 orcs within a day’s march of Bellport, and a few hundred hobgoblins, gnolls, and ogres with them, Halldrem can hardly afford to give the orc war leader in Bellport any offense. Indeed, from time to time Grimkun Threehand (a reference to two fingers lost from his right hand) actually seats himself in the patriarch’s throne for city council meetings, and is in no hurry to get up to let Halldrem have his rightful place when he arrives.
Just as the navy is decimated here, so is Bellport’s fishing fleet. This was never very sizeable, but now more than half of the fleet has been sunk by barbarian ships, and many sailors are simply too fearful to fish the Solnor Ocean. Many Bellport folk are without work and getting close to starvation. Bellport is desperately reliant on supplies from Luvern, since the lands immediately south of the city are very poor, supporting only scrub grass and some grazing sheep and the like.
Bellport seems like a town under siege. The Rakersmen here like the orcs little more than ordinary townsfolk do, and they might even join a civil insurrection against them. Then again, the orcs might sweep down from the Blemu Hills and besiege the city. Certainly, marauding bands of orcs and other humanoids have raided the lands southwest of Bellport, and it may be that they are testing the strength of supply lines supporting Bellport before mounting an all-out attack. Since the destruction of Greenkeep, there is little to stop them crossing the upper Tessar, and an increasing number of farmsteads in these lands are deserted as folk flee to the relative safety of Stringen or the eastern towns and cities.
Bellport itself is still a city of grandeur, built into the rising Blemu Hills with great walls some 45’ high facing the sea. Good, exceptionally hard gray Blemu stone was used to construct it, and the town is known as “Gray Steel” by many. The town is strong enough to withstand a very long siege, and the barbarians could not truly hope to take it. But the orcs, with so many of their number on the inside, would find matters much easier.
Still, Bellport is not without other defenses. The city’s most formidable protectors are a pair of blue Corusk war dragons, charmed and trained by mages and warriors, who proudly bear their plate-clad expert riders into the skies above the city. Yet even they betray Bellport’s tenuous situation; two other such dragons were lost in the war against Nyrond, and a surprise Frost barbarian warship raid in early Fireseek brought down another in a hail of arrows and a flame strike from a warrior-skald.
Bellport Mines: Horgren’s Mine, Pyre
About 600 miners work at each of the vital electrum mines. The miners are slaves, criminals, and captured demihumans, brutally treated by the orcs who carefully guard the mines. The orcs are given a percentage of the value of ores extracted, with payment in kind – which means weaponry. The garrisons of Imperial Highlanders here (150 at each mine) loathe this posting, and many would happily defect to join the bulk of their army to the west.
Horgren’s mine is notoriously unsafe because of frequent flooding and the many sinkholes. Pit props rot swiftly here, and dozens of miners die in cave-ins each year. Pyre is so named because a strange stone formation atop the mine resembles the funeral pyre of some old barbarian tribes, and there are the usual tales of a curse being laid on the place. The highlanders have an additional reason for hating dispatch to this place. Both mines occasionally suffer monster attacks from xorn, horgar, and the like, but each highlander garrison has a small number of junior priests and mages among its number and can usually deal with such problems swiftly.
There are also several unnamed, small slate and stone quarries in the hills northwest of Bellport. These are guarded by relatively large garrisons (400 or so orcs each). The laborers here are zombies, animated from those fallen in the wars. No living humans are allowed to enter these quarries, and as a result all manner of rumors have grown up concerning what fell evils lurk there.