Gateway to Implitur


Tsurlagol, formerly known as Chessagol,1 was the southernmost city-state of the Vast,4 lying at the end of Stormcrest Trail from Sevenecho, on the north coast of the Sea of Fallen Stars.9

It was a prosperous port city, the last of the Heartlands before Impiltur.10 To merchants, it was “The Gateway to the Unapproachable East”; to pirates it was “Pirate’s Haven”.23 It had the unenviable record of being raided, destroyed and rebuilt more often than any other city in the surrounding lands,4 such that to the local dwarves, “Tsurlagol” was a byword for “job available”.11

Etymology & Language
When founded, the city was known as “Chessagol”, but this later evolved into its modern name,“Tsurlagol”.1 The name “Tsurlagol” was pronounced as “Tsss-SIR-lah-gel”10 or “TSIR-lah-gol”,5 and its people were called “Tsurlagoli”.2 Its people spoke the Easting language,12 which was related to the Damaran language.13

Early history
Tsurlagol was almost as old as its sister-city Procampur,5 and shared a common origin, having also been founded by human settlers from fallen Jhaamdath (what is now Chondath). They settled on the southern coast of the Vast and, in the Year of Enchanted Hearts, −72 DR, founded the city of Chessagol, as it was then known.1

According to local legend, the first Tsurlagol was destroyed by uncontrollable powerful magic. This was the first of many times that the city would be destroyed.11

From then on, over the course of Tsurlagol’s long history, the city was raided, sacked, burned, and destroyed numerous times, by pirates, conquerors, orcish and other hordes, magic, and various other forces. No conquerors held it for long.1452411 But each time and each generation, the people salvaged whatever survived and rebuilt the city. They relied on their trade to fund their reconstruction,5 and local dwarves received a steady income rebuilding Tsurlagol each time.11 In this way, the city was rebuilt at least twenty times.24

In the early 5th century DR, King Meldath I of Impiltur led a conquest of the Vast and other nearby lands, turning Chessagol and Proeskampalar (Procampur) into vassal city-states. He took the royal regalia of both cities.15[note 1]

Once, early in Tsurlagol’s history, an unknown warrior rode before the walls, waving his banner and boasting. The city’s defenders met the challenge and attacked; four of them brought down the nameless warrior and slew him. His treasure was discovered, and the city’s acquisitive wizards took one particular gem, the Moaning Diamond artifact. The nameless warrior was cremated and his bones stored in one of Tsurlagol’s ossuaries.11

According to mosaics found in the subterranean ruins of Tsurlagol, wizards once using fire magic started a blaze that got out of control and burned down the city again. So fierce was the inferno that a wizard in an azure cloak was forced to use the Moaning Diamond to cause a great earthquake to topple the walls and towers of Tsurlagol, burying the city itself beneath the earth to put the fire out. The wizard died in the earthquake and was treated with honors. Later tales in the Vast claimed that it was the gods who sent the earthquake in response to people’s pleas.11 [note 2]

In the 7th century DR, Chessagol came under the rule of King Lamoth and his newly royal family, though they were not considered legitimate. Lamoth sought to bolster his line by marrying his children to the royal families of Cormyr, Milvarn, Westgate, and others around the Inner Sea. Finally, he successfully arranged a marriage between his daughter Elthia and Prince Bellodar III of Impiltur. Bellodar became king of Impiltur, and Elthia queen, in the Year of Sifting Sands, 642 DR.8

In the mid–13th century DR, the Vast suffered rampaging hordes of orcs, goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears, supplemented by some human brigands and half-breed rogues. In the summer of the Year of Burning Steel, 1246 DR, the orc warlord Fottergrim and the magelord Archlis led a mixed horde of them against Tsurlagol. It was thought that they bribed the gate guards to allow them access. The horde invaded the city and took over, while numerous local humanoids of their kinds flocked to join the city.11 [note 3]

Fortunately, the Thultyrl of Procampur chose to honor his city’s treaty with Tsurlagol and led an army to besiege and free the city, with the aid of the Siegebreakers, an adventuring band of sappers. In their expedition, the Siegebreakers discovered the Moaning Diamond beneath Tsurlagol. By the siege’s end, the southwest and western walls of Tsurlagol were destroyed, thanks partially to the Siegebreakers diverting a river beneath it and mostly to use Archlis using the Moaning Diamond to collapse them. Fottergrim and Archlis were slain, Procampur’s armies victorious, and Tsurlagol was liberated. Fottergrim’s silver-plated skull was mounted on a pillar halfway between the two cities with a warning against threatening Procampur’s allies.11

Modern history
In the Year of the Wandering Wyrm, 1317 DR, the Plague of Dragons quickly spread around the Inner Sea, from the Vilhon Reach to Impiltur. As it reached them, Tsurlagol declared a quarantine against the plague.16

By as late as the early 1350s DR, the city could still be known as “Chessagol”, and was home to King Osbrun. In the Year of the Crown, 1351 DR, the king’s treasury and armory were robbed—by magic, some said. This included the shield called Thurbrand’s Protector, sold by the warrior Thurbrand to Osbrun some time before.17 [note 4]

The Time of Troubles
During the Time of Troubles, in the Year of Shadows, 1358 DR, the god Talos the Destroyer visited Tsurlagol. He was there at the conclusion of the crisis on the 15th Marpenoth, where he protested Ao’s new commandments before returning to the godly realms.18 [note 5]

Also during the Troubles, many wealthy merchants of Tsurlagol fled to their country houses in the neighboring town of Maerstar. However, they were harassed there by looting mobs of refugees from Tantras, Calaunt and even Mulmaster who’d also come through Maerstar. To protect their treasures, the merchants buried them in the paddocks, but not all survived to retrieve them afterwards.19

Recent history
By 1367 DR, Conoptora Billon was serving as the Ven’s Voice. He was ambitious and planned for Tsurlagol to move out from under its ally Procampur’s shadow and develop on its own to rival and overtake the other cities of the Vast. In particular, he wanted Tsurlagol to beat Ravens Bluff at attracting traders, adventurers, and other sources of wealth. It was unknown if the Ven shared these plans.52

A Thayan enclave was founded in Tsurlagol in the Year of the Banner, 1368 DR.20

Conoptora Billon still held the position of Ven’s Voice in 1370 DR.2

In 1372 DR, the city was listed with a population of 17,594,4 making it the smallest of the sister-cities of the Vast.2 The human population was of largely Chondathan and Damaran extraction.13

Government & Politics
By the mid–14th century DR, the city was governed by the Council, consisting of its highest nobles and leading merchant lords. From among their number, by means of a secret ballot they chose their leader, called the Ven, and the Ven’s Voice.

The Ven was a title given to Tsurlagol’s highest government official. Each Ven served for a 10-year term, in which their word was law, though unpopular Ven tended to die prematurely. Strangely, the true identity of the Ven was kept secret throughout their reign; it was an odd arrangement but apparently worked well for Tsurlagol.

The nominal second-in-power was the Ven’s Voice, who served as a spokesperson for both the Ven and the Council. The Voice was also chief advisor to the Ven and announced the Ven’s decrees to the people of Tsurlagol. As such, in many ways, the Voice could often be more powerful than the Ven themself. This position was not secret, and in the late 1360s DR, the Ven’s Voice was the ambitious Conoptora Billon.52

Previously, Tsurlagol was ruled by a monarchy. King Lamoth ruled in the 7th century DR. He had a fledgling rule, and his large royal family was not considered legitimate. Law and order was enforced by the Royal Constabulary.8 Even as late as 1351 DR, the city was led by King Osbrun.17 [note 6]

Tsurlagol was one of the five so-called “sister cities” of the Vast, together with Calaunt, Procampur, Ravens Bluff, and Tantras.21 It was the smallest of the five.2

Tsurlagol had a long-term alliance with neighboring Procampur,10225223 with a mutual defense pact.2423 According to the treaty, Procampur promised to protect Tsurlagol against outside invasion, or liberate it if conquered,2211 and could recover any expenses for the effort from Tsurlagol’s treasury. Procampur actually kept to this promise, such as when Tsurlagol was occupied by an orcish and goblinoid horde in 1246 DR.11 In exchange, Tsurlagol provided financial aid and spying services to Procampur.22 The arrangement was beneficial to both cities.24223

Economy & Trade
Tsurlagol was a prosperous city with a busy port. It was the last such city of the Heartlands on the north coast of the Inner Sea, before one reached Impiltur and the Unapproachable East, giving it the title “the Gateway to the Unapproachable East”. In this position, it became a crossroads and meeting place for traders and sailors from the Vast, Impiltur, the Vilhon Reach, and the Old Empires.10524 The city also saw a great number of dwarves travelling through, transporting metals, swords, messages, and other errands between their kind.524

The city was an open and free port for all, allowing even pirates and smugglers to enter and do business with legitimate merchants, provided that they behaved while they were there. As such, it was also known as “Pirate’s Haven”. A number of former pirates became merchants based in Tsurlagol.523 Nevertheless, many denizens of the Pirate Isles kept hideouts in the city, where they could stash stolen goods, contraband and prisoners.5

The city had a number of regular traders. Among others, from Ravens Bluff in 1370 DR: the Smokeflower House merchant house sold goods from Altumbel;25 the “Old Masters” of the Brotherhood of Wool Carders and Weavers sold bolts of cloth and bales of wool;26 and the Zorden noble family operated its merchant fleet out of Tsurlagol and other cities.27 Over the Inner Sea, glass from Turmish was imported, and copper and iron from the mines of the Earthfast Mountains were exported to Turmish and Chondath.28

Culture & Society
After their city was raided, invaded or destroyed countless times, the people of Tsurlagol became an indomitable lot, gaining a reputation for great patience and adopting the long view. They usually offered only a token resistance to invaders, knowing that their city was impossible to hold for long, and knowing that they could outlast them. Afterwards, they would reclaim their city, salvage what remained, and rebuild, relying on their trade to return them to prosperity.223

Quite a number of the city’s most prominent merchants were once involved in piracy, which they called the “Free Trade”. Living off their ill-gotten riches, they retired to the shore to acquire respectability.52

Tsurlagol was unusual for having relatively few temples,2 to the gods Selûne, Umberlee, Shar,52, Helm,6 Tymora.7 However, it was a major center of worship of Helm, and the Noble Hand was the most prominent temple of the god.6 There was also a growing population of worshipers of Valkur through the 1360s DR.6

In Tsurlagoli funereal rites, the dead were cremated and their bones stored in ossuaries, and kept in underground crypts.11

The thieves of Tsurlagol had such close ties with the pirates and smugglers who came through the city that shared some similarities and overlap. Many were either former pirates or smugglers, or others who aspired to such a life on the sea. They were familiar with sailing and navigation, and were more likely to hide contraband about their persons than to hide themselves in the shadows (which were scarce on the deck of a boat). They tended towards a semi-nomadic lifestyle, travelling alone and less likely to pick up henchmen.

Tsurlagoli thieves were of the opinion that as mages didn’t pretend to be pirates, then they should not pretend to be mages. As such, they rarely mastered the tricks of using spell-scrolls.3

Curiously, the city once had two thieves’ guilds divided by gender: one open only to men, and the other only to women. However, the men’s guild was wiped out, leaving only the women’s, which later also accepted male members. However, this guild was the Sharwomen, which was directly controlled by the Cult of the Shadow temple of Shar.52

To its misfortune, Tsurlagol’s exposed location left it difficult to defend and vulnerable to attack, allowing the frequent raids and invasions, and leading to its regular destruction. As it was rebuilt every time, the city’s precise location shifted many times, and by the 1360s DR it came to rest upon a low rise or hill that consisted of the ruins and foundations of at twenty prior cities.524

This left the ground riddled with tunnels, dungeons, crypts, sewers and pipes, and corridors through its old ruined buildings, many connecting. Here could be seen remnants of an old city’s great palaces and temples, fountains and baths. Some sections were flooded, however.11

City walls surrounded Tsurlagol. These were also often destroyed, and rebuilt in different sections.11

The harbor was separate from the main city, and was connected to it by the harbor road.11

Much of the city was actually built and rebuilt by dwarves, who received a steady income from every reconstruction. Therefore, the later cities usually showed signs of dwarven construction, in addition to that of humans.11

One tavern in Tsurlagol was The Drunken Dragon.29 There was an inn called the Bloated Gargoyle Inn.8

A Thayan enclave was located in Tsurlagol.20

Raven Express kept an office in Tsurlagol, allowing communication via carrier-raven to its offices in other cities.27

Unusually, the city had relatively few temples for its size,2 namely:
Selûne: The Rising Moon
Umberlee: Battering Wave
Shar: Cult of the Shadow52
Helm: Noble Hand6
The Cult of the Shadow temple also doubled as a thieves’ guild.52 [note 7]

The Red Wizards of Thay were represented in Tsurlagol at the Thayan enclave, established in 1368 DR.20

There were once two thieves’ guilds in the city, divided by gender. The men’s guild was wiped out years before 1367 DR, but the women’s guild, called the Sharwomen, began accepting male members. They were, however, controlled by the local cult of Shar.52

Local legends and rumors
The ruins of old Tsurlagols were a favorite target of adventurers and they were often explored. They were inhabited by a variety of undead and other monsters, and others that came in to prey on the adventurers. They acquired a reputation for being dangerous, so many entrances were sealed. But with each succeeding city, the entrances and locations and knowledge of the ruins became lost to history.11

Local tales imagined the ruins to be full of great treasures and magical artifacts, but most were well-looted. The Moaning Diamond artifact came to Tsurlagol early in its history, was rediscovered in a crypt beneath it in the Year of Burning Steel, 1246 DR, and was lost beneath the city again.11

The royal regalia of old Chessagol was said to be buried with King Meldath I of Impiltur, in his tomb in the Hill of Tombs.15



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