Gateway to Massalia: The TuskMuch like Massalia’s ruling House Guefet, the seat of power in the rich coastal province is not nearly as storied as its counterparts elsewhere in Saenwyn, though it is even older than the house that occupies it. The fortress’ name itself originally referred to the promontory on which it sits, so named for its position to the west of the Kharkedonian “trunk” ringing Elephant’s Bay, which forms a natural barrier between the bay and the natural harbor of the Duchy’s seat. Once ringed by smaller forts of wood, the fortifications were improved and expanded over the centuries to better protect the harbor until the name of the promontory became synonymous with the castle that occupied most of its surface.
Though used extensively for its original martial purpose during the “Age of Storms” when the coasts of Elephant Bay were menaced not only by raiding from pirates and Maryaenae corsairs the Tusk fell into utilitarian obscurity in the wake of the Massalian Revolt. Likely saved only by the reluctance of local nobility to build replacement fortifications given the possibility of war between Saenwyn and Kharkedon, the aging castle became a de-facto administrative center for the port of Massalia: home to its customs-house and treasury, and the vast majority of its inner structures relegated to store-houses rented out by the city’s merchants.
The humble castle would be given a place of honor with the ascendance of Alain Guefet to the head of his family. While the Guefets, like previous lords of Massaia, had used their ancestral lands as the duchy’s seat, Massalia’s power and that of House Guefet came largely from ties to commerce and thus the Port of Massalia. Lord Alain would be the first to make the city the official seat of power since the days of Massalia’s nominal independence, and the choice to move his court closer to the merchants and his Kharkedonian allies would prove fortunate for the Duke and his family when most of House Guefet’s former neighbors joined the uprising against them. With the latter part of his life largely occupied with putting down what remained of the revolt against his family, though, Alain Guefet rarely held court at his actual residence.
His daughter Lady Jehan, however, was charged with seeing to his affairs while he was away and then as his health left him, and soon decided that a change would have to be made. Lord Alain’s choice, the “Gilded” Keep, had a central location in the city and once housed the kings of Massalia, but what still remained of the old castle’s grounds proved far too small for modern needs. After long deliberation, she eventually settled on restoring the Tusk, striking a deal to move the occupying merchants to the quietly rechristened “Goldtower” district and resettling the customs and tax houses to newly built structures still inside the fortress, while strengthening the fortress walls and refurbishing its keep and other buildings for the purposes of the Ducal household. Though many have quietly noted that the outer walls of the Tusk remain faded, weather-beaten, and undecorated but for the banners of House Guefet -in contrast to the luxurious interiors of the Duchess’ household and court- others have noted that this might be intended: not only a reminder of the house’s quiet rise from obscurity, but a warning to any potential enemies within Massalia or without that the squat grey walls have seen and weathered every riot, war, and revolt they have seen over nearly half a century just as surely as they have weathered the wind and tide.
Notables of House Guefet
Duchess of Massalia and Ward of Elephant Bay. A stately woman of eight-and-thirty years old, noted more for her sharp tongue and politics than her beauty. Widowed mother to Maelle and Winoc. Devoted patron of scholarship and liberation of slaves.
Lady Maelle Guefet
A young woman of one-and-twenty years old, and daughter to the Duchess. Said to surpass her mother’s beauty at her age, though rumored to be less at home in courtly settings and something of a tomboy when out of the public eye. Tutored in a wide variety of subjects at her mother’s insistence, Lady Maelle is reported to have an especially keen eye for the training and husbandry of horses.
Miha’el of the Tar-sands
Duchess Jehan-Prospere’s seneschal, of unknown age. A mysterious man of Ividalan heritage, little is known of Miha’el save that he is one of Lady Guefet’s oldest servants, having been freed from slavery to Alsheraadi nobles in Kharkedon at his lady’s behest, and that he is her most trusted advisor.
A man of five-and-thirty years, captain of the Duchess’ retained stradiot mercenary company. A stoic soldier of common birth but uncommon skill, who served with distinction in Massalia’s service during the Pretender’s Strife, and presented Lady Jehan with her late husband’s sword following the Battle of Adanoer. Speculated to be the Duchess’ paramour.
While not invested with the political or martial power of the Tusk, another location of note in Massalia is the city’s Seastone Palace. Once the home of the Kharkedonian envoy, effective ruler of Massalia in its time as a puppet to its southern neighbor, the manor was seized during the revolt against the puppet government and either left vacant or used as a summer court by the Dukes of Massalia after the absorption into Saenwyn. Today the estate serves two purposes: First as home to Baron Winoc of House Guefet and meeting place for his entourage, granted by the Duchess to her son so that he might attend to his responsibilities as Baron of Emporion while not being too far from his duties as heir apparent to the duchy. In addition, the manor’s grounds are home to stables and barracks for the a portion of House Guefet’s retained Stradiot mercenaries in a lease arranged by Lady Jehan, a decision speculated alternately as intended to safeguard her heir or a less than subtle provocation for the young Baron to take martial matters more seriously.
Baron Winoc Guefet
Baron of Emporion, a young man of seven-and-ten said to take after his late father, Arthur Marrak, in looks and temperament. Taught by scholars of Massalia’s university rather than sent away for a traditional fostering, he is a patron of learning like his mother and said to be unfailingly polite, if reserved.
Sir Bertran Lewyn, the Seaborn
A man of four-and-twenty, cousin to Baron Winoc. Born into a minor clan on the Claw, Sir Bertran is a capable fighter and sailor despite his premature birth after his mother’s near-drowning. Likely sent to be fostered in Massalia due to his frequent disagreements with his equally stubborn father, he has since become a close friend of the young Winoc.
A young man of seven-and-ten, the fostered eldest son of the Duchess’ vassal Baron Gilles Angwin of Highwater. A mischievous figure with little sign of needing to take over for his still energetic and healthy father any time soon, he is notorious at court as something of a rake. Often at odds with the more serious Sir Bertran.
"Who overcomes by force, hath overcome but half his foe." -John Milton
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A Proclamation to all residents of Massalia, and all those who conduct their trade within the Duchy’s borders
Issued in the name of Her Ladyship Jehan-Prospere of the House Guefet, Duchess of Massalia, Warden of Elephant’s Bay, Dame Regent of the Barony of Emporion
As is well-known by this time, recent months have seen an increase in violence against merchants, not just in Massalia but throughout Saenwyn- even the royal capital has not been spared the killings of these ‘Guild Wars’.
It is with utmost concern that Her Ladyship has closely followed the progression of these events, including the recent dramatic upturn in violence with the sudden appearance of an as-yet unknown third party to the conflict- the so-called ‘Dove of the Bay’. This individual, or more likely a group ascribing their actions to a single man, has not only attacked both players in the Guild Wars, but was also in the belief of Her Ladyship and the City Watch of Massalia responsible for abducting the child of a Massalian official.
It is plain to see that the Guild Wars are out of the hands of those who initiated them and we now face repercussions unimagined by those members of the Saenwyn Guildhall and League of the City of Glass actually responsible for instigating violence, whose betters have appealed to Her Ladyship for aid in quelling this strife.
In the interest of doing so, the following measures have been approved by Her Ladyship:
-Firstly, a total condemnation of the Guild Wars, and an expectation that representatives of the Guildhall and League will soon follow with their respective guild’s absolute renouncement of violence being initiated by their members
-Her Ladyship shall dispatch representatives to the headquarters of the Saenwyn Guildhall in Her own Massalia, and to the League headquarters in the City of Glass, in the interest of ensuring that both guilds are kept abreast of Her Ladyship’s efforts to ensure Massalia stays a safe environment for commerce as well as allowing the guilds to bring developing troubles to Her Ladyship as they begin to arise.
-In the City of Massalia and surrounding environs, sundown to sunrise shall be considered the time of an advisory curfew- during which those choosing to travel on roads other than those designated by the City Watch as being selected for increased guard postings and patrols are warned that they will find no extra protection beyond the usual patrols, unless they apply for a writ designating their person or a location for additional protection, and pay a regular due for this diversion of Watch resources. Her Ladyship has afforded increased funds to the City Watch to allow for the enforcement of this decree, and begun taking steps for a future expansion of the Watch should it prove necessary.
-House Guefet and the City Watch are currently at work investigating the ‘Dove of the Bay’, and will not consider the matter firmly resolved until those involved in kidnapping and brutal murders they claim responsibility for are brought to justice.
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