Founding date: 1402 Asunder
Population: ca. 12,000 urban, ca. 56,500 ward
Demonym: Sheliskan

Shelisk is a ward town in the charge of Toropí, located in the Principality of Kelígorod within the Bereghin Realm.

Once a busy port, it declined when transportation shifted from water to air with the advent of sky ships. However, after a war with Halcia ten years ago, and the resulting loss of the town of Nelídin, most of the trade routes that used to go through Nelídin were redirected through Shelisk. The town eagerly adapted, expanding its sky wharves and merchant quarter. Despite incurring significant debts in the process – and being precariously close to the Halcian border – Shelisk currently serves as a major hub of Bereghin grain trade.

Geography and Climate

The town of Shelisk is situated on the Hivran Plains, at the confluence of the rivers Hivirí and Šeliska. To the northwest of the Hivran Plains, the rolling hills of the Ostev Plateau stretch out towards the Kema principality and the Eloré mountains. To the southwest rise the Red Ridge mountains, where both Shelisk’s rivers originate.

Both rivers are fast-flowing, cold, and prone to flooding in spring and summer. Hivirí, until recently, was a major transport artery, weaving across the plains, connecting the upland mining settlements of the Red Ridge to Lake Kela. Šeliska is much smaller and only navigable after Toropí, but it was still an important route until the appearance of the sky ships.

The weather in Shelisk tends towards extremes. The winters are snowy and bitterly cold, unless the easterly winds bring warm air from the thermal springs of Lake Siron. Summers can be very warm, even hot, especially for the month after midsummer.

The plains around Shelisk have historically been heavily forested, but are now mostly farmlands. Except to the east near Nelídin, which has been uninhabited for the last ten years – conifer forests seem to be taking a foothold there once again.


Early Origins

The early origins of Shelisk are lost to history, but it seems that there was a small village at the mouth of the Šeliska River since the 800s at least. The inhabitants made their living fishing and trapping for fur animals in the once-abundant forests.

Fortress Construction

In 1357 Asunder, the Queen of Bereg ordered the construction of a fortress there. At the time, trade along Hivirí suffered from piracy, and the fortress was meant as a safe haven for merchants and a base for the bailiff’s watch force. The settlement around the fortress grew, and in 1402 Shelisk was granted the status of a ward town.

Trade Centre

Over the next two centuries, Shelisk became a prosperous trade centre, boasting almost 30,000 inhabitants at its peak. There was even some talk that it might become the charge town instead of Toropí.

Shift to Sky Ships and Decline

However, in the 1630s, after the invention of sky ships, much of the merchant transport shifted from water to air. In 1642, a great sky wharf was built in the town of Nelídin, upstream from Shelisk, and the volume of trade along Hivirí dropped. Shelisk’s population shrank, and its citadel fell into disrepair.

Nelídin War

The Hivirí trade route was cut completely by the Nelídin war in 1671. A large portion of Hivirí passed under Halcian control, and, perhaps more importantly, took thaumic damage.

Not only were there no more merchant barges coming from the east – Hivirí itself dried up in the first few years after the disaster, as the magic-induced flash freeze created an ice dam in Nelídin. And once the ice finally began to thaw, the water returned – together with the most severe flooding Hivirí has ever seen. Even ten years later, the river water near Shelisk is considered unsafe for drinking, fishing, or swimming. And it’s always near freezing point, even in summer.

Rebuilding and Resurgence

It wasn’t all a disaster for Shelisk. The trade that had been going through Nelídin – especially the grain trade – needed rerouting, and Shelisk seized the opportunity. Nelídin fell in midsummer of 1671. By the fall equinox of that year, Shelisk had built a sky wharf large enough to process approximately half the volume of the Nelídin shipments, which, arguably, prevented widespread famines in Kema and Istaní that winter. By midsummer of 1672, the Shelisk sky wharves largely restored the trade network that had been lost with Nelídin.

Present Day

This wasn’t quite as profitable for the town as it might have been expected. Because the sky ships in Bereg are built and administered by the Company of the Crown Shipwrights, the fees and taxes associated with their use are Crown-regulated and deliberately kept low. So while Shelisk certainly saw an influx of population and trade, the town treasury didn’t make much profit off it, and remains in debt incurred by the rapid construction of the sky wharves.


The Steward and the Heed

Like most ward towns, Shelisk has a steward, who is responsible for most day-to-day running of the city, including tax collection, the upkeep of the town’s hospital, literacy school, dwimmer house, and watch force, and for overseeing the town’s defence and construction of public works.

The steward in many ward towns is elected by the town heed (popular assembly), but, in the case of Shelisk, the town heed historically has been fairly weak. It only has the power to recommend a steward for the provost’s approval, and to consult the steward, but not to inaugurate or dismiss one.

The steward’s term of service is usually for life, or until the steward chooses to step down. The steward may, however, be forced to step down if there’s proof of crimes committed while in office, or simply by the decision of the charge provost — so in a situation when the heed wants the steward removed, they may lodge a complaint with the provost.

Steward Hostim

The current steward, Hostim of the Yarrow Sigil, has been in office since 1669, and is largely responsible for transforming Shelisk into a major trading centre. He was behind the construction of the modern sky wharves of Shelisk, and has also been generous with the town school, hospital, and public charity, which made him very popular with the local townsfolk. It is said that if he were to be forcibly removed from office, Shelisk would riot.

Hostim has, however, borrowed a lot of money at a high interest to finance the sky wharves, and the town treasury still hasn’t paid the debt off. Some members of the heed aren’t very happy about that, and have even lodged an embezzlement accusation with the charge provost. It is also rumoured — among the Nelídin refugees, mostly — that Hostim had something to do with Nelídin being lost to Halcia, perhaps so he could move the trade to Shelisk. Those rumours haven’t been in any way confirmed so far.

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