Note: This first build for Book 3 was actually in construction before I found out about the launch of Book 3. It was going to be for Summer Joust, then after the announcement I was leaning toward joining Kali... then Varlyrio was confirmed! So this one has been a roller-coaster. Thanks for looking.
The Duchy of Delmitra, Kaliphlin (East of Barqa)
Small but wealthy due to control of a prosperous githril mine, the Duchy of Delmitra has only recently stabilized under the reign of its child-duchess, the Lady Elatisha Darya (Tisha for short). During the upheavals of the Kaliphlin civil war, her father and eldest brother were killed and Lady Tisha was forced to supply githril arms to first one side and then the other as Barqa's shifting loyalties caused ripple effects in the region.
There's usually a lot of comings and goings at Delmitra due to its location along the Oil Road. Today we can see a Goldpike mercenary passing through on her way to some battle. A more peaceful scene transpires close by as a young centaur woman gathers cactus flowers.
On the far side of the wall, a massive desert dewback tries to scare off a snake. But which one is the trespasser? On the walls, one archer looks on nervously as he realizes that the dewback is nearly big enough to climb over the wall itself! He hopes no one ever thinks to use the docile herbivores as weapons of war. Meanwhile, his younger companion is delighted by the sight of the dewback-rider coaxing the animal forward using nothing but a bushel of greens.
Traffic makes its way into the city as well, greeted by the bright ringing sound of a githril-smith hard at work.
Delmitra's audience hall is located near the entrance of the city and is open to all whenever the Lady Tisha is present. Her house guard is primarily Delmitraean Myrmidons, who watch the passersby with keen eyes. All kinds of people come through the castle, including hunters, fruitsellers, and laborers, often refugees, from as far off as Nocturnus.
The rooftop of the audience hall is open to the public. All kinds of people spend time up there, and it's even used for storage!
Known as the Blue Seat, the great chair of the Duchy stands in the audience hall where visitors can marvel at its githril inlay. Today, the Lady Tisha is entertaining a particular interesting visitor. Her regent, Lord Sasaram, looks on in horror as the Lady considers giving a priceless heirloom to a complete stranger. Meanwhile Tisha's bodyguard, Arrea of Bandari, tries to hide her amusement.
"This is what you want? Just this little thing?"
"Lady Elatisha! You mustn't think of it!"
"Yes, that's the Lion's Eye. I came here hoping to recover it."
"That's so strange. It's just a stone. Not even pretty."
"But it's been in the Darya family for generations, Lady!"
"Oh hush, Regent Sasaram."
"So Fel --Can I call you Fel?-- why do you want this stone anyway?"
"Well, it's part of a pair. This map will take me to the other one. I need them for evidence."
"Intriguing! Evidence of what?"
"I believe there was once a seafaring empire of catfolk --lionells-- and these stones can help prove it."
"Hush, I said. Fel, how can this prove your theory?"
"There are records of a legend: ages ago, a brother and sister inherited the empire and split it across the sea, each taking a piece of an ancestral stone fashioned to look like an eye. One Lion's Eye was kept in Kaliphlin, the other in Varlyrio. Yours, I think. A gift for some noble a century ago."
"So if you get the stones, you can prove the legend is true and there really was once one big empire?"
"Excuse me, but there are catfolk all over. Including some in my own homeland. Are you saying they are all related?"
"I don't know, but I want to find out. If we all share a common history, shouldn't everyone know it?"
"I think so! I've decided you should have the stone!"
"Oh dear... what are they going to think about this in Petraea?"
"Those stuffy old scholars can... they can... go eat their own beards!"
"I love my job."
...but wait... there's more going on in bustling Delmitra...
On the rooftops, a meeting is taking place between Goldhorn, called by some the "Minotaur of Means", and a shady desert mummy.
"I don't know, this seems like an awful lot of money just to follow some cat-girl around."
"Never mind that, Garm. You know from personal experience that my coin spends."
"That it does, Mr. Goldhorn. That it does."
"Then you'll take the job."
"Follow the girl, steal these Eye stones or whatever, and make sure no one finds out. Yeah, seems like my kind of thing."