The City of Mandith, called the City of Bones by outsiders, is a dour and foreboding place. Bones from animals big and small decorate the city—from the massive tusks that make a high arch into the city's main plaza to the little finger bones of a goblin hanging to chime in the wind outside a child's window. The people of Mandith are dark and dreary, though they would say they are more serious-minded than "those fools in Andath". A handful of druids tend a small grove in Upper Mandith, but they must refresh the dirt and topsoil regularly as it gives way to erosion.
The people of Mandith are not welcoming to outsiders, and greet them with cold stares disinterest. They welcome trade, insomuch as they need the things offered, but they ensure visitors feel no inclination to loiter. This coldness turns to indignation and possibly hostility in the face of those who claim orc blood.
The structures and buildings of Mandith are almost entirely made of bone. Much of the bone is from just after the Shambling, when the dead littered Vernlarum in the wake of the Shambles. Bone appears to be fortified on Mandith, becoming stronger and lasting longer than the some bones elsewhere. Those who trade food to Mandites usually trade the whole body of animals, because they know the people of Mandith will find some use for the bones.
Occasionally, one will see an animated skeleton walking the streets of Mandith. Mandites do not believe necromancy is to be avoided, nor do they believe animated a corpse has anything to do with creating Shambles. This can be quite a shock to visitors who often make no such distinction.
Mandith is an imposing figure. His legs are the intertwining bones of colossal dragons, the skulls of four large forgotten beasts serve as his feet. And his body is a mass of bones of all shapes and sizes. Mandith's body surprises first time visitors who expect it to be full of holes; it is not. The bones have fused on the top of his body to make a solid sheet of bone with only vague lines and cracks where they used to be separate things.
Mandith is stoic and grim, as befits his visage, though the people of Mandith refuse to accept he, or any Shamble, has any sense of emotion or feeling about him. Acolytes disagree, but they disagree from a safe distance. Mandith's land is caught between the mountains and the sea, and has more rainfall that the domains of the other Shambles. Mandith follows weather patterns, and catches so much rain that people from around Vernlarum use the phrase "it'll be a dry day in Mandith" to mean something is unlikely.
City of Mandith
The Suzerain is the ruler of Mandith, and his rule is absolute. A small group, known as the Council, advises the Suzerain. Councilors are chosen by the Suzerain and hold their position for the rest of their lives, which, depending on the Suzerain could be fairly short.
The current Suzerain brooks no foolishness, and he is harsh to outsiders. He cares about ensuring the city is protected from outside threats, properly fed, and that his citizens all do their share for the city. For his protection and guidance, he demands service and obedience. Mandites respect this and gladly accept toil to be kept safe from a life in the Wastes.
When a Suzerain dies, a new one is chosen by the Council, and he leaves behind his old identity to become the Suzerain. The Council often chooses from among its members, but it doesn't always. Near the end of a Suzerain's life, being on the Council is an important step toward becoming the leader, so Council members and others from the small nobility on Mandith conspire against each other to have a Council filled with their allies when the time is right. No one, however, makes a direct attempt on the Suzerain's life.
The city of Mandith is a walled fortification atop the back of their Shamble. The city's Bone Port lies outside the walls, but everything else lies within the protection. The city is further divided into Upper Mandith and Lower Mandith by a second, smaller wall. Upper Mandith is closest to the front of Mandith and is much smaller than the sprawling Lower Mandith.
Bone Port rings the city's walls. Like other Shamble cities, Mandith's trade must be raised and lowered via gears, pulleys, and ropes. That happens here, though Mandites prefer to let Mandite merchants handle the interactions with visitors and then buy from the local merchants directly. It is uncommon for a visiting merchant to actually enter the city proper. All deals are expected to be done down in the Wastes or immediately upon landing in Bone Port. Only merchants with items they wish to sell directly to the nobility make a habit of coming into the city; even then they leave as quickly as they can.
A gnome child the locals have taken to calling Rena appeared in Bone Port a few months ago. Since she arrived, she hasn't spoken to anyone, but she wanders Bone Port finding and fixing various broken pieces of equipment. She often finds things that are about to wear out and replaces them without a word. When she first appeared and began tinkering with equipment, the Portmaster wanted her cast down to the Wastes, but when he went to carry out her sentence himself, she was busily replacing a frayed rope none of his paid hands had noticed. Since then, he has sets out food for her and even has begun setting aside wages, though he doubts she'll ever be of a mind to collect them.
Mandith provides safety and some level of certainty in an uncertain world. Yes, the people are dour and the rain is constant, but living on Mandith beats many of the alternatives. As such, the city of Lower Mandith is full, if not exactly bustling.
Anyone who wants to live in Mandith, may, as long as she contributes by working and paying taxes. The quarters in Lower Mandith have become increasingly cramped over the years, and there doesn't seem to be any relief. The crowding has gotten bad enough that rationing is instituted in the winter months, because there is not enough food for all.
What the people of Mandith lack in terms of obvious emotional expression, they have manifold in terms of artistic expression. The scrimshaw of the artisans of Mandith is storied throughout the known land. Statues of worked bone are highly sought after by nobles on other Shambles, not just for their beauty but for the implied bravery of obtaining the pieces.
One scrimshaw artist, Vezel, is widely regarded in Mandith as the best, and her carvings will often spark a myriad of copies and similar works. Vezel maintains a small shop in an out of the way part of Lower Mandith. She has worn the same wedding gown, a velvet and lace affair, for decades now. Her fiancé disappeared on the day of their wedding, and she hasn't changed clothes since. No one knows where he went or what became of him, and no one ever asks Vezel about the situation. Some rumor that the fiancé didn't just leave. Instead, they say, she murdered him, and she wears the wedding gown as a symbol of her victory. Either way, no one disputes the beauty of her art.
In the center of Lower Mandith, there is a building known as the Wells. The Wells is a large structure with a open roof. Inside two large bowls have been carved into Mandith's back. These bowls collect rainwater for the citizens to use. Small gutters line the streets of Mandith and carry water to the Wells. Long ago, an enchantment was placed on the Wells to purify the water that is brought here. Access to the Wells is granted when one pays the city's taxes. Though rainwater collection is possible elsewhere in the city, few avoid paying their taxes—most Mandites would blanch at the suggestion.
An animated skeleton by the name of Disipon tends to the Wells. He claims to be the remains of the wizard who cast the original enchantment of purification on the Wells. He cleans up the place and makes small talk with any who come to gather water. To the rare visitor who finds her way here, Dispion may seem the most lively citizen of Mandith, with his relaxed nature and easy disposition. Lately, though, Dispion has caught a cough. He plays the new symptom off to any who enquire about it, but he worries something has gone wrong with the enchantments laid down to create him. If he encounters some adventurous looking people, Dispion may ask them to look into matters for him. He knows the location of his "life lair", and will direct them to it to see if it has been disturbed. He has little to compensate adventurers for their time, but has no use for many of the things he left in his lair centuries ago.
Upper Mandith's structures are sweeping and graceful. Only the thinest, most graceful looking bones are used in construction here, and the magic of Mandith makes even bird bones strong and able to support a fair amount of weight.
The small noble class lives in Upper Mandith, and the druidic order lives here as well, though they spend more time sleeping in their grove than in the bone structure that has been allotted to them. The nobles amuse themselves by hosting a regular number of parties and galas. These galas would be considered somber affairs in most other cities, but they are lively for where they are. The nobles use this time to discuss trade and to try and gain favor with sitting Councilors. Assassination attempts are considered gouache at these events, but that doesn't always prevent them.
A little known fact is that one of the members of the order of druids in Mandith is the current Suzerain's son. Xymor joined the order of his own will when his father was raised to Suzerain to prevent nobles from fearing he would seek the title himself. This little bit of politics has drastically affected his life, but he seems at peace with being a druid. He tends the grove, and learns the ways of life and the forest. It has been years since he has stepped foot outside the grove, and many in the city have completely forgotten of his existence. Some have not, however, and even now people who wish to sway the Suzerain's plans for war consider if Xymor would be a useful pawn to possess.
War brews within Mandith. The Suzerain sees how crowded his city has become, and believes the only way to save his people is to expand. To facilitate this, the normally distant Suzerain has sent envoys to all of the Shambles in the vicinity of Mandith. The rulers of those cities have welcomed the overture, but they have also welcomed in Mandite spies who are assessing the weaknesses of each city.
The Suzerain has been training his military for such an invasion under the guise of defending the city from raiders. So far no other ruler has noted that raids against Mandith's territories are lower than they have been in years.
Magic-users are unwelcome in Mandith. The current Suzerain handles magic-users by sending a squad of guards to monitor them in the city. The black-clad Wards follow the mage at a short distance, and enter any building he does. This has the duel effect of informing everyone a person is a magic-user and further shortening the magic-user's visit to the city.
However, being a magic-user isn't a crime, per se, in Mandith, and a number of the Council members have at least dabbled in the magic arts. Rumors abound that Councilor Tatok is actually a deeply researched and powerful practitioner, and that he schools the Suzerain in the arts as well.