Thonk rumbles through the costal lands belonging to him. His massive iron and steel frame dwarfs the other Shambles. The clanging sounds of smithing can be heard almost any time day and night, and the smell of fish, fresh or smoked, is another constant in the city of Thonk. The buildings and structures of the city are made of wood or brick, but their roofs are made of every known alloy or metal. Sunrise can be a blinding and wonderful experience as light reflects off the metal roofs. Iron gates and arches are everywhere in the city, and every person raised in Thonk has at least some experience with a forge.
The people of Thonk are a rugged, durable, and independent lot. The smiths of Thonk don't have access to the dark elves' Imperial Forges, but there are no better surface smiths in the known world. They take great pride in their work, and will often call Imperial-forged weapons "slaveblades" with their disgust evident. The master smiths of the town are constantly working and refining their blades. And no other crafters have yet discovered the mystery of how to make weapons that use the gnomish burst powder.
The dwarven and gnomish populations are higher in Thonk than in any of the other Shamble cities. The focus on craftsmanship, self-reliance, and opposition to the Empire are all attractive to members of those races. It doesn't hurt that many citizens would defend a free dwarf to the death against a dark elf Reclaimer.
Thonk is steadfast. Steadiness and confidence are pervasive in his presence. Some Acolytes theorize Thonk's personality is why Thonkians are so bad at compromise. Thonk hasn't come to a stop in living memory, and no one expects him to any time soon.
Thonk's meanderings regularly take him into the Freshwater Bay, a bay off of the Ocean of Thernd that has potable water. He walks deep enough for his head to go under water. The water does not typically reach the city, but storm surges have caused the people of Thonk to build raisable metal levees. Time in the bay gives Thonkians access to vast stores of fresh water and plenty of fish, which are often smoked and eaten year-round.
Thonk's presence strengthens metals over time, and some mundane weapons can reach the quality of magical items if they are kept near Thonk long enough.
City of Thonk
The Alloy is the ruling council of Thonk. To become a Master, a smith must create a masterwork or any metal or alloy and present it to the Alloy at an Exhibition to be judged worthy. If a masterpiece is found worthy, the artisan is admitted to the Alloy, and she gets an equal vote in all council matters.
The Exhibition happens only once a year, and some journeymen must present a work at four or five Exhibitions before being accepted. Some journeymen never reach Master status. These often leave Thonk for the small nomadic settlements in the Wastes below where their work is prized, if not for its greatness, for its proximity.
Bursh is a respected Master, who has held that position for more than half of his four decades. He is also a recent convert to the Acolytes of the Arks. In his newfound fervor, he has begun pushing for Acolytes to be given seats in the Alloy, citing that their masterwork is the conversion of others. In particular, he believes Chalt, the Acolyte responsible for his conversion, should be recognized as a Master. Some Masters believe this argument holds merit—not all great works must produce a visible product. Others dislike the years of tradition being threatened, and wonder if they allow conversions to be masterworks, what the next request will be. The Acolytes themselves are split on this debate, and some wonder if Chalt has some other motive.
The city of Thonk sits in the middle of Thonk's large back, well away from Port Levee. Because of raids and conflict with the Empire, the Alloy constructed a wall about the city. Inside the wall, the city is a sprawling, jumbled proclamation of independence.
The streets are anywhere someone hasn't built, which often causes strange twists, turns, and dead ends. A visitor to the city will quickly get lost without the aid of a guide or very good directions. Every decade or so, one of the Masters proposes the idea of creating official districts and organizing the streets. The ideas are discussed quite fervently, hours are spent drawing maps and hammering out differences. But in the end, the Masters find that they like their city the way it is, and would rather not "impose order for order's sake". The plans are then put away, and then life returns to normal.
The Great Furnace is a large open structure towards the center of the city. Any citizen of Thonk may work the Furnace and the forges there. Visitors may pay a small amount for access if they wish it, though it is sometimes difficult for a visitor to find someone to pay.
The Furnace itself is a hundred feet wide and always tended by a series of apprentices who are themselves watched over by bored journeymen. The Furnace has burned for a hundred years, and keeping it lit is seen as a sacred, if dull, duty.
Staug is a dour dwarf who can regularly be seen working the forges in the Great Furnace. Staug fled captivity in the Empire three decades ago, and made his way to Thonk. His work his some of the best in the city, and almost every Master has, at one time or another, asked Staug to put forward even the least of his pieces for the Exhibition. Staug's response is to point out a flaw in his work being discussed, yell and berate the Master who either didn't notice or failed to mention the flaw, and then melt the work down and start again. Staug regrets the wife and child he left in the Empire strives to create the perfect piece in memory of those he left behind. He may well continue this cycle until he dies.
The port of Thonk is named for the great metal sheets that ring Thonk's back. These sheets are raised and lowered with a complex system of gear and hydraulics whenever Freshwater Bay is in sight. Also ringing Thonk's back are a series of large cannon. Firecrews are stationed nearby to balled in case of Imperial or raider assault. Assaults against Thonk almost always occur in the night to avoid devastation at the hands of these cannons.
The human postmaster, Mil, has been having trouble as of late. During a recent nighttime skirmish with raiders, he was almost swept overboard. He caught the edges of a levee and was able to scramble back to safety, but not before he caught a glimpse of the vast darkness below him. Since that day, he has had a terrible fear of heights, and is having trouble executing his job efficiently. he has delegated as much as he can, but people are starting to notice his pale demeanor and shaking hands whenever he oversees the embarkations and disembarkations that demand his personal attention. He is desperate to find a cure for his problem, but he also fears telling his superiors or subordinates lest he be ridiculed or removed from the position as useless.
The druidic grove on Thonk is small. The freshwater supply makes growing trees a possibility, but maintaining the topsoil is a daily effort, though the druids find it rewarding.
There are few of the Mourning elves in Thonk, the metal surroundings are too alien to them and cause their pain to be even greater. Those who live on Thonk almost entirely reside in the grove, either as druids or as simple residents. If an elf leaves the grove, he sees an alien city, and those of the city see him as alien as well. The experience is so disconcerting, the elves are leaving their grove less and less.
Kal'tas, a Mourning elf born in the Thonk grove, is a ranger and protector of the grove. The only problem is, the grove doesn't need much protection. It has been a generation since a raid successfully reached the grove and caused the loss of a druid. The other elves and druid are thankful for this peace, but Kal'tas has grown restless. He isn't sure if he should seek out another grove, and leave his family, or leave the groves altogether. He understands the Thonkian dislike for the Empire, and he has dreams of leading raids against his dark cousins. For now though, he gnashes his teeth and keeps watch over a peaceful forest.
All Masters in Thok who craft weapons sell them at a place known as The Arms. The shop is more of a warehouse filled with every conceivable kind of killing instrument; some of which are completely impractical experiments. If one cannot procure a weapon from the Imperial Forges or does not want a slaveblade, there is no better shop in the known world to buy a weapon, though the weapons do come at a premium.
Not only does a potential buyer need to pay the cost of the item to be purchased, but the buy must also complete a favor for the Alloy to even obtain access to The Arms. These favors can be simple or complex depending on the needs and whims of the assembled Masters when one requests access to The Arms.
Jiat has tended The Arms since the building was built. No one knows where she came from or why she is so long lived, as she appears to be a middle-aged human of no great consequence. Some say she is a celestial left on Vernlaurm from before the Shambling. Others say she is a forgotten God. Some say she is some kind of undead or construct. Jiat smiles ruefully at any of these suggestions, and then changes the subject back to weapons. She won't answer any direct questions about her history, and if a customer won't take the hint, she'll have the customer's access to The Arms revoked. She is otherwise a kind and gracious custodian of the weapons. She is quite knowledgable about weapons in general and the history of the particular weapons in her care. She has even been known to train a person in some of the more unusual weapons found in The Arms, though the stories paint her as a demanding trainer.
Thonkians detest the Empire, and stand as opposed to the dark elves as any other surface city. Skirmishes between Thonk and the Empire are common and possibly growing. Currently, the balance of power has shifted in favor of Thonk, as the dark elves have no response to burst powder weapons. But the Imperial acceptance of magic-users may become an equalizing force.
Thonkians also dislike Mandith, because they are uncomfortable with the absolute power of the Suzerain and the absolute acceptance his people have for him. While these two cities have rarely fought, conflict isn't unheard of.
Thonk is the only city with direct access to the gnomish enclave of Gno, and the Alloy has an exclusive trade agreement with the enclave. The gnomes, in return, are afforded some protection against the Empire and raiders. A contingent of Thonkian guards is a constant in Gno.
Moredo is the recently arrived ambassador from Mandith. He is arrival was met with some level of skepticism, which he has done his best to assuage. He is an affable enough fellow, good at cards and bad at holding his ale, so the Masters have begun to warm to him. Unbeknownst to even Moredo, one of his attendants is a spy for the Suzerain and is relaying messages back to Mandith. While Thonk has a strong military, their fervor against the Empire does expose them to attack from Mandith.
The people of Thonk are independent by nature, so they, at least on the surface, acknowledge the importance of allowing people to do as they will. Even in regards to magic. The truth is more complicated, of course. They have no required registry for magic. They post no guards on known wizards or warlocks. However, Thonkians consider freedom to be rooted in accepting consequences, and the consequence of being a known magic-user in Thonk is complete ostracization. If people have the freedom to learn magic, others have the freedom to completely ignore the existence of those magic-users.
This usually ends up with magic-users hiding magic as a deep secret. When their magic is discovered, their friends feel betrayed and justified in ostracizing the magic-user, which leads to others hiding their secrets more closely. A magic-user who begins stealing or assaulting others is not simply ignored, is usually sentenced to burn. Wood is too precious, and no smith would want his forge contaminated by a magic-user's corpse. So the Alloy sentences the condemned to be strapped to the Great Furnace with steel manacles. The condemned do not last long. A group of magic-users who call themselves the Refractory operates in secret in Thonk. They are led by N'kin, a Mourning elf who spends much of his time as street vendor of artistic fine metal jewelry. N'kin has no love of the current situation, but sees little hope for improvement. He has started to listen to the urgent whispers of Vorll, a new member of the Refractory who thinks the group needs to push for more open acceptance. The human Vorll's methods tend toward the violent.