(Part #54) : Khôltar, Part 5
The next building west along the south side of Hael Way from Harth Trithketh's House of Welcome is one of the most genteel and spectacularly furnished luthdren in Khôltar: Sesszemur's.
Sesszemur is an avid gambler and gourmand halfling who seldom leaves his top-floor gaming rooms -- but when he does, it's to take his own private elevator to his kitchens, where he tastes and oversees a great variety of dishes. His specialties are jellied fruit dishes using ingredients from afar and huge roasts served up decorated as mock dragon's heads and the like on gigantic silver platters borne in by dozens of servers. If he considers a dish particularly unusual or its decoration a trifle baffling, he'll costume up some of his most beauteous servers to take their places on the platters -- to rise up and serve the diners once the platters are placed on the tables. This luthdren has three floors, the lower two cavernous halls dedicated to relaxed eating, and the uppermost a dimmer, low-ceilinged affair for diners desiring to do business in a quieter, more private atmosphere, with curtained booths and some distance between tables (rather than huge tables shared by dozens, a feature of the floors below).
A narrow delivery alley lies along the west side of Sesszemur's, and the narrow building beyond it is Halamor's Sure Service, a running halfling delivery service that whisks packages or supplies around the city or delivers them to a cratemaker (Thalarmol's) in the building just beyond to be packed for far caravan travel. Beyond that is our first forge (Elduskryn's Fiery Creations) and a place where one can buy pipe fittings and valves (Belphendor's), and that's as good a place as any to turn right back to hovering above the waymoot inside the south gate and look in other directions.
In the prow or northwesterly angle of the waymoot, between Hael and North Ways, two buildings jostle for attention: klathlaaedin belonging to the Onsruur families of Horthander and Khaundrove. The one on the left (west), with the two solid-looking peak-roofed wings of three floors joined by a two-story section adorned with the large circular window to a narrow, five-story needletop tower encrusted with all manner of carved beasts, fanciful frozen flames, and staring human faces, is Anthormbrur, seat of the Horthanders. They are a tall, elegantly handsome human family with a taste for racing horses, buying land in Shaareach and Lapaliiya, and owning both the hugely successful casting foundry that bears the name and dozens of small local repair and installation businesses. (The crafters who fix piping, paint, set stones and plaster, and so on.) Anthormbrur once boasted extensive enclosed gardens, but these have almost all been filled in with ever-expanding stables.
The mansion due east of Anthormbrur is Baharrokhbrur, seat of the Khaundroves. It's newer, built of lighter stone, and less adventuresome -- some would say more tasteful -- in its mixture of styles. (Its cream stone hue is a facing, but even the stone beneath was brought by dwarven masons from a northeasterly reach of the Deep Realms, and it cost more than a dozen city greatfists built of more mundane rock.) Its three square, pierced-top bell towers in a row are joined to a large, oval tower by a flying bridge that permits a view into a tapering, triangular-shaped court overhung by a glissade sculpture of hundreds of ever-chiming bells. The back of the court is made up of stables, the servants' house, and guest residences, all joined into one continuous flow of light stone.
The Khaundrove family is as squat, heavily muscled, and plain of appearance as their neighbors (and rivals) the Horthanders (whom they call "Horsefaces") are tall and comely. Their pursuits include games of war strategy played upon tables dressed up to look like sections of real Faerûnian countryside and real-life dabblings in the politics and mercantile trade of the Tashalar, where they fancy themselves a growing power. (According to one of my sources there, they could be more accurately be described as "a growing annoyance that someday just might become effective enough to be worth the effort of crushing.")
In the Onsruur, the Khaundroves are conservatives who seek to prevent dwarves rising in wealth or power within the Iron City, don't even think halflings and gnomes are worthy of serious consideration, and believe the humans who hold wealth and power right now are the only ones who should dare to desire to do so. Ironically, their fortune is based on buying the cheapest Deep Realm raw metals and stamping or casting the cheapest possible copies or equivalents to Great Rift products -- and energetically exporting these goods to the Vilhon Reach and "perfumed Calimshan, where they're too decadent to know any better" (to quote old Ansgul Khaundrove).
Charming folk, to be sure, if ye'll excuse the snarl in my sarcasm. Well, we haven't even managed to leave this waymoot yet, but Storm's at my door with some talking skull or other in her hand, so I'll have to leave ye for the nonce, and return to our tour of Khôltar next time.
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