The Emerald Spire and Beyond!
Between the Echo Wood and the broad expanse of the West Sellen River stands a resolute stronghold of law and order: the walled town of Fort Inevitable. From its stern keep, companies of Hellknights ride forth to enforce the strict laws of their commander and bring authority to the unclaimed lands of the Crusader Road. While the taxes imposed by the town’s rulers are heavy and the laws inflexible, no one can deny that prosperity has followed the Hellknights’ establishment of hard justice in this small corner of the River Kingdoms. Merchants, travelers, and adventurers journeying on the Crusader Road find that Fort Inevitable provides a rare island of safety in an otherwise lawless land—so long as one is careful not to run afoul of the Hellknights’ laws.
Fort Inevitable stands on the rolling plains near the West Sellen River, close to the forest. This is a rich and gentle land; the town is surrounded by green pastures and wide, golden fields of grain. A strong stone wall with battlements and gatehouses protects Fort Inevitable, and within this formidable defense, the town is an orderly collection of two- and three-story stone houses and workshops with roofs of red tile or blue slate. If the streets seem a little cheerless and drab, at least they’re paved with good cobblestones and cleared regularly.
Nothing epitomizes the essential nature of Fort Inevitable as aptly as the stone citadel of the Hellknights, which looms over the town. There is no difference between martial law and civil authority in Fort Inevitable. The senior officer of the garrison rules as the lord or lady commander, directly overseeing civic administration as well as exercising military command. The current commander is a stern, middle-aged Chelish woman named Paralictor Audara Drovust. She is the commanding officer of the Order of the Pike’s chapter in the Crusader Road region, ruler of the Citadel, high magistrate, tax assessor, director of public works, keeper of the treasury, and chief regulator of business and commerce. No important aspect of the town’s life and activity is left outside the lady commander’s authority.
Fort Inevitable was a good-sized village with extensive trade and commerce before the Hellknights chose it as their base on the Crusader Road, and its people still work as farmers, herders, artisans, and merchants. Law-abiding citizens find the lady commander’s rule to be firm but manageable. Those who don’t find a respectable profession or who fall into debt see a different side of Fort Inevitable, as both slavery and indentured servitude are legal here.
Two other Hellknight orders—the Order of the Nail and the Order of the Gate—maintain presences on the Crusader Road, and while they defer to Drovust, each maintains its own chain of command and works toward its own purposes. Much of the town’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of the Council of Prosperity, a group of wealthy merchants and industry owners that exerts a good deal of influence over the Hellknights’ decisions. Finally, the lady commander is bound by her order’s vows and regulations; the Hellknights don’t break their own laws.
Fort Inevitable may be an oppressive place to live, but the Hellknights are not mindlessly brutal or vindictive. They crack down viciously on public disorder, enforce curfews, and tightly regulate commerce and transactions, but they don’t harass honest travelers. But it’s a good idea to guard your tongue and watch your step while inside its hard stone walls.