On Temple Isle (Lore Drive submission)

  • Baron

    Arcos is an ancient city, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the ruins of the old temple, located northwest of the town. Not much remains, except for the outline of the main temple building, a ruined tower and a section of wall. It is a subject of debate whether the temple was for a singular deity, like the one probably depicted by a statue on the hill overlooking the temple, or if it was home to a polytheistic pantheon of gods, since you can find the remains of statues and wall carvings depicting figures that look nothing like the statue on the hill. Whatever the case may be, the temple was abandoned hundreds of years ago, maybe during the time of the Empires collapse. Squatters quickly came to occupy the grounds, and tore down walls and statues in order to make shelter for themselves. This coincided with the general decay of the rest of the city during that time, so no resources could be spared to protect the temple.

    Later on, after Arcos had grown back to its old size, the question about the ownership of Temple Isle came about in a big way. In old legal documents, the temple was not a part of Arcos but a self-governing entity. There may even have been a toll or a security check on the single bridge leading to the island. But now that the temple was abandoned, the nobles and rich burghers argued who owns the island and the ruins. The burghers were of the mind that the island should be sold in auction, where anyone could bid on the lands. The high nobles claimed that the area belonged to the city itself, and thus should be split among the members of the council. Some lesser nobles were of the mind that the island should be left as is, to not strain the town guard who would need to clear out the slums that inhabit the island. This debate was a big political issue for years, and no-one seemed to budge on their ideas. During this time of being a legal gray area, the people of the slums declared themselves independent of the city and the council. The declaration gave fuel to the argument, where now a new faction comprised of nobles and burghers alike wanted to gather men to go clear out the slums once and for all and claim the isle as their own. Since the law stated that the island was not a part of Arcos, it was also exempt from Arcosian laws, making military action possible.

    Legally, there was nothing that could be done to stop the new militant faction from simply going in and taking the isle. But the enemies of the faction still used every legal loophole they could to hinder them: the town guard and could only act in Arcos, and the forces stationed in the castle are not allowed to make action outside town. They even secretly funneled arms and information into the slums to give them a fighting chance. When the militant faction crossed the bridge, they were taken by surprise with arrows from the slums. When they entered, they got lost in the winding passageways and were ambushed multiple times, suffering heavy losses. They tried to burn the place, but only got themselves stuck between the fire and the armed peasants. No-one of that expedition left temple Island alive.

    The burghers in charge of arming the slums were overjoyed by the results, and finally won the argument: an auction was to be held for the island. But when they entered Temple Isle to survey the lands, they too were peppered with arrows and chased off. The people of the slums held no sympathy for the people of Arcos, even the ones that armed them. The council now had a real problem in their hands: a slum filled with angry, armed peasants. It was decided that they would simply be starved out, for they had no food production themselves. The strategy worked, and the people of Temple Isle agreed to become part of Arcos. The island was then sold in the auction to wealthy nobles and burghers who then employed the people of the island to work their fields and mines.

    Today, the Temple Isle slums are dangerous for any who doesn't know them well. Multiple armed gangs run the place. They are left to their own devices as long as they work when they are supposed to, for getting rid of them would mean loosing a chunk of near-free labor. Sometimes the relations between the gangs deteriorate and violence breaks out. The town guard is not willing to go there, citing the old laws that say Arcos and Temple Isle are separate. Still, the people of the slums go to work so that they may eat, and this thin balance is keeping both sides happy enough with the status quo.

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