Birthright: Rise of the Kingmakers
At the far southern end of the Chimaeron, the last remnants of the Iron Peaks tumble into the Gulf of Coeranys. Two competing gulf currents come together along its shores. A deep cool current rises up along the Coeranys coast, curving back along the western shores of the Chimaeron. Another follows the coast of Sendoure until it runs into the vast outflow of the harrowmarsh. It carries tons of nutrient rich soil back onto the eastern shores of the Chimaeron. Mhowe sits where these two currents meet, and it creates some interesting phenomenon.
Mhowe is afflicted by strong tidal surge, averaging up to 10 feet of rise and fall per day. When the tide is low, there are large stretches of exposed or just barely covered reefs and mud-banks. When it is high, the murky water makes spotting these hazards difficult. This has made sailing and harboring problematic, and has been one of the main reasons why Mhowe has not prospered as much as other sea ports. The tides do provide a bounty to Mhowe as well as a peril. Many make a living by plying small craft along the banks and shallows which are rich in clams, crustaceans, and small fish that get trapped in deep pools.
The tides also make building docks difficult. Most ships anchor away from shore, and cargo is moved by boat and barge to the exposed shores. Steep cliffs line these shores, and numerous cranes and stairways are built along their sides. Many ships never move their cargo to shore and merely transfer it from one ship to another. This makes customs, monitoring, and taxation nearly impossible, for better or worse.
The strong tides have dug deep gouges in the rocks, so that the channels which are clear are deep enough for any vessel seen in Cerelia. You would think this a blessing as well, if not for the Kelp-olive. The kelp olive is a seed roughly the size of a man’s thumb. They are buoyant until cracked open, then they fill with sea water and sink to the bottom or lodge in crevices in the rock walls. There they being to grow into long ropy vines with large leaves. When the leaves reach the surface, the extra sunlight causes them to bloom massively and sprout more olives in the span of a month or so, repeating the cycle. This happens twice a year right around the spring and fall equinox. They can entangle ships and anchor lines caught in the blooms at low tide, pulling ships off balance as the tides rise.
The olives are quite valuable. Their outer shell gets mixed with tar as an excellent water repellent. Their inner meat is quite nutritious, and they can be squeezed for oil for lamps which is not nearly as acrid or smoky as whale oil. But like so much with Mhowe, the good comes at a price. Flocks of sea-birds inhabit the blooms, feasting on the rich seeds to power their migration. Some are large enough and aggressive enough to knock a man out of a boat. Prowling the waters below the blooms are yellow-tipped sharks. Up to two meters long, they prey on the sea-birds, and are known to bite the hands of a human harvesting the seeds, mistaking them for the birds. Blood in the water will induce a feeding frenzy in the small sharks. This frenzy, in turn, often attracts the great hammerhead sharks, prowling below and waiting to feast upon a distracted yellow-tip.
Weather and plant life:
Mhowe gets some odd weather. Typically it is very hot and dry in the summer and wet and cool in the winter. But the massive amount of moisture present and the mixing of hot and cold currents lead to many, many foggy days. They locals know that fog in the evening means storms at night. Mhowe is surrounded by seawater and victims of frequent storms. Still, it suffers from a lack of clean fresh water year round. The nearest fresh water source is a stream that tumbles off the cliffs on the northeast side of town. A recent attempt has been made to dam the stream to provide more consistent water storage, but to limited effect.
The plant life is a wild mixture of pine and juniper tree and scrub. Some cork oak, walnut, and eucalyptus have been transplanted from other areas of Cerelia and seem to do well in a wide swath around the town. But scrub of holly, myrtle, beech, and laurel predominate the higher hills surrounding the town. Numerous orchards of fruit trees occupy Farmville the Plantations, and many a Khinasi courtyard. Grapes, lemons, potatoes, and many species of hard-shelled gourds are also grown. In winter, wheat is planted.