As time went on I grew more refined and was able to further flesh out the broad strokes of Shakun. This place holds a special place to me as I have had countless adventuring groups either "start" from here or make it their home after the fact.
However with my current group I have not been describing the city as well as I should have, playing it in my mind and glossing it over to the people around the table (plus it is VERY hard to town adventure properly with 7 players!). In an effort to rectify this, I have been penning a few short essays about prominent places in Shakun and forwarding it to the group.
Here is the 5th one:
Of all the places in Shakun that are a far cry from their former glory, none is more obvious than Exotic Transportation. Situated on the western end of town, literally just on the inside of West Gate, it takes up six property lengths and the fenced in yard that is part of its grounds easily covers another five.
Originally it was the trading post and launching point for the traders and travelers that were heading westward towards Waterdale, Orland, and the barbaric outlands of Pervia. Caravans would meet there, get organized, and leave from this place often. At that time there was a strong following of Artemis in Shakun and the local matrons and priestesses would often bless the gathering before they headed out.
As the number of wagon trains heading west eventually lessened and traders began returning from these distant places with their wares, the building was expanded to house all the horses, wagons, and carts that used Shakun as a waypoint. Business and trade flourished and the location was renamed “Western Points Shakun Stablery and Wheelwright”. The priestesses of Artemis continued their many blessings and the months moved into years.
Things would have gone on in this vein without change if Matron Merliss hadn’t gotten terribly ill. The High Priestess to Artemis developed a wracking cough that no healing was able to squelch. She grew weaker and died within 3 days. The Motherhouse in Gul did not have anyone interested in taking over Merliss’ post so they had their small temple closed and the 5 sisters that had been left behind donated most of the heavy pieces (benches, desks, chairs, water basins, etc…) they did not want to bother transporting back to Gul to the Western Points Stablery with their thanks and departed Shakun.
It was remarked after this time that the horses and ponies that Western Points tended to kept their shoes longer, were in better health, and had fewer diseases and ailments. Eventually the same was said about the oxen and mules as well. In fact even the stable cats were noticed to be of better disposition and had more full litters of kittens born. This translated into a lesser mouse problem about Shakun and the surrounding fields.
Montgomery Wheelwright, the owner of Western Points, had three sons working at the stablery. It was his youngest, Eherego, that showed the most promise. Careful, attentive, eager; he had the easiest time with any of the livestock brought in and even though he was barely into his teens, had the respect of most of the riders and traders that used Western Points.
When one of the rangers had dragged in a half dead hippogriff he had captured in the wild, the original expectation was to have the beast slain, the feathers and blood harvested, and the head stuffed and mounted. Eherego instead saw something about the hippogriff and gave the ranger every coin he had plus a promise of bondsmanship to the ranger for 181 days if he would sell him the beast. The ranger agreed and Eherego nursed the badly hurt animal back to health.
He had a seemingly natural knack with any kind of animal, even those that would be considered monstrous. Once the hippogriff was healthy he then was able to train it to take a rider and sold it back to the same ranger for 10 times what he had paid for it as well as the lifting of the bondsmanship. Other traders and trappers soon heard of Western Points and all manner of captured and strange beasts soon made their way to Shakun.
On Eherego’s 16th birthday, Montgomery Wheelwright had the name of Western Points changed to Exotic Transportation and took his youngest in as a full partner.
In its heyday, Exotic Transportation had seen just about any animal that could be ridden on through land and air come to Eherego’s locale. Horses, ponies, mules, lizards, hippogriffs, griffons, elephants, rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses, pegasi, unicorns, gigantic snakes, wyverns, gigantic spiders, war dogs, wolves, great cats, even one time a small green dragon. Stock would rotate swiftly at Exotic Transportation and if you saw something one season you wanted, there was no guarantee it would be there the following one.
And then in the blink of an eye, the goblin occupation came and it was all over. The Leech plundered Exotic Transportation of its unique wares and dispensed the riding beasts to his captains and trusted followers. Eherego’s life work was scattered and within a year, he lost track of every one of his special mounts.
After the lifting of the occupation, Exotic Transportation was cleaned, refitted, and ready to once again cater to the strange and wondrous needs of those who wanted superior mounts properly trained and treated by an expert. However, sadly, Eherego’s stock consists of horses and oxen at this time, and most of them are in poor health and had been ill-treated. It is a testament though of his staff and himself that the animals that he does take care of often times do overcome their ailments and appear to be of better temperament after a while.
If you do stop and see him he will wax long about some of his glory days and the things he had done, and he will promise to pay highest coin to anyone who can find him anything outside the norm for him to train and work with. To date it hasn’t happened, but he is tenacious in his belief that the wheel will turn again one day.
Exotic Transportation is a very long building with over 30 stalls large enough to house any horse or oxen, with 5 of them being of gargantuan size. There is a well maintained running yard where he or his sons and apprentices are often times seen training what mounts they do have. Exotic Transportation has saddle broken every horse currently in and around Shakun.
The back area of Exotic Transportation is used as a small carpenter’s shed with a number of saws, lathes, braces, and planers. Everything is done manually; there is no wheel to ease any of the processes. The primary purpose of this shop is to keep the aging and poor cache of carts and wagons that the locals of Shakun use in some sort of decent repair. There is a lack of decent hardwood trees in the area and most of what is needed has to be imported from Timberton. This has resulted in Exotic Transportation being forced to salvage what they could from existing wheels and wagons as well as use poorer quality local timbers when there are none available by trade.
For a short while Exotic Transportation was doing their own farrier work but it was not effective so instead they have all shoes being currently made by Sutor’s Forge while they do the actual work on the animals.
Exotic Transportation is owned and run by Eherego, his 4 children (3 sons, 1 daughter) and their spouses, plus he has another 7 apprentices who work for him part time. Most of the work is mundane in nature but for the people who are employed there, they either remember a time or had heard stories of when Exotic Transportation was the destination that most travelers from even 30 leagues away would talk about and come all the way to see. Perhaps as Eherego is fond of saying, the wheel will turn again, and they will be able to see those times once more.