The sun rides high in the sky, its heat sending ripples through the air and painting the wave with glimmering light. To say the morning is hot would be an understatement.
The Tide district of Port Shaw, more commonly called simply "Tide," is where ships make weigh their ancors. Cargo is loaded and unload, and many passengers disembark, whether to wind loose for a night before returning to their vessel or to start a new life in the Razor. Others board ships for distant ports, and a few don't care where they're going, as long as it's away from here. Beyond that, Tide's roads are filled with inns, taverns, brothels, and anything else that sells services a sailor might need for the night, and no small number of merchants have set up shop here. Perhaps they sell wares of special concern to those coming and going, or maybe the hustle and bustle of Tide sends a great number of patrons their way than they would see in Bawd or Silk.
Whatever they may be, today you find yourself with reasons to be in Tide. All along the docks, fishmongers cry their catch, competing for patrons as they might for their last breath. Many distinguish themselves from the general din by mastering lilting calls, melodies, or clever rhymes. Casks of whale oil roll down gangplanks to the waiting arms of muscled laborers. Riding on broad backs, they find their way to any of numerous ships chandlers. Within the chandlers all manner of goods are for sale: oil and baleen, whaling and fishing supplies, rations of dried meat, casks of water, crates of oranges, the latest fashions from far off Akados, the finest black powder weapons from the smithies of the Stone Heart Mountains, and freshly carved ice from the Face of the Frozen God, used to cool a bottle of rare sylvan wine on this blistering summer day.
Ostensibly to ensure the safety of such wares, Municipal Dragoons from Fort Stormshield patrol the docks in number. Fishmongers and workers quickly move aside to let the blue-coated soldiers pass. While a greased palm can coax them to look the other way, they tolerate no disrespect and are known to punish offenders with extreme prejudice. The wide berth given to them by local merchants lends credence to their reputation. If rumors are true, the Commandant can hang miscreants on a whim.
Nevertheless, amongst the disorder, three men in patchwork rags strut like beggar-kings through a maze of cabbage-laden crates left to rot in the sun. Dirt and blood cling to the three, who appear to the novice eye as little more than footpads, but a sharper glance reveals black-handled daggers sheathed at their waists and the flash of fine boiled leather beneath their tattered shrouds of stitched muslin. A rat the size of a mastiff slinks along the shaded crate-tops nearby, scampering behind the men like a child struggling to keep up with its family.
And they are not even on the lowest rung of society in Tide, for not ten yards away from them a dark-skinned Tulita man stands like a statue shadowed by lopsided crates of clay flasks stacked carelessly on a pallet. Between his feet lie a clutch of broken eggs, the yolk running down into the mud below, and pooling around his bare feet like thick urine. His eyes, clouded by some potent narcotic, stare inland towards his ancestral home, where foreign-owned plantations roll towards the mountains. Tear begin to roll down his face and wet his tunic, probably giving the garment the first washing it has seen in weeks.
And out behind him, beyond the cresting waves, the green-blue Razor Sea extends to the horizon. The faint outlines of many mysterious isles lies barely visible, ghostly hints of dreams or nightmares. Who does not wonder over what treasures or terrors await on those faded brushstrokes of grey and brown at the edge of the sea's vast canvas? The ocean lies unsettlingly still. A thick blanket of warm air hangs above the shimmering surface of the Razor. It is the unmistakable calm before a great storm.