“Have you ever seen a legend, my friend? I did. A huge cemetery of boats, where you can find everything: weapons, slaves, food … all at good exchange rates. Just not annoy anybody and you can go back to your camp safe and sound. And everything is done the shadow of that huge metal monster … Aqaba. For the bleeding wounds of the Saint … I wished so much to be born a Castaway! ”
– Cousin Harry, Jones Family
“Come on gentlemen! Come and enjoy the supplies from the bandwagon of Auntie Candela! We’ve got canned food from Rad City and components from Slaughter, woolen blankets and old records. Who wants a funny little statue? And here I have canteens that are the envy of every Landseeker. And you, girl… do you want to be as beautiful as a Bride? I have clothes so fine that you will immediately find a husband or at least dinner for tonight … It ‘s all new and comes directly from Port Gaunt. Only the best in the shade of the Great Ship and only good barter from Aunt Candela! ”
– Candle, merchant of the Church of the spontaneous Inside
“WE WERE NOT A CREW; WE WERE ONLY HERE AT THE SAME TIME ”
– Writing at the entrance of the Under Ships
Over the years, among the violent streets of the Wastelands, everyone learns the importance of a safe Outpost; a good Outpost can mean rest, but also trade and protection. Many of these villages have attempted to prosper and gain a proper wealth, but very few have managed to achieve this goal: the supplies attracts awkward attention and envy, feelings that are the daily bread to the bands of marauders or warlords.
But one of these outposts has managed to prosper through the years, thanks to its unique structure and well-trained defenses: Port Gaunt, the Shipwreck cemetery. Closed inside a private society, the city’s inhabitants maintain customs traditions, tending to interact with outer people almost exclusively for business, the backbone of their society and cause of their prosperity. Their wealth and their weird origin gave rise to the legend, passed from mouth to mouth and from outpost to outpost: the story of the Castaways.
“Stories seem simple sometimes. Someone finds a good place and become rich. But do you really think it’s THAT easy? No … every story has his own legacy of blood and shit, even Port Gaunt. Everyone has secrets, remember? Secrets and desires, and the people of Port Gaunt are full of both ”
– Malabranca of the Giudecca
It is generally accepted that Port Gaunt was born in the early days of Afterworld: a colossal cruise ship, the Aqaba, ran aground along the west cliffs. No one knows what was due the sinking, how they survived, but the Aqaba was not alone: the tides, perhaps changed by the upheavals that crossed the world, led other ships out of control at the same point, forming a floating cemetery of different sizes, such as servants in the court of the giant queen.
But not all passengers died in the tragic shipwreck of Aqaba, and the survivors discovered to be in an easily defensible refuge, still full of many luxuries and most important of large reserves of food and materials. It was these supplies that made them so rich, so they began to trade with merchants of the Wastelands increasing more and more in power. Over the years more than a band of marauders tried to seize Aqaba and its treasures, but they all found a violent end along the colossal labyrinthine corridors of the ship, perfectly known to every Castaway.
The ship’s community then decided to build their own society, strongly avoiding any external contamination except for the market, making themselves the last custodians of past civilization. As the world changed around them, while people died and mingled, creating new customs, rituals and the hybrid language that now is spoken in the Wasteland, the Castaways, as they call themselves, remained isolated even retaining the Forgotten Language, increasingly forgotten in the rest of the world. Their unique approach to the outside people was the rich trade, regulated by heavy rules.
Today Port Gaunt is a powerful and envied Outpost. Many have visited the Underships to trade, or have spoken with members of the City, trying to speak in the the Forgotten Language, legacy of a lost world now alive only in the old street the old signs or in the songs of the Rhapsody.
THE DISTRICT AND RULES
“Bullshit. Castaways like so much to speak their fucking language for avoiding being understood. They believe themselves to be special, but their shit stinks the same when you open their stomach. And all those nonsense on being the descendants of the ship’s inhabitants? I once saw one of those morons with a kind of uniform. Bullshit: the inhabitants of the ship were slaughtered years ago. These are reavers, like you and me. They scrubbed the ship and now call the shots … for now ”
– Vick the Hook, Reaver
“Stay with me, tonight we sleep in the District, but we do guard duty. Here there rules of Ships are not used. Tomorrow we go, do our business and the we’re out, it is not allowed to stay too long. And be quiet when we’re near the slavers. Don’t do anything stupid, or we all end on the seabed. We can do nothing here for those girls … but we absolutely can wait out for them to follow those bastards. Far from here. If the Castaways understand what we’re doing, we can forget future trades. As I said, out there are no rules of the Ships.”
– Leena of the Chainbreakers, Bride
Everything can be found in the markets of Port Gaunt, and the earnings are so good they hardly leave bad feelings, but there are rules for those who want to trade. Failure to follow these rules can make you an Excluded, a list of people who can no longer trade within the Underships. And often, that can mean the end of a trading Outpost.
Port Gaunt can be divided into three specific areas, each with its own rules:
AQABA: the colossal cruise ship whose profile stands out on the rest of the outpost. Here dwell the Shipwrecked, with their language and their luxuries. An outsider can enter only if invited and accompanied.
THE UNDERSHIPS: the group of stranded ships surrounding Aqaba. This cemetery of ships hosts various benches where to trade and exchange. Everything can be found in the Underships: components, almost-healthy- fishy from barges along the coast, slave markets purchased from the Seraglio or the Hyenas, auctions for sacred objects of the Church of Self Combustion, tons of records for the Rhapsody, perfumed prostitutes, spices from Mandala or the Fields of Verbania, heavy Shocker, Landseeker’s vehicles and even more disparate goods. Everything is handled by the Castaways and the markets are active from dawn to dusk. No fighting is allowed on the Underships, the vigilance is strict in maintaining order and more than a hot head went under the dark waters.
THE DISTRICT: This is a small shanty town built on the seaside with scraps from the Wastelands. This is the only place where pilgrims can rest pilgrims waiting for the opening of markets on the Underships (to be found on the Ships after the closure of markets brings to exemplary punishment). Here Outsiders can stay for no more than four days a month, a strict rule to which everyone must submit to trade. Only a few Outsiders received permission to stay longer, a privilege for which pay Aqaba a lot but that allow to better organize sales, purchases and services for others Outsiders (in the District there are a couple of expensive hotels and a cheap brothel).
PORT GAUNT TODAY
“Port Gaunt? My best friends. We sell a lot of them and a lot of them sell to us. Two cities happy together, is it not wonderful? This is the future, my friends. Peace and prosperity … for the right price, of course ”
– Kastor Zuse, Trade King of Rad City
The rise of reality as Slaughter, the Dominion of the Hyena or Rad City itself seems to have not affected the monetary power of Port Gaunt. These realities have indeed guaranteed stronger and stronger businesses, supplies and therefore a mutual gain that increases the profits of both Castaways that the various lords of commerce.
However these new realities have intrigued Aqaba’s residents and it is not rare that some group decide to leave the outpost to explore the Wastelands and face the dangers of the Afterworld. The stories of the dying world are not without attraction for the wealthy sons of the ship: who is more in touch with them claims that some of the Factions are starting to have representatives of the city’s population among their ranks. It has been spoken about Rhapsody members, a thriving faction of the Iris and a small chapel inside the ship where offers to Saint Curie are made. Some also spoke about a group of aspiring Brides who runs the business with the Fields of Verbania and that is trying to push the council of the Castaways to prohibit the slave trade on the Underships.