Azrael’s Stop takes place within a larger storyworld called the Flowforge, the anachronistic pre-Victorian fantasy world of Kelemspar, which exists in the middle of a confluence of other dimensions.
Down Candle Street from the temple of Ishtar, nestled back in a nook away from the main street traffic of Theore City’s Theatre Ward, there’s a little tavern called Azrael’s Stop. The door is thick oak, and the pub sign hanging above it gives the name and displays the image of a hooded crow. There’s no other indication as to the significance of the bar and inn.
Immediately upon entering through the heavy door that seems primarily designed to keep out the damp mists of Theore, you find yourself in the common room. It’s not a large area—five tables sit around the room without much space to spare. A fireplace sits in one wall, with a cramped wooden stage nearby. One doorway leads to stairs going to the upper floors, another leads to the kitchen. The bar stretches in front of this last, with rows of bottles lining the wall behind it. Rafters cross the ceiling above, covered in bird droppings; a few lanterns hang from the rafters as well.
The main feature of the common room that differentiates it from most bars is the altar to Azrael that sits in one corner. Little more than a cabinet built of white ash wood, it is mostly empty, but for a statue of the Angel of Death. A few glasses of various types of alcohol usually sit around the statue, the offerings of the patrons.
The narrow staircase leads to a second and third floor, which contain the few rooms for rent.
Despite the air of death one might associate with the place, its cramped space tends to feel more cozy than crowded, the patrons you inevitably bump elbows with more companions than strangers. You may not choose to speak of your troubles, but you always feels you are welcome to if need be.
The largest metropolis in the known world of Greater Kelemspar, Theore is famed for its bustling trade, legendary fog, and the fact that its walls have never seen war. Once a free city-state, Theore is now a province of the Trysm Empire, perched on its southern tip where ships pass between the elven kingdoms of Enlanuin and Kessi’dal, and beyond to the Sea of Hope to the east.
Theore’s longstanding tradition of caring less about who you are than what you do made it a cosmopolitan hub of activity long before Trysm adopted its far-reaching policy of acceptance. As a result, while humans dominate the population, all races and creeds can be found walking its crowded streets, from the dwarves of the northern mountains to the faerie-kin feylings of the northeastern islands, to the orckin of the southern jungles, and everything in between. Whether you follow the teachings of Mother Zeanil, Apollo the Golden Light, Cain the Outcast, the Church of Ea, or any of the other multitude of deities and religions, you will find a place of worship within the walls of the City of Mists.
Sitting on the southern coast of the Trysm Empire and straddling an estuary of the Running River, the port city is divided into seven distinct wards. The Copper Ward is the mercantile district, and features the main entrance into the city from the farmland to the north and east, and a huge open-air bazaar. North of that is the small Temple Ward, which is home to the main temples of the various deities worshipped in Theore. In the middle of the city is the Theatre Ward, the main entertainment district, full of taverns and inns, gambling houses, theatres, more specialized shops than the Copper Ward, and shadier pursuits.
Out on the peninsula to the west is the University Ward, home to Theore’s Toroth University, Duskrise Bardic College, and the offices of the Free Times newssheet. South and down a cliff is the Lower Ward, the docks and warehousing district and slums. Across the river to the north is the North Ward, currently the richest district and home to landed nobles, wealthy merchants, and government buildings.
At the south end of the city is Tower Ward, one of the oldest districts, and notable for the towering architecture and crowded miscellany of people and places that results from having been established for so long. Finally, the Tower Ward lies in the shadow of the ruined eighth ward of the city, known as Castle Ward. It was once the home of the nobles and rulers of Theore, until it suffered an unknown fate some years ago. It now lies in ruins, surrounded by strange magicks that few dare near.
Surrounding and infusing the world are seven other dimensions or planes, collectively known as the Flows—places of unimaginable magic flowing in and around the world, influencing it, encroaching on it, warping it, forging it.
These are the places of myth and legend—where dark powers live, where monsters are born, where gods forge their realms, where the dead walk. The seven Flows are called different things by different people, and though the common person may know little truth about them, they certainly are known, existing in folk tale, myth and legend, religious belief, and the general public consciousness.
The Dreamscape, also known as the Astral Plane, the Dreaming, and other names, is where the subconscious goes when one is asleep. It is an esoteric place, and little understood. Creatures of nightmare feed on the fear of dreamers whose dreams they corrupt; beings of higher thought float through the ether, above the concerns of mortals.
The Feylands is a place of wild nature and power, exploding with life and energy. Also known as the Realm of Faerie or the Wilds, the Feylands are home to faeries and creature of fairytale, from dryads and other spirits of nature to trolls and witchlike hags.
The Mirror World, Sub-Space, the Other World—theOtherwhere is known by all these names and more. It is a warped reflection of Kelemspar, a place of mirrors and masks, illusion, talking cats, animated toys, and general weird. It is the world down the rabbit hole.
The Shadowrealm, also called Umbria, the Shadowlands, and the Queen’s Land, is the land of the dead. It is hopeless, emotionless, and grey, the very colour leeched from the land. It is where the shades of the dead wander, where the living must fight to keep their very souls. It is also said to be home of the ghoul empire of Zergothia, a place of utter terror.
A realm of light, joy, and purity, the Skybridge is an endless sky bathed in radiance. It is the location of the heavens, where angels fly among their sparkling cities on floating islands and clouds, beyond the reach of mere mortals.
The darkest of the flows, the Starfell was once a place of beauty and power, now sucked away into void. The Void is home to maddening voices in the dark, ancient powers far older than the world, the darkest secrets and corrupting power. Few dare even speak of the Void. It is the darkness beyond the world, and speaks of a time when all shall fade to nothing.
The Hells, the Abyss, the Underworld is a place of corruption and pain. The surface world is a blasted wasteland; deep below the earth are the kingdoms of demon lords and devil princes.