Castle Bordeleaux is a Fortress-City and the ducal capital of Bordeleaux.
The fortress-city of Bordeleaux is an ancient foundation and a bustling port. Castle Bordeleaux, seat of the Duke, looks out over the whole city from a cliff rising over the harbour, and the siege engines on the wall can reach any point in the bay or the city itself. It is said the engineers are good enough to sink a moored rowboat without affecting the boats to either side. The First Chapel, housed within Castle Bordeleaux, is the most sacred Grail Chapel in Bretonnia.[1a]
The Dukes willingly pay a large share of its upkeep, because it brings them a lot of status, and most of the Dukes of Bordeleaux have been Grail Knights. However, the most important temple is that of Manann, which is not exactly in the city. Rather, it is housed in an enormous ship, permanently moored near the entrance to the harbour. It is exposed to storms, but the priests say that Manann protects it, and it has survived for many years. Worshippers travel out by boat, and if possible they are supposed to help row or sail across. Grail Knights, Damsels and Prophetesses of the Lady are forbidden to set foot on board. Duke Alberic is the first Duke of Bordeleaux in generations to visit the temple.[1a]
Slums and workshops lead down to the harbour; a forest of masts bobbing above a sea as silver and flat as a coin. As the day unfurls, the old timbers of the city's piers groan under the weight of the crowds which throng it. Carters curse and swear as they push their way forward, huge casks of fresh water balanced precariously upon their vehicles. Merchants drag or carry sacks of vegetables, or nets of fruit, or skins of wines unfit for any tavern.[2c]
- Bordeleaux hosts a number of foreign eateries, from Tilean cookshops where fish is smothered in one of their delicious cream sauces, to fat pork sausages imported from the Empire to a Halfling restaurant near the docks.[2a] One such restaurant is called Gunter's Pork Knuckle Paradise.[2b]
- By the time the first pink hint of dawn creeps across the slate roofs, spires and ramparts, the citizens of the city grow as loud and raucous as the flocks of sparrows that flit above their heads. Indeed, the cries of costermongers and beggars alike rise up from the streets in a ragged chorus that will last the entire day. Most striking, however, is when the sun rises up behind the great central column of the Lady's temple. Her statue is silhouetted in eye-watering sunlight, a vision of beauty in gold and pure white marble. The spire upon which she is perched rises out of the merchant's quarter "like a sword hilt out of the stomach of an enemy." It had been raised at the expense of one of Bordeleaux's most celebrated Grail Knights, St. Gilles.[2a]
- The nearer one gets to the savage carnival that is the Bordeleaux nightlife, the narrower the city streets become, and the wilder the crowds. Drunken longshoremen rub their hessian-clad shoulders against those of the sons of opiate merchants. Soft-bellied burghers haggle with hard-eyed girls, shamelessly fondling their buttocks and breasts as they negotiate the price of half an hour's fun. And everywhere, flitting amongst the throng like piranhas, ragged children scurry to steal, or to beg, or to fall upon any they find already fallen.[2b]
- The roofs of the city are described as a desert of sloping tile-roofs and battered chimney stacks.[2c]