St. Loomis is a small town in the southwest of Ensor, lying near the hinterland of the Misty Reaches. Possessing good harborage and a long tradition of seafaring, it is one of the kingdom's chief ports on the Adelantean Sea, second only to Imbryck's own port of Mandermouth. It is named for Ensor's patron saint, whose burial place lies within the nearby monastery.
St. Loomis occupies an unusual place in Ensor -- politically, culturally, and geographically. The town produces the finest ships and mariners in the kingdom, yet its own harbour possesses few natural advantages and lies distant from all major trade routes since the Great Dark. Although the trade of St. Loomis links it to far-flung locales, much of the prosperity of its trading ships comes to settle in Imbryck instead, where the concentration of power and wealth siphons off most of the richest cargoes of the ships originating in St. Loomis. By land it is more isolated still, lying perilously close to the Misty Reaches in Ensor's furthest southwest corner, and reached only by the storied but now decrepit Wayfare whose rutted track must cross leagues of isolated and difficult terrain before reaching the richer and more populated region of Southsward.
St. Loomis is the town of Ensor's patron saint and home to one of the oldest and greatest monasteries in the kingdom, but in recent times the increasingly powerful nobility dislike and distrust the ancient influence of the monks. The pre-eminence of Windhaven Monastery has also rendered the county's own local nobility, the Greyleighs, politically superfluous, while the archbiscop whose selection relies on the monks' preferences is little respected in royal circles. St. Loomis is also one of the chief bases of the exalted Mistwatch who safeguard the western border of the kingdom, but the Mistwatch itself is disliked and derided in the capital, and the threat they guard against is considered to be exaggerated. On the whole, while St. Loomis's seafaring resources remain vital and the town possesses a certain cultural cachet, it is increasingly seen as anachronistic and irrelevant to the kingdom's modern interests.
In the end, the combined geographical, cultural, and political isolation of the St. Loomis area has served to produce a people who feel a strong and ancient connection to the historic idea of Ensor, but only a tenuous loyalty to the modern capital and its government; a people independent minded, adventurous, fiercely self reliant, and strongly attached to their own local political and religious figures.
Despite its southerly location, St. Loomis endures a somewhat harsher climate than the rest of southeast Ensor, being frequently plagued by dense fogs and stormy weather. It is perhaps for this reason that the town's chief landmark is the immense St. Loomis lighthouse, whose beacon can be seen far out to sea, and which has doubtless saved the lives and vessels of countless sailors. Rain and gales are common in the winter and through much of the spring, and often begin as early as Sollemnis. Snow is generally confined to the winter months, but when it comes often arrives in large amounts of heavy wet snowfall. Summer and early fall are the pleasantest times of the year, seeing ample sunshine and mild to hot temperatures.
St. Loomis sits perched amidst the sea cliffs that form the southernmost coast of Ensor, taking advantage of a natural harbor that is sheltered from the worst of the Adelantean's storms. Overall this part of the coast is not only stormy but also treacherous, as hidden shoals and shifting tides make navigation to and from St. Loomis perilous for all but experienced navigators and locals familiar with the area's ever-changing seascape. Whatever this may have cost the town in easy access, its people have reaped an ample reward for their challenges by becoming the most skilled, knowledgeable, and daring of all Ensor's seafarers, highly sought after for their ability to safely navigate the longest and most dangerous sea journeys.
Besides the rugged coastline that is the heart of the community's identity, the St. Loomis area also boasts fine forests of pine and oak which furnish lumber and pitch for constructing the ships not just for local use but all of Ensor. The masts of the largest seafaring ships, however, are generally brought in from the pine forests of upper Aurindell and the Highmoor. The farmland around St. Loomis is not rich, the soils being sandy and somewhat stony and the headlands in particular exposed to strong winds off the sea. The ground is generally adequate to produce crops that meet most of the area's needs, but wheat in particular must sometimes be supplied by lands further inland. The barley crop, however, is usually good, and the area produces a very hardy and nutritious local variety of oats.
People of native Ilexi descent make up the majority of St. Loomis's population. Cateni and Rhodish bloodlines are sprinkled thinly throughout the population, but most have been diluted beyond easy memory or recognition. There is also a sizeable Yehani community, which unlike in many other towns and cities is dispersed throughout St. Loomis rather than being clustered in certain neighborhoods. Occasionally a few people with slightly darker skin tones may been seen around town, perhaps the remote descendent of one of St. Hollyberry's entourage.
Despite St. Loomis being one of the kingdom's great ports and the relatively far-flung expeditions its sailors undertake, most of its residents are no less insular in mindset than the rest of the Ensorian population. They are reserved with if not outright mistrustful of outsiders, though they tend simply to keep their mouths shut and avoid strangers rather than being blatantly hostile. They are generally more inclined to give fellow Mistmarchers the benefit of the doubt than those from the other regions of Ensor. They reserve their most particular disdain for Southswarders, whom they see as soft and as standing against their beloved Mistwatch, but also hold an age-old suspicion of the Couranti. While they cherish the stories of St. Hollyberry and her entourage and are very partial to this particular saint, most St. Loomisites would be shocked and a little fearful to discover an actual living breathing Idirian in their midst.
The village of St. Loomis originally grew up around the ancient holding of the Greyleighs, who have been the lords of this part of the kingdom for as long as anyone can remember. It is said that the original name of the village was in fact Grey Lea, and that it was only renamed at the behest of the Greyleighs themselves following the death of the saint whom their people esteemed so highly. The actual power of the Greyleighs is much diminished from what it once was, though they still command a great deal of respect among the local populace if not from other members of the nobility.
Most power in St. Loomis is now exercised by the Church, ostensibly through the archbiscop who handles much of the administration of the archdiocese to which St. Loomis belongs. It is an open secret, however, that the archbiscop owes his place to the abbot of the monastery and generally follows the instructions of that establishment. Most of the biscops that have been selected in this way are easygoing and liberal, content to enjoy the luxury and influence which their position gives them while leaving serious decisions up to the monks. The current archbiscop is Matthew Covenderry, a genial yet subtly shrewd man with a weakness for good food and wine, who is on friendly terms with the city's mayor.
The Greyleigh's own liege, Lord Branscombe, has little respect for the family on account of their perceived servility to the Church. Lord Branscombe holds a hearty dislike for the monastery and what he sees as the constant intrigues of the abbot and his monks, and he has frequently accused the monastery of interfering with affairs of state, sheltering pirates, and fomenting unrest among the common folk. Despite having resulted in visits from representatives of the King of Ensor and even the Metropolitan of Imbryck, these charges never seem to stick, and affairs in St. Loomis continue on much as before.
St. Loomis Lighthouse
The great St. Loomis Lighthouse is perhaps the best-known landmark in the town, and is certainly the most visible. It perches high on a rocky bluff on the northeast side of town, and occupies the site of the original renowned lighthouse built by the Yehani in the 3rd century B.D. The beacon in the St. Loomis Lighthouse is capable of penetrating even the legendary fogs of the Greylea coast, guiding ships safely away from the hidden shoals that lurk treacherously on the north side of the harbor. Although its purpose is obviously to assist seafarers, it also provides a guiding light to those traveling through the wilds on the Wayfare.
Cathedral of the Blessed Wayfarer
Gracing the west side of Market Street is the Cathedral of the Blessed Wayfarer, a venerable basilica church founded in St. Loomis's honor shortly after his death. Despite being the seat of a biscop and therefore technically a cathedral, the church is considerably less grand than its counterparts in places such as Imbryck or Wessey. From the outside the most striking aspect of the cathedral is its intricately patterned stonework belfrey, which houses a set of bells called the Hollyberry Carillon. These bells, with their fine bronze casting and superlatively sweet tones, are said to have been cast in the fabled kingdom of Blessed-Be, a gift of St. Loomis's cherished Idiri disciple St. Hollyberry (Halibelu). Inside the church, the structure's relative simplicity is offset by its exquisite stained-glass windows and the ever-changing patterns of light, shadow, and color that shine through both these and the delicately arched clerestory windows below the vault. A mix of murals and mosaics line the aisles, illustrating scenes from the life of St. Loomis and Kalen Phoinikos.
Greyleigh Manor is the new house of the noble Greyleigh family, who relocated within the walls of St. Loomis when they bequeathed their hereditary home of Greywood Keep to the Mistwatch. The original version was largely destroyed in a fire in 742 N.D., so most of the manor is of recent construction in a modern style. A fragment of the ancient Greywood is also enclosed within the manor's grounds, a wild yet peaceful retreat from the bustling town.
Food & Lodging
Located on Market Street just south of the main intersection of St. Loomis, the Seaglass Inn offers travelers delicious fare and pleasant lodgings at reasonable rates. The proprietress, Donna, is as well known for her friendly hospitality as her excellent baking. Its advantages of location and quality make it one of the favored gathering spots for out-of-towners and locals alike.
This well-known pub is located in the dockyards on Warehouse Street, just across from the clinic. With its fine selection of beverages available in the common room, a gaming parlor, and even a fight ring in the back, Keely's is a favorite hangout not only for rowdy local workers but also for people of greater means and reputation looking for a more exciting time than can be found in the town's more genteel establishments. A few rooms are also to be had for rent.