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Starkhaven, the largest city in the Free Marches, sits on the bank of the great Minanter River. I remember my visit to the city quite clearly. I was taken up the river by barge—a cumbersome vessel that moved at a stately pace—and disembarked by the city's central square, an impressive space with marble fountains and surrounded by kingly estates.

Starkhaven's wealth was truly a sight to behold. A path paved in granite led up to the grandest building I've ever seen. My guide indicated that this was the residence of Starkhaven's ruler, Prince Vael.

We supped at the table of my guide's closest friend. I was presented with a variety of dishes from the region. One in particular stood out: fish and egg pie, Starkhaven's most famous dish. Three deboned fish, caught just that day, were cooked in a porcelain vessel with boiled eggs, dried fruit, spices, and thickened cream, all topped with a light crust. Superb!

—From In Pursuit of Knowledge: The Travels of a Chantry Scholar, by Brother Genitivi

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