jeremy_dnd:[sblock]To note: it is up to you to decide how much of what I write below you want to incorporate into your character background. Pick and choose to your heart's content.
Kenneth made quite a few friends growing up at the Emporium. The most stunning of these is Zalamandra, the self-styled "Queen" of the Veiled Corridor. Her establishment is frequented by the community's elite, including the governor-mayor, sheriff, most of the mine managers, and several prominent merchants. Zalamandra does not tolerate blackmailers among her staff, but nonetheless is known to keep a mental file of the predilections and preferences of all of her prominent customers, silently wielding this knowledge as an anvil over the heads of potential political enemies. That she has not yet been assassinated is a tribute to her considerable political skills and to the shielding influence of the Emporium's motely assortment of other employees.
Although Professor Montague Marat who founded the Emporium ten years ago (before then it was simply called Zalamandra's) abandoned Diamond Lake under mysterious circumstances three years ago, nearly a dozen of his former employees remain at this establishment, making more moeny here than they ever did traveling with him on the road. Foremost among these nonesuches is the affable Shag Soloman, an aristocratic, shaggy quaggoth "wild man" from the distant Burneal Forest. Solomon's vicious teeth and jagged claws contrast with his stylish gentleman's garb imported bi-annually from only the finest shops in the Free City of Greyhawk, and his cultured demeanor. When not on display in the "Gallery of Science", he frequents the kalamanthis (a potent local hallucinogen) lounge upstairs, where the wealthier patrons adore his clever stories and buy him shots of miner's milk (a syrupy whiskey brewed in several makeshift stills behind the Thirsty Gar). Other attractions include the misshapen boggle contortionist Tom Shingle, the combustible halfling magician Ariello Klint, a two-headed calf named Esmerelda, Jr., and the alluring female human, Chezabet, who reads fortunes.
It was Chezabet who taught Kenneth how to focus his innate magical skills and use the power of his voice to affect the people around him. She herself is also quite an accomplished singer of saucy ballads and sea chanties, having grown up among the gynarchs of Hardby, and her knowledge of these song in encyclopaedic. She generally accompanies herself on an old, yet well-made squeezebox, decorated with maritime motifs.
The Emporium offers several rotating games of chance, with the most popular being dragonfire (an ante-based cared game most often run by the flirtatious human woman Daria Angel), norbonne (a polyhedral dice game run by the no-nonsense half-elf woman Nurelle), and a contest known simply as the Rat Game, run by the sardonic, male human Natalo Bask. In it four rats scurry to be the first through an open-topped maze. When the winner reaches the labyrinth's central chamber, Natalo injects it with a serum that immediately triggers a rabid frenzy. At this time, for doors built into the sides of the maze slide open, revealing four tiny spear-wielding jermaline. Patrons wager on all aspects of the ensuing melee.[/sblock]