Monday, April 11, 2011

[The Realm] H is for Haelyx


Small City

Alignment: Lawful

Population: 11,800 (2,950 Able-Bodied)

Races: Men, Hobbits, Gnomes, Dwarves, Elves

Resources: Market

Rulers: The Council of Twelve (“Royal Council”) rules the city-state. The council currently consists of (listed in descending order of power and precedence): Finaefin Freäleaf (Elf Prince), Kili Bomburson (Dwarf Thane), Arakel Hovig (Gnome Mayor),Trahald Took (Hobbit Sheriff), Astem zul Fenhault (Heartlander Count), Diarmid Macleod (Highlander Clan Chief), Elmeric Jarien (Patriarch of the Temple of the Great Good Gods and High Priest of Koram), Lorana Farrian (Prelate of the Church of the Lords of Light), Valarindo the Saffron (Grand Master of the Ancient Order of Magi), and three Aldermen from the Council of Craftsmen and Merchants: Mifrax ven Shadarbar (Metals Merchant), Vasili Vezirov (Eastlander Import/Export Merchant), and Morgath Merdim (Litigation Trickster’s Guild). The Royal Council sets all laws by simple majority; they meet once per quarter unless called sooner by the Elf Prince. The Council of Craftsmen and Merchants (“The Guild”) oversees the day-to-day operation of the city, with Guild Justices trying any non-violent crimes; violent crimes are tried by Royal Council Magistrates, while capital crimes and any crime dealing with a noble are tried by the Council of Twelve directly as a Royal Court (a Small Court of seven needed to try commoners, a Grand Court of all twelve required to try nobles). Outside the city, reeves in the service of the local lord handle all such cases, passing capital crimes on to their lord (though again, any case dealing with a noble must be tried by a Grand Court).

Temples: Great Good Gods, Lords of Light, Larglar, Taur Duarg, Great Gold Dragon, Taur Elthon, Outcasts (Shrine), Steel Dragon (Shrine), plus several hidden shrines to various Gods of Chaos, Demons of Infernus, Dragon Queens, and Independent Daemon Princes

Coinage: Crown (gp), Guilder (sp), Common (cp), Farthing (iron, four per cp, rarely seen outside of the city)

Haelyx, the City of Heroes, is a beacon of light and law in the wilds of the Western Wastes of the Heartland. Standing along the most verdant portion of the River Hael, this small city gives hope to all goodly folk that the light of civilization will not fall, that there is a place where honest people can live and praise the goodly gods, and that freedom and justice will not perish in the chaos brought about following the Wizard War.

Founded upon the ruins of what is known as Old Haelyx (though that is not of a certainty the name of the prior city), Haelyx is a relatively new settlement, having been founded in its current incarnation merely 500 years ago. Some of the oldest elven residents can remember those long-ago days, when a unified tribe of Men, Hobbits, Gnomes, Dwarves, and Elves carved out a small patch of peace and quiet in the midst of howling wilderness. Some say that the founding Men were led by a cadet branch of the old Royalton Royal Family, though the rulers of Royalton have long denied this, or at the least, denied that the Royaltons of Haelyx any longer have claim to the Royalton throne. As the current pretender to the Royalton Throne, and seemingly the last of that line, Haelos XXXI, lives in mad penury as the Beggar King of Haelyx, they have little to fear from such claims, anyway.

The Old City core is laid out like a hexagon about a half-mile across, divided in half by the River Hael. The Old City walls are built of huge square stones, the whole designed by native Dwarf engineers and built by giants from the Gianting Lands far to the north (they owed the Elf-Prince’s father a favor from his adventuring days). The Old City walls stand 60 feet tall and 30 feet thick. An 80-foot tall 40-foot diameter round tower stands each vertex, with similar towers at the banks of the River Hael, up and downriver, one on each side with a wall-like bridge connecting them across the river, and one each on each bank of the River Alfanar that bisects the northern wall; there are a total of 12 towers on the old wall. Three Great Gates are found in the Old Wall; one each in the center of the northwestern wall, southern wall, and southeastern wall. Each Great Gate is a rectangle 80 feet wide by 60 feet deep and 80 feet tall. Each of the river towers also has a lesser gate. Two half-towers, also each 80 feet tall, stand between each vertex gate and full tower, and a single such tower stands between each vertex tower and river tower, for a total of 20 half-towers in the Old Wall.

There are four walled suburbs of the city, three each hard upon one of the Great Gates: Norgate (aka Norwich) with the Wizard Market along Arcanos Road, Sougate (aka Little Royalton) with the Royal Market along Royalton Road, and Estgate (aka Morhill) with the Dragon Market along Morgoll Road. The fourth suburb, Alfwood (aka Princely Park), stands to the north along the banks of the River Alfanar. Each suburb is a quadrangle, almost triangular in shape, defined by the wall 40 foot tall and 20 foot thick. The longest border of each suburb is along the Old Wall; the suburban walls then extend out at an angle from the vertex towers, for more than a thousand feet, where they end in 60 foot tall 30 feet diameter circular towers. Two round half-towers of the same size are in each wall between the vertex towers and the end towers. The two end towers are connected by a wall, in the center of which is a rectangular gatehouse 60 feet wide 40 feet deep and 60 feet tall. However, there is no gatehouse in Alfwood, as the suburb is not centered on a road, but instead the River Alfanar; two towers stand to either side of the river, which is crossed with a wall-like bridge where a gatehouse would be.

The River Hael at this point is about 600 feet wide throughout the city; the river is generally 20 feet deep, with some channels being 30 feet deep, or as shallow as six feet in some places. The river lies at the foot of 150 to 200 foot tall steep dolomite limestone bluffs, thus the river sits at the bottom of a canyon. The bluffs are dotted here and there with balconies and ledges, some walled but many not, that connect the various dwarf, gnome, and hobbit delves above the river banks; most of the caverns are natural karst features, heavily modified by dwarf and gnome labors. At the base of the bluffs are numerous quays, again connected to the homes carved in the bluffs, which themselves are all connected with the Haelberg (see below) and the city above.

The heart of the Old City is Great Bridge Citadel, so called as it is a citadel built over a very wide natural bridge over the River Hael. The Great Bridge Citadel is one of the wonders of the Heartlands. It is a hexagonal shaped castle with walls 100 feet tall and 50 feet thick, with a 150 foot tall 50 foot diameter round tower at each vertex; made of the same stone as the Great Bridge and the surrounding bluffs, the Citadel appears to seamlessly naturally grow out of the river bluffs. There are three gates through the walls, the gatehouses being built flush into the wall. The walls and towers serve as the command center for the Haelyxan Royal Guard, a mixed race guard made of the best of the best under the command of the Marshal of the Elf-Prince. The interior of the Citadel itself is given over to temples, official city buildings, and Noble-quality townhouses and businesses.

The underbelly of the Great Bridge Citadel is a huge pylon-island, between 400 and 500 feet long from the northeast to southwest and 200 to 300 feet thick northwest to southeast. The River Hael splits under the bridge, flowing to either side of the pylon. The pylon is known as Haelberg, and is home to most of the city’s population of dwarves and gnomes who do not live in the bluffs, though few hobbits live in the ‘Berg. Like the bluffs, the Haelberg is riddled with natural caverns, worked and finished by the native dwarves and gnomes, though some worked areas predate the current occupation (and a few of these, the deepest, are locked away behind heavy doors covered in magical wards). The River Market stands around the base of the pylon, and is home to mostly men and hobbits who trade along the river (no few of these having unsavory connections in the Great Goblin Grotto and other unpleasant points that the River Hael touches upon, sunlitten or otherwise).

North of the Citadel, the northern half of the Old City east of the River Alfanar is known as Greenhill, the Great Smials. It is a genteel, “Electrum”-class district, mostly of gentlehobbits, men, and gnomes. Surface structures are usually inhabited by men, while hobbit smials riddle the whole of the hill and are occupied by hobbits and gnomes alike (many of these being connected to the bluff dwellings to the south). Old City west of the River Alfanar is known as High Hael, the Gold District, home to men, wealthy dwarves and gnomes, and a handful of elves, all mostly merchants, high-ranking or skilled guildsmen, petty nobles, or former adventurers. There is a small district, Conjuror’s Corner, between the River Alfanar, High Hael, and the northwestern vertex; this is home to the Wizards’ Guild and those of arcane bent, including no few elves. The River Alfanar is crossed by two bridges, one each between High Hael and Greenhill, and Conjuror's Corner and Greenhill; the river empties into the River Hael over a 200 foot tall waterfall in the shadow of the northwestern wall of the Citadel.

The southern half of the Old City is divided into three districts. All meet at the Grand Market along the southern and southeastern walls of the Citadel. The eastern district is Eastriver, the Silver District, home to middle-class men and hobbits. The central district of Sunwich is the Copper District, home to most of the lower-class-if-still-honest craftsmen and artisans of the city. The western district is Farthing Hill, the oldest district in the city, where today the lowest-class and often crooked citizens subsist amidst the crooked roads and alleys with pickpockets, harlots, and even a half-orc or goblin-man or seven. The top of Farthing Hill is the Old Fort, where rules the Beggar King, Haelos XXXI, in dilapidated ragamuffin splendor. The bluffs below Farthing Hill are home to the leatherworkers, tanners, and other lower-class crafts that leave a stinky, noisome mess that is readily taken away by the River Hael.

The suburb of Norwich along Arcanos Road is home to merchants and craftsmen who deal with Arcosians from Arcanos and other points north; thus it is also home to many Northlander barbarian mercenaries, who often are not pleased with having to rub elbows with so many magicians and wizards. It is also home to most of the few Westlanders in residence in Haelyx, most of whom are merchants dealing with far trading caravans. The Wizard Market of Norgate is the place to go for strange, unusual, and often illegal merchandise from Arcanos.

The suburb of Little Royalton along Royalton Road is home to merchants and craftsmen who deal with the Royalings of Royalton and other points south; thus it is home to many Southron and Southlander mercenaries and merchants. Highlanders from the Jotun Hills are also often in residence here, at least, until their coin runs out and they have to move into Sunwich or Farthing Hill. The Royal Market of Sougate is the place to go to find the finer import items from the Southlands and Farlands, such as spices, silks, fine jewelry, and rare woods.

The suburb of Morhill along Morgoll Road is home to merchants and craftsmen who deal with the Morgollites of Morgoll and other points east; thus it is home to many Eastlander and Easterling merchants and mercenaries. It is a hotbed of Chaos cultists, dedicated to the service of Djiabaleur and the Arcanadaemon; it is also the itinerant home of the Waylanders who stay in the city on irregular occasions, as it is illegal for them to stay in the Old City, and they like not the atmosphere of Norwich or Little Royalton. The Dragon Market is the place to go for furs, amber, and the goods produced in the Realm of Djiabaleur, many of which, though not sanctioned, are of questionable nature. Here too is the only place in the city to see the green-skin, pig-snout orcs, ostensibly in the service of merchants of Morgoll as mercenary caravan guards, but almost certainly in the service of their master, Djiabaleur, as spies and scouts.

The suburb of Princely Park is home to most of the elves of the city; here they live in their great tlan tree homes atop the lofty trees that stand within the confines of the tall stone walls, sadly pretending to live in the lifestyle of their ancestors. There are few traditional buildings in Alfwood; most of these are faux hobbit hills, smials housing the Tallfellow hobbit or gnomish servants of the elves, all of whom are of no less than lower-ranked gentlemen in social and economic class. The few traditional mannish buildings are usually taverns, inns, or other buildings for the mannish servants of the elves. The River Alfanar is crossed by two bridges for the use of hobbits, gnomes, and men; there are a number of tree bridges spanning the river above, but these are reserved for the elves and their guests. The Elf-Prince, when in residence, lives in the largest tlan in the largest tree at the heart of the Alfwood; it is said to be a reduced version of his own great palace in the forest to the north.

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