From Labyrinthe Wiki
|Craftenguilder||Lady Isabella Fortune, The Princess Flay|
|Mennihaft||Count Synovius Halgar, Baron of Capstone|
|Magistrate||Sir Hersce of Arne|
Halgar, The City of Glass, is the shining capital of the Empire. It is home to the Imperial Government and residence of the vast majority of the Empire’s Nobility. It is where the Convocation of Nobility meets, it is where the Empress resides. It is where the mystic Throne of Glass is found and where the Imperial Senate convenes to administer to those daily matters that bind the Empire together as a force for good and the protection of the people.
The children gathered around the beggar as he arranged himself in his regular place beneath the noseless statue of the long dead General Matwan Iceblade.
“Tell us a story!” They demanded and Bando held out his hand to receive the stolen apples and the odd grull note they had managed to come by. Placing each away amongst his rags the old Kallah settled himself more comfortably.
“What story would you like to hear?” He asked in his musical voice.
“Battles!” Called out three of the boys.
“It’s always battles.” Bando answered. “Battles are fleeting though and change with every telling. Let me tell you of the city itself, let me tell you about Halgar.” His audience shuffled closer on crossed legs to hear his words more clearly.
“There are no records of where Halgar came from. But the beggars speak of a time before there was an Empire or even a Republic. In those days the gods walked the world as men and women and magic was the preserve of the wise or the foolish. It is said amongst the Kallah that there was once a tribe who in their travels encountered a great coloured stone planted in a river valley. The stone was beautiful to behold and sat atop it was a grey faced woman, streaked in all the colours of the rainbow. The tribe fell to worship the woman but she did not see them – or if she did she did not show it.
“Now, at this time the river we call the Eichian, but then which had no name, (for who gives names to the rivers and the hills all about us?) flowed strongly past the stone and was filled with fish and attracted game. The tribe made a camp and stared at the woman and asked her for a year and a day to notice them and to let them worship her. For a year and day the woman stared above them and paid them no heed.
“Then at the end of this time a warrior stepped forward. He was strong in arm and had many trophies hung about him. He demanded the woman should notice him and be in awe of his deeds. But the woman continued in her contemplation of the sun and the moon and said not a word. The next day a great and seemingly wise man stepped forward. He conjured creatures of water to dance for the woman and creatures of air to carry his words to her. He abjured her to notice him and to teach him the knowledge he craved. But she seemingly perceived him not. On the third day a holy man stepped forward. He was filthy in his piety and devout in his manner. He called to the woman to hear his prayers and to accept him as her disciple but his words fell to the wind and she looked at the far hills in her contemplation. On the fourth day a sly man approached the woman from behind and tried to steal the stone, but it was too heavy to lift so he just sold it to the holy man who still knelt nearby. On the firth day the lowest of the tribe, a filthy wretch in rags and tatters came to the woman when everyone else was catching the deer or fishing the river. He begged the woman to grant him a boon, or whatever she could spare. The woman looked down at him then and explained that she was a spirit without a city, without people and that all she had to give was the dream of a mighty place where there was food for all and houses that would resist the strongest rain. The ragged man looked back at the woman and shrugged.
“’Well that’ll do.’ He said. ‘Cheers very much.’
“The warrior hearing this felled trees and built a wall to defend the city. The wise man hearing this raised great wards to shelter the city. The holy man, hearing this, raised a great shrine to the gods that they might hear the words of the people. The sly man watched the others then ran away with the warrior’s tools and sold them to the wise man. But the ragged man did nothing for the city was being built by them but belonged to him.”
Second Age History of Halgar
That Halgar survived the first High Final Dawn is obvious, its origins however are not. The city lies in the central part of Primus and stands guard over the Throne of Glass, the focal point of the Exostance. Expanded in waves during the Second Age it is really two cities in one. The Inner City is the final bastion of defence against outward enemies and domestic aspirants to the Throne. The Inner City is the seat of government and holds the living space for the Imperial Line as well as the Inquisition and the Bureaucracy. The IMC building however is housed in a converted fort in the Outer City, a small fortress within the city. This Inner City though truly only came into itself at the time of the Magiocracy when the (then) Lord Natal and Duff fortified the walls to truly cut it off from the greater city as a whole.
Always a crowded place, Halgar has spent much of its history being a filthy slum arranged around the grander buildings in its centre. The Nobility dwelt mostly in Ickybiggle whilst the monotonous business of the bureaucracy was centred in the sturdier buildings amongst the slums. Although the city walls were built up in IM 87, they were often badly maintained and when a section in the south wall collapsed in IM 231 it was left as it was for nearly forty years. It was only trade that sustained the city. For much of the 2nd Age, Halgar was the centre of trade, indeed, it is only relatively recently that the other cities have advanced beyond the simple market stage and this only came about when the Magiocracal states decentralised government from Halgar itself. Traders gathered here from throughout the land to buy and sell their wares in the vast trade enclaves that were dotted amongst and (often within) the great slums that housed the peons, most of whom earnt their pitiful income from the traders themselves. Banditry was often rife in the Heartlands, the large farms only defended by the household soldiers of the Nobility.
The crowded slums attracted two other elements of society however. Firstly, the various churches settled here in order to gather the large numbers of disaffected to their faith. Churches will always find a congregation wherever large numbers of the poor and pitiful exist. It is possible that many of the faiths developed their more temporal side in such times, a preacher in fine clothing might often need a sturdy mace to defend himself with amongst such desperate people.
The other industry that arose was not in people. Not slavery, but the strong adventuring community that forms the backbone of Labrynthia. Cheap housing and a strong mix of peoples, due to the trading, meant that Halgar became the place to find work. Labrynthia has been in strife since the earliest days and soldiers of fortune, cunning thieves and worldly wizards all came to the city to find either contracted work of rumours of fortunes about the land. Many of the current citizens of Halgar would be horrified to know the rough and dangerous reputation their city once enjoyed. It was because of this latter industry that such a strong supportive market came about, and this went some way towards the evolution of the settlement.
Alcehmists could always find a ready market for their wares as could tradesmen. Smiths could turn their hand to weapon making to support their more traditional tasks and the skilled of the population, the chirugeons and the cartographers found that they could earn more in one month than from a whole year elsewhere. Taverns of course flourished and the more artful, silver and gold smiths, found a cheap source for their materials from amongst the retrieived hordes the adventurers came with to exchange for good, ready cash.
Such a ready influx of wealth had a knock on effect. The smiths and craftsmen didn’t want to live in hovals and could afford to build sturdier dwellings and shops. Like minded people gathered together for protection and to stabilise pricing, forming guilds which of course needed ever grander Halls. Those adventurers who were successful often settled in Halgar, it was after all a place of many good memories for them and where their associates still lived. Such people though could also afford better housing and the third century of the second age saw a boom as the more cunning bought up whole streets and leased the land from the Nobility upon which to construct who rows of reasonable housing. Within a hundred years, the northern quarter was filled with such places and the slums were pushed back. The merchants were obviously doing well also and the mercantile quarter came into being, the traders gathering together in one quarter to attract knock on custom. Where the first alchemist shop was built, an outfitters and weaponsmiths would appear nearby. The slums were never completely lost and to this day a Poor Quarter still exists were the lowest peons and the most unsuccessful adventurers still dwell.
With more successful adventurers establishing themselves in Halgar banditry slowly tailed off in the Heartlands. Such people had investments to consider and there were always inexperienced adventurers willing to hunt down brigands for a hand full of grulls. This money came back to Halgar, to the taverns, to the temples and the outfitters and the economy became circular. With greater income the cities taxes grew and this enabled several well meaning schemes from the councils that resulted in the crowded terraces of the western and eastern quarters. It was not until the Glorianave Magiocracy rose though that the city took on the appearance it enjoys today. Plaza’s were cleared and streets widened to accommodate the gardens, statues and fountains dedicated to the great and mighty. The Nobility that supported the Glorianave were forced to move to the city itself when Ickybiggle became dangerously close to Sevalian expansionism. They constructed the large town houses around the Inner City that they still enjoy – though until the destruction of Ickybiggle at the High Final Dawn these were used very much as second homes after the Choas Wars as the richer homes of Ickybiggle became more secure.
The city of Halgar changed much during the 2nd Age, evolving from trade and mercenary enclave to the glorious capitol it is today. It would be true to say though, that a citizen from a few hundred years ago would find more in common with modern Deci than the capitol itself which changed so much under the auspice of the Glorianave,
Halgar Basic Background
The History of Halgar
The centre of the Empire and its capital, Halgar is a crowded, high walled city whose appearance is very much of old, somewhat outdated grandeur. Over the centuries successive Princes, Primarchs, Magiarchs and Emperors have sought to build on and improve the city such that by more current times the skyline is one of oddly shaped towers and whose rooftops are disjointed among the many levels of streets that are, in some cases, actually built upon earlier rows such that there are areas of the city where different levels are joined by bridges both wide and narrow.
A jumbled city, Halgar has seen great change, most notably relatively recently when most of the wealth of what is now the Empire was concentrated here during the Glorianave Magiocracy. It was then that the great rows of many floored buildings were thrown up along the wide avenues that are now mostly divided into the small tenements in which live a noteworthy proportion of the city’s population.
Only in recent years have the hundreds of statues and stone troughs been cleared and restored and what were once little more than repositories for bird waste now once more stand proudly amongst the dense, often squalid, streets and angled squares. Vines crawl about most of the buildings and for much of the year the city is spotted with the blooms of many flowers whilst old, twisted but leaf heavy, trees sit sturdily everywhere a visitor cares to look.
Possibly the most famous part of the city is the Inner City. Walled and lying slightly off centre to the rest of Halgar, the Inner City is the centre of the Empire and the fortress set to defend the Nagrech. Like some exaggerated reflection of the city proper, the Inner City is yet more crowded, built up on at least a score of occasions from more than a dozen architectural styles.
The People and the Land of Halgar
Although more than fifty-thousand people make their homes within the tenements and jumbled, refuse clogged side-streets more than twice that number dwell in the hundreds of villages and dotted towns that stretch into the Heartlands all about, but primarily to the west, of the settlement.
Urban Halgarians have a reputation for cynicism and will almost never admit to being surprised or impressed with anything. Outspoken and boastful, they tend to see themselves as above the ‘dirty, ignorant’ northern citizens or the ‘ignorant, dull minded’ denizens of the southern cities. Generally ambitious, Halgarians love to be part of something greater than themselves; Guilds for the most part but service to a Noble or Merchant House carries status with it only slightly less than joining the Imperial service.
Rural Halgarians on the other hand tend to avoid the city whenever they can. They would, in fact, never refer to themselves as Halgarians at all, preferring to be known as Heartlanders if anything. Insular to their villages they very rarely leave unless it is to go to the nearest Hiring or Bridal fair, which near enough amounts to leaving their village forever in any case. The Heartlands is rife with local superstition, local faiths and strange customs and if the rural folk share anything with their more civic cousins it is an ability to accept the strangest things without visibly being impressed by anything new, wondrous or even dangerous.
Of all the peoples of the Empire, the Heartlanders are perhaps the most typical of what would be considered the rural idyll. Despite the ferocious winters that beset the whole Empire, the myth of the Heartlands would have it that most of the year is composed of hot days and balmy nights, country ale and endless harvests. It is true that the Heartlands provides by far the majority of agriculture to the Empire and come the last days of summer then the view from the criss-crossing roads and lanes does seem to be comprised of nothing but a hundred strip fields in all directions.
But the Heartlands are not all farmland. The paths and roads naturally lead to the villages and the fields that surround them. But go further inwards, beyond the horizon, and soon the Heartlands becomes wilder. Woodlands that have not seen the footfall of man for decades, the ruins of towns that don’t appear on the maps and the craggy entrances to the caverns that litter the continent can be found everywhere. The more one finds in the Heartlands the more questions seem to arise that have no answer.
The villages are hotbeds of local tales and mysteries. Stories of ghostly warriors cursed never to find their home village, of wheaten faeries and vengeful spirits abound and, in most cases, are often found to be true!
Despite the differences between the rural and city folk their clothing tends to be similar, with the latter often only varying in quality and gaudiness amongst the more well-to-do. Like all the Empire, baggy shirts and britches are common, with low, heavy workman’s boots popular. Hats are worn often and the fashion is, and has been for more than a century, for bi or even tri-corn styles. If there are two things that would mark out a Halgarian amongst other people it is their preference for colour. It is not uncommon for a traveller going through even the meanest village to be startled by the variety of coloured cloth, often layered or worn in stripes.
Why Mercenaries Adventure in Halgar
In fact, very few do in Halgar but there is a great deal of work to be had in the city. Here the Bureaucracy, Inquisition and IMC are all based and the variety of employer to be found in the settlement is hard to beat elsewhere. Whether a noble wanderer or a complete bastard it is in Halgar that you will find just the sort of work you are looking for, for here is the variety born of sheer numbers.
The Heartlands at first may not seem to be the best place to adventure but so large are they that most everything can be found there. Dusty barrows, strange villages, forgotten rivers, roaming bands of miscreants, spiteful groves and enormous numbers of broken towers, ageing hill forts and long abandoned mines might all lie around the next turn of an overgrown path.
In many ways the Heartlands is the place where more traditional stories can be set; where orcs roam in small bands, where black hearted Barons live and where, frankly, what ills arise can be swallowed up amongst the rolling hills and thick, unpopulated forests.
The Heartlands are not the most gripping, defined areas on Primus but here is the strength of the area, they are big. You’d have to be going some to go against the intrinsic character of the place and if a character describes to another his past exploits there and his companion expresses complete ignorance regarding any such town, the first can rightly just shrug and explain easily ‘it’s in the Heartlands somewhere’ Because just about everything is. Just that one valley over no one will know about it. They’ll know lots of stories (and of course only when told will the tales begin to come true…) but never will they have actually gone there. Why, it must be all of three miles away…
The Sights in Halgar
The Empire Triumphant is a structure that revels in Empire and is a symbol of the soaring achievements of the Empire and its people. Supported literally and mystically by four Hallowed Temples to the four most staunchly pro-imperial faiths it forms the heart of worship in Halgar.
Unsurprisingly the Halgar Council is pretty straight forward following the standard Imperial Model for a council.