Halion (/ halion /)
View of Constantinople by Evening Light by Ivan Aivazovsky
As you approach this wretched hive of scum and villainy you feel an almost instinctive need to hold onto your coin purse. Smiling merchants greet your almost the second you step off the boat and into port, eager to rip you off with shoddy goods, and you can see all manner of pirates and cutpurses walking openly in the streets.The city of Halion is an old Spartharoi city known to be a hub for criminal activity, gambling, and other forms of vice in the Aeillan region. The reputation of Halion as a wretched hive of scum and villainy is something that is cultivated to a certain extent by the ruling classes, who profit from the attraction of mercenary groups to the city but keep it in check to some extent with the law enforcement presence in the city.
Wards of HalionHalion is strung out along the western bank at the mouth and head of navigation for the River Spartharii, with its wealthiest and most prosperous quarters on the hills overlooking the river, with the portside areas being "middle class", and the northern and southern portions being relatively poor. There are six major wards in Halion.
Senate Ward: The Senate Ward is the center of the Halish government, and, by far its wealthiest district. It is, as a rule, cleaner and safe than most other districts of Halion.
Market Ward: An outwardly clean and prosperous part of the city by day, with all manner of exotic wares for sale, at night it takes on a different tone, still jubilant, but more dangerous with regular barfights, underground arenas, and gambling dens taking over the streets.
The Old Ward: The ancient core of Halion near the docks. This area used to be a respectable neighborhood but has since been taken over by adventurer pubs, mercenary headquarters, brothels, and other businesses of ill repute.
Port Ward: An offloading point for all the legal and illegal cargo going into the city, rule of law is relatively strictly enforced here to prevent rival pirate crews from damaging the docks with their fighting.
Glassprawl: Homes for the yeomanry of the city, and a place where most support businesses thrive supplying the farmers with hot meals on their way into the fields, and hot drinks on their way back.
Outer Ward: The outer ward is a massive slum housing thousands of the city's destitute and desperate, mercenary bands and pirate crews have an easy time, recruiting, or pressganging the denizens of this place into service with their crews.
Important LocationsThe Grey Market: Located in the agora, the Grey Market is an important one-stop-shop for adventurers and other blades for hire to acquire adventuring gear, weapons, ammunition, armor, and even magic items. The trouble is in getting in, as a password is required by the guards at the door.
The Ruby Cat: A brothel is well known for its discerning clientele, and absolute commitment to discretion, the ruby cat is also a gathering point for high-end mercenaries seeking to rub shoulders with the city's elite and obtain high-value contracts.
The Temple to Clea: Known as the keeper of Secrets, the goddess Clea is an unofficial matron deity of Halion, and it is a vital community center. It is also a front for the rather robust thieve's guild and assassin's guild.
The Temple of Maia: An ancient and rundown temple dedicated to the goddess of the hearth, the priesthood here are a hardy sort wary of the dangerous nature of their work, yet no less dedicated to the cause of helping the downtrodden.
The Salty Siren: Perhaps the most famous of the pirate public houses, if someone wants a crew for a dangerous sea voyage, they go here.
The city of Halion is home to a large, but often transient population of roughly 82,100 residents. Most of the population (51,610) consists of noncitizen freemen, with a sizable population (24,092) of slaves and indentured workers. Only a relatively small population is considered part of the citizenry of Halion. The population is overwhelmingly Spartharoi Aeillans, with a small minority of Gallacans and other humans living in the city. A tiny minority of the population (mostly slaves) are of nonhuman origin.
The government of Halion is run by the Senate mostly, with the current reigning Exarchissa taking an active role as the first citizen of Halion. The two branches of the Halish government are more or less jointly responsible for managing the army, watch, and civil service that keeps the city in control. In reality, however, governance is quite lax, except in places where criminal activity could be dangerous to the operations of the city.
The city of Halion is relatively lightly defended with no city wall, and only a fairly rudimentary wall around the senate building and Exarch's residence. There is a garrison of 700 Senatorial Guard who assist the city watch with the defense if necessary. Additionally, several mercenary bands could be hired to help defend the city. The most famous of these, the Ravens, are notorious for their ruthless attitude and truly massive reach.
Industry & Trade
The city of Halion lives and dies by the illicit trade running through the city, with many of the services provided having been built up by the docks, and several commercial jetties springing up to offload the loot taken by the pirates and taking the coin they earn. Aside from illicit trade, Halion has a modest "agricultural" sector of fishers and crabbers who sell the freshest of their hauls right on the docks.
Halion is grossly underdeveloped when compared to other Aeillan cities, with no streetlights, no sewer system, and not even a water piping network. The only major infrastructural project that requires Halish attention is the road system which has not been allowed to fall into disrepair at this time, mostly to help the army contain the violence in the countryside. Unlike most other underdeveloped Aeillan cities, there are currently no projects underway to improve the city's infrastructure.
Guilds and Factions
The city of Halion is very unstable politically, with a byzantine network of conflicting aristocrats, pirate kings, and mercenary captains each competing for influence in both the city government and commercially, or for dominance of the illegal activity. It is only due to the immense efforts of the city watch and army that tensions do not boil over into open conflict on the Halish streets.
The city of Halion was established in the High Imperial as the Aeillan Empire sought to establish control over the River Spartharii. It had a brief epoch where it was a military installation essentially at the edge of civilized territories. With the arrival of commerce came an end to this arrangement, however, and a proper city grew out of the fortress. Halion steadily grew throughout the latter High Imperial, and even continued growing well into the Late Imperial. As one of the last major ports to be free of Feloran control during the Feloran wars, the port of Halion blossomed into a major part of the Aeillan Empire and one of its most important cities during the dying days of the Empire. After the fall of the Aeillan Empire, the Halish had to carve out a new niche in the shifting tapestry of southern Galisea. A group of unscrupulous senators and a corrupt Exarch elected to exploit the chaos of the collapsing Gallacan state, and Aeillan Successors' conflict by harboring pirates looting ports in southern Galisea. Halion has continued this tradition as a city of ill repute to this day. Halion in recent years has come under fire for its harboring of pirates and is often subject to hostile action by mercenaries hired by Artenos.
The city of Halion was raised around a bulge near the head of navigation for the River Spartharii and grew up along the coast of the city. As time continued, and class divisions became increasingly vast, the wealthy fled the dirty core of the city to the hills overlooking the city, establishing the Senate Ward. The poor by constant expanded along the banks, building up homes close to the fertile soil that they could till to feed themselves.